Hilton Hotel Gala Hedonist's Dinner

  • Robert M. Parker, Jr.

  • 18 Jul 2014 | Events

This dinner was held the day Malaysian Air Flight 370 went missing (we arrived on a Malaysian Air Flight from Hong Kong during that time period, one of those coincidences in life that will never be forgotten). The food, prepared by the Kuala Lumpur Hotel Hilton's staff, was generally quite good, although I was inundated with the 300+ guests asking for autographs and/or wanting answers to their wine questions. Despite the interruptions, I did find the two vintages of Dominus to be spectacular as well as the Mouton Rothschilds. However, the wine that blew me away was the 1985 Sassicaia, a wine that I have consistently given a 100-point score. We were lucky enough to have the daughter of the estate present. We had purchased 12 magnums of this wine from her family's estate, and she said it was only the second time in her life that she had ever had it. As I have written before, I believe it is one of the half dozen or so greatest wines made in the 20th century, and is the greatest wine made anywhere in the world in 1985. It boasts a blue/purple color as well as a depth of purity, stunning crème de cassis and blueberry fruit notes intermixed with acacia flowers, and a full-bodied opulence that is incredibly fresh and remarkable. It has 50-75 years of aging potential. The 2009 Sassicaia is not far behind, but I do not believe it will ever achieve the sublime, profound, world-beating quality of the 1985. From a relatively cool year, the 2001 Sassicaia was more austere as well as complex, but it was clearly out-classed by its two siblings.

We started the evening with the 2004 Dom Perignon, which does not inspire me in any way. It makes me wonder why they declared this vintage? Next we enjoyed a delicious Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2010 Penfolds Bin 169, which was quite Australian in its full-throttle, exuberant, in-your-face, muscular style. While it still has some oak to lose, there is plenty of fruit and richness. Both vintages of Dominus can be terrific, although some bottles of the 1997seemed slightly out of whack with a dusty earthiness that wasn't quite TCA, but was somewhat off-putting. However, the best bottles were beautiful. However, I do not believe the 1997 will ever compete with the great 2001 Dominus, which is full-bodied, rich, and still young. It is very much in keeping with this tannic yet ageworthy vintage for Bordeaux varietals in Northern California, especially in Napa Valley. The two vintages of Mouton Rothschild represented the historically hot, dry year of 2003 and the cooler, small crop of 2008. Both are terrific Mouton Rothschilds. The 2003 was surprisingly forward, even at age 11, which is unusually young for a Mouton to be strutting its stuff. This vintage may be maturing quickly, although there is no reason to believe it will not last 25-30 years. 2008 is a sleeper vintage for many Bordeaux wines and was priced low by the châteaux. The wines are classic Bordeaux, although they are not the most exuberant, richest or flamboyant. However, they are beautifully representative of their appellations, are concentrated because of low yields, and are just now starting to uncoil and reveal their true characters. It is a vintage to buy if you can find well-stored, pristine bottles.

Despite the worry over Malaysian Air Flight 370 (at this event, there was still optimism that it would be found with all aboard unharmed), this was an enjoyable evening.

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