meurette – an above average rendition of this
frites – good flavoured meat, accurately cooked, though I had a
piece, half of which was unfortunately rendered inedible by a strip of
gristle through its middle.
Faultless chocolate mousse.
£25 inc corkage.
OK, the wines …
All the wines were amazing, any one of which would have
been quite outstanding on their own or in more “normal” company. This was a
remarkable collection and some wines that would, as I say, have otherwise
been outstanding suffered in invidious comparison with others.
Congratulations and thanks to Neal for assembling such a splendid selection
Round 1: Sparkling Opening Ceremony
Two sparkling wines: which is the real champagne;
what’s the champagne house and what is the vintage?
Yeasty, oldish nose
with an orangey hint. Becomes more citrussy
with time. Nice character, soft mousse. Quite light, but very classy.
Clearly the champagne and I can tell from the bottle shape that it’s
most probably Dom Perignon. I’d put it mid
to late ‘80s. Dom Perignon 1993
Much fizzier when poured. Confected earthy nose.
Lost its mousse very quickly. Rather dull and a bit flat tasting, as
well as simply flat. Mount Neptune Sparkling Semillon 2002, Hunter Valley.
Round 2: Guess my age
A red and white burgundy: guess the vintage and
guess the village cru.
A deep gold. Our end of the table settled on the
nose being heavily redolent of clarified butter, which was spot on: hot
beurre just before it becomes
noisette, heavy on the dairy, with waxy,
nutty lanolin notes. Ripe, oily-textured fruit with huge, huge depth
and concentration. Almost a bit too powerful. An extremely impressive
wine. Guess at 1985. Puligny
Montrachet 1961, Henri Boillot
Pale red, farmyardy
sweet fruit nose, perhaps just a bit too sweet for comfort, with
strawberries turning to raspberries. Light mature flavours. Woody
spice on finish. Massive length on finish. Guess at 1979
Gevrey or Charmes
Chambertin. 1982 Comte de Vogue Bonnes Mares
Round 3: Spot the first growth
Three wines: which is the first growth, and what is
Youngish mid ruby colour, which for some reason
makes me think of 1994. Sweet cedary nose.
Very pleasant. Lightish, fairly elegant.
Not bad. 1987 Ch. Haut Batailley
Lacking fruit, this is a bit corked, yet I force
myself to taste it. Not too bad on the palate actually: maybe the
acidic wet cardboard and damp leaves on the nose are something other
than TCA. But definitely missable in my
book. 1987 Ch. Pichon Baron
Lovely musarey nose.
Gorgeous ripe fruit with excellent structure. This is a really classy
wine. If the first growth is the best wine of the three, then it’s
clearly this one. With a bit of time it becomes quite meaty. A really
excellent wine. 1987 Ch. Haut Brion
Round 4: Which is the Parker 100 pointer?
Three wines, one of which was awarded 100 points by
American critic, Robert Parker. But which one?
An even garnet colour, making me think of the
early 1990s. Lovely plummy nose. Immediately attractive but falls away
quickly to just a bit of light spice. 1982 Ch. Léoville Las Cases.
A good even ruby. The nose is very earthy with a
touch of brett. A truly beautiful elegant wine on the palate with
lovely structure. A fabulous wine. This is really gorgeous and so far
my wine of the night. 1982 Ch. Léoville Poyferré
A very dark ruby. Very closed nose. Ripe fruit.
Big structure. Lots of tannin. This has a certain rusticity that is
not unattractive. This is likely to be the 100 pointer. 1982 Ch. Gruaud Larose
Round 5: Who am I?
Two wines from the right bank – but which is older,
what is the vintage of each and what’s the chateau?
An even relatively mature ruby. I don’t find the
nose particularly impressive: rather a lot of VA dominating. Lovely
attractive attack, but falls away and apart a little. A preponderance
of sweet fruit makes it seem a little simple. Yet still very
delicious. Undoubtedly tastes the older of the two. 1961 or 1964? 1964 Ch. Canon la Gaffelière, St Emilion
This looks to be the older wine: very even, with a
hint of bricking. A truly fascinating nose that I could sniff for ages:
layers and layers of varying fruit. Mmmm
…. This is really lovely. Lots of depth and complexity. A really
interesting, fascinating wine. Guess at 1966. 1967 Ch. Figeac
Round 6: Who am I?
Two wines from the left bank - – but which is
older, what is the vintage of each and what’s the chateau?
A light, mature ruby. Very strange, old nose: a
bit bretty-stinky with a sweet
richenss, with a hint of volatility and
reduction. Very light and remarkably fresh tasting with a fine acidic
streak. Guess early ‘70s. 1960 Ch. Montrose (a wine which is so rarely seen as apparently
to be not even mentioned by Broadbent)
A deep very very old
almost mahogany ruby. I can’t really find much going on
on the nose. This just seems very old
indeed on the palate. Quite simple and a bit over the hill. Though I
should add that my glass was a bit sediment-y, which might have coloured
my views. But it just doesn’t seem to have the redeeming features of a
really great old wine that would lift it from being merely an old
curiosity. 1958 Ducru
Round 7: What’s my year of birth?
Three wines from the same vintage: one from the right
bank, one from the left bank and a Sauternes.
An intermediate ruby. Acidic wet
underbush with sweet blackcurrant on the
nose. Straightforward, light, with lots of tannins. This reminds me of
a prematurely aged 1976 St Emilion I had a
few years ago. 1962 Ch. Pichon-Baron
A lighter more mature ruby. Fascinating nose.
Very deep, concentrated ripe fruit. Quite meaty. Lovely round and
mature. Very integrated. Very nice. Lovely.
1962 Ch. Figeac
(Obviously the Sauternes!) A brassy caramel
colour. Rich, concentrated caramelly orange
nose. Lovely balanced attack. Very elegant and integrated with nice
acidity on finish. I’ve not a huge experience of Sauternes, but there’s
something about it that reminds me of a Suduiraut
that I had three or four years ago, though this is much older, although
it seems younger than the two reds in this flight. 1962 Ch. Suduiraut
In addition to the organised heats, there were three
(brought by Linden Wilkie)
A youngish ruby. Highly perfumed nose with lots of sweet cherry.
Plenty of upfront fruit, and the same perfumed cherries appear on the
palate. Feels really rather young. An Australasian pinot noir. 2002 Wither Hills Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand.
(brought by David Pope, and tasted rather hastily
as I was busy pouring the next wine) A mid vaguely mature ruby. Smoky
nose. Light on the palate with nice, clean, pure fruit. Really rather
good. Revealed to be 1995 St Jerome Cabernet Merlot from New
Zealand, a revelation which brought a surprised exclamation of “fuck!”
from New Zealand wine-maker C.P. Lin, who was presumably in another
(my wine) Smoky old, unusually fragrant riesling
nose. Sweet and rich, yet remarkably light for what it is. This had
many puzzled, though C.P. Lin was the first to identify its country of
origin. This was quite an interesting wine, but – for what it was –
rather poor, which explains people’s puzzlement (they were heading off
in late harvest scheurebe type territories). 1971 Kreuznacher
Gutenthal Riesling Beerenauslese,
Weingut Carl Finkenauer,
Nahe AP 1 710 033 006 72.