Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon Vertical -- Event Setup

#Cabernet Day was a 24-hour, worldwide celebration of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet-dominated blends held on Thursday, September 2nd.  Wineontheway.com's contribution to this celebration was to host a 12-vintage (1994-2005) tasting of the renowned Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon.  In a previous post, I covered the "back story" of the tasting.  In this post I will detail the event setup.

As noted in my previous post, the event was being held in the Luma on Park Cellar.  The initial plan was to have the attendees sitting in a large, u-shaped configuration with the open end of the "u" adjacent to a large-screen TV which was ensconced in the west wall of the cellar.  Once the number of attendees surpassed 35, that seating configuration had to be jettisoned and a total of six circular tables, each sitting seven, was used instead.

The wines were carefully transported between Wineontheway.com and Luma by a very nervous Adam Chilvers.  Luma had provided the tables and flowing white tablecloths so once the wines were safely deposited in the staging area, Adam, John Allport, and Erin Allport began the task of laying out the table mats and placing glasses in each dated circle; 42 table mats and 504 glasses.

In addition to the tables, the Cellar was equipped with a banquette at the rear -- used, in this case, for extra glasses and staff wines -- as well as a countertop below the TV which was used as the staging area for the wines.

John began opening bottles at around 5:15 pm and did some preliminary analysis of the contents to ensure that the wines were not flawed.  The serious factory production did not begin, however, until Andrew McNamara arrived.  He arrived with a burst of energy and began issuing directions regarding pouring order and then began to open and taste through the wines.  Based on his preference (remember, he was the event leader), the wines were to be poured youngest first (2005) from bottom right to top left (1994), with the result being that the youngest wines would have the longest pre-event exposure to oxygen.

While opening the wines, Andrew noted that some of the corks in the older vintages had disintegrated but the wines did not appear to be compromised.  Three of the wines  -- a 1994, a 1995, and a 1999 -- were deemed to be corked.  Because the final bottle count had taken such an eventuality into consideration, attendees were not adversely affected by the loss of these bottles.

The event had been slated to begin at 6:00 pm but the sheer volume of wine to be poured rendered that infeasible.  Even with assistance from Derek (Luma) and Carter Nixon (Stacole), the extreme care that was required to ensure that the right vintage was poured into the right glass (and no one wanted to be the person to drop a bottle) rendered the process slower than anyone had envisioned.  Guests were shepherded into the Luma bar -- a nicer place to wait out a delay can not be found in Orlando -- until the final touches were put in place and the doors were thrown open.  The below posterity photo was taken just prior to the guests being welcomed down.  From left to right, Adam Chilvers, Andrew McNamara, Erin Allport, the author, and Carter Nixon.

The guests were ushered in.

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