Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Burgundy Lunch @ Masseto.

Today's lunch, 8th December 2009, was at the newly-opened Masseto, a plush yet discreet wine bar tucked away at the side of #114 Valero Street, Salcedo Village, Makati. There is no sign indicating its presence, and it seems the owners intend to keep it that way. I'm friends with most all the owners of Masseto, the Stockbroker and Bernie counted amongst them*. This lunch was with the both of them and J-Lab (who was late due to a meeting and traffic). Doc couldn't make it (stuck in the hospital as usual).

Bernie and the Stockbroker

Refined and elegant interiors by Maja Olivares-Co

This area may be enclosed; ideal for meetings and privacy. It can seat up to 16 persons.

While primarily a wine bar, food is, naturally, served in Masseto - the kitchen ably headed by Tippi Tambunting. I've attended many, and even hosted some, meals by Tippi when she was still in the "private chef" business. Those included many fine wine pairing menus for our Blind Bordeaux Challenges and other wine events. Now, she leads Masseto's kitchen full time as Executive Chef.

Those who were, in the past, unable to engage her services for private dinners, well, as the saying goes, if you snooze....

The menu, as one may easily see, is compact, well-thought out and wine-friendly...

...the items of which shall change every few months.

For starters, we shared platters of Sole, Brown Butter Lemon Sauce and French Beans...

...Goat Cheese Ravioli with Olive Butter and Bacalao Fritters Aïoli, enjoyed with...

2002 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru Bougros - The Stockbroker's bottle. Situated beneath the Preuses vineyards, bordered by the river Serein, the wine from the 12.6 hectare grand cru Bougros tend to be fatter, rounder, at times tropical, and generally show earlier than other Chablis grands crus. This, when first poured was leanish and exhibited clean, bright notes of calamansi (i.e., a small, green citrus fruit also known as "Philippine lime") over cold, steel, wet stone and oak/vanilla. With added aeration and warming, its grand cru heft came to bear with round, softer, moderately buttery, somewhat pillowy and creamy apple, pear, bit of melon, citrus, white minerality, bit of flint and a notable dose of oak.

I liked this best with the sole as its butter-lemon sauce played nicely with the citrus notes and buttery character of the wine's fruit.

J-Lab then arrived and the reds began to pour.

It's not everyday one gets served at a posh CBD wine bar by one of the owners, albeit he be a good friend - so I enjoyed it while I could. I noted that the long black sofa behind J-Lab is pure, real-deal leather - absolutely no cheap-o, faux leather/leatherette for this wine bar. No, sir.

With my main course of Crispy Duck Leg (Confit) with Roasted Potatoes...

...I enjoyed a pair of grand cru red Burgundies from 1996.

1996 Domaine Armand Rousseau Ruchottes-Chambertin Grand Cru Clos des Ruchottes - Bernie's bottle, from the slightly over 3 hectare northwestern climat of Ruchottes-Chambertin (bisected by a narrow road into Ruchottes du Dusses and Ruchottes du Bas), abutting the western portion of Mazis-Chambertin (i.e., Les Mazis-Haut). I understand that the Clos des Ruchottes is a monopole of Domaine Armand Rousseau (I don't know how large a clos it is though).

This wine, though soft in fruit and well concentrated (typical earthy cherry, raspberry, underlying dark plum, old violets, a hint of Burgundy decay, dark spice - with a general resiny/sappy slant), had an evidently sturdy structure and acidity that jutted out noticeably. Its grip was also quite firm, to a point that it felt a bit uncomfortable. It came off as quite rustic to me - but in a charming manner - unlike many (sometimes overly) polished red Burgs I've encountered over the past 4 years. Its extremely subtle oak/wood notes are very submerged - I highly doubt much new oak was used in this (a good thing for me).

As it sat in the glass, its acidity became even more apparent and, within the fruit, emerged sour cherry and slight preserved Chinese tamarind notes (a.k.a., champuy) that followed through the finish. Somehow, judging from this bottle, I think the acids and tannin will far outlive the fruit. I appreciate, though, the opportunity to try a grand cru from this famous producer (the grands crus of which are quite rarified, to say the least).

1996 Domaine Ponsot Clos de la Roche Grand Cru Vieilles Vignes - The Stockbroker's bottle, from Morey-St-Denis' most famed clos, central-north in said the commune, abutting Gevrey-Chambertin. The Stockbroker said it had a bit of a musty scent to it, but I didn't notice that (I was using a huge bowl of a glass that I found difficult to sniff in). Very soft, barely medium-bodied, I, honestly couldn't get very much from it - certainly not the weight, stuffing or push expected from a grand cru of Morey-St-Denis, much less a Clos de la Roche. It was pleasant enough, though, don't get me wrong - it's just I expected much more.

A slightly damaged bottle? Perhaps - but still pleasant enough and charming - nothing bothersome except that it wasn't as hefty or full as I expected, being what it is, of course. Again, however, I greatly appreciate the opportunity to try this wine and the fact that a friend chose to share it with me.

Nothing to worry, though, all these bottles are from the Stockbroker's and Bernie's personal collections and are not offered for sale in Masseto. From the bottles of California wines I saw available, there will certainly be no lack in hefty, powerful reds on the wine list.

For dessert, we had...

2005 Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Auslese - The Stockbroker's bottle, one I've had from him 3 months before, during his Chinese lunch at the Summer Palace in early September 2009. My notes then are still applicable:

Bright, lively and playful. Lightly dancing on the palate with lifting acidity and minerality to its sweet peach, light honey, pear and candied lemon. Great purity and focus. Excellent sweet wine. No doubt about it.

Many thanks, my friends for sharing your wines and company; and congratulations on the new venture. Hail Masseto, long may she live!

*I am in no way connected with Masseto and receive/accept no remuneration of any sort for posting on it. I paid for my lunch, we all did, and, though the wines were from Bernie and the Stockbroker, we are all friends and always share wines with each other - as my numerous entries easily and clearly bear out.


Aaron said...

Wow! I can't wait to go there. Congrats to Jojo, the place looks excellent!

Chinkee said...

When I told Matt about the Stockbroker's new wine bar, he goes, "What's up with Valero now? All of a sudden all these cool places are cropping up after I left!" Hahahaha! Malas...

I like your disclaimer at the bottom...:-)

Miguel said...

Congrats to Jojo...finally it's open..we should go there soon. maybe another Pre-Christmas lunch?

Anonymous said...

chinkee- it took us months to find the right place and weeks to finalize the lease. after that, everything sort of fell into place. hope to see you there soon. -jojo

Anonymous said...

is it open to the public already?

Noel said...

Yes, open to the public, but the wine list is not yet complete. There are, of course, many wines already available, but there will be much more to come within a week or two per the Stockbroker.

20% discount off the food menu until this Saturday, by the way.

Olivier said...

I've been here about a month and didn't find any decent wine bar apart from one place. Ok it's my first visit here and I might have high standards about wine (I'm a frenchman in the wine industry living in London), but I have been lucky to meet the Stockbroker at his Induction to the Commanderie de Bordeaux Dinner and I felt a real passion about wine in this man and what a nice welcoming character! I'm really looking forward to go there!!!

Noel said...

Hello, Olivier.

I was at the induction too, being one of the inductees (the very last one called to stage) as well as the co-reader of the introductions of each inductee (95% of which I wrote).

As mentioned above, the Stockbroker is still working on Masseto's wine list and, according to him, he should have it completely in place within a week or two at most.

There are already many wines available, of course, but what I saw there this past Tuesday were mostly young Napa/California wines.



Olivier said...

I remember You being there Noel, that's how I learned about your blog, when the lady read your resume, and that's how I found out about the soon to be wine bar as I read your entry about the tasting of the wines for the list, (i love Jacquesson Champagnes and found that since they rebranded the Grand Vin Signature as vintage it lacks a bit of the depth I was used to. As for the Clos de la Roche By Ponsot, I think your bottle was a bit faulty as I recently have some by Armand Rousseau , the 99 to be precise, and it was pure silk but no light at all...
I was at Jojo's table that evening hence the fact I know a bit more of it. I was seating near Keiichi Miki, another inductee.
Hoping to meet sometime around a glass of wine, (before my departure on the 23rd.)
Best regards

Noel said...

As for the Clos de la Roche By Ponsot, I think your bottle was a bit faulty as I recently have some by Armand Rousseau , the 99 to be precise, and it was pure silk but no light at all...

Perhaps, faulty but not in my personal perception. Several (not all of course) '96 vintage red Burgundies I have had seem to have their acidity jutting out - and the '99s do not seem to have this trait. A couple from '96 that readily come to mind are the '96 Dujac Échézeaux* (admitedly, however, I opened this in July 2006 so it was quite young); and, the other the '96 J. Raphet Clos Vougeot. There are more, but I can't recall exactly which ones right now - a '96 Dominique Laurent Nuits St-Georges Argillières, if I'm not mistaken, and one '96 1er cru from Sérafin.

*Strangely, the '96 village Morey St-Denis of Dujac was fine when I had a couple of bottles in July 2007.

All the mentioned '96s I had while I was in Beaune except the Laurent (I think) which I purchased in San Francisco.

Re: sharing a glass or two before you leave Manila, I shall definitely try to arrange that with the Stockbroker. I assume he knows how to get in touch with you?


Noel said...

Olivier, please e-mail me your contact details at ermitano@skybroadband.com.ph



Anonymous said...

Hey are you a professional journalist? This article is very well written, as compared to most other blogs i saw today….
anyhow thanks for the good read!

Noel said...

Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed reading. Though I'm not a professional journalist (I'm actually a practising lawyer), I do occasionally (and as a hobby) contribute wine-related articles to local magazines.

Michi said...

Chinkee: I'll have to agree with you... I used to live in Valero, too. Now I really want to go back!

Jojo: Congrats! The place looks fantastic. Can't wait to visit when I come home next month.

thebluefrog said...

Noel--always a good blog because it is fair.

Olivier- Jacquesson was the two bottles we had there last night-- I am no expert but side to side it is more flavorful than the others. The food there is good and the owners are wine enthusiasts you can always count on to learn and drink haha.

Service--that is another story. but Masssetto has good wine, convival clients, relaxed atmosphere plus simple Fresh food and of course, GOOD WINE!!!