TN: What wines do you bring to dinner /w a Billionare Wine Collector?

(I have a question for you all at the very end)
The last time my mom and my brother visited China they went to stay at the house of an old college friend of hers that worked in Shangai. The moment my brother got internet access he went crazy ranting about the man’s epic sized 10k+ wine cellar and all the amazing wine that the friend had opened that night for dinner. Grand Cru Burgs, First Growths, and Coke (just kidding) flowed a plenty and I was drooling from the mouth as he described everything to me. As my brother ranted off label after label to ask me about how expensive each wine was and why I never served him such amazing wine, I emailed my mom telling her that if they ever have dinner again to invite me or face never seeing her future grandchildren. Little did I know, the next time I saw him I’d have to provide the wines.

Fast forward one year. While studying for the Bar exam I get a phone call from my mom asking if I wanted to have dinner with her and her friend’s family. Her friend from China was visiting his daughter at UC irvine and wanted to treat us to dinner. At my age hanging out with my mom has become cool again and also being the cheap bastard I am I couldn’t say no to a free dinner. The only request my mom had was that I bring wines to dinner cause she wanted to repay her friend’s kindness from when they visited. I let her know that my whole collection of wine probably doesn’t match 3-4 bottles that were served at their dinner that one night but she insisted I pick out a few wines for dinner (on my dime of course -_^).

I didn’t have time to pick up soda from the market and hit up the wine locker, so i settled on NOT bringing the Chateau Lafite but stuck to some CA wines that I thought he wouldn’t be exposed to. I assumed that since he had so much Burgundy/Bordeaux that he probably got quite a few of them from auction and was exposed mostly to wines that were popular auction items. Since I wasn’t looking to impress him with the $$$ of the wines, I wanted him to try some wines that I thought were different but well made that he couldn’t find or wouldn’t think to find in China. So I opened up a Cabernet, Chardonnay, and Pinot for dinner from the respective producers. I thought they showed decently, he’s probably now never going to even buy CA wine again :wink:.

  • 2002 Arcadian Chardonnay Sleepy Hollow Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands
    Sweet citrus palate with that earthy mushroom taste lingering behind the fruit. Over the night it became heavy and overly sweet for me with a more pronounced vanilla taste. unlike the 05/06 the acidity wasn’t piercing, it went well with the wine and supported it, just I couldn’t get over the rich sweetness of the fruit, it was almost overwhelming.
  • 2004 Sine Qua Non Pinot Noir Covert Fingers - USA, California
    same as the other two notes, still a big ol ripe CA syrah style pinot. Tons of that strawberry with blackberry nose filled with oodles upon oodles of chocolate and vanilla. If you’re a fan of this style wine the nose alone is rather intoxicating, I think you can smell it from across the restaurant. The alcohol wasn’t present like it was in my previous notes, which is a positive. A lot of peppery spice on the palate mixed in with oak laden sweet fruits, just a blender full of big sweet luscious fruit that coats your whole mouth with a nice long finish.
  • 2005 Switchback Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Peterson Family Vineyard - USA, California, Napa Valley
    pop and pour, monster of a wine. The noise is gigantic with really deep concentrated chocolate, burnt brown sugar, and some of that super ripe dark fruit. Really soft ripe fruit on the palate which I wasn’t expecting. I was thinking it’d be a monster on the palate but it’s not… it’s ripe and some might find it overbearing but it’s well integrated. The tannins are silky smooth with a drop of vanilla. Not an overwhelming complex wine, less oak than I expected which is always a plus with this style.

Posted from CellarTracker

Now to my question

What would you all bring to a dinner to a person that only drinks Burgundy and Bordeaux and only the most expensive highly rated in those regions? What would you show that you think we blow him/her away without having to spend hundreds to thousands on a bottle? Would you go for a distinct style of wine that you found was different? or Would you bring your favorite wine that you know would impress without the $$ signs?

Quality Lambrusco and Char Chiu Pork!

I don’t think you should use wine to impress someone, but that you should serve wine you want to share with someone.

But personally in that situation, if he were a friend of my parents and someone who was so far up there I couldn’t really impress labelwise even if I tried? I’d serve him non-famous labels that I thought were really great. That way, if he saw something there, I’d know that we could bond other them, otherwise I’d guess it was a label thing and there’s no way I could impress him anyway.

That was ultimately my goal Rob. I wanted to bring him wines that I thought he would never think to try or at least a style he’d never think to try in China. To most of us in America SQN is pretty big, but he had zero clue what it was… let alone Arcadian and Switchback.

people in Southern China eat Cha Shao pork not Northern China :wink:

Pinot: Rhys
Cab: Harlan or '91 Dominus
Syrah: SQN or Lillian
Then 2003 Croft Port - probably as good as Port can be at 6 years old.

I would have brought an old California cab to show how elegant they can be. I’ve had a couple of Mondavi Reserves from the 70s, courtesy of the NJ/NY Jay Miller, in recent months that were glorious. He said he got them at auction for less than $70, as I recall. Old Phelps would be similar, though probably a bit pricier. Or old Heitz or Ridge.

If someone drinks top Bordeaux and Burgundy, SQN is likely to be a shock to the system. I think it would be better to ease him in more gently to California wines.

I’m really liking this thread, for me one of the more thought provoking wine prompts in a long time.

Honestly, as I’m rather new to seriously drinking wine, I feel somewhat like this every time I go to an offline, or invite wine nerd friends over for dinner. I generally try to find something a bit off the beaten path, ideally with a bit of age on it. All the better when it’s something my nerd friends have yet to try.

I think you were right to go with solid, but not super flashy wines. When drinking with someone with money of a different scale, it doesn’t make sense to attempt to play at their end of the pool. Luckily there are killer wines at all sorts of price points. It seems to me the three you settled on make fantastic sense, and I’d be happy to be at a table where they are being popped.

“I would bring something that had sentimental meaning to me”

Bingo! Or better yet, to my Mom. Who gives a rat’s ass how much money he has. Bringing something that is special to you shows how much you think of him, and respect him, as a frend of your mother, and not because of his wealth. That said, if you know his tastes, as you think that you do ( but onlybased on one dinner, so you are making assumptions) you should take that into account, also as ashow of respect (I thought that you might enjoy this).

For me, it would depend on the menu. A great wine-food (even middling wine) match can easily compete with the big labels.

Not knowing the food I’d say Ridge or Loire.

Depends on what the person likes, etc. but I think you made some pretty good calls there, Charlie. How were the wines received?

In addition to the good calls people made on California wines like Rhys, Copain, etc., I might also try to surprise them (assuming they like Bordeaux and Burgs from what they served) with less well-known French wines - overachievers like Joguet, Baudry, maybe a dura - or go Italian, as I feel they might like these but be less familiar with them.

I’d throw down some Carlisle and watch him do this… [swoon.gif]

Interesting question… while it’s PC from a wine lovers’ perspective to say “bring something you love, regardless of cost” I think social manners do dictate some expenditure, subject to the understanding that you’re not expected to spend what he might spend on himself. I also get that you wanted to show him some New World stuff. Too bad the Arcadian didn’t show well, but I think you had the right idea there and just needed one a little older. A Calera pinot would have been another good candidate… also if aged. Sine Qua Non would have worked for someone with a cellarful of Harlan and the like but for a collector of mature Bordeaux and Burgundy I would not have touched it with a 20-foot pole - someone unfamiliar with the acclaim the wine gets from subscribers of a certain brown-papered newsletter is likely to react to it the same way they’d react to a Mollydooker. I guess I would also have wanted to include something old in a category where a non-billionaire can still attain the highest highs - old Rioja or old Madeira maybe, if the meal can work with it…


Just wanted to say thanks for the note on the 05 SBR Cab. I’ve only popped one 05 SBR Merlot so far and haven’t touched the cabs yet. Maybe I’ll dig into one of those soon.

To respond to the original question, I would like to think that an avid wine collector, regardless of his level of personal wealth, would have a simple appreciation for wine in general and appreciate the fact that you are a young guy with a budding interest and collection of your own, willing to share some of your wine. If it was me, I probably would have tried to pull something out of the cellar that I felt was in line with his personal preferences rather then try to show off things he may not be interested in.

The '05 SBR Cab is indeed a fine bottle that is really approachable now.

if i was bringing something my mom likes, i’d go pick up some Yellowtail that’s been opened for a month. [rofl.gif]
btw, if he only owns Burgunday/Bordeaux than I kinda have a good grasp on what he likes :wink:

it’s such a hard question to answer as there is pretty much almost zero way he will be impressed in a sense. I like the way you went with the wines that have meaning to you and also wines that he may not have tried.

For me, I’d just try to grab some interesting wines that would hopefully do something for him and make sure to have some bubbles on hand so that there’d at least be that if he though the other wines were dreck

Things that normal people could afford?

Old World:

JJ Prüm
Helmut Dönnhoff

FX Pichler

Thierry and Jean-Marie Puzelat [Clos du Tue Boeuf - especially enjoy the Pineau d’Aunis]
Huët [if you can find it]
maybe Puffeney [Poulsard “M”, with about 72 hours’ of air]
maybe Tissot [Chardonnay]

maybe A or G Conterno, but they are getting pricey
[G Conterno does make an affordable Barbera, though]
ANY nice dry Prosecco [we’ve been enjoying Bisson lately]
just about ANY Moscato [every Paolo Saracco I’ve ever had has been somewhere between excellent and mind-blowing]

New World:

Difficult to recommend on this board because there are so many toes you could step on if you left off someone’s name.

Dude, Charlie wants to impress him, not bed him. [gheyfight.gif]