Saturday, November 02, 2013

SPNS dinner, 14th October

If it's a Monday night, it's £5 corkage at the Hawksmoor. This is such a tempting deal that G suggested the SPNS have an away match and instead of meeting at our normal venue, the Savile, we went to the Air Street branch of the Hawksmoor which is the newest of the four. I hadn't been to this one before and was pleasantly surprised when, instead of descending into a subterranean world, we actually had to walk up some stairs to find the bar and restaurant, which overlook Regent Street. There's also more variety on the menu - it does fish and seafood alongside enormous slabs of beef.

G and I arrived to find ACC and D already seated and getting their wines sorted out. G had relaxed the rule-book on this occasion so we were encouraged to bring treasures from our cellars rather than having to apply a price limit.

We kicked off with a Chablis 1er cru Sechet 2008 from Dauvissat-Camus, provided by ACC. This was very well-received - it was scintillating, well-balanced, pure and had great minerality. It was drinking perfectly now. Textbook Chablis.

Next we had my last bottle of white Corton 2005 from Domaine Parent. We discovered that this came into its own in the colder weather - having had it back in July, it worked much better on this October evening. It had it all going on and was big, full, earthy and serious with a hint of what I think of as cabbage on the nose (but in a good way) while D detected mushrooms. Not a wine for glugging. P had joined us by this point and the food was on its way.

This was my starter - "Queenies" which seem to be mini scallops (can this possibly be right?) deep-fried and served with tartare sauce. My only criticism was that there weren't enough of them but that was probably just as well considering the generous portions of steak to follow.

We moved on to the reds. D and G had brought out the big guns i.e. a pair of magnums, as the £5 corkage applies whatever the size of bottle. First up was D's 1973 Spring Mountain cabernet sauvignon, from the Napa Valley. This wowed everyone. It had wonderful cabernet characteristics - G got blackcurrant, eucalyptus and mint while D found berries, cherries, and chocolate. We all agreed it was amazingly youthful and vibrant for a 40 year old wine, and it was a real privilege to drink.

There was quite a contrast with the next wine, a 1985 Pommard provided by G. This was a Hospices de Beaune wine bottled by Laboure-Roi. It was fully mature burgundy and very old school i.e. hint of the sugar bag, tinned strawberries and a whiff of the farmyard. It was certainly very sensual. P commented "who would have thought that a wine with liquorice and poo on the nose would be quite this sublime on the palate" and in the absence of T (who was sadly missed), wins this month's pungent comment competition.

A random photo of a red wine which I took just because it looked so wonderful and glossy in the glass. I'm pretty sure this was the Spring Mountain. We had steak and chips to go with the reds but so much was going on by this stage that I failed to take photos. As usual, the food was spot on.

Finally, it was time for dessert and P provided this German eiswein to go with it. I could type the label out again or you could just read it from the photo... I found the nose very exciting and have written "hint of cyanide?" which was intended as a compliment. P found raspberries and toffee on the palate, which was very well-balanced and poised. "Complex, long, refreshing" said D, while G and ACC both liked it very much too.

A photo of it in the glass, what a fabulous colour!

All in all, another great SPNS evening, and thanks to the staff at the Hawksmoor who handled our requests for decanting and multiple glasses very smoothly. I'll definitely be back.

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