Last Wednesday Dinner, with the Doc and our wives at Sala (28th November):
1997 Puligny Montrachet "Les Combettes" by Etienne Sauzet - with a fresh crab salad that had way too much house-made mayonnaise in it - My bottle. A bit of a disappointment, really, no, no oxidation, but a bit flabby for a 1er cru Puligny from such a fine maker. Although the wine had good purity and clean lines, I just couldn't help but think that the balance was thrown off by a lack of acidity and generally weak structure. Pleasant enough, but its excess, none-too-firm flesh and lack of balancing acidity just seemed to underscore the crab salad's excessive mayonnaise. Oh, well....
1993 Clos Erasmus - with a very good pan-seared magret drizzled with an excellent port reduction - The Doc's bottle. One of the richest, fullest, "crowd-pleaser-est" Priorato wines I have tasted. Generous layers of sweetish, exceedingly ripe black cherry, kirsch, cassis, minor notes of plum/raspberry/craisins mixed in French vanilla/oak and a dose of anise/tarragon/black pepper-infused dark chocolate. This modern-styled Priorato seems designed to do well in a big blind tasting; and well it would do, I expect. Que rico eres!
2001 Sine Qua Non "Mr. K, The Nobleman" - with an assortment of desserts - The Doc's bottle, the second bottle of this wine I've tried from him. The first time, around early January '07, after an initial quick sip, I thought it was an Yquem; after a couple more, its dominant ripe apricot sweetness, considerable heft and vague spiciness/tanginess made me think it was a Tokji Aszu.
Almost a year later, it looks more orange than anything, and I swear I would guess it was a Tokaji Aszu if it were served blind to me. Incredibly rich, dense, almost syrupy, but, nonetheless, well-balanced. Great with the creamy desserts.
Last Thursday lunch with my wife and a long-lost, now Southern California-based grade school buddy at Melo's Steakhouse (during which yet another failed coup d'etat was taking place near my office, 29th November):
1999 Leoville Poyferre - I've had this wine several times since first having it at the chateau's Vinexpo dinner party. A good, dependable, affordable St Julien; not nearly as generous or truffled as their 1996, but with cleaner lines and marginally better focus. Good balance and harmony (both!). For only around US$43 per bottle, it's a good deal.
With dinner at Jes Suis Gourmand last Saturday (1st December) with my wife and children:
2002 Nuits St Georges 1er Cru "Boudots" by Dominique Mugneret - just to try out. Decanted for around 40 minutes before tasting, paired with a venison main course.
Not bad, but not particularly interesting at this point. It struck me as quite forward, ripe, modern and lacking in finesse and complexity. If pressed on an assessment, I would say: "Too young and eager; hopefully it will calm down, gain some wisdom and have something interesting to say in about 5-7 more years."
Dinner at home last Sunday, 2nd December, with my wife, kids, my youngest brother-in-law and his girlfriend:
1999 Branaire-Ducru - with a medium-rare US Angus rib-eye and fries - I bought a few of these just to see what they are like now since I rated this 4th place in a '99 Medoc blind tasting around 2 years ago (after, in descending order: Margaux, Latour and Lafite Rothschild - over: Leoville las Cases, Mouton Rothschild, Montrose, etc).
Let me begin by saying that I am not very familiar with the wines of this chateau, owing to an encounter with a horribly fecal bottle of their 1990 around 3 or 4 years ago (read: horse manure all the way). That incident prevented me from ever buying another bottle from them until a month or so ago.
In any event, this bottle was quite decent. Amid the fullish-bodied, thick textured cassis/blackcurrant/dark red cherry/ripe fig flavors was pronounced and unyielding sweetened dark chocolate. Big but smooth, vaguely dusty, cocoa-flavored tannins were quite apparent mid-mouth and to the back. Not very good focus, somewhat muddled, but nice enough, entertaining; not serious, but, I'm pretty sure it will also be a crowd pleaser. Not bad considering it cost only around US$46 per.
With the Doc, Stockbrocker and IWFS president, Bernie Sim, over lunch today at Tivoli, a Burgundyfest with a special all-game degustacion menu (4th December):
2004 Chassagne Montrachet by Michel Niellon - with a trout starter. Having gone through several bottles of Niellon's village Chassagne in the past 2 years (2001, 2002 and 2003), I picked up a few bottles of the 2004 since I find wines from Chablis and Puligny from this vintage generally more classic/typical than those from the past few.
This barely medium-bodied white had very pleasing/cleansing purity and admirable focus in its clean, focused fruit and minerals and an intriguing catch-up of demure toasty oak/nutty notes to the back. For some reason, I kept thinking it was behaving more like a young Puligny (up to mid-mouth) or 6-8 year old Meursault (to the back) than a Chassagne.
Bernie opined that it lacked somewhat in structure and should better be consumed young. While I agree that it is showing well enough now, I wouldn't mind trying it again after, say, 2-3 more years in bottle just to see if it will gain a bit more weight and depth.
1988 Nuits St Georges "Les Lavieres" by Leroy - From Bernie. Murky with worrisome pungent sherry wrapping its decayed Burgundy bouquet. A quick sip revealed a souring finish. Clearly over oxidized, but we decided to keep it decanted and on the table, hoping against hope, just in case.
I kept coming back to it every so often, but it never revived itself. Too bad.
1988 Clos de Vougeot by Meo Camuzet - From Bernie. At first blush, much better clarity and a clean bouquet assured me of better providence/storage/survival than the Leroy. As I've said before, I find old red Burgs have a terribly difficult to describe romantic/ethereal hint of decay - not unlike the nostalgia I feel when walking around ante-bellum Manila/provincial manses that have seen much better days - still beautiful, but with a touch of sadness, longing that one feels and relishes even after leaving. What can I say?
I've also said before that it is almost impossible for me to accurately break down the individual fruit/spice/wood/etc. components of old wine, especially red Burgundies. Saying that it tasted like a vaguely earthy, seamless, silky, red fruit/red beet/raspberry elixir with wistful touches of decayed flowers and nostalgia just seems inadequate. I daresay those looking for the "punch" of lively fruit or attention-grabbing forward primaries should really look elsewhere. Aged Burgundy is not where to find or search for such things.
Me? I loved this wine. Went well with the pheasant course (though the bird was a bit tough).
1996 Pommard Clos des Epeneaux by Comte Armand - From the Doc. I personally have a soft spot for these earthy, masculine reds from the Cote de Beaune (though I was somewhat disappointed with the vintage 2000 version of this wine). Quite lively yet 11 years from vintage - livelier/more youthful than I expected it to be (or could it be that my judgment was clouded by unavoidable contrast to the 2 previous wines?) - a muscular red Burg with an intriguing vague hint of iron to its hallmark earthiness. This one was comparatively much easier to analyze: a smooth compote of red fruit, red cherry and discreet ripe dark raspberry over red beet undertones - more satin than silk on the palate. Good, sturdy, solid Pommard bones and structure.
Very nice and I believe this will continue to age gracefully for another, perhaps, 5 years. Admirable ageworthiness.
2003 Hermitage Marquise de la Tourette by Delas Freres - the lone Rhone from the Stockbroker. Very young, very ripe, very forward, very big, some new oak on the nose, but not overly much. Full, somewhat smokey dark wild blackberry over cassis and cedar with dashes of pepper. Stood mightily with the venison course and picked up some of the red cabbage's sweetness. I'd like to see how this grows up after 4 years or more.
1989 Gewurztraminer SGN by Ostertag - from Bernie with an excellent dessert of chestnut souffle. I kept thinking of my wife as I drank this floral (flowers - jasmine? touch of roses?), spicy nectar of botrytised lichee and peach alluringly laced with petrol. Sweeter, fuller-bodied and flavored/more forward/generous than the similarly aged gewurz SGN of Hugel. She would have loved this.
Without doubt, this was the best pairing of the meal. Excellent match.