October 18, 2006
Some Substance to this Sizzle

So just what wine will you get if you go to the Palms in Las Vegas and fork over $6,000 for the burger and bottle of Bordeaux that the Maloof brothers are promoting on behalf of Carl's Jr. in a controversial TV commercial? The 1982 Chateau Petrus, vintage after vintage Bordeaux's most expensive wine. Recent vintages have been selling for between $700 and $900 per bottle. Noted wine critic Robert M. Parker Jr. has called the '82 Petrus "one of the greatest wines I have ever tasted." Note, however, that that was six years ago, and who knows how well the wine has aged.

Stephen Tanzer, another respected critic, tried two bottles of the wine four years ago and found both samples "not up to the reputation of this vintage. "Hugely tannic, even a bit dry, on the end," said Tanzer. Nonetheless, both writers gave the wine high scores, 98 out of 100 from Parker, 93 from Tanzer.

Frankly, the bottle that viewers get a glimpse of in the commercial doesn't look like it bears the distinctive label that long has adorned bottles of Petrus, but Christopher Walters, spokesman for the Palms, says that's the wine customers get. Since the commercials began to air Monday the hotel casino has sold one of the combos, Walters said.

But there's no need for the curious to go all the way to Las Vegas to enjoy the wine with a burger. It's on the wine list at The Kitchen in Sacramento for $3,600. And they'll even throw in the burger at no extra cost, though it won't be from Carl's Jr.

The Kitchen's Josh Nelson, incidentally, brings up an intriguing factoid about the '82 Petrus. "It's believed to be the most counterfeited wine in the world, with more on the market than was produced," said Nelson.

Chateau Petrus, incidentally, is owned by Christian Moueix, who also owns the Napa Valley winery Dominus Estate. This raises another question for the Maloofs: What's wrong with a California wine with a Carl's Jr. burger?

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