Friday, July 31, 2009

Jerome's Tasting/Lunch at Je Suis Gourmand.

My blog shows that the last time I was at Je Suis Gourmand was the 15th of June 2009, but only to pick up some orders of foie gras terrine and thin apple tart for dinner at home with the Vecins and Fuenteses. Before that, I had dinner there last on the 6th June 2009 with the kids, so that makes it over a month since I've been there. Well, Marc's recently-concluded vacation in France had something to do with that, to be sure.

In any event, lunch there yesterday, the 30th July 2009, was another 6-hour lunch organized by Jerome Philippon, a good friend who I haven't seen in a couple of months. We were 7 in all with my wife Catha, sis-in-law Mich, bilas Ron, J-Lab and Keiichi, aside from Jerome and myself. It was a nice get-together to catch up and to try some of his new wines, the highlight, to me, of which was to compare my (and many others') favorite rosé, the 2007 Tempier Bandol Rosé with the 2008 vintage recently arrived and available in Manila. For those unaware, Jerome's Sommelier Selection is the authorized distributor of Tempier for Asia (excluding Japan).

We started off with...

2008 Château de Roquefort Côtes de Provence Corail Rosé - a fresh and commandingly structured, red-fruited rosé with oh-so-slight, yet distinctive, pepper and dried herb nuances. Very accessible, charming and easy to drink a lot of. I've had this several times in Je Suis Gourmand with Marc's cassoulet, couscous with trio of lamb (a particularly good pairing), etc. I've also had it in Ciçou as well with Cyrille's version of cassoulet. My two teen-agers like this too with Marc's escargots. At a mere P910 per bottle full retail at Sommelier Selection, it's a very good deal.

Then came the comparison I'd been long waiting for. I've gushed frequently about the 2007 Tempier rosé, simply adore the stuff and have gone through more bottles of it that I can remember. Now, thanks to Jerome, I got to try it side-by-side the newly-arrived 2008, both paired with my favorite escargots bourguignonne.

2007 & 2008 Domaine Temper Bandol Rosé - Both marvelously attractive rosés in every way, from their color, clarity, brightness, to the clean, fresh, pure, vibrant fruit, underlying slight dried herbs, admirable structure, complexity and superb balance. At this point, between the two, the 2007's structure is marginally firmer, the garrigue notes are more pronounced, and has slightly, though noticeably, more of a masculine character and depth in its fruit. The 2008 has a joyful, playful, feminine, fruity character, its garrigue discreet, with a more apparent melon note to it. This 2008 has a most infectuous smile. Lovely wines, the both of them.

Jerome recounted to us his visit to Tempier a couple of years ago, how charming the countryside was, the hospitality of Tempiers owners as well. When he was there, he got to try, among others a 1952 Tempier Bandol Rosé - a rosé astoundingly still alive after 55 years.

At a shade over P2000/bottle full retail, the now locally available 2008 is not a cheap rosé by any means, but, as I always say, that is a small price to pay for simply the best rosé in the world.

With our main courses (J-Lab, Jerome, Keiichi and I got the delicious Beef Onglet), the reds, decanted for an hour or so by the time, made their respective entrances.

2005 Domaine Elian Da Ros Clos Baquey - From the Côte du Marmandais in Southwest France, a blend of merlot, cabernet franc, abouriou (the local gamay grape) and cabernet sauvignon. This is the first time I've had this firmly structured, well-focused wine that presents flavors of blackcurrants, raspberry, cherry, bit of plum, violets and a precise touches of minerals, pepper and herbs. What struck me most about this wine was how nicely firm it was, how cleanly and neatly it presented itself and how very well it paired with my robust Beef Onglet. Classical cut, admirable balance and restraint for a wine from such a ripe vintage.

Loved this match. I'd definitely buy some to pair again with this dish. No price officially out on this yet, but I seem to recall Jerome saying it would be in the neighborhood of P2500/bottle.

2003 Château Lagarette Cuvée Renaissance - I had this more with my cheese course. As I understand from Jerome, this estate has been around since the mid-19th century, and, since 1998 has been owned and run by the Minvielle family. Certified organic (1998) and biodynamic (2003), the vineyard is a tiny 4 hectares planted mainly to old vines (merlot, cabernet sauvignon and malbec) with a minor portion recently planted to cabernet franc.

2003 was a roasted-ripe year for Bordeaux in general. This was apparent in the warm, lush, ripe/baked character of the soft, sweetish plum, cherry, bit of cassis and raspberry, hint of red spice and underlying espresso, with forward toasty-oak notes of caramel, clove, hint of toffee and cinammon. Comes off a bit modern to me - good for the fans of that style.

We continued with the cheese platters with a white from Jerome, and another red I ordered from the restaurant's wine list (also supplied by Sommelier Selection).

2006 Domaine Chèze Cuvée Ro-Rée St-Joseph - J-Lab chose this wine. I recall I tried the 2005 verion of this at Je Suis Gourmand sometime in late mid-2008, but can't seem to find my notes on it. This was a firm, straightforward, medium-bodied wine with an earthy, somewhat rustic character to its blackberry, raspberry, blackcurrant, bit of underlying black coffee with slight pepper topnotes. Though still quite young, it showed well enough and was pretty good with the Tomme de Savoie and walnuts.

2005 Domaine Plante d'Or Cour Cheverny Cuvée Salamandre - My wife recalled we went to or passed through Cheverny when we were in the Loire in July 2006. The name rings a bell, but very faintly. Likely we stopped nearby briefly when we visited Château de Chambord as Jerome told me that the appellation of Cour-Cheverny is just southeast of Blois. Made from a grape called romorantin, this wine is the first of its kind I have tried.

The fruits are hard to describe - very lightly honeyed quince, citrus, some fresh herbs, limestone with a mouth-watering slight bitterness towards the rear. Very interesting and it went well with the soft, creamy cheeses (the brie de Mieux I recall), not so much with bleu as the citrus notes seemed to interfere.

We then switched to a simple, light, refreshing Domaine de la Sarazinière Clos des Bruyères Bourgogne Aligoté. I think it was a 2006, but am not now sure. I had the 2006 sometime in mid-September 2008 at a 7-½ hour marathon tasting lunch with Jerome and some friends. Pleasant, charming, very quaffable wine.

I then ordered a bottle of the 2006 Domaine Bott-Geyl Gewürztraminer Les Elements, an old favorite gewürz that I've written about several times. I really like pairing it with Marc's terrine of foie gras and thin apple tart as well.

We all liked this wine a lot (especially my wife), and I think J-Lab's notes from that day are very on point:

Bott-Geyl Les Elements Gewurztraminer 2006 - I've enjoyed this wine quite a few times before. Lychee and roses. Quite sweet. Real easy to enjoy. Some people might be turned-off by the sweetness but I think this is excellent.

I add that it is great value for money as well at around P1600/bottle at retail.

After some double espressos and coffees, our long tasting lunch came to a close at around 6pm or close to it. Many thanks again to Jerome for the wines and for organizing the lunch.

It was a lot of fun as usual and it was great to try finally the 2008 Tempier Bandol Rosé - alongside the 2007, no less. All the other wines were also very enjoyable, the Ro-Rée and the Clos Baquey deserving special mention. Merci beaucoup!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ordre Mondial des Gourmets Dégustateurs Kaiseki Dinner at Toki.

Tuesday night, 28th July 2009, was the Ordre Mondial des Gourmets Dégustateurs ("OMGD") Kaiseki dinner at Toki. As I understand it, the OMGD is a group within the Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs that focuses on wine, spirits, beer, etc. in the context of pairing. J-Lab and Arnie organized the event, a multi-course dinner with 3 kinds of free flowing Gekkeikan Sake sponsored by Ralph's. My wife and I attended last year's OMGD kaiseki dinner as well, that time held at Tsumura, and enjoyed it so much we made sure to attend this year's as well.

Like last year, most everyone brought their own bottles free of corkage - this time I brought a couple of bottles of Billecarte Salmon Champagne Brut Reserve NV as I enjoy having bubbly with Japanese seafood dishes. Ken brought a bottle of 2007 Laxas Albariño, another good, cross-continent pairing. Aside from my wife, Ken and I, my youngest brother-in-law, sis-in-law and bilas (a Tagalog term without any English equivalent - it means the husband of one's sister in law).

Lots of friends showed up as well, including several of the usual suspects, all there to enjoy and enthusiastically support J-Lab's and Arnie's event.

The Stockbroker and Vince flanking the bemedalled organizers

Aaron and Jo with Greg

Dinner began with pours of chilled Nigori Sake... unusual, milky looking, lightly filtered sake with a very accessible sweetish touch. This was obviously my bilas', Ron's, favorite sake of the night. Though we had large serving vessels of Gekkeikan regular (warm) and sweet (chilled) sake on our table, Ron pretty much drank this most of the evening. Not that I blame him one bit, I certainly put away a lot of it myself.

The several appetizers were served in one salvo:

Deep-fried Octopus and Shrimp, Braised Pork, Kiriboshi Daikon, Steamed Chicken with Sesame Sauce & Grilled Eel, Cucumber, Seaweed with Jelly Vinegar. I had this mostly with my Billecarte Salmon Brut Reserve NV - a nicely hefty, fuller fruited, yet dry, clean and crisp non-vintage champagne. Lots of forward drive and a lively, creamy mid-mouth froth in this wine with precise yeast notes and toastiness coming to the fore thereafter.

Next was one of my favorite dishes of the night.

Crab Chawanmushi Soup. I don't usually like chawanmushi, but this was particularly savory and comfortingly warm. Arnie came by and told us to make sure and try it with the chilled Gekkeikan sweet sake. We did and it was a very interesting yin-yang play in temperature (warm and chilled), flavor (sweet and savory) and even texture (creamy-chunky and liquid-smooth). Quite nice, really. I stuck with that pairing until my bowl was empty.

With the Sashimi Course of...

...Shimaaji, Hamachi, Shake, Maguro and Uni, I switched to the warm sake and alternated with the champagne. Loved them all with both.

Then came the another Seafood Course, this time, mostly cooked dishes.

Prawn, Oyster, Squid, Toro Cutlet with Ikura Tartar & Tomato Sauce. I then moved back to the chilled sake and continued with the bubbly. I also had some of Ken's 2007 Laxas Albariño. It paired well enough, but I wish I remembered to have some of it with the sashimi course. I'm sure it would have been great (but sans the wasabi and soy sauce dip).

By then, the Stockbroker and Vince started to send me some glasses of red. As I was already getting a bit tipsy by then, I'm not sure that I remember them all.

I do recall Vince inflicting upon me a glass of his 2006 Quail's Gate Okanagan Valley Stewart Family Reserve Pinot Noir - a warm, cinammon-laced, toasty oaky, cola-candied, sweet raspberry and cherry wine from the British Columbia. It was a syrupy-modern pinot noir, unmistakeably new world, and from a screw-capped bottle to boot.

The foregoing notes may lead one to think that I found the wine hideous. Actually, though it is far from my type of pinot noir, it wasn't bad for what it was. I lived to tell the tale, after all.

Another new world pinot noir I got to try was the 2006 Shea Wine Cellars Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Pommard Clone - from the Stockbroker. Not anywhere candied sweet like the immediately preceding wine, though also very full-bodied, it wasn't as heavy or syrupy as the former. It had a somewhat warming, comforting earthiness to it. Though the fruit had a touch of sweetness and I doubt very much I would mistake it for a wine from the Côte de Beaune, I must say that it was surprisingly demure and notably light-footed compared to the Quail's Gate. Very interesting wine. I could drink this with a thick, grilled rib-eye steak.

And, speaking of beef....

Wagyu Rump Steak with Salad and Tai Meshi

This was one of my highlight dishes of the night, together with the chawanmushi. I must say that, days before, when I read the menu, I didn't expect much at all of this dish since I'm not a fan of rump steak. The Doc, who couldn't join us because of a board meeting, assured me earlier in the day, however that this was a good dish. Very pleasant surprise. Tender, juicy and nicely flavorful without being rich. I never before thought of any steak dish as one with finesse - rich, opulent, hearty - yes, of course, but "finesse" never was a word that came to mind. Well, it did with this one.

I didn't pair the following red with my steak out of respect for the former:

1978 Château Ducru Beaucaillou - from the Stockbroker. Regular readers of my blog know that, while I have a great deal of respect for Ducru Beaucaillou's wines, I hardly ever buy their wines. They are undoubtedly good, but, at that level and price range for St-Julien, I prefer buying the wines of Léoville las Cases. I also find better price-to-pleasure ratio in those of Léoville Poyferré and Gruaud Larose.

That said, this is the most impressive vintage of Ducru Beaucaillou I have ever had (off the top of my head, I've tried their '85, '86, '88, '89, '95, '96, '99 and '01). Moreover, it was the best from 1978 I have ever had, and I've had quite a few (e.g., Haut Brion, Lafite Rothschild, Pichon Lalande and the less renown La Clusière [in magnum], among others).

Earthy, very deep. Discreet cedar delicately intertwined with deep, somber asphalt, cassis, faint mushroom, slight leather and tobacco, touch of licorice, violets. Quietly self-restrained power. Complex and regal. No "blockbuster" this, rather, a study in depth, complexity and elegance. Excellent, excellent wine.

J-Lab also shared with me a pour of his 2005 Ridge Geyserville - Honestly, by this time, I was already pretty far gone, what with the Nigori sake, champagne, warm sake, cold sweet sake, more bubbly, more sake and some reds. I couldn't do any more justice to any wine with my mental notes. Thus, the following are J-Lab's own notes of this wine from the night before:

Perhaps after the Monte Bello, Geyserville is one of the most iconic wines of Ridge. A field blend mostly made of Zinfandel, it never quite reaches the percentage of Zin necessary to have the wine called Zin on the label. The 2005 is the 40th vintage of this wine and is made of 77% Zinfandel, 17% Carignane and 6% Petite Sirah.

Red-violet and not particularly deep. Warm aromas. Strange but rather attractive peachy scent that's carried over into the flavor. Spicy, fragrant wood with a touch of dried herbs. Sweet and ripe fruit that evokes summer. Crunchy plums and a bit of strawberry. Very easy and well-balanced. Later on, a bit of meatiness comes out but it's held in check by all the juicy fruit. The tannins have melted away but the wine is framed by bright but never shrill acidity. Impressive length. Complex and many-layered. Well-crafted and very enjoyable now. Terrific stuff.

The rest of the evening is a bit of a blur. Fortunately, I have my pictures to jog my memory. I do remember, though, everyone having lots of fun.

The entire Toki staff then lined up to be acknowledged...

...all things having run quite smoothly despite a packed house and multiple courses under the omnipresent guiding hand of manager Keitaro Kawasaki.

Naturally, the evening would also not have been possible without the skills of young, multi-awarded Master Chef Shinsuke Yonekawa.

I could blather on about how much fun we all had, how fortunate I was that I sobered up well in time to drive home safely, how well organized, and executed the meal was and how much we look forward to next year's OMGD kaiseki dinner. I could also wind up this post with my usual, though sincere, thanks to the organizers, friends who shared their company and wines, but, I feel that Keiichi's picture simply says it all.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Casual Sips: 23 & 25 July 2009.

Thursday, 23rd July 2009.

Because of J-Lab's glowing review of the '99 Ridge Monte Bello, I simply had to try it out. Having a dinner to attend in Serendra, I stopped by CAV for some of this wine, chancing upon old friend Felicia there, as well as owners David Ong and chef Marcus Gfeller. I asked for one of their proper, bigger glasses and got a full serving from the wine dispenser.

I found the nose and palate mirrored each other exactly with blackcurrants, mint, demure cedar, mere hints of tobacco leaf and licorice underneath. Wood was quite apparent, but very well-integrated and not at all obtrusive. Very self-possessed character, with precise balance and impressive, minty length. It doesn't shout out like most Cali reds I've tried and it is not at all over-ripe, jammy, syrupy or high in alcohol. I was texting J-Lab while I was sipping, telling him that, if served blind, I think this could probably easily fool me into calling it from Bordeaux.

Saturday, 25th July 2009.

My dad and youngest sister had dinner with us at home - just a simple one of steamed live crabs, pork adobo (requested by my youngest) and ginataang sitaw, kalabasa, talong and shrimp. I love eating crabs and simply steamed is my favorite way of having them, so I passed on the adobo and had 2-½ crabs. I rarely use the lemon-butter sauce, preferring to drizzle them with sinamak (a local vinegar spiced with garlic and chilis).

Steamed Crabs

Pork Adobo

Ginataang (cooked in coconut cream) Sitaw (string beans), Kalabasa (pumpkin), Talong (eggplant) & Shrimp

During golf earlier in the day, I had a short discussion on the 14th hole with a Spanish friend about albariños and Galician seafood. That fresh in my mind, I pulled a chilled bottle of 2007 Martín Códax Albariño to go with my steamed crab.

It's certainly obvious to those that follow my blog that I love these cleanly fruited, bracingly dry and brightly acidic whites from Rias Baixas, Galicia, Spain which are regionally and traditionally paired with the seafood Galicia is famous for (I especially enjoy them with simply prepared fresh shellfish). These are casually delightful wines that are, happily, very affordably priced - something good that can be enjoyed at any time. I always keep some handy at home.

My personal favorite currently locally available albariños are those by Laxas (Terry Selections), Códax (Barcino) and Terras Gauda (Premium Wine Exchange). For those who care, see my notes on a recent locally available albariño taste-off at La Tienda.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Stockbroker's Blind Cabernet Sauvignon Tasting.

Lunch today was back in Old Manila for the Stockbroker's Blind Cabernet Sauvignon Tasting. He, yet again, generously provided all the wines except for the welcome bubbly which J-Lab graciously supplied. All 6 reds were primarily made from cabernet sauvignon served blind, 2 from Bordeaux, 3 from well-known wine -producing regions and 1 from a country where wine is not traditionally made (hereafter referred to as the "outsider wine").

The Stockbroker's challenge for the group was to identify the Bordeaux and the outsider wines.

We were 10 in all including our host, the latter, of course, knowing what the wines were, but not which was which when served. It was a mixed group of the usual suspects with a few new suspects joining the fray: the Stockbroker, J-Lab, Keiichi, Johnny (who caught up later for the tasting), Arnie, Vince, Selina, Aaron, Greg and I. A recap of the clues we received on the reds:

  1. All were predominantly cabernet sauvignon;

  2. All were Parker rated around 91;

  3. 2 were from Bordeaux (later he let on that 1 was Château Pavie Decesse); and,

  4. 1 was from a country not generally known to produce wine.
NB: Since it was a big and fun group/gathering, I didn't/couldn't concentrate on the wines as much as I could or usually would. Thus, my notes will be much briefer than usual, but I endeavoured to capture their general characteristics nonetheless.

We kicked things off with a couple of bottles of...

Piper Heidsieck Champagne Brut NV - from J-Lab, as earlier mentioned, who so thoughtfully shared two bottles with us from the entire stock of Forth & Tay that he purchased (hindi man lang nagtira para sa amin).

I got to try this around a week-and-a-half ago from him at Aaron's Burgundy lunch at Sala. My notes then were as follows:

The champagne was appetizingly dry, presenting clean, lively and mildly yeasty/bready fresh green apple and Korean Iya pear notes. It's mousse was fine and it had a very pleasant character in its lightish frame. Very charming, and very good price-to-quality ratio (QPR) at only around P1800 per bottle from Forth & Tay. At said price, it is an absolute no-brainer to purchase in my book.

I add now that the wine has a nice, mildly creamy middle with a lively bready/slightly yeasty finish - a very enjoyable apéritif indeed!

Three sauvignon blancs were then simultaneously served, which I enjoyed with my lobster appetizer:

2006 Honig Rutherford Reserve Sauvignon Blanc (Napa) - J-Lab tasted ahead of me and immediately noted that it received material oak ageing. He was right. It was flowery and had a distinct, but not overly obtrusive, touch of vanilla/oak in the nose and palate. Rounder, heftier than the following whites, a touch creamy, with a well-ripened and tropical character to its fruit. Nice with my lobster dish.

2007 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough) - A wine I've had over lunch at CAV with the Stockbroker, Keiichi and James on 12 February 2009. My notes then were as follows:

I've much liked Cloudy Bay's sauv blancs ever since I first tried it at Mom-Tri's Boathouse in Phuket, February 2003 (before the tsunami hit), with my wife, Tonji, Sylvia and our host, JP. I recall it was terribly hot and humid; Tonji, I and JP were a bit dehydrated from 18 holes in Blue Canyon. The cool, crisp, clean white was a perfect apéritif. I can't remember the vintage of that first one, but I believe I've had the vintages 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, and, today, the 2007.

This wine was typical Cloudy Bay sauv blanc, gooseberries, slight ripe grapefruit, hints of citrus, fresh cut grass and minerals. Riper, gentler, calmer than most vintages I've tried in the past, the gooseberries and grass didn't jut out like before - but well integrated and comparatively subtle. Very nice.

My previous notes remain applicable. I noted that, of the three sauv blancs this lunch, the Cloudy Bay displayed the most gooseberry and grass. Nicely lean and clean.

2007 Casa Marin Laurel Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc (San Antonio Valley, Chile) - Flowery sweet guava notes and a nuance of glue (Aaron thinks varnish) dominated its forward/open aromas after time in the glass. It was much closer in character/style to the Honig, but a tad sweeter with a touch of passion fruit on the guava palate.

Then came the reds which I tasted along with my thick and juicily rare rib-eye steak.

My own notes:

Wine #1 - Sweet fruit, toffee, oak, dense and syrupy, but somehow managed to not come off as overly heavy or ponderous.

Wine #2 - Coconut cream, toffee, cinnamon, less dense and syrupy than Wine # 1.

Wine #3 - Coffee, espresso, cinnamon, toasty/spicy oak, thickish but not syrupy.

Wine # 4 - Not California. Bordeaux? Barely medium, lightest of all. Lean, austere, tea leaves, cassis. Very lean.

Wine # 5 - Nicely balanced. Bordeaux.

Wine #6 - Different in nose. Very oaky with gamey/animal/meaty character most apparent in the nose. This one is the most different from the rest.

No, I am not above posting pictures of people mid-mouthful.

When all ballots were in, J-Lab tallied and the group's collective results were that Wines #s 4 & 6 were the ones from Bordeaux and Wine # 4 was voted as the outsider (I know, weird, but we were an even number of voters). With that, the reds were then revealed.

Wine #1 - 1998 Leewin Art Series Margaret Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (Australia)

Wine #2 - 1999 Viader Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley, California)

Wine #3 - 1998 Château Pavie Decesse (St-Emilion, Bordeaux)

Wine #4 - 2004 Takahata Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Unfiltered (Japan)

Wine #5 - 2001 Château Léoville Barton (St-Julien, Bordeaux)

Wine #6 - 2001 Almaviva (Chile)

Only our host, the Stockbroker, was able to correctly identify both Bordeaux wines. Most everyone else got one right. Arnie and Greg at first guessed both right, but they both changed one of their choices in their final votes. I recall Aaron was able to nail the Château Pavie Decesse as a St-Emilion.

In hindsight, though I was able to identify the Léoville Barton as a Bordeaux, I should have remembered the clue that all wines were Parker-rated 91 and above - that would have tipped me off that Wine #4 could not possibly have been such a Bordeaux as I thought it to be a very middling and overly lean one - something Parker would surely not give such score to. Looking now at my notes on Wine #3, the Pavie-Decesse, a merlot-based wine, they read typically like mine of a modern-styled St-Emilion.

In any event, it was a learning experience, and a mighty fun one at that, as raucous laughter and ribbing ensued. We were very rowdy. I felt bad for the people at the other tables...

...but not enough to stop enjoying the company.

Heaven knows what the Stockbroker and Selina were up to in the following shot. J-Lab looks positively overwhelmed.

I'd like to be able to say all the mirth was in good, clean, wholesome fun, but, with Arnie's jokes, that is simply not a possibility.

Good thing that the restaurant emptied out not long after. It was the group consensus that it was one particular person's booming, monotone laughter that drove all the other customers away, but, polite and discreet as I am, I will not name names.

The merry-making was further sweetened by some bonus glasses of rich, concentrated, opulently showy 2003 Château Coutet.

Johnny came lately from taping, in full telenovela-idol-esque attire...

...and tasted through the reds...

...coming up with, as I recall, the same results as I.

A round of much deserved applause followed in appreciation of our generous host.

Vince, a staunch supporter of screwed-up...este...screw-capped wines, was caught red-handed taking the corks home for his collection...

...prompting the Stockbroker to demonstrate truly the best use for screw-caps:

It was an absolutely hilarious lunch, as well as a fun-filled and challenging tasting. Many thanks to the Stockbroker for thinking this up, organizing the tasting/lunch and sharing his wines (to J-Lab too, of course, for the bubbly). I haven't laughed that long and hard for quite a while. Superb way to end a work-week.