Sunday, November 15, 2009

Blind Bordeaux Challenge XIV.

Saturday night, the 14th November 2009, was the Grand Crew's Blind Bordeaux Challenge XIV at the usual venue of Old Manila. Defending his crown was the Stockbroker, that which he wrested from my embattled brow at the XIIIth challenge last August 20th. We were only 7 this time as Mrs. Stockbroker wasn't feeling well.

Mrs. Vigneron, Doc, the Stockbroker

My Wife, the Vigneron & Mrs. Doc

Priming our palates were welcome glasses of....

Champagne Jacquesson Cuvée 732 NV - From the Stockbroker for sure as Premium Wine Exchange is Jacquesson's official Philippine distributor. I've had this many times, the last being at the IWFS President's Dinner this past 15th October 2009. "(T)he bright lemon and citrus dominant flavours of which, combined with an entertaining slight breadiness past mid-mouth" seemed creamier and rounder than all the previous times I've had it, brightening the amuse bouche nicely.

I don't recall what the other's had for starters, but I had the rather lackluster Black Truffle Raviolini Soup.

The reds were then served...

..and tasting began before our main courses arrived; mine was a rare 300-gm. Rib-Eye Steak with a side of fries.

As regards the quality of the meat, let's just say I was glad there were great wines to drink.

Wine #1: Initially, a sweet perfume of cherries, kirsch, dark/ripe plum, spice and violets with an ever-so-slight sherry nuance. Softly mirrored on the palate, silky, over a stream of graceful dark fruit. Very femininely elegant, but with a good, albeit gentle, push on the palate. It started to fall apart, separate and fade, the sherry notes starting to take over after around 30-40 minutes; so, if you have any of this, I'd advise to try it for a few minutes before deciding to decant for aeration.

I ranked this wine 2nd best. It turned out to be the Stockbroker's 1982 Château Le Gay.

Wine #2: Initially the best nose for me, proudly displaying meaty, truffled black fruit, cassis, cedar, tar, tobacco and licorice. Good depth and power. In the mouth, it was nicely warm, full and familiar. It started to fade and fall apart relatively quickly though, faster than Wine #1. For this reason, I, thus, had no choice but to rank it 3rd best. It was the Doc's 1994 Château Léoville las Cases (in Magnum).

Wine #3: Cedary nose of gravel/pencil-shavings-infused cassis, violets and leather. Good power and balance, of a classic cut; but the wine, to me, lacked the admirable depth and heft of the others. I could easily tell this was my wine, but simply had to rank it 4th place. It was, in fact, my 2001 Les Forts de Latour - a very dark horse of a Pauillac, I admit, but I just wanted to see how it would fare against the heavyweights.

Wine #4: This wine took the longest to open, but, when it did, it just kept gaining darkly quiet, smoldering power, depth, body and roundness. Rich, deep, complex, dark plum, cherry, cassis, violets, leather, spice - what struck me most about this wine was its astounding balance of power and elegance. I had no choice but to rank this the best wine of the Challenge. It was the Vigneron's 1999 Château Trotanoy.

The Vigneron looks on pensively. He had been trash-talking us the week before, pointing out that, historically, he always took the crown home to Bordeaux during the Christmas season. As far as we all knew, he was right. Now, as Mrs. Vigneron tallied the votes, it was the moment of truth.

The Results:

Mrs. Vigneron then announced the wines' rankings in ascending order:

4th Place: Wine #1, the Stockbroker's 1982 Château Le Gay, with a total of 13 points (0 votes for 1st place, 2 votes for 2nd place, 2 votes for 3rd place, and 3 votes for 4th place).

Above, the Stockbroker just looks slightly bemused in seeing his bottle take 4th. I was busy taking photos at the time, so when I saw the Stockbroker pointing to me through my camera lens, I knew the next bottle revealed was mine.

3rd Place: Wine #3, my 2001 Les Forts de Latour, with a total of 14 points (1 vote for 1st place, 1 vote for 2nd place, 2 votes for 3rd place, and 3 votes for 4th place).

Mrs. Vigneron then called out for the 2nd place wine to be revealed. In the above photo, you can see the Vigneron on the left, his hands clasped deep in prayer...

Note, however, the change in his body language when it was revealed...

2nd Place: Wine #2, the Doc's 1994 Château Léoville las Cases (Magnum), with 20 points (3 votes for 1st place, 1 vote for 2nd place, 2 votes for 3rd place, and 1 vote for 4th place).

1st Place: Wine #4, the Vigneron's 1999 Château Trotanoy, with a convincing 26 points (3 votes for 1st place, 3 votes for 2nd place, and 1 vote for 3rd place). When asked how he decided on this wine, the Vigneron gave credit to his old friend, Sebastian Bardinet, in helping him identify, taste and decide on the winning bottle. Needless to state, the Vigneron was very happy and I'm sure we'll not be hearing the end of this for a while.

Naturally, he said he had no doubt that he'd win; and, to prove it, he showed me how he filled up his voting card earlier in the evening:

In any event, it was a convincing win for him, and, yet again, the crown returns to Bordeaux for the holidays. Good natured teasing ensued...

...everyone good friends again....

...for now.


richy said...

Hi guys... sorry do not want to bother and look like an intruder.... just posted this a few days ago and was hoping to ge a reply and advice....

Noel, guys, this is a great blog. I am a wine lover from Switzerland, now leaving in Bahrain. Away from my best friends from Geneva, I like reading your stories and comments on wine, it reminds me the time I was doing the same back home ( )
I will be visiting Manila end of this month with my wife (not bringing bottles with me...) and am looking for the most recommended French and the best Japanese in town to go out for diner (me and my wife only for the French restaurant, with kids for the Japanese). My wife is Japanese and my kids love Japanese food, so they are very very picky. And I am Swiss... so imaging for the French food. Important is to have a great wine menu, as in Bahrain we mainly have wines from the new world and all are very young. Tried some google search but rather than picking one randomly would prefer a recommendation from you guys, you are the experts !
We will be staying at the shangri-la in Makati. Thanks for any advice.

Noel said...

Hi, Richy.

Sorry for the delay in replying. It's been a bit busy the past few days.

For real, authentic Japanese food, I'll have to get back to you with specifics as I'll have to ask my sister-in-law and Keiichi (both Japanese from Tokyo) for specific recommendations, but, offhand, they like Toki (they have a master chef from Japan and are capable of making fusion as well as traditional fare), Ramen Ron (for Ramen, obviously) and 7rin ("pronounced "shichirin") for yakiniku.

For honest, French country fare, there is Je Suis Gourmand and Ciçou. If you want, I can make arrangements for you in those places. Just e-mail me.

For buying wines, the Italian selection in Bacchus is very good and well priced. For 1855 classified Bordeaux, Bacchus and Säntis have good selections, but their prices are higher than in Europe or the US. For Spanish, I heavily recommend Terry Selection (the owner is a passionate Spanish PhD in oenology).

E-mail me at for specifics.



richy said...

thank you Noel, I will drop you a line shortly.

Miguel said...

Still can't believe how that steak looks...sheesh..

Michi said...

Not too pleased with the steak, I see... Was it dry-aged even? (Jojo, I like the new "Noel" look.)