This month I had the pleasure of attending Heart’s Delight, the 9th annual wine auction extravaganza put on in Washington by the American Heart Association. I wrote about the event last year, and became involved this year for personal reasons, hoping to advance the cause of research into heart disease. I’m pleased to say the event earned nearly $1.2 million for the AHA, and that I may have contributed to some very small part of that. (My personal lot of an in-home wine tasting, with the Washington Wine Academy, had attracted exactly zero interest in the silent auction about 20 minutes before the end of bidding – but I won’t take that personally.)
Heart’s Delight is sponsored primarily by Addy Bassin’s MacArthur Liquors, one of D.C.’s premier wine retailers, and enjoys tremendous support of winemakers from Bordeaux. The event covers three evenings: Thursday features dinners at restaurants, embassies and private homes with winemakers, winery principals or ambassadors. This year, I enjoyed a wonderful evening at the Chilean embassy, hosted by Ambassador Mariano Fernández and his wife, María Angélica Morales, and featuring the wines of Cousiño-Macul.
Friday evening is a grand gala that features the wines of a Bordeaux first-growth château and a live auction. This year’s featured Mouton-Rothschild.
Saturday’s events began with a tasting of 27 Bordeaux from 2004. This was touted as a “classic” vintage, which to me is winemaker speak for “average.” But after the super-hot 2003 with its alcoholic and flabby wines, and before the superb 2005 with its skyrocketing futures prices, the 2004 Bordeaux could indeed be a relative bargain. My favorites from the tasting: Château Palmer on the high end, at $110, and Château Corbin, a modest but delicious St. Emilion, at the low-end of the price scale at $20. There were no wines I disliked, suggesting that 2004 is indeed a strong vintage to buy, but others that especially impressed me included Château Lagrange ($40), Châteaux Pontet-Canet ($50), Château Cos d’Estournel ($69), Château d’Issan ($35), and Château La Couspaude ($45). Which, if you know your Bordeaux wineries, pretty much straddles the appellations and the Cabernet or Merlot-dominated areas.
The festivities culminated with tastings of food from restaurant chefs around the country and many more wines, a silent auction, and finally another live auction to raise money for a very worthy cause. I hope that if you live in or near DC and have an interest in (and wallet for) fine wine, you will join the party next May. And if you are in the trade, please consider contributing to Heart’s Delight and helping someone dear to me and, perhaps, someone dear to you.