Sunday, October 30, 2011

SPNS dinner, 20th October

Last Thursday evening saw the Swiss Pinot Noir Society back in its usual venue, the Savile Club in Brook Street. I arrived lugging an unsuitable-for-Mayfair rucksack containing three bottles and the Book, as for some reason I was the designated beast of burden for the day (I can only assume G didn't trust himself to leave his bottles alone during the day).

T and D were waiting in the little room outside the bar, and greeted me with enthusiasm, but this may have been because ACC was in tow with a bottle of cold fizz. We had planned to drink this blind but somehow there was a mix-up with the arrangements - G was not aware of the plan and therefore inadvertently cheated. The rest of us didn't know what it was, however, and when invited to guess the grape I said chardonnay which was correct! It was in fact a blanc de blancs cremant from Domaine Felettig. I found it biscuitty, while D said "yeasty, soft and good". Everyone liked it and a case was swiftly ordered for A de V Towers.

Then we went upstairs for dinner where D provided the first wine was a chardonnay from Hanzell Vineyards in the Sonoma Valley, vintage (wait for it) 1967! Who would have thought such a thing existed, let alone would be pleasurable to drink? It was fascinating, a medium brown colour. I thought it was like a fino sherry on the nose and it had an amazing finish. I'd never have guessed it was a chardonnay.

Next up was another chardonnay, also provided by D, but this time a mere whippersnapper from 2005. Adelsheim Caitlin's Reserve from Willamette Valley in Oregon. This was a much paler colour than the previous wine and reminded some of us of a Meursault, some of a Chassagne. It was very well-balanced, big, fat and generally lovely. D continues to give us the most amazing US wines which we just can't get over here, and I'm very grateful to get the chance to drink them!

I have to apologise for the lack of proper photographic evidence of these wines - it's not quite the done thing to take loads of photos in the middle of a dinner at the Savile, so G took this line-up shot at the end. D's bottles are the two in the middle.

At this point we moved on to reds, beginning with a red Chassagne-Montrachet Les Chaumes 2004 from Domaine Morey-Coffinet provided by T. This went down very well. It had a lovely perfume and for me was quite savoury on the palate, while D detected raspberries. It was generally thought that it was good now, but might be even better in future.

Then it was time for my wine, the long-awaited Chambertin grand cru 1982 from Patriarche which I found in the bin room as described here. I found two bottles in the bin room, one pristine and one with a slightly sticky label. Both had excellent levels. G and I tried the one with the sticky label on an earlier occasion to see how it was, and it was very good, so I saved the second one for this evening. Inevitably, the little bugger was corked. Grrrr. I will try to do better next time...

Moving swiftly on, we had a bottle of G's trusty Moulin a Vent 1976 shipped and bottled by Berry Bros, which he picked up at a recent auction for a song. This has been a lovely wine, with a big raisiny nose. It has clearly been chaptalised but we agreed there's nothing wrong with that. It is smooth and still going strong 35 years on.

The last proper bottle of the evening was also provided by G, and was a 1926 Solera Tarragona Garnacha from De Muller. This was a bit of an unknown quantity beforehand, but turned out to be a lovely sweet wine, with an unctuous mouthfeel and dried prunes and figs on the palate. T was the only one of the group who didn't like it, saying it reminded him of "chicken ruined by tarragon". Tchah!

T got his own back by wheeling out a bottle of elderflower wine from Lurgashall Winery. He'd been threatening to inflict this on us all day and it seemed there was no escape. We drank it outside on the terrace at the end of the evening. No notes were made at this late stage of the evening but it reminded me of the time I used to be quite keen on Lurgashalls' mead, which in my defence was about 20 years ago. The elderflower wine wasn't everyone's cup of tea but was greatly improved by the addition of gin. I don't think it was quite as nasty as either the Israeli pomegranate wine or the Red Biddy so the search continues for something truly revolting to trump them.

All in all, another excellent evening and some really interesting wines - thanks to all.

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