Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mrs. Doc's Birthday 2009.

Mrs. Doc belatedly celebrated this past Saturday at Shang Palace her *UHURM*th birthday (I think the unusually cool weather these days is giving me a cold).

We were only 9 at the table since Mr. Powers was still out of town, but very ably represented by his better half. The Doc told us not to bring any wines as he would take care of everything. I couldn't help but bring one new one though that I got as a Christmas gift, just to try it out and see if I should buy more.

We started off with...

...which we had with...

Pol Roger Champagne Extra Cuvée de Réserve NV - Kicking any dinner off with champagne always sets a festive tone, most apt for a birthday celebration. I've long favored the wine of Paul Roger and lament that they are infrequently locally available (in my experience, anyway).

This particular bubbly was youthfully exuberant, fresh, very lively, with crisp apple, bit of citrus, slight chaume, bread, subtle hint of white minerals, all touched by a yeasty theme. Somewhat linear, bright acidity, well-focused. This may put on a little more roundness and weight mid-palate with more time in bottle. Very enjoyable, its exuberant personality and bright purity of fruit lend it a festive personality.

As regards the pairing, it was excellent with the sliced jellyfish (which just happens to be one of my favorite starters with Chinese meals).

Then came the Peking Duck...

...which was perfectly paired with:

2004 Domaine Zind Humbrecht Pinot Gris Clos Windsbuhl - The Doc reminded me that he brought this before, at our relatively recent Blind Bordeaux Challenge XI. Right he was, of course. my notes then were as follows:
A nicely reserved, comparatively lean (and that is a good thing for me),
minerally, well-focused, just slightly sweetish pinot gris from a world-famous
Alsace producer known for its rich, ultra-ripe-fruited wines with a lot of
residual sugar in the more modern style.

The dominant fruit flavors are those of clean apricot and Indian mango (as we know them here in Manila) with nuances of honeysuckle and white minerals. There is also a very slight whisper of spritziness mid-palate and towards the back. Of the hallmark vaguely almond/nutty notes of pinot gris, they become more apparent towards the back of the mouth and on the finish.

Well-crafted with good reserve, with a nice, steely backbone and acidity that gives this wine a bright, fresh and cleansing character.
This particular bottle presented itself very differently, and, to my mind, more typically the Zind Humbrecht style - richer, more luxurious, fuller, riper, rounder with gewürztraminer-reminiscent notes of lychee to its honeyed apricot, pear and mango. No spritziness this time. I am convinced this is because the Doc had this breathing for at least an hour by the time we got to it, whereas, at the last Challenge, I recall it was it was popped and poured.

As regards pairing Peking Duck with a good Alsace pinot gris, I first learned this around 4 or so years ago from Bernie Sim (Ostertag PGs I bought from him and greatly enjoyed). Interestingly, every single Alsace producer I've subsequently met and spoken at length with (no less than Weinbach's Catherine Faller, Léon Beyer's Marc Beyer, Hugel & Fils' Etienne Hugel and Bott-Geyl's Valerie Bott-Cartier) all recommended the same pairing.

~ oOo ~

Next was an excellent Japanese Teriyaki-esque special dish (not on the menu but usually available on request, as I understand) of Cod in Light Soya Sauce. With this I paired:

2007 Weingut Hermann Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Spätlese - *Whew*, it's as hard to spell as pronounce. My bottle, a Christmas gift (among others) from Rocky & Apple Villadolid. Thanks to German wine buff, J-Lab, for suggesting pairings for me.

Apparently, Dönnhoff is widely recognized as one of the very top German wine producers and their Niederhäuser rieslings are of particular note (not surprising as Rocky, who chose this for me, is into German rieslings these days). Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson's book says so, and so did everyone I asked: J-Lab, the Doc and Stockbroker. They, as well as members of http://www.westcoastwine.net/, assured me that while this producer's riesling can easily age from 10-15 years, they are already quite delicious young. They were absolutely right.

Spätlese, as I understand, are late harvest wines, somewhat equivalent, I suppose to the Alsace vendanges tardives. Thus, these wines are generally a bit sweet (a.k.a., "off-dry"). This particular wine was zippy, extremely well-focused and pure in fruit (lightly honeyed ripe grapefruit, peach, lime, melon, bit of ripe lemon) with pronounced minerality, fantastic definition and acidic lift, and, in its aroma, an alluring white florality.

Nice complexity all packed, as the Doc noted, in a taut 9% abv body. There was a faint, but noticeable bit of spritz in it, most likely due to its youth and/or lack of material breathing time.

Wonderful wine, one you could drink all day and all night. With the excellent fish (crunchy skin, moist inside) dish, it was a great match - the wines crisp sweetness playing well with the sweetish, teriyaki-like light soy sauce.

~ oOo ~

The rest of the dishes came in rapid succession, much to our celebrant's obvious delight...

For our reds that night (the Doc and Stockbroker would never have a dinner without some red), the Doc had breathing a...

1996 Château Cos d'Estournel (Magnum) - The Doc has obviously been loading up with and opening a lot of mags these days, I have half a mind to re-name him "Magnum MD". I think this is the 3rd I've had this wine from him since he won with it by a landslide in our Blind Bordeaux Challenge VIII a little over a year ago (I believe it still holds the record of the widest winning margin). My notes then were:

Wine # 1 - Best nose of the night, an exotically spiced, delicately sweet jasmine tea/plum/raspberry liqueur perfume. I immediately guessed it to be a Cos d'Estournel. In the mouth, it was definitive all the way from the confident attack to the long finish. Rich and generous in the mouth, leaving virtually nothing for analysis or the imagination.

In the Doc's and Sevrine's notes, they indicated that the mouth did not fulfill the bouquet's promise, commenting that it was even a bit short. Edouard liked it best and easily pegged it as a left bank. The Stockbroker commented that it tasted quite fresh. I identified it as a Cos...

The Doc had told me what he was bringing, but not the Stockbroker. With one whiff, however, of the rich, exotic spice laced (vaguely Asian/Indian) bouquet, he immediately nailed it as a Cos d'Estournel despite the Doc's attempts to mislead him.

I had just a few sips of this graceful red with the beef with peppers, but drank most of my share after dinner proper, before dessert. This '96 Cos had the most breathing time compared to the others I've had - at least a couple of hours worth. Tonight's performance was the most refined so far, with an almost ethereal display of its warm, dark spice and jasmine tea leaf notes intricately woven into its barely full-bodied cassis, cedar, dark plum, whisper of raspberry, slight mocha and barest hint of vanilla.

The hallmark Asian/Indian touches of this fine Médoc truly sets it apart. The only one I ever noted such touches in was the 1990 Montrose that the Stockbroker entered in our hilarious 7th Blind Bordeaux Challenge in the 2nd week of August 2007. Significantly, I've not noted the same similarity to Cos in two other bottles of the '90 Montrose I've had the pleasure of drinking. Be it as it may, the exotic blend of Asia (China in particular) in a Bordeaux is very distinctive, yet the wine holds true to its French roots - much like the Vigneron who eats his Salted Fish Fried Rice from a rice bowl, but with a fork.

Our feast was brought to an end with a lot of humorous (albeit mildly controversial) debate that got the Stockbroker roaring with laughter, and delicious bowls of Warm Almond Cream and the ubiquitous, but always welcome, Mango Sago.

Many thanks for the wonderful evening, spouses Doc; and, to Mrs. Doc, belated happy birthday yet again! I actually did know what it was we gave you as a gift, it's just that it slipped my mind when you asked. I swear it.


Anonymous said...

YES, Mr. Dönnhoff is a master of Riesling. One of the Top 3 producer in Germany. His Rieslings are best the first 1-2 years after the vintage and the next drinking window is 8-15 years after the vintage. The vintage 2007 was terrific at the region Nahe and according to Mr. Dönnhoff his 07 wines are "marathon runners"......they have a long aging potential.

BTW, also the vintage 06 was outstanding, some say a touch better than 07. As the last vintages were such good in this region Nahe, some say "God lived at the Nahe"

Here is a photo from him and his wife:



Anonymous said...

P.S. Keep you eyes also open for the 07 Dönnhoff Spätlese of "Oberhäuser Brücke"

The photos are in the PODCAST section of my blog

Noel said...

Hi, Martin. I've read what you've written on Dönnhoff in the past and tried thrice to comment and ask you what to pair with the '07 I just posted on. For some reason, though, my comments don't appear on your blog.

Anyway, thanks for the recommendations. I will surely keep an eye out for them.



Anonymous said...

Hi Noel,

Great post. The champagne would definitely pair well with the Jellyfish but my question to you is: what would you pair with Century egg? I don't know of any beverage that goes with it.

I find your posts very educational. I host many dinners at Shang but have never really attempted to pair any wine with the meal.

Best regards


Noel said...

Hey, Tonics.

but my question to you is: what would you pair with Century egg? I don't know of any beverage that goes with it.

I've had it with a young Sauternes once (the 2002 Clos Haut-Peyraguey to be exact) in an all-Sauternes lauriat at Yung Kee, and it was a pretty darn good match. You can read about it at


Glad you enjoy reading. I enjoy writing.



Anonymous said...


strange, strange. But other comments from you concerning Bordeaux appeared on my blog. Please, try a second time.

The Rieslings from Dönnhoff and in general off-dry Rieslings are a perfect match for asian food or spicy food. Of course, also all kind of fish, poultry and white meat dishes is fine.

Another great value from Dönnhoff is the basic estate Riesling (off-dry!). The cheapest wine from his portfolio, but such delicious for daily business.
Also worth to collect are the Auslese Rieslings from him. Of course much sweeter than the Spätlese but a real treat to Foie Gras or as a dessert substitution.

Of course the sweet wines from Sauternes are wonderful, BUT you will certainly found out by drinking this 07 Spätlese that this wine has a breathtaking freshness&balance due to the Riesling based acidity. This makes Dönnhoff Rieslings so special, the perfect mix of fruit, acidity, minerality, structure and easy-drinking on high-level.

All the best,

Miguel said...

Would century egg go well also with a Gewurtztraminer??

Noel said...

Thanks, Martin.

Actually, we were discussing the wine last night and I am quite looking forward to exploring deeper German rieslings. The Doc suggested, and I very much agree, that that spätlese last night would be great in a Thai restaurant.



Noel said...

Hi, Miguel.

As to your question:

Would century egg go well also with a Gewurtztraminer??

I can't really say as I've not tried it with gewürz, but, I'd imagine it would be ok with the 2006 Bott-Geyl Les Elements or with one of the sweeter vendanges tardives or even sélection de grains nobles.

It would definitely be interesting to try as an expriment.

I think, though, that the century egg has to be good to begin with - i.e., moist and a little gooey inside like the one of Yung Kee. The locally available ones are usually too dry inside.



Anonymous said...

i urge you to pair zinfandel with cantonese food. i've done this numerous times after reading a section on it from Jay McInerney's Bacchus and Me (or was it Hedonist in the Cellar??). Both are excellent books by the way.

Chinkee said...

I love Shang's fried cod! I can imagine it going well with that Riesling. I wasn't always a big fan of Chinese food, but I guess I enjoy it more now because I get to pair it with my favorite whites, like Alsatian Pinot Gris or Gewurz.

Now, if only I could find friends like yours who would give me German Rieslings for Christmas...

Noel said...

i urge you to pair zinfandel with cantonese food. i've done this numerous times after reading a section on it from Jay McInerney's Bacchus and Me (or was it Hedonist in the Cellar??). Both are excellent books by the way.

I've read Bacchus and Me, but don't remember if I read Hedonist in the Cellar...I think I did.

I've tried several (but not so many) zins over the years and know some like them with Cantonese cuisine, but, personally, am not fond of zins. Thanks for the suggestion though.


Noel said...

Now, if only I could find friends like yours who would give me German Rieslings for Christmas...

Ha ha. Friends based in the US who I posted about late last month - we had dinner together in JSG. Rocky, the husband, is into German rieslings so he gave me that one. Unfortunately, not available locally.


Anonymous said...


another interesting topic of german Riesling is also the loooong agebility. Last summer I visited my friend the winemaker Klaus-Peter Keller and he opened a 1953 Auslese. Based on the colour and flavor-profile we thought a Riesling max. 5 years old (blind tasting!) We were all stunned when he showed us the label.

Here some photos:

type "1953 Keller" at the search engine of my blog.

Also Jancis Robinson were impressed by the aging potential of german Riesling when she attended a tasting of aged Rieslings last year. Here her comment:

"the two most memorable wines for me were examples from just before both world wars. The 1911 Auslese from Weil was quite dry because it was only after 1917, when German vintners learnt about filtration and stabilisation, that they could afford to leave unfermented sugar in their wines, while Castell’s 1937 Naturrein was quite incredibly youthful, utterly natural and quintessentially spring-like."


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