Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Nice to know that we were missed!!!!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Overpriced, over-sold, and over-hyped!
I'm talking about the Grand Cru Lounge at the Washington, DC International Wine & Food Festival held on February 14 and 15. The Grand Cru Lounge is billed as an exclusive part of the festival: " - Pamper yourself by visiting the ultra-special Grand Cru Wine Lounge. Sample the best of the best and taste creations from the area's top chefs." What I experienced yesterday was nothing of the sort.I attended the Grand Cru Lounge last year and in 2007, the year it debuted as part of the festival. I attended because the Grand Tasting part of the festival had become so popular and overcrowded that even the trade hours were too much. In both of the two previous years, the Grand Cru Lounge was as it was billed: "Reserve level wines will be featured in this separate and sophisticated setting for the most serious wine enthusiast. All wines have been hand-selected and will be presented at specific times throughout the day. Several top winemakers will be on hand to discuss their wines as they are poured. A limited number of tickets are available in order to maintain a high-quality tasting experience..." Each year, the tasting was held in a very large, circular room called the Pavilion, with the Pavillion Prefunction room also being used. Many restaurants were represented, serving tastes of some of their signature dishes. The wines were for the most part the ultra-premium selections from excellent wineries, known and obscure, from all over the world. A live jazz band played, and some of the guests even danced. Overall, the Grand Cru Lounge events in 2007 and 2008 were a good value and an excellent experience.Not so this year! At 2 p.m. those of us with tickets were admitted to a long, narrow, tomb-like room. As is my habit, I proceeded through the room to the back, to scope out what the offerings were and to avoid the crush of people at Table #1. Maybe I didn't read the description of this year's event properly, I'm thinking. I got to the back of the room, and the only chef I saw was from the Occidental Restaurant, and he was arranging pastries on a display. There was also a table set up with Capitol Chocolate Fountains. A cheese display was in the middle of the center of the room, near the back. It had a nice selection of cheeses, fruits, breads and the like. But it was so large it made the already-cramped room seem more cramped. Walking back up towards the front of the room, I saw a beautiful display of colorful crudite, with some bowls of dressing on the side. By the time I got back to the very front, the room was completely full and there was very little room to move, let alone approach the tables to try to get a taste of wine. The room was more crowded than the Grand Tasting, and the selection of wines was certainly not up to par with the previous years'. Where was Hunt Cellars? Chateau Julien? Where was Nage and all of the other great restaurants from before? So I paid $125 to eat raw vegetables and cheese and crackers with my samples of wine? That was the only savory food being offered. As for the desserts, well, I did not pay $125 to enjoy a sample of Jadot Puligny-Montrachet 2006 with a chocolate-covered strawberry marshmallow. I didn't sample the desserts because I don't eat chocolate and I'm not a big fan of sweets. By 4:30 p.m., a full hour and a half before the event was scheduled to end, several of the wines were gone, and so was I.I'd love to hear comments from those of you who attended this year's Grand Cru Lounge, especially if you attended in previous years. I will be contacting ResourcePlus Shows & Events to express my dissatisfaction with this event. I hope you will, too. Just click on this link: http://www.wine-expos.com/Wine/DC/contact-us.asp?SHID=47699716.04953754.
Posted by Wine-Know at 7:37 PM 0 comments
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