Many thanks to Oliver, Tom and Mark of Farr vintners for a great friday lunch time/afternoon/ evening (always the way these things tend to end up). Trade lunches used to happen a lot more often but as the trade had become busier and busier it understandably happens so much less. It was great fun to catch up with people who you speak to so often or more likely email but might not see that regularly.
I was also excited to be eating at Zafferano, a restaurant I have always heard a lot about but hadn't ever been too. Stupidly I left the menu behind but will try to recall most of it....so the wines
Dom Perignon 1996 - as impressive as ever, very fine bubbles, at a lovely stage now, really starting to mellow, a super glass of champagne and given how much they make the quality is staggering.
Moving downstairs for lunch we then had a Jeroboam of Batard Montrachet 2002 from Joel-Noel Gagnard, not a producer I have that much experience of. I thought it was on good form, at or approaching its peak. It was served at a lovely temperature and initially lent towards the mineral Puligny style despite the developed colour but as it warmed up over the next 1-2hours it really opened out and became more Meursaultesque (a good sign in my book) wit bacon fat and richness coming more to the fore, a very impressive wine I thought..great drinking. Went well with the asparagus and seafood medley.
We were then on to the first pair of blind reds, then was one more blind red after the two pairs. The two wines were of very contrasting styles although you could say they were both Cabernet Blends. A bit of added spice was brought out when Tom said that there was a 20 point difference in uncle Bobs score the first wine getting 77. The first was a touch over ripe may be but was full of fruit, if a little one dimensional but 77 points? I think not. This wine turn out to be Ridge Montebello 1988 - amazing fresh fruit for 23 years old, it had not got more complex but was all still there. The second wine was far more "complete" and universally thought to be Bordeaux, there was a minerality and gravelness about it that made me relatively confident it was from graves, having shouted out I was pleased to see this was true so I wisely shut up and quit while ahead. It turned out to be La Mission Haut Brion 1990, a very good wine...I was surprised it was 90 as it seem a little less lush that I would have expected but then it turned out I had had the more muted of the three bottle so that made sense. This was served with a Zafferano signature dish of Pappardelle with Pigs Cheeks - delicious and just my sort of thing.
Next up was the second pair - the common thread here being the vintage, as with the La Mission it was 1990. The first of the pair had an intensity of black currant fruit and an exotic, warm climate richness. I was fairly sure it was not Bordeaux and suggested Coonawarra or California...this proved correct but I didn't anticipate that it was another vintage of Ridge Montebello (1990 of course). I was impressed because the richness made me think that if it were Californian it would have to have been 91 or 94 (both considered better than 1990). Generally the end of the table I was at agreed that it wasn't the style of wine you would want everyday but that it was a delicious bottle for when you wanted something a little decdent. The second in the pair was much more Bordeaux but that was about as far as I was going to risk. My next door neighbour got it first time - it was Leoville Poyferre 1990. A seriously good bottle of wine, really complex and classical fruit, great balance and a beautiful time to drink it. Having had 1995 and 1996 Leoville Poyferre recently (both of which I thought were a bit so so) I was very impressed. They are widely accepted to be on top form again now and if the wines are like the 1990 I can well see why. Probably the good surprise highlight of the day. The full 4 wines lineup below. The later two with a great piece of beef worked really well.
So one more red...this was served from double magnum and was a great advert for just that size of bottle.
It showed really well, had a very grown up and complete texture and a touch of soy but at the same time plenty of fruit, the tannins were not pronounced but there and the colour was holding up well. It was confusing until the bottle size was revealed as putting a date on it seemed very hard. The big bottle allowed you to look a little further back...it was Trotanoy 1970 (as I work for the agent of this wine I will state my bias!) a real revelation for me and having not had the wine before I was so pleasantly surprised, in no decline it was just beautiful, it was a drink in itself but with the cheese it worked very well. There was one wine we had to skip as it was not in god shape and sadly that was Brauneberger Juffer - Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese Goldkap 1983 from Fitz Haag..a real shame as on form it would have been brilliant. Not to worry next up was Banyuls 1950 from Pietri Geraud. I really enjoyed this. Fresh and rich but with balance and acidity, I can't think of anything except Madeira that wears its age so well. It was a dried fruit feast with plums, prunes and rasins, delicious. The Coffee and Guiness followed as we moved ot the pub, the rest is standard wine trade stuff...meant to have 1 quick pint 4 pints later I managed to drag myself away...a great afternoon and many thanks again to the generous hosts!