Great wines for pan-Asian food
Pretty Orchid restaurant, Nottingham

The theory and plan was to try a range of wines with a menu prepared by chef-proprietor of the Pretty Orchid restaurant in Nottingham.  All the wines were served blind (i.e. we didn't know what they were), and unfortunately that led to an order that was at times a little random, and I think we probably missed some good matches.  Still, it was an interesting evening, with very enjoyable food, and very enjoyable wines.

NV Reserve de Sours Sparkling Rosé Brut, 12%
Salmon pink with a lively mousse. Crisp red fruit nose. Very, very yeasty palate. Some quite powerful, concentrated flavours, but it has quite a hard edge with a slightly bitter finish. 84/100

2001 Nyetimber Classic Blend Brut, 12%
Elegant, bready, peachy nose with a slight hint of caramelisation. Full-flavoured on the palate, apparently with some age. This has nice balance and very good length. Lovely acidity. Really nice and elegant. I think most people, including me, thought this was champagne. 91/100

NV Petraea XCVII - XCIX , Champagne Raymond Boulard
A very elegant nose initially, but it degenerates slightly into bready, yeasty, alcoholic blackberry fuit aromas.
Open palate, with the same blackberry, sour cherry, overripe fruit. There was almost a hint of rotting pears, which knocked the pleasure off drinking it. Probably getting a bit too old, and I'll be drinking up my few bottles soonish. If I remember. 85/100

1996 Domaine Laroche Chablis Grand Cru, Réserve de l'Obédience, 13%
Quite a powerful, concentrated chardonnay nose with nicely integrated oak. It has a lightish feel on the palate with a concentrated finish and high acidity. Interesting, but not boat-rocking. A stonkingly dreadful match with the sushi. 86/100

1998 Hermitage Blanc Le Chevalier de Sterimberg, Paul Jaboulet Aîné, 13.9%
Caramelly, lightly oxidative nose that's gently raisined and has hints of oiliness and of nuttiness. Powerful, impressive wine with good concentration, but also a nice finesse.
The most striking thing, however, and for me the most surprising thing is just how totally unsuited this was to the Chinese/Thai style food throughout. 90/100

2005 Gewürztraminer Saralee's Vineyard, Joseph Swan Vineyards, Russian River Valley, 14%
Aha, here it is a last - the gewurz. This has a really lovely gewurztraminer nose with lightish rose water and lychee fruit. Nice fresh palate: fairly forward and clean with some depth and good length. A bit obvious feeling. I assumed this was an entry level Alsace gewurz. 89/100

1997 Gewurztraminer Tradition, Hugel, 14%
Clearly gewurz again, but this is much, much classier than the previous wine. It has a fairly rich, oily nose that's also very restrained - nicely floral, but without much of the rosewater aromas you get from lower grade wines from more heavily crushed grapes. This is super, restrained gewurz on the palate. Very subtle, and clearly made by someone who understands gewurz. There's a bit of sweetness to it, but without going to late harvest levels, which really helps in combination with the food. On being revealed, I was surprised it was "only" Hugel's Tradition level. 93/100

2006 Black Tie, issu des meilleurs pinot gris riesling de nos vignobles, C.V. de Pfaffenheim
An interesting nose - very cabbagey, but not unpleasantly so. Bit of a smoky, dusty feel. Fairly direct, very attractive palate. My initial impression, on just the nose was that this might have been Alsace Pinot Blanc, but it became clear it can't have been just pinot blanc, and I started wondering about Pinot Gris. This is a fairly unusual wine for Alsace, isn't it? Not a classic edelzwicker blend by any means. 88/100

2002 Riesling Kottabe, Josmeyer
A lightish, crisp riesling nose. Quite floral and delicate. Very reminiscent of a healthy example of the badly oxidised case of Josmeyer Kottabe that I bought from Strakers a couple of years ago, every single bottle of which has ended up down the sink. This bottle is healthy though and works pretty well. But there's something about the style that doesn't 100% appeal to me. Though it can't be Josmeyer, as I love the PG Fromenteau. 87/100

1998 Riesling, Pipers Brook Vineyard, Tasmania, 12%
A nice riesling nose - quite precise and almost steely. Attractive, light and fresh palate with some lime character. Just lacks a touch of weight and depth. 88/100

2002 Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Spätlese, Weingut Paulinshof, 8.5%
AP Nr. 2 586 061 007 03
A very slight nose: subtle riesling. More Germanic than previous rieslings? Lovely palate. Rich, yet fairly elegant. 88/100

1991 Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Auslese, Karthäuserhof, 8.5%, en magnum
This bottle had what auctioneers would call "signs of recent slight seepage" and the cork was hardly tight! So all the more strange than the nose was surprisingly nice and fresh, and very precise. Lovely, fresh palate. So, so balanced. Gorgeous. I quite liked the Paulinshof Spätlese, but this wine really shows just how clumsy that was. Clean, refreshing and classy.
I think someone must have liked this, as despite it being a magnum, it was empty when it had done the rounds. 94/100

1996 Macon Clessé Quintaine Cuvée Tradition, Domaine de la Bongran, 13.5%
A very rich, ripe chardonnay nose - very attractive. A very nice white Burgundy. 90/100

2001 Gewurztraminer Reserve, Trimbach, 13.5%
Very sweet, candied gewurztraminer nose. Very obvious gewurz palate. This is a good, straightforward, if a bit dull, basic Alsace gewurz. 85/100
(The hazards of completely blind offlines - this wine was a bit out of a "proper" running order.)

2001 Pinot Gris Les Princes Abbés, Domaines Schlumberger
This has nice tropical fruits on the nose and I'm immediately led towards pinot gris. Slightly obvious palate. Good balance. Nice and clean. 88/100

Time to move onto the reds now. Starting with the light ones...

2005 Afrós Tinto, Casal do Paço Padreiro Vinho Verde
Well, it doesn't look in the slightest like a light red: it has a massive, inky, very deep black-purple colour. The immediate thing you notice on the palate is the freshness, with lots of acidity. That's backed up with some fairly simple juicy fruit. Somewhat reminiscent of some of the reds produced either side of the Italy/Slovenia border. It's not going to have Chateau Latour worrying, but it's a nice enough wine and I thought it worked reasonably well in the context. Interesting that it's held up well in bottle - you wouldn't think particularly of ageing vinho verde, and certainly not red vinho verde: in fact there's been very little development in bottle since I first tasted this. 86/100

2000 Keyneton Estate Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot, Henschke, 13.5%
This has a very herby blackcurrant and blackberry nose. Lovely palate. Very elegant indeed. Lovely depth and superb balance. A very classy wine indeed. My WOTN. 95/100

2001 Rioja Alba de Breton Reserva, Bodegas Bretón, 13.5%
A very fresh, light nose with raspberry jam fruit. The palate is very young, with ripe fruit and tannins, and not a lot else. Tannic fruit juice. No depth. Simple, modern, dull, rubbish. 76/100

1999 Mitchell Shiraz, McNicol, Clare Valley, 14.5%
The nose has spicy, fragrant black fruit with menthol overtones. There's ripe black fruit on the palate, followed up by alcoholic fire. Doesn't do it for me. Maybe needs more time, or maybe it's just clashing with the food? Just seems a bit too simple. 81/100

2004 La Réserve Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz, Grover Vineyards, Nandi Hills, Bangalore, India, 12.5%
This has sweet, round, fresh blackcurrant and blackberry fruit on the nose with quite a sweet feel. Good, even palate. Very international. Absolutely fine, but it could be from anywhere. It's a nice wine for drinking/knocking back without worrying too much about what you think about it. Its unchallenging nature meant it went reasonably well with the food. 87/100
I see I tasted the 2002 back in 2005: this 2004 was superior, I thought.

1996 Riserva Vigneti in Rabaja, DOCG Barbaresco, Produttori del Barbaresco, 13.5%
An oldish cherry and black fruit nose with a real lift. Green, chewy, tannic palate. Nebbiolo, surely. But I don't like, so it must be Barbaresco? Best to follow others' notes on this, not mine! 82/100

1998 Domaine de la Courtade, AC Côtes de Provence, 12.5%
This has ripe, forward black fruits on the nose. Nothing particularly remarkable on the palate: fruit driven, fairly simple stuff, yet fairly enjoyable too. Very short on the finish. A pleasant enough, fruity wine to appeal to a mass market. 87/100
I don't think you'd guess this was 10 years old - it felt much more youthful than that.

2002 Domaine de Bellivière, Hommage à Louis Derré, AC Côteaux du Loire, 13.5%
A very strange nose: peppery, cheessy, almost ammoniacal, yet also with a scent of ladies' talcum powder and cheap perfume. There are sweet red fruits on the palate: almost fruit juice like. Light, lifted and perfumed. Tannins evident on the finish. Very interesting indeed, but a wine for wine geeks only. I just do not know whether I like it or not. Very strange. 85??/100

2006 Ada Karasi, Büyülübaĝ, Avsa Island, Sea of Marmaris, Turkey
Deep, boiled sweet nose with quite a charming fragrance. Interesting, with a character all of its own, though there were some vaguely pinot-like hints in there. Got a bit lost at the end of the evening, for me at least. 86/100

1995 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe, Châteauneuf du Pape
Meaty and fleshy nose with bretty overtones and a hint of alcohol; then along comes some smoky touches and a hint of bacon fat, all followed up by some dry woody spice. Probably southern Rhône, probably Chateauneuf, though perhaps not Beaucastel. Seems a bit closed and young on the palate, and/or just a bit lacking somehow. But it has a lovely, elegant feminine feel. 89/100
I think this was struggling to show its best at the end of the evening.


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Last updated: 25 September 2008