'Wines for Winter, Wines for Christmas' dinner  in Nottingham
Hart's Restaurant
14 December 2007

Harts was an excellent venue. The food was for the most part superb, starting with a stunningly good mushroom velouté appetiser. I wasn't so sure about cold parsnip purée with the incredibly good and incredibly pretty game terrine (see photo below); and I didn't see the connection between the pear poached in cassis and the the stunning gewurz mousse that came with it, but everything else was spot on.  They missed a trick by not serving the gewurz mousse with some Munster cheese.  The fillet steak was stupendous, probably one of the best, if not the best I've ever had, though, aprt from the bed of spinach, the accompaniments (peas à la crème and caramelised onions) were a bit parsimonious to the point of evanescence, and serving it with a bowl of crisps, however utterly delicious they were, was perhaps not the best choice.

Amazing value for £55 all in.

A mosaic of game  The stunning looking, and expertly made Mosaic of Game starter.

The wines were all served blind (i.e. their identity concealed) to allow us to focus on the inherent quality of the wines and not be swayed by labels.  Of course, it all descends into a guessing game as everyone tries to identify some characteristic of each wine until collectively the table can assert we've guessed what it is.

Wine 1
White and fizzy. Quite a sharp nose with some talcy minerality, a bit of lemon and some appley fruit. Riesling? The bubbles fade quickly in the glass. Nice and pleasant, but rather short. There's a very odd, markedly sour apple flavour lingering on the tip of the tongue after. 84/100
2001 Forster Pechstein Riesling Brut, Reichsrat von Buhl, Pfalz, 12%, AP Nr. 5 106 044 59 06

Wine 2
A lovely creamy, biscuity nose - warm and inviting; almost Christmassy. There's a touch of age here, I think. Lovely, rich, full palate. I like this. Lovely balance with some nice black fruit character. Huge length. A real treat. 94/100
1993 Dom Ruinart, 12.5%

Wine 3
Sparkling red. Lovely colour - like a strong kir. There's some really forward fruit on the nose - black fruit, but with a touch of an earthy edge. Very, very young on the palate. There's some sweetish red fruit on the attack, then it becomes very, very sour and bitter. Really pretty foul and nasty. 76/100
I neglected to write down what this was (think I was in a state of shock at its vileness), but searching through the photos, it seems it was 2006 Sparkling Pinot Noir, Coonawarra, Penley Estate, 13.5%. An abomination.

Wine 4
A light musky nose, feeling like a muscat-riesling cross. Goodish riesling palate, but rather flat. Spätlese? Nice minerality on the finish. 85/100
1999 Saarburger Rausch Riesling Kabinett, Zilliken, 8% AP Nr. 3 551 083 14 00

Wine 5
A deepish gold colour. Smoky on the nose with a definite hint of cordite. Very old riesling palate. Quite a flinty finish. An interesting wine, but more one to appreciate than to enjoy. 86/100
1969 Riesling Cuvée du Centenaire, Josmeyer

Wine 6
A deep gold. Creamy and rather oxidised on the nose. Feels like white Burgundy to me. Old palate, but not overly so,with a bit of a honeyed feel. A touch astringent on the finish. Very long. Unsatisfying. 83/100
2000 Meursault Vieille Vigne, Paul Garaudet

Wine 7
A deep gold again. Sulphury nose - very much a struck match. This is much classier than the previous wine. It has an interesting austerity. Very satisfying wine. 89/100
1981 Meursault Clos du Cromin, Domaine Bernard Morey-Rocault

Wine 8
One of my wines. Initially this was very acidic on the nose, almost vinegary. But an hour or so later, it's buttery and very honeyed on the nose. Feeling very old. Not bad, drinkable, but not at all thrilling. 86/100
1991 Grande Cuvée Chablis Premier Cru, La Chablisienne, 13%. 375ml.

A second half opened a little later was more advanced, much more oxidised and less pleasing. Though David Bennett preferred it. 83/100

Wine 9
Mid gold. Pear and pear drops on the nose, with a touch of lanolin. Full, buttery, creamy palate. A bit uninteresting. Feels a touch oxidised and more than a touch dull. Guess mid 90s white Burgundy. 84/100
2002 Meursault 1er Cru Les Charmes, Heritier de Baudricourt

Wine 10
A very open nose with garriquey fenouille and white flowers. There's concentrated fruit on the palate. This has a lovely caressing richness on the palate, almost an oiliness. Concentrated and nutty, but finishing with a real aniseed note. Nice wine. 90/100
2000 Le Blanc, Vin de Pays des Côtes du Brian, Domaine La Combe Blanche, 14%

Wine 11
A light red - looking around 20 years old. Gorgeous old stinky nose with a hint of volatility and sweetness. Very dried out on the palate, initially, but some freshness comes through later - or is just that the VA? It has a pinot like feel to it. Oldish, with the fruit very much in the background. I like this. 91/100
1983 Château Simone, AC Palette, Grand Cru de Provence

Wine 12
On the colour, I'd put this as early to mid 90s. Very pleasant nose - interesting. Northern Rhône? But very pinot like on the palate. very firm tannins. Clean and fine. 87/100
1996 Chambolle Musigny Vieille Vigne, Domaine Fourrier, 13%

Wine 13
Deep colour. Ripe black fruits on the nose - spicy with some figs. Shiraz-Cab from Australia? Black fruit tempered with sweet oak. Very sweet oaky feel on the palate. Well made, but very international wine, with no sense of place. 87/100
2002 Marqués de Vargas Rioja, Hacienda Prado Lagar, 14%

Wine 14
Good grief, this is an incredibly heavy bottle. Quinky colour. Very slight nose. Very, very big black fruit palate. Quite tight and ungiving. Not doing it for me. 84/100
2004 Lan, Edicion Limitada, DO Rioja

Wine 15
There's ripe black fruit on the nose. Big and forward. Attractive, but very straightforward. Guess Chile or Argentina, probably Chile. Theea nice balance of fruit with just a touch of acidity. Finishes very nicely. 89/100
NV Caballo Loco Number 6, Vina Valdivieso, 14%

Wine 16
A deep dark colour. Fresh blackberry nose with some chocolate notes. Ripe fruit and sticky tannins dominate the palate. Very green and twiggy, and it almost feels a bit corked by the flavour. Massive burnt tannins on the finish. 83/100
"It's so Sangiovese, dude!" asserts Ray.
2003 Avignonesi Riserva Grandi Annate, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, 14%

Wine 17
A magnum. Looks to have a touch of age on it - a mid burgundy colour. Lovely nose. At last! This is proper wine! Berry-cherry fruit on the nose. Ahum, ahum, aha, this is gorgeous. Ripe and full, but with lovely balance. Delicious. Wine of the Night so far. 96/100
1996 Ridge Geyserville, 14.5%, magnum.
Carries its high alcohol exceedingly well.

Wine 18
Looking fairly old - 80s old; early 80s. Earthy, Burgundy nose. A bit hot. Very masculine. Not really doing it for me. 85/100
1996 Cuvée du Pape Jean-Paul II, Morey Saint-Denis 1er Cru, Edouard Bryczek, 13.5%

Wine 19
A nice mature ruby colour. The nose has sweet black fruit with some cherries. Nice palate, with a nicely animalistic character. Very strong tannins. Very, very tannic on the finish. Very tight. So, so tannic. 84/100 on the night, but there's potential there once the tannins calm down.
1994 Vieux Telegraphe, Châteauneuf du Pape, 14%

Wine 20
Looks fairly old. Sweet cherry fruit on the nose. Oldish pinot noir on the palate, with a nice savoury note. Rather straightforward. Possibly not Burgundy after all? A bit dull. 86/100
1976 Pommard Premier Cru Chaponnières, Domaine Billard Gonnet, 73 cl.

Wine 21
Very porty nose - rich and chocolatey. Lots of sweet fruit and a nice character - portlike but not like port. Very pleasant and luscious. Very enjoyable. I think this is one of Zuccardi's fortified malbecs. Very nice. 91/100
2003 Malamado Malbec, Familia Zuccardi, 19%
Got one at bloody last!

Wine 22
A curious nose. Oxidised, nutty, chocolatey and very pruney. Very nice wine. I'd guess it's a Roussillon VDN. 93/100
NV Domaine des Soulanes, AC Maury Vin Doux Naturel Hors d'Age, Daniel Laffitte, 16.5%, 500ml

Wine 23
A nice strawberry juice colour. Smells of soft red fruits - strawberries and violets. Very fragrant on the palate, turning towards air freshener. Possibly a roter traminer from Austria/Hungary? Very enjoyable. 90/100
NV Moscato Rosa delle Venezie, IGT, Emilio Bulfon, 15%

Wine 24
Looks like a classic sweet white. I'd hazard that this isn't botrytised, but is fortified. Sweet in the mouth. A bit simple. Very solid on the palate. Lacking character and expressiveness. 81/100
1996 Ch. Filhot

Wine 25
A sweet, lemony botrytised nose. Straightforward, but has an attractiveness. Would make a lovely aperitif, and it actually reminds me a bit of Cadillac. 87/100
2004 Domaine Ogereau Côteaux du Layon Saint Laurent, 13%

Wine 26: 1994 Zweigelt Beerenauslese, Willi Opitz
Ok, now to bring out the big boy. Only a magnum, but it looks like a jeroboam.
An interesting copper orange. Heavy botrytis on the nose. Nicely balanced on the palate. Nicer than I thought it was going to be. 90/100

Wine 27
A sweet, raisiny nose - very porty, and probably Port. Big. Alcoholic. But behind the alcohol it has a nice balance, tending towards elegance. Finishes very nicely. Needs at least 10 years. 91/100
1994 Churchill vintage port

Wine 28
A sweet blackberry nose. Very flat palate. Lacking fruit, leading to a dull thinness. Very thin on the finish. Mass market syrah from southern hemisphere? 82/100
2005 Shiraz, Migliarina Wines, W.O. Western Cape, 14%

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Last updated: 11 January 2008