This evening made it's way into the diary a good two months earlier. It was with three like minded wine lovers. The venue was always going to be Sager & Wilde and having heard a lot about this place (all good, which is rare) there were no protests from me. They have a wonderful list put together by several of the team there but all from wines they love and want to drink. The Wine List just makes you want to trade up and the fact that the wines have the same (very modest) cash margin has the same effect. They must be selling a lot of the best actual bottles from "off the list" in London these days. The food offering is basic in a good way. Cold meats, great toasties and more simple dishes, all deliciously wine friendly without ever becoming fussy and certainly no need for cutlery.
The format of the evening was a sort of "your turn" scenario with all the wines coming from the list. There were several people who wandered over and shared bottles during the evening which is one of the great things about a place like this…it attracts kindred spirits...
So, we were off and running with a little blind red…
Wetzer Kekfrancos 2011 Sopron, Hungary - Totally new on me and I guessed Cru Beaujolais…lovely aromatic blackberry and black cherry fruit with a real lift. The palate is round in shape rather than linear and the only way you could criticise this wine would be to say it is a little hollow but then, there is a lovely elegant finish, mellow with a dose of wet stones, impressive. We were then on to the whites for the next few bottles.
Enviate "Taganan" Parcela Amogoje Blanco 2012, Jose Paster Selections, Canary Islands - Ok so a long wine name (and the list of grape varieties is even worse!) and a rather smart Raveneau-esque capsule. This actually had a lovely Chablis-like character with a sort of waxy grapefruit. This showed a maturity (not tiredness) that would make you think it was 5 years older.
Barraco Catarratto 2012, Sicily - This I thought was absolutely delicious, a herbal wine with citrus and then a complex texture but never heavy…lovely…good choice Mr R.
Bourgogne Aligote 2000, Pierre Morey - Ok so this was my first pick with some help from Michael (owner)…I just thought that as we were doing things blind it's nice to watch and let people try when you know it is almost impossible (not in a cruel way just a fascinating one). The nose was mature and apple-like but NOT bruised apples, then the apples became toffee apples, good acidity…a great experience if not an "everyday tipple".
Hermitage Blanc 1997, Chave - This had a bit of time in a decanter but if truth be told it could have been there for hours. A rich texture without becoming heavy, a nose of honey and flowers a substantial palate…superbly hedonistic…have a look at the picture, annotated by DB to leave nobody in any doubt about who the bottle needed to be drunk by.
We ten thought "it's time for some red"…already this evening was building well…you need 4 whites before moving to the "serious" stuff!
Barbaresco 1970, Produttori del Barbaresco - I spotted this when looking for my white so had it decanted then. I have a massive love for this Co-op, the best anywhere. I have also had considerable joy with Piedmont wines from 1970 so this just seemed too good to miss. A wonderful expression of deep Nebbiolo in a very traditional style. Good dollops of Iodine in amongst a beautiful bruised black fruit, a cracking acidity to keep the freshness, tarry and perfect now.
Volnay 1er Cru Mitans 1988, Domaine de Montille - Mr P then struck with a very clever choice that had us all searching around Piedmont again only f0r it to be Volnay…what's that expression about being wrong for the right reasons? After the "reveal" I wish I'd been a bit more logical about things but hey the wine was good, fully mature and autumnal but in an elegant way.
Hermitage Le Greal 1983, Sorrel - My notes on this wine are rather hard to read given the rather vulgar doodling by DB but then he chose the wine. Exceptional and probably wine of the night all in all. aged tobacco and leaf tea, very fine red fruit too. Then a meaty mid-palate of liquid beef stock and dry Oxo cube before ending with a white pepper balance. Clearly of full maturity (certainly not on the way down though) but I was struggling to say Northern or Southern Rhone and went for the later - wrong of course. Very good wine!
Mas de Daumas Gassac 1989 - I found myself back in the hot seat and went for this for two reasons, Firstly I had a case of the 2000 that I drank ridiculously early on, never a bad thing if you're drinking it because you simply like it. Secondly, I have never had it when mature. This was dense and black in an "Iron meets cool climate Cab Sauv" sort of way, did I like it? Yes, was it charming? Not really. I'd love to try it again as the only red and with a great steak.
The numbers around our table seemed to have swelled now and the next couple were wines we were very kindly given tasters of...
Windgap Pinot Noir (not sure of vintage) - A very rich and high octane style of Pinot…may be a little "worked" but good, so much fruit…
Clos de papes CNDP 1998 - a "puppy" of a wine…it's all there and brooding in intensity and fruit, good minerality but a wine that definitely will be even better with time, not because "it" isn't all here now but because when the fruit is looser and the structure more organised it'll be superb…made a mental note to try this again in 7-8years…very good.
Nuit-Saint-Georges "Aux Saint Julien" 2000, Daniel Bocqueret - I remember liking this but little more…taxi to North London please!!
Great evening that will be repeated….interesting cycle in the next morning...