On a recent trip to the Berkshires my husband and I had the pleasure of staying at Blantyre. A “Relais et Chateaux” and Forbes 5 Star property located in the charming Berkshire town of Lenox, MA. While discussing options for afternoon sight seeing, Blantyre’s wine director,
Christelle Cotar, invited us to tour the cellar of Blantyre. Based on the wine list, which reads like a history book and is similar in size, we knew this was an opportunity not to be missed.
The cellar, which was voted one of Boston’s Best by Destination Cellars (a distribution and travel company based in Virginia,) consisted of a whopping 17,000 bottles that Cotar and head sommelier, Luc Chevalier, grew from a mere 4,000 bottles in 2004. The over 2,500 selections were housed in five pristine climate controlled cellars.
Cotar was particularly proud of her half-bottle and rehoboam selections. She explained how the half bottles allow diners more flexibility. For example, a couple could have Sancerre with the scallops, Cabernet with beef and Sauternes with dessert. The rehoboam bottles, she pointed out, hold the equivalent of six bottles. She went on to explain the uncorking and presentation of the rehoboam. First, Cotar decants to allow the wine to breath; next she washes the rehoboam bottle; and then returns the decanted wine to the now clean rehoboam bottle. The wine is served from the rehoboam. She beamed when she told us that with this method there is no sediment and guests are thrilled with the display.
I admit, my knowledge of wine is very limited and it was only recently that I began to enjoy it. While you might think this tour would be wasted on someone like me; I assure you it was not. The tour was a crash course in wine collecting that explained the smiles I see when diners are presented with a selection, the thoughtful looks they give when tasting and the satisfaction when the selection is approved. The experience is similar to that of a gardener who plants a seed, nurtures the plants for a long period and then basks in the joy of the harvest. This tour will forever mark the time and place my wine collecting interest began.
A more detailed description of Blantyre’s wine cellar can be found in Connecticut’s Cottages and Gardens article entitled The Cellar of Blantyre.