I first tried this at a wine tasting held by the Burgundy Portfolio at Highbury Library and maybe the fact that it was my birthday that night had something to do with it but it was love at first taste. It's made from pinot noir grown just outside Champagne, but the winemaker, Quentin Beaufort, comes from a family which makes Champagne so he knows what he's doing.
What did the assembled company think? Notes of wild or tinned strawberries were detected and there was a reference to Eton Mess. Dangerously drinkable was the general verdict. "Easy to have too much" said P. Say what? There was some debate about whether it would age further. ACC is convinced that it will, but I only have three bottles left, one of which is in the fridge, so I don't give much for its chances.
We moved upstairs to the dining room and straight onto a pair of whites. First was this 2014 Chardonnay Barrel Select no. 02 from Domaine LeSeurre in the Finger Lakes, provided by D. This was a revelation. I would never have guessed it was chardonnay. For me, it had notes of lime and it reminded me of a really elegant riesling. It had an amazing finish and was highly regarded by everyone.
As you can see from the above, the winemakers at this domaine are French. I hope we get to go there in a couple of weeks' time. ACC said that maybe it was a different clone of chardonnay from the one which we're more used to, which might explain why it flummoxed us.
The other white was this Bourgogne Chardonnay 2013 from Domaine Albert Joly, provided by ACC. Funnily enough the 2012 has been my house white lately, so this was particularly interesting for me. The 2012 is definitely playing at village Puligny level, and has that strict thing going on which we love about this domaine, but the 2013 was fuller, richer and more powerful. G said it was less serious than the LeSeurre but that wasn't a criticism!
I took a photo so that we could compare the colour of the two wines. G remarked that normally you'd expect the New World wine to be the one on the left. Not this time!
With our main courses we moved on to the reds. P had brought along this Nuits-St-Georges 1999 from Jaffelin and enjoyed telling us how little it had cost him back in the day. It was classic old school NSG, drinking very nicely now with resolved tannins. Sometimes I find NSG a bit challenging but this went down just fine. It even got a "Wow" from D which isn't something we see very often!
G, on the other hand, had brought along a dodgy Croatian red made by the waiter in a restaurant where he dined while on holiday recently. Apparently "moje corno" means "my red". It was 15% and first impressions were that it was weird, certainly the nose was a bit strange. I got a lot of black cherry. It did have an extraordinary finish and reminded D of an old zinfandel. Generally I would have to say the reaction wasn't enthusiastic, but it was certainly unusual and very much in the spirit of the SPNS.
G redeemed himself with a bonus wine, a bottle of "Very Old East India Madeira" bottled by Berry Bros in 1959. Apparently it was a leaky bottle which is why he brought it along. The leakiness didn't prove to be a problem. For me it had lots of toffee and caramel which made sense when it was revealed that it was a Malmsey. "Absolutely splendid" said G and nobody in their right mind would argue with that. A pleasure to drink. More leaky bottles please!
Thanks everyone for another great evening.