In the Skyroom with Georges de Latour

A hush fell over the assembled in the lofty, intimate confines of the Skyroom in the La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla on this recent night when a Vertical Tasting of the Georges de Latour collection of seven vintages of cabernet sauvignon from Beaulieu Vineyards (BV) of Rutherford in Napa Valley was about to begin.
It would have been perfect had Mister Latour been with us with his brilliant winemaker Andre Tchelistcheff who crafted the first cabernet reserve in 1936.
It fell upon John Reilly of Pacific Wine and Spirits to captivate us with his insights, and to Justin Wilson, La Valencia’s food and beverage director, to provide the authentic Latour vintages, from 1976 to the present release, the BV 2007, now selling for $115. Vertical tastings of heritage wines are an education of taste. The ‘76 was mature, exotic with dusty flavors like licorice and chocolate with big tannins.
As we progressed to 1984, 1987, 1990 and 1996, the winemakers changed and the powerful fruit, OK with a deep ruby color, started to assert itself. Then, in 2003 and 2007, the present winemaker, Jefferey Stambon introduced the Private Reserve Latour Cabernet. The strength of black fruits like dark cherry, licorice, black olive, even a hint of peppercorn, vaulted the taste to an all-time excellence. The wines are bold, passionate statements of Rutherford quality.
“Beau Lieu” means beautiful place in French. It was named by the Latour family when they set their eyes on the original 100 or so acres they had purchased back in 1900.
The same can be said for the petite, handsome Sky Room where this wine event took place. Renovated to compliment its 180-degree views of the Pacific Ocean, it’s located on the 10th floor of the historic La Valencia Hotel, with a small, intimate bar.  The wine is smartly served with Riedel Stemware and it has a menu that changes monthly. As John Rielly said, “credit the La Valencia for the patience to store and cultivate the fine wines of Latour over the years so that we may enjoy them today.”
Provence: the origin of rosé
The 2009 Rosé collection from Provence was unveiled at the San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival late last year with more than a dozen producers visiting direct from the south of France. 
Julie Peterson, in charge of the wineries, stopped with me to describe the renaissance of flavor that has helped fuel the comeback of rosé.
“Provence is the largest appellation in France, from the Alps to the north to St. Tropez in the south, and the signature wine for Provence,” she said. Winemakers produced rosé some 26 centuries ago, making them the oldest vineyards in France. Their pink color induces “affection and fun.” Peterson said that “the main red and rosé grape varieties are grenache, syrah, cinsault, mourvedre and tibouren. Each grape is vinified separately, then balanced together in the blending process.
What comes out is the character of a red wine, with the crispiness of a white.”
All the wines come from family owned single estate vineyards of 40 or so acres.
“Rosé sales are growing at about 17 percent annually while general wine growth is currently 3 percent annually,” she asserted. “Rosé pairs well with fresh fish and other Mediterranean style foods; also with lamb and Asian food.” Domaine de Saint Ser is a leading winery with a lovely Cuvee Prestige Rosé 2009 for a value price of $8. It has blends of granache, syrah and cinsualt.
Wine Bytes
— Vinz V-Lounge in Escondido is back with name entertainment. His restaurant, wine bar and lounge has Jimmy Patton and Enrique from 7 to 10 p.m. Jan. 21. Call (760) 743-8466 for more event information.
— The 3rd Corner in Encinitas hosts a Castello Banfi Wine Dinner on Jan. 25 starting at 6 p.m. Banfi has been named the Italian Winery of the year and will feature one of “Taste of Wine’s” top 10 tastes: the Chianti Superiore 2008. Four-course dinner with other Banfi favorites for $60 per person. Call (760) 942-2104 for an RSVP.
— San Diego Wine Company has a South American tasting from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Jan. 22. There is a $10 fee. Call for names at (858) 586-WINE.
— Pinot Envy comes to Holiday Wine Cellar in Escondido from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Jan. 24. Low-cost labels with plenty of personalities. Cost is $5. Find out more at (760) 745-1200.
— Relm Wine Bistro in Carlsbad has Wet Your Pants Wednesday on Jan. 26 from 7 to 9 p.m. It’s wine and lots of laughs with the first ever Comedy Night. No cover charge. Check it out by calling (760) 434-9463.

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