Sunday, March 11, 2018

Recent drinking round up!

Using the word "recent" in a loose sense here... it's finally time to pull together all the scrappy notes that I've been accumulating over the past few months and record some drinking!

First up, Fratrie Gamay. I bought this in the serious wine shop in Beaune. It was just 12% alcohol but you'd never guess - it packed a punch. It had an amazing fruity nose and was very juicy. It went down real easy, but was definitely one for short-term drinking. There was no vintage on it but the cork said 17.02 so we guessed it was 2016. The guy in the shop told us to serve it cool, which was definitely good advice. A very vibrant, accessible wine.

Then, something a little more serious... Clos-Vougeot 1995 from Chateau de la Tour. This was a dark colour and had a rich, mature and cedary nose. It was elegant and powerful, with notes of chocolate and drinking really well now. Black forest gateau in a glass. It had a beautiful weight and an excellent finish and all in all, was top notch stuff.

One evening, G contributed a bottle of Duhart-Milon 1988 which I am informed is a 4th growth Pauillac. This had the classic cabernet sauvignon nose and was silky and ripe but not fruity. We thought it would probably have been quite unpleasant in its youth. It was almost textbook middleweight Pauillac. G described it as having "slim fetlocks" (he was pleased with that one) and it was precise and congruent but perhaps slightly old school and austere.

Back to Burgundy, a bottle of Beaune Lulune 2010 from Emmanuel Giboulot. We decanted this two hours in advance and put it in the fridge. It was a nose of poached strawberries and was incredibly smooth, vibrant, elegant and feminine. Another low alcohol wine at just 12%. It went really well with our 100 pound, sorry 100 day old chicken. For me it was a definite 10 while G considered it a high 9.

Another 2010 was a white this time, Beaune Chaume Gaufriots from Domaine Audiffred. G and I had the first bottle of this with fish fingers, and I had another one with the boys a couple of weeks ago. I honestly think this is the best white Beaune I've had since the good old days of Yves Darviot. It was particularly good in the first half hour, with a lot of tropical fruit - passion fruit, mango, pineapple. An exuberant wine, with a sort of line of acidity down the middle. My notes contain the phrase "died and went to heaven". Over time, it became more classically lemony. I believe I still have 4 bottles left - don't think they'll be hanging around for long!

In early February, G and I drank this Hosmer Cabernet France 2009 which we brought back from the Finger Lakes. This had a lovely fruity nose with rich berries and plums, and reminded us of fruit compote. It was silky, succulent and congruent, with a freshness that gave it a mouthwatering quality, and a good finish. We had it with a lamb tagine and couscous, which worked very well. It was juicy, glossy and accomplished, and not at all green. Surprisingly serious stuff and very attractive. I continue to rate this winery highly and would definitely buy this wine again.

Another evening in early Feb, G showed up with this sercial from Cossart Gordon. He thought it had spent 30 years in cask and the bottling was postwar, possibly from the 1950s. It smelled like sercial, but was sweeter than expected on the palate, and we thought it probably had a rum base. I was moved to use one of my Irish granny's phrases: "No harm in that!" It had caramelised nuts, a slightly herbaceous edge to it, and a great finish. Really lovely stuff.

On the same evening, we cracked this bottle of Beaune Greves 1er cru 2008 from Chateau de Meursault. This had been hanging around in my wardrobe for some time, in a huge and somewhat ostentatious bottle. The wine itself looked glossy and was pretty and typique, with a nice weight and the classic red Beaune perfume, and was drinking very well now. All in all, a decent 8 on the premier cru scale.

And finally, in late February, we had a bottle of Kylix Cuvee 2007 from Seneca Shore, also in the Finger Lakes. This was a dark purple colour and had amazing legs. It had a very cabernet franc nose, with menthol and blackcurrant, and was a lovely weight. G said it was frontal, a term which always makes me laugh, but I wasn't sure I agreed. The finish actually reminded me of mouthwash it was so minty. Somehow this bottle seemed lighter than previous bottles, so we wondered if it was getting to the end of its life. When we had it with food, however, in this case a beef stew, it seemed to gain weight. A pity they're not making it any more.

That brings us reasonably up to date and this week I took delivery of a couple of reds which have been in storage so will be writing about them soon...

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Dinner with Romain Chapuis, 1st March

On Thursday night, I braved the Beast from the East and made it through the slush to the ICA on the Mall, where Rochelle have taken over the restaurant. I've been a couple of times and it has established itself as a firm favourite, not least because of the pies!

We were there for a wine-tasting dinner with Romain Chapuis, hosted by ACC of the Burgundy Portfolio. I'm a big fan of Romain's wines and attended a dinner he did previously, two or three years ago (strangely I don't appear to have blogged about it) so was very excited to get one more chance to try them again.

I arrived expecting the tasting to be upstairs in the restaurant, but then I heard familiar voices coming from the left and discovered what one might call an inner sanctum, a little alcove, where a number of people were already gathered and were drinking 2016 Orange Blossom aligote en magnum. After a couple of minutes opening up in the glass this turned out to be a very enjoyable, refreshing aperitif and I was lucky enough to get a couple of refills.

Then we moved upstairs for dinner where I sat with G and the Baron, so our end of the table could certainly not be accused of being boring. We tasted a number of bottles which had been shown to the restaurant earlier in the day. Of the whites, we tried the 2016 Bourgogne Blanc which had a lively acidity and notes of lime, while the Rully 2016 was well-balanced with good grip, and very drinkable. I'd already tasted this back in January and placed an order so was glad to confirm my own opinion.

I managed not to get a photo of my favourite red, the 2017 Coteaux Bourguignons "sans soufre" which is a Gamay, and reminds me of those lovely Beaujolais which I love - Foillard etc. It had a beautiful nose and was light and fruity and very glou-glou. At least nine out of ten. I bought some of the 2016 last year and am really looking forward to drinking it soon if spring ever appears.

I also very much enjoyed this 2016 Cotes de Nuits Villages "Les Chaillots" which was richer, with black fruits.

Two other highlights were this 2015 Maranges which I see I bought last year - this is turning into a very self-congratulatory blog post I'm afraid - and the 2013 Pernand-Vergelesses "Les Belles Filles". I appear to have given up making notes when we got to the Maranges but for me it has an enjoyably rustic quality. Call me old fashioned but I think it would go well with sausages, and is good value for a village red, while the Pernand was more elegant and fruity.

As always, the food at Rochelle was excellent and I particularly enjoyed the rillettes and the chicken, leek and tarragon pie which I remembered to take a photo of before I guzzled it all. Happiness ensued.

Some readers may have noticed a few song references clumsily inserted into this blog post.* The Baron became agitated half way through dinner and clearly wished to communicate something but wasn't being sufficient vocal for me to hear, so he had to scribble it down on his menu. It turned out that Neil Tennant had just sat down at the table next to us. As we're huge Pet Shop Boys fans this was very exciting and I had to resist the temptation not to keep staring at Neil as he was reading his book. Two glasses of champagne had been poured and I was on tenterhooks wondering who was going to join him for dinner; it turned out to be none other than Janet Street Porter! I was delighted to see that they both had pies too.

All in all, a super evening. Thanks ACC and Romain!

*Eight altogether.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Dinner at Hawksmoor, 30th December

A lot of unexpected things happened at the end of 2017 all of which were pretty damned good, and one of them was becoming friends with J who lives across the pond. She was in London at the end of December and we were able to meet up a couple of times. We have a shared interest in wine so this was a great opportunity to do a Clash of the Titans (Titans Will Clash) contest between old world and new...

With Get The Party Started playing on my ipod, I lurked around outside the Hawksmoor admiring the Christmas lights on Regent St. Then J showed up and it was game on.

First things first, a negroni to get us in the mood. I've been drinking far too many of these lately, but I'm too lazy to do the thing with the orange, so it was nice to have one made properly by someone else for a change.

We handed our bottles over to the sommelier who seemed impressed even though I say so myself, although there was much checking throughout the evening as to whether these two "ladies" were going to drink both bottles all by themselves... positively shocking!

The sommelier did know his stuff though, as he advised us to begin with my contribution, the Latour 1983. J had never had Chateau Latour so I felt it necessary to introduce her to the civilised world and had spent a couple of months frantically looking at auction lists to find something suitable.

I went through my Latour phase a couple of years ago but that was mainly wines from the 1960s so I was excited about trying the 1983, although G had warned me that it might be relatively light, which it was. But I won't go so far as to describe it as luncheon claret. It had those classic cedar and cigar box things going on, and we also detected cocoa and maybe even leather. I've subsequently been informed that this wine can be found on a Las Vegas wine list for, wait for it, $16,000. Still rolling about laughing about that.

Then it was on to the bottle J had brought over with her, this Insignia 2004 from Joseph Phelps in the Napa Valley. What can I say? This was quite a contrast! It was big, approachable, fruity and generally crowd-pleasing. The terms blowsy and hedonistic sprang to mind, or perhaps opulent is a better way of putting it.

There was no clear winner as this was like comparing apples and pears, but it was fascinating to compare the different styles and both bottles were very enjoyable, as was the company. Thanks J for a fantastic evening!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Dinner at mine, 15th Nov

Yes, I realise this dinner happened over 3 months ago... things have been busy lately (in a good way) but I'm hoping to get caught up over the next few weeks.

On this occasion, P joined me and G for dinner at my place.

We kicked off with this Seneca Shore "non vintage" riesling (we suspect it did have a vintage, but they don't bother putting it on the label there). It came in at 12.5% and was light and refreshing, served very cold. It was in the German style rather than the Alsatian and made a very pleasant aperitif with some marcona almonds, especially at $15. There's a reference in my notes to drinking it on the deck, which definitely didn't happen given that it was late November and I don't actually have a deck!

Then we moved on to some fun bottles brought by P, who got them at auction, including two old champagnes. The Victor Cliquot was an amazing amber colour and had a nose of beeswax and honey. P said it reminded him of mead. It claimed to be extra dry which amused us as it was nothing of the sort. I got brioche and pain au raisin. The Charles de Cazanove was drier but it had the same waxy quality. G thought it came from the 1980s as the label was relatively modern.

Finally, we had a mystery wine, in the bottle on the left in the photo further up. The bottle was missing its label and there was nothing on the cork to tell us what it was, but the bottle had a big punt indicating that this was a serious wine. It had a golden colour and a nose of botrytis, but didn't seem all that sweet, with restrained fruit and a hint of apricot jam. G thought it was one of the lighter sauternes, possibly Chateau Nairac, again probably from the 1980s. My notes say "won't go with cheese" only immediately to contradict themselves by saying that it went well with the Epoisses and Cornish gouda... Thanks very much to P for sharing them with us!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Lunch at mine, 21st October

And so the great blog catch up of 2017 continues... thank god I've found my notes at last!

21st October was a Sunday, and D and G joined me at A du V Towers for lunch. That's fellow wine enthusiasts D and G not brother and sister in law D and G.

We commenced with this 1er cru Chassagne-Montrachet Morgeot 2012 from Domaine de la Choupette. This was a lovely colour and had a good mouthfeel. The oak was there but it was appropriate and integrated. It was well-balanced and drinking really well now, crisp, classic Chassagne with that slight mushroomy thing going on. There'd be no hurry to drink the rest, if G has any left, and we gave it a 9 on the premier cru scale.

Next up was the red version of the same wine, from the 2008 vintage. This was a relatively light colour and slightly dumb on the nose for me initially, but once it got going it had smokey, leather, redcurrant and red berry compote flavours. We thought it would last another five years.

At this point I remembered that I had the village level Chassagne 2008 from Choupette lurking in my wardrobe, so naturally a horizontal comparison ensued. This was much darker with black cherry fruit and somebody appears to have made the comment "a little bit of sweaty saddle" - I think that must have been G channeling his inner Jilly Goolden. It was drinking perfectly now and was approachable, but we felt the premier cru was more solid and the fruit was riper.

The colour contrast is very clear in this photo.

Moving on, with the cheese course we had some Chapoutier Hermitage La Sizeranne from 1998. This claimed to be 13% but I have my doubts. It was a very dark colour and had a big nose with woody spices including star anise and a hint of rubber. On the palate we found plums, cinnamon and liquorice. It was big but had mellowed down, and reminded me how much I like the Northern Rhone. My notes threw the f word around with abandon and in an entirely positive way. Or, as G put it, more elegantly, "Rhone is offering a lot of pleasure at the moment."

We finished off with a half of Chateau Suduiraut 2001 with our berries, which had a lovely botrytis quality and lemon and lime marmalade flavours. It was light, elegant and floral rather than blowsy, and had good balance and acidity. The finish lasted for minutes. A wonderful end to a very fine lunch!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Burgundy Portfolio 2016 en primeur tasting, 15th Jan

Since my chronology is all over the place at the moment, let's rewind to Monday when I had the good fortune to attend this rather exclusive event at Le Meridien, Piccadilly. A quick trip to Fortnums beforehand and I was all set to taste some serious booze. In pictures, here were some (but not all) of my favourites... A good time was had!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Semi SPNS, 16th Oct 2017

Now that my epic report from the Finger Lakes is finished, it's time to get up to date with a few other bottles that have been drunk over the past three months or so.

On Mon 16th Oct, G, P, D and I convened at the Savile for a dinner which was sort of like the SPNS but with more relaxed rules (i.e. we could spend what we liked). Notes do not seem to have made it into the official Proceedings so we'll have to make do with a pictorial record. At this rate I'll need to abandon the blog and get an Instagram account... only kidding...

Update: now edited to include G's comments as his memory is better than mine.

G contributed this 2002 Billecart-Salmon Cuvee Nicholas Billecart which was very fine indeed. I could happily drink more of it, hint hint. G said it was the sheer drinkability of it that was so surprising. We could happily have polished off a magnum without further ado.

My contribution was my penultimate bottle of white Corton 2008 from Anne Parent, which was singing. A wonderful lemony, waxy, oaked chardonnay, impeccable.

P contributed a bottle of Chateau Berliquet 1988... G says classic luncheon claret, good of its type but outclassed by its company. I think that's a fair assessment.

The company being this Chateau Haut Brion 1975 contributed by D. This had a wonderful perfume, almost of violets and was still inky-hued. A great pleasure to drink.

Scene of wild abandon at our usual table at the Savile Club

And finally, a bottle of 1881 Leacock Terrantez contributed by G. This was full-throated stuff with a five minute finish. The last of his nineteenth century vintages, sadly. Fun while it lasted.

Just another typical Monday night in the world of A du V.... thanks to all for their contributions!