Tuesday, 19 July 2011

a big eating day...

Wednesday was a good day from the eating and drinking standpoint first up was lunch with MrMead. As he is off to HK soon to join the C&B team out there it seemed a good idea to have a catch up over a couple of bottles and where better than my favorite...Zucca? So with a selection of courses we had the two bottles photographed. Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Cras 1990 from Barthod (a kind donation from Meado), the wine was a little closed but very good. The cheesecloth nose left and you had a good dollop of red fruit on the palate. It was one of those bottles that made you keeping questioning it to see it develop. I don't know the house style but I enjoyed this a lot without it really singing, to be fair we were chatting away so it worked well. Next up was a bottle off the list - if you have not been and love Italian wine thengo, awesome list at great prices and this is not a "suppliers view - Barolo Margheria 1996 Massolini. The sommelier said very honestly that the last bottle of this he had served was a bit tired but that it may have been just the bottle. I was keen to try this producer so we decided to risk it. The colour instantly suggested this was not tired, a strong but honest colour. It was closed and started me wondering what sort of a tasting day it was. As with the Chambolle it was very honest and had good fruit but it never quite sang. Very good balance and the structure you would expect of a "classical" (overused wine word but there you go) Barolo vintage like the 1996. The food with these was great as usual, fresh, varied flavors and always interesting without trying to be novel for the sake of it. The thing I also love about the food is however much you eat you never leave stuffed and sleepy... something I do when I eat very traditional french food at lunchtime, reduction sauces etc. A very good meal and personally a nice send off for Meado even though he doesn't go for a month or so.

The evening was a different venue - Pearl. I had not been before. I was dining with a German wine merchant who was in town and who I had not met before. It turned out to be a great evening. A lot of chat a lot of similarities between his business and the one I work in and therefore a lot of people we both knew. Meeting interesting people is, for me, aside from the wine, the great thing about the wine trade. We'll be staying in touch as it is always good to have allies to bounce ideas off. What did we drink? A glass each of Deutz Blanc de Blancs NV which was excellent, not a house I know well but a lovely style and from the taste not skimping on a bit of time in the bottle which should be applauded loudly. We followed this with a bottle of Hyde de Villaine Chardonnay 2007 which (I am biased as we are agents) I am loving at the moment (not to say it won't age, it will). The style is more Burgundian that most US Chardonnays or at least the perceived style...I'd like to the think things are changing on the over oaked style. The food was good but for me a little fussy. I think we chose well as we stuck to fish dishes. I had then wanted to have the Volnay 1er Cru Champans 2004 from d'Angerville - I think they make good wines in more difficult years and 2004 was that for reds - but sadly the bottle had sold earlier that day. Instead we had a safe but unremarkable Chambolle 1er Cru 2006, unremarkable enough that I can not remember the Cru or the grower..shame on me but as with lunch the chat on this day out shone the bottle.

Anyway next week is holiday in northern Spain I can't wait, after a slog through En primeur 2010 it'll be good to relax...corkscrew, cigars and flip flops are packed so I'm ready!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Khvanchkara 2003...

When I opened this yesterday at home (Mrs H had been given it) I was pleasantly surprised but just could get past wondering what on earth I would have thought it was if I had tasted it blind.
So what better way to find out than to bring it to work, put it in another bottle in the tasting room and see what people thought. The answer ranged from old piedmont - this guess was probably becasue it was me bringing it in - to the logical Banyuls via Port. The nose is Port-like in fruit character but the palate is far lighter (alchohol is in the 10.5-12 range) a real confusing one. I would serve it slighly chilled if I had it again. It worked quite well with a Montecristo Petit Edmundo (2010). Oh well, one for the memory bank.
The novelty helped me get over Banimpire's very close defeat in the Irish Oaks!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Beer and Cigar after Golf....now that's an afternoon

With the En Primeur Bordeaux campaign all but over, I took wednesday afternoon off to have a round of golf with a mate from the trade (who gets a mention on other posts as my Barolo Guru) at Wimbledon Park, a lovely course right opposite the Wimbledon Tennis Club and all its massive stands. The round was great fun with a narrow victory. I only seem to play once a year these days and as a result just relax and enjoy it with low expectations. After we had finished it was still too early to go for the curry we had decided on so we had an hour to kill in the evening sun over a couple of pints of Youngs and a pair of H.Upman 46's that my mate had brought along. The were bought in Geneva and are from either 2000 or 2001. I was excited about this. I am increasingly buying some cigars to lay down so any opportunity to smoke a stick with some age on it is welcomely received. They were in great shape with a subtle aroma when unlit. The cigar itself was creamy with a lovely mellow almost chocolate taste about it. The construction was good and the bun lovely. The ash a very pale almost white shade that you get with age. All in all a great hour putting the world to rights (is that spelt the other way?) which is exactly what cigars are about.

On the aging cigars front I have chosen to start by aging two boxes, Partagas Shorts and the "new" Flor de Cano Short Robustos. My thinking being that there may not be that many chances to get the Flor de Cano and with the Partagas I think it is a good idea to age some smaller smokes as they will offer more flexibility in the future and I think it is a mistake to only age the bigger smokes.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Three do the Harwood Arms with some bottles...

Last thursday evening was a dinner I had been looking forward to for a while. A new venue to me but from the amount of people who know it well I am obviously in a minority there - http://www.harwoodarms.com/ famed for the venison scotch edge, which was excellent.
The three of us all took bottles along. I have to admit I was somewhat outgunned! Ian took to 2002 white Burgs from the village of Puligny, one a 1er Cru and one a Grand Cru. My Volnay was in the middle and then Peter brought two blind reds....The two whites where served up blind. We did relatively well on getting to Burgundy and getting to the level but beyond that it was just time to enjoy them, they were:

2002 Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Garenne, Bize - More open and a rich than the Grand Cru that followed. A very nice bottle and I think roughly where you would want this wine to be on its evolution. It is not a producer I know at all really but was a lovely bottle.

2002 Bienvenues Batard Montrachet, Paul Pernot - This was a real step up, very clean and precise, with a way to go, lovely acidity and freshness, initially I had been thinking more Chablis Grand Cru than down in the heart of white Burgundy and I still think that was a decent logical conclusion. I would guess the oak was very under played here, it developed very well over the meal too, classy stuff.

Next up was my bottle served blind a fraction warmer than ideal which made it harder for the guys, they did well though.

Volnay 1er Cru Caillerets 2007, d'Angerville (not in the picture!) - The reason I chose this was that I like 2007's and love Volnay (Lafarge and Angerville being best IMO). I have recently had the Champans and Taillepieds 2007 and loved both so wanted to try this. No disappointment here. It was delicious fresh red fruit, pretty but with substance. It won't make "old bones" but is well worth a try.

It was then Peter's turn to preoduce his reds, both blind and both from decanters. The first was from a batch of 7 bottles he had bought, from the two he had had so far one was ok the other excellent.

1982 Clos de Beze, Rousseau - This bottle was a strange one to drink, ultimately it was wonderful fun and a good drink too. The initial nose had a touch of the cheese cloth about it. Ian and I both guessed it was much older than it was. We were back in the 60's or so. The nose was delicate and the palate a touch hidden initially but developed later. The one element that remained the whole time was a wonderful fresh and precise, delicately red fruit finish that was very fine. The bottle got a lot better with more time in glass and was fascinating. Just you try and find any to buy anywhere...

1989 Cote Rotie La Landonne 1989, Guigal - Just goes to show that time in the trade means nothing sometimes, Ian and I were both convinced that this was Haut Brion from a good maturing vintage like 89/90, I think I first said "that is Haut Brion" so I will shoulder most of the blame. A little like the Grand Cru Chablis that turned out to be Bienvenues Batard I am at least pleased with the logic here and can safely say I don't mind the mistake. The wine was exceptionally good, very youthful given it is/was 22 years old. The oak is still quite clearly there but not over powering, this wine is a puppy and will make a lot of people happy over a lot of years. It was my first "mature" La Landonne from Guigal.

We finished with a sweet from Bonny Doon but the evening had been all about the five wines above, great fun too, a lot of chat and banter, particularly when Ian and I debated (actually it was more a case of alternate rants) the future of the wine trade...all good stuff.

The Harwood Arms was very good, relaxed and had good service of food and wines!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

A Cigar revelation...

Another nice weekend of pottering around at home, bit of exercise and a lot of racing to watch plus a nice smoke each evening to look forward to!

Both smokes were a first for me and both bought about 10 days ago. The first was El Rey del Mundo Choix de L Epoque 2009 (4 3/8 by 52) this was a “UK only” release back in 2009. I have always wanted to really like El Rey del Mundo, especially the Choix Supreme which I think is a great size of smoke - basically a Robusto but a 48 gauge instead of 50, but for whatever reason it has never quite clicked for me as a brand. I really enjoyed this smoke without it being exciting, it was smooth and not that rich, I wanted a bit more spiciness from it. It burned well and kept a good flavour going but that flavour didn’t really develop, good but no more than 16/20. One try is never fair with cigars or wine so I will try again at some stage.

Sunday afternoon was time for a Partagas 8-9-8 (unvarnished – the box not the cigar!) late released from 1999 – this is a great size (6 1/8 by 42) , 45-50 minutes worth of smoking whilst reading the Sunday racingpost (heaven to me!). This smoked and burnt like a dream, full but very mellow, complex too. I will definitely be buying more. It is the first properly aged cigar I have had and like wine I will now be starting to “lay down“ a few boxes with Partagas amongst them.