Tomorrow is the first Monday of 2011 and my article on Burgundy for France Today is due... I also need to work on a 2009 vintage report for Harpers Wine & Spirit.
But allow me just to reflect on a marvelous Chateau Eglise Clinet Pomerol 1989 whose plum and spice richness matched a New Year's Day prime rib of beef perfectly. Or how about a delectably smooth - nuanced cherry and mineral - Bouchard Pere & Fils Nuits St Georges Les Cailles 2006, whose lingering silky finish matched a roast pheasant on 31 December wonderfully! On Christmas Day, we enjoyed a smooth and rather floral Chateau Giscours Margaux 2002, ready to enjoy, among other wines.
Just before flying to the US, I enjoyed dinner at French wine critic Bernard Burtschy's house and he opened a magnum of Champagne Duval Leroy 1985: what a joy that was, followed up with some superb wines for a meal of scallops and rear beef...
Before we come back down to earth for Monday 3 January tomorrow, here a link to a lovely dinner I shared with some very knowledgeable Washingtonian wine lovers, at a very affordable BYOW friendly French restaurant in Washington D.C.
Happy New Year!
From Haut Brion 1966 and Pichon Lalande 1975 to Dom Perignon 1996 and 2002: holiday tasting notes
- Reply by dmcker, Jan 2, 2011.
Thanks for the holiday stories, panos. Would love to hear more about the Duval Leroy magnum. Any TNs?
- Reply by panoskakaviatos, Jan 2, 2011.
I just recall it from memory, on 18 December, as both crisp and rich, mineral and smooth. I am sorry not to have more details but what I recall liking about it was that there was no flab, and still quite a bit of energy after so many years. Says much for magnum formats, too!
- Reply by Stephen Harvey, Jan 2, 2011.
Sounds like a truly memorable dinner Panos.
It has got me starting to think about planning my first 2011 wine dinner in May.
- Reply by panoskakaviatos, Jan 3, 2011.
It was Stephen.
Where will you be organising your dinner and with which wines?
- Reply by Stephen Harvey, Jan 3, 2011.
This was my notes from the last dinner
We hold them in Adelaide, South Australia, generally May and November
Harvey Wine Night Mark IV
Friday 19 November at Georges Restaurant in Waymouth Street In Adelaide
02 Roederer Cristal Champagne
The Cristal was somewhat surprising, in pleasant way. It was very clean and crisp and did have an overpowering yeast component. The bead was very fine and the flavour was unusual, clean and crisp yet a sort of exotic overall flavour with magnificent depth. I can’t find a descriptor that works but it was a quite different champagne to many I have tried and the first serious champagne from the 02 Vintage. Maybe the fact it had NO malolactic fermentation was part of the answer
The Cristal was served with
Sydney Rock Oysters, lirlh Chardonnay vinegar
The mix of Oysters and Champagne was perfect and I think the chardonnay based vinegar was an integral part of the match. Too little Champagne too few Oysters – but much food to come!!
Rating – Cristal 95/100, Oysters 9/10, match 9/10 overall – Great Start – 18.0/20
03 Jacobs Creek Steingarten Eden Valley Riesling
03 Pewsey Vale Contours Eden Valley Riesling
07 Weinbach Riesling Alsace Grand Cru Schlossberg Cuvée Ste.-Catherine
Ocean Trout Carpaccio, fried capers, orange beurre blanc
Interestingly no corks to be seen the two Aussies in Screw Cap and the Alsace in Glass Stopper, as they should be!!!!
The two Australian Rieslings were quite different, the Steingarten was ageing well and was starting to show that hydrocarbon characteristic you get with older Rieslings, the art I enjoyed was the fact that is was subtle and still allowed the riesling flavour to show through. The Contours was ageing much slower which surprised me and there was only a very slight hydro cardon hint and the acid was still prominent to suggest many more years left in the wine. It had a really nice lemon/lime undertone which was starting to fade the development of the hydrocarbon secondary flavours. The Weinbach was a delightful Alsatian with a much more subtle fruit backbone, I got more of a stone fruit flavour, like peach and apricot although debate as most are very much Alsace novices, and off course with its comparative youth still quite tight and acidic, should have a long life.
The Trout was delightful and the Orange Buerre Blanc provides a near perfect backdrop for the Rieslings. The flavours were subtle and were nicely matched to the wines
Rating – Steingarten 94/100, Contours 93/100, Weinbach 94/100, Trout 8.5/10, Match 8.5/10 Overall – We are on a role – 17/20.
The Bordeaux Blanc Blends – predominantly Semillon Sauvignon Blanc
06 Chateau de Fieuzal Blanc (Pessac-Léognan) – 70% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Semillon
06 Mount Mary Triolet Yarra Valley Victoria Australia – Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Muscadelle
07 Cullen Margaret River Western Australia Mangan Vineyard Semillon Sauvignon Blanc - 63% Semillon and 37% Sauvignon Blanc
Served with Morton Bay Bug Tortellini, lemon & pepper yoghurt, prosciutto, burnt butter vinaigrette
2 X Screw caps and 1 x Cork no cork issues.
A difficult flight, most of us rarely drink this style of wine, and for most it was the first Bordeaux Blanc to test their palate. Rating wine you do not try a lot is a challenge but I will give it a go.
The Mount Mary created much debate as the wine had an almost most phenolic nose which did disappear with the benefit of air. I really enjoyed the wine and found the it had great fruit in the mouth with a melon flavour with some vanilla hints from its oak maturation. The wine had excellent structure and length as was an excellent example of what I look for in this blend. The Cullen was disappointing for such a brilliant wine making team. I thought the wine was SB dominant but I was wrong, the wine had that real green, under ripe capsicum flavour that puts me off of SB. The wine did not excite anyone in our team. The Feiuzal created a lot of debate, I quite liked the wine and it fooled me as I thought it was Semillon dominant?!?! The integration of the SB and Sem was good and the wine had nice structure but did fall away a bit in the back palate. The fruit was subtle as you would expect and I got some melon and lemon, interestingly not a lot of oak impact.
The Bug dish was stunning, it had lots of lively flavours jumping around and the tortellini was so fresh and perfectly cooked. The lemon & pepper yoghurt base seemed to really compliment the fruit in the wine and the vinaigrette just sharpened its edge. For many it was the dish of the night.
Rating – Feiuzal 91/100, Mount Mary 94/100, Cullen 86/100, Food 9.5/10, Match 8/10 Overall – Volatile opinions! But still pretty good 15/20.
We then ventured to the Pinots.
09 Felton Road Block 3 Central Otago New Zealand
09 Bindi Block 5 Macedon Ranges, Victoria Australia
02 Domaine Armand Rousseau Gevrey Chambertin Clos St Jacques Premier Cru
2 x Screw Cap and 1 x cork, no issues and I suspect St Peters College will go Co-ed before we see Premier Cru Burgundy in anything other than cork.
Seared Duck breast, carrot puree, broad beans, crisp shallots
Yes it was unfair competition, an acknowledged great Burgundy from a premier cru vineyard [which some suggest is Grand Cru standard] from a very good Burgundy Vintage with 8 years compared to 1 year of age. Well that’s what I found so that’s how we drank them.
The Felton Road was a typical young Central Otago Pinot, very fragrant with that flowery nose and very sweet pinot fruit with definite raspberry fruit sweetness. Plenty going on and whilst a bit confusing on the palate I think it will develop as a 3-6 year wine, perhaps not enough complexity to be a long time prospect. The Bindi was tight and closed and needed a lot of coaxing to show us what it had, but with some patience and aggressive swirling and shaking it began to really provide evidence of an outstanding Aussie Pinot. The fruit was much more of a blackberry with some mocha/coffee overtones and it had significantly more complexity than the Felton Road. The length was good and this wine should have the capacity to be a ten year prospect – Aussie pinots have generally not been long living but that is slowly changing as the vineyards mature and the winemakers understand the grape more. The Rousseau, well the comparison was brutally unfair, partly because it was itself too young to hit its straps and because this wine just evolved with every sip and with every minute it was left in the glass. The experienced Pinot clan, including the Nugent boys from Bird in the Hand winery, left theirs too evolve for 20-30 mins and we were rewarded by the evolution of this excellent wine. The big difference with the Rousseau is that the wine has a much more savoury, meaty backbone rather than fruit dominant and this is what Burgundies are renowned for, and when they get it right is an amazing drink.
Duck and Pinot – what can you say! Well I can say this; lately I have had some ordinary duck dishes, too dry, too tough, overbearing sickly sauce etc. But this was ne delightful duck dish, cooked to perfection, moist and pink, rich in flavour but super gamey, the carrot puree complimented the duck was a perfect accompaniment, I love shallots, and even the road beans were OK [I am not usually a broad bean fan]. The match, particularly with the Bindi and the Rousseau was magic; whilst the Bindi was not quite as savoury as the Rousseau it had enough earthinesses to match the gamey duck flavour. I am sure the duck came from Gevrey Chambertin and contributed to the fertilisation of the Clos St Jacques vineyard, but seriously the match of perfectly cooked duck and great burgundy is a treat.
Rating – Felton Road 89/100, Bindi 93/100, Rousseau 97/100, Duck 9.5/10, Match 9/10 Overall - This was a cracking food and wine match - 19/20
The Cabernet Assault was about to start
00 Cullen Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Margaret River Western Australia
98 Petaluma Coonawarra, Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot, Coonawarra South Australia
00 Monbousquet Rouge, Grand cru de Saint Emillon, Bordeaux France Cabernet Franc, Merlot.
3 x Corks, no taint, but one bottle of Petaluma was a bit flat – damn Portuguese Bark.
Hay Valley Lamb cutlets, eggplant, persian feta, almonds
I will ignore the one flat bottle and any associated cork ranting and focus on the positives. The Cullen restored my faith in Vanya and her team. 2000 was a poor vintage in South Eastern Australia but very good in the West [A couple of thousand Kms separated by a very large dessert and very different weather conditions can do that!] The Cullen had matured into an excellent cab merlot blend with a beautiful black current fruit background that was becoming more influenced by son=me very subtle oak treatment with well integrated mocha and chocolate overtones. The wine was well balanced and had great palate length with nothing missing. Excellent Wine. The good bottle of Petaluma was excellent and showed the style difference between Coonawarra and Margaret River. The Petaluma still had a very strong Blackberry and Raspberry fruit feel and was drinking like a younger wine than the Cullen. There seemed to be a bit more tannic influence and I grappled with which wine I liked the best, same grapes, so different yet so good. The Monbousquet was something else; again a lack of experience with St Emillon wines caused much debate as we grappled with what we were looking for. The nose was very exotic, almost spicy herb overtones and the fruit, typical of what I have experienced with St Emillon is restrained, but certainly not overtly tannic and very approachable, the palate length was great and the wine continued to evolve in the glass [I left this wine for nearly an hour and went back to it later – benefit of being the host I found a little bit left in the decanter.]
Lamb Chops, Loin Chops, cooked to perfection, moist, slightly pink, crunchy lamb fat, superb lamb flavour [in fact I suspect in between lamb and hogget] The flavour was strong enough to integrate with the strong cabernet flavours and too my surprise the eggplant and feta complimented the food and did not provide any flavour conflict with the wine. Superb dish
Rating – Cullen 94/100, Petaluma 94/100, Monbousquet 94/100, Lamb 9/10,Match 8.5/10 Overall – just pipped by the Duck/Pinot combination but pretty good 18.0/20
Next Bordeaux v Barossa v Napa Cabs
97 Caymus Vineyards, Special Selection Napa Valley USA Cabernet Sauvignon
96 Penfolds Kalimna Block 42 Barossa Valley Australia Cabernet Sauvignon
82 Grand Vin de Léoville-Las Cases St Julien Bordeaux France Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot
3 x Corks – no issues other than a pain in the ass to get out.
Cremeux d’argental, quince paste, lavosh, muscatels
The Caymus was an interesting wine, it had a bit of bottle stink which set some back but it blew off and revealed a very fine cabernet. The wine had matured into a delightful cabernet which was showing still some evidence of black current/blackberry fruit but now being more evident was a beautiful cigar box and chocolate secondary taste. The wine evolved in the glass and as it did the secondary flavours gained more prominence but delivered a nicely balanced wine, certainly this was an excellent advert for Napa Cabernet. The Penfolds Kalimna Block is a single block wine only made in outstanding years from vines with an average age of close to 110 years. This was an amazing wine, it was still very young and was showing an amazing fruit structure of blackberry and raspberry and whilst the tannins were now settling down, we were only just getting a hint of the vanilla oak and secondary flavours with a hint of coffee and chocolate. The wine continued to evolve in the glass and with some time the secondary flavours became more apparent. This wine has 10-20 plus years left. The Leoville – this is the second time I have had the 82 and this wine blows me away every time I try it. 28 Years old and barely into its adolescence. The dark blackberry fruit is hidden by a very strong but well balanced dose of tannins and the oak treatment is providing a wine that is evolving at almost glacial pace. As the wine evolves in the glass the secondary flavours begin to shine and this is a wonderfully complex example of what Bordeaux and St Julien can produce.
The cheese was a triple crème from burgundy and together with the quince paste and muscatels matched the brooding cabernets nicely.
Rating – Caymus 94/100, Penfolds 97/100, Las Cases 99/100, Cheese 8/10, Match 8.5/10 Overall – The best set of wines and the food was not overwhelmed nor did it at all contradict the wines flavours, 19/20.
Dessert and d’Yquem
1988 Chateau d’Yquem, Sauterne, Bordeaux France
Catalan cream, fresh berry & mint salad, hazelnut biscotti
I am at a loss for words, if you have not had a 1988 d’Yquem, don’t waste any more time, find it, drink it, share it. You could almost give up sex for an 88 d’Yquem. The flavour is indescribable; it just lasts and lasts on the palate, penetrating the last taste station in your throat. The match with the sweet but subtle cream and berry dessert was amazing. You just had to sit there and take it in. I have no doubt that this d’Yquem will continue to evolve and develop and probably outlast my grandchildren [not that I have any but….]. Yes I would choose this combination over sex!!!!
D’Yquem – 99+/100, Dessert 9.5/10, match 9.5/10 Overall – what a penultimate finish – 19.5+/20
We finished with coffee and a 77 Dows Silver Jubilee Vintage Port. A nice wine to finish the night and went well with those outside enjoying a Romeo & Juliet Cigar.
The night was a great food and wine experience and I think we all enjoyed seeing just what the wine world and Georges chefs particularly Carlos, can produce. The service by George, Alex and Sheldon was outstanding and George’s commitment to fine wine and food was again evident and well respected and thoroughly enjoyed by us all.
And special thanks to Sharyn for producing the tasting books.