Friday, 21 December 2012

A few pre-Christmas bottles...

The run up to Christmas in the trade for me is less a bunch of parties and more just a good opportunity to catch up with a few friends and customers and share some bottles. First up was a Zucca Lunch with a fellow wine trader, my senior in every way, known to wear the odd bow tie (no more clues). Two wines were shared. Chassagne-Montrachet 1999 from Bernard Moreau which I thought, when trying blind,  was a decent mid 90’s Meursault 1er Cru. It was in great shape, not complex but delicious and further added to the good record I have had with the 1999’s I've been lucky to try. It is not a grower I know but a little research reveals he has nice if not stellar holdings. My bottle was rather cheeky being Porcaria 2009, Tenuta di Passopisciaro. I said it was something different so there was no blind tasting stitch-up in operation. This is the second  of the Contrada’s, for contrada think "Cru", from Andrea Franchetti’s estate in Sicily that I have had recently. We are talking 100% Nerello Mascalese the fruit expression is bright red and very vibrant, delicious and lightly decadent, the palate needs some time but cracking stuff. Lots of topics covered from Premox (groan) to skiing.
The next lunch was at Alyn Williams at The Westbury in Mayfair. Very good food, we did the tasting menu and I think I am going to vow not to do any tasting menu’s again…they just don’t suit me. That is probably one of the most obnoxious things I’ve said but it is true. The dishes in this meal were all complex and show of the chef’s very clear talent. The rabbit was especially stunning. The setting is lavish and a little decadent, a good thing. The wines were Egly-Ouriet Brut Tradition, Meursault Sous le Dos d’Ane 2007, Domaine Leflaive and Barolo Riserva 1964, Giuseppe Mascarello. The Champagne was a new one on me with 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay and a lowish dosage of 5-6g. It was very much a toasty wine and never bad but never either vibrant or out and out rich enough, one to try again I feel. Anne–Claude Leflaive’s Meursault is a wine that is getting better and better. The cross over between a Puligny Producer and a Meursault vineyard in a focussed and taut year like 2007 works really well to my mind. This is not a pretentious wine it is just a very good one. Now on to undoubtedly the most interesting of the 3 bottles. Sourced well from a private cellar my co-luncher had got this bottle from the last vintage, we believe, before Mascarello started to make Monprivato. 1964 is a fabled vintage in Barolo and along with 1967, 1971 & 1978 one of the best mature ones. The wine was most confusing, bright and translucently candied red almost like a new born Volnay. The cork, a short one as it correct, came out whole and in good order. The nose had definite notes of maderisation but not of oxidation, the acid was still high. The wine stayed focussed and stayed in the same candied fruit profile, it was some experience, neither amazingly great nor disappointing. It would be amazing to try it again…fat chance!
The evening after Alyn Williams a more relaxed meal was to be had, early supper at Zucca again. This time the main event was a cigar out the back of The Woolpack (also on Bermondsey street and recommended) after food. We started supper, the instruction had been humble and interesting rather than grand, with my offering - Langhe Bianco 2008 from Josetta Saffirio. It is a wine I have had several times now and really enjoy, 100% Rossese and like a fresh Rhone white with more acidity but also a waxy texture. Joe’s wine was the first red - Beaucastel 1995. Good, elegant for CNDP, red slightly bruised fruit and balance, possibly a dash short but really enjoyable. It was during this supper and the cigar that followed that I realised how much the joy of good wine and good cigars is just enjoying them and the conversation that sparks out of the gathering. This is not chat specific to the wine, quite the opposite as often you have a good wine, say “bloody hell that’s good” and then conversation flows in all directions. The next two reds were Parker Estate First growth 1994 and Branaire Ducru 2002 which should have been an interesting pair but sort of wasn’t. The Branaire sadly wasn’t 100% clean, you could tell from what we had that is was very decent and medium weighted, just the job for this evening. The pair wouldn’t quite have worked anyway as the Parker was a notch up in volume and precision too, very youthful in as much as it was still quite primary, an impressive bottle. With the bottles gone and lots of pasta and veal chop consumed we went to the pub for a cigar each and a couple of pints of Landlord. Cigar chat ensued as the four of us are all fans. I finally smoked a customer rolled robusto I was given nearly a year ago and dam good it was too.
Unsurprisingly the fourth meal here was also at Zucca, my last visit of 2013, with a customer now friend who I have dealt with for 10 years and who loves Conterno. We started with Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese 2003, JJ Prum and a few fish orientated starters. The wine was lovely, the normal Auslese release, it had lemon sherbet zip to it, a little spritz and I would have been amazed if anyone would have called it as an 03. Very good and as always with Prum even better at the end of the meal than the beginning (wines to double decant if ever there was one). The main red was Monfortino 2000 from Giacomo Conterno, any Monfortino day is a great day in my book. I have had the 2000 before but not this year. The fragrance and graceful power is quite something. I really enjoyed drinking this, if I owned it I would say drink from 2018 and for two decades thereafter. It also worked so well because Sam (@Zuccasam) added in an extra course and arrived with fresh and gorgeous white truffle. After this we had the awesome linguine with Duck Ragu and chatted away...just what wine is all about, a cracking pre-Christmas week done!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Team Meal at Egon's place

I have been crap at attending the fairly regular team meals so was delighted to be able to make one even if it was to be hosted in South London (I had my jabs and made sure my passport was to hand). Joe "Egon" Muller (@mulleredreview) was our very able host. The rough brief was bring two bottles of wine (or a mag, or both). Over the week we'd made sure that all the bases where covered so we had fizz (more of that in a minute), a few whites and then red with a dessert wine too. The other crucial point is that everything is served blind, we didn't spend forever trying to work things out.
So to kick us off: Ben (@BRPym) served us up the fizz, Conterto Reggiano Lambrusco 2011, clearly sparkling red and a dry one and that as not what we were expecting and to be honest the dry finish and lack of sweetness all round left us all a bit stranded, I felt it may be some southern french scenario, others, Banyuls or some such. I think serving it first may not have been ideal. It was interesting but no more than that, definitely what a tannic red with sparkling water may taste like, no points (not that there were any on offer) to any of the tasters.
Time for some whites now and I was up first, my bottle was Bourgogne Aligote Raisins Dores 2008 from Lafarge. This seemed a tricky shout and nobody guessed Aligote (why would they) and nobody guessed Burgundy. It seemed to go down well. I bought a case after visiting Lafarge in November 2009. There is a grapefruit character and a tart acidity. I cracking "smaller" wine and from 50 yr old vines if my memory serves me correctly. Next into the glass was Valentina's offering and this had guesses (and they were guesses) from mostly Italy but anything from Vermentino to Soave, it turned out to be Muller Thurgau 2010 from Kettmeir in Alto Adige. A really balanced wine that drank excellently with the superb haddock wrapped in streaky bacon and served with asparagus and lemon mayonnaise. Now it was Luke "Lulu" Lupton's turn to produce a white and I think it was the white of the night. I guessed it might not be that old (wrong) and that the colour came from Furmint in Hungary (kind of not bad), Guido (@guyseddon) had a sensible punt at white Rioja, it turned out to be Musar White 2001. Really delicious, an almost Savvenieres-like nose that gave way to nutty, almond palate and was dry but not fiercely so. Really an excellent bottle...must look out for some.
Plenty to drink!
Sensing that DJ Lulu was keen to get to the iPod we now moved on to the first red. This was probably one of the worst blind performances all things considered but I like to think we were wrong for solid reasons. The wine was clearly a class act, dense but not too dense in colour there was age but not old age. So the first main mistake was arguing over where in the Rhone it cam from. Lulu did point out it was may be not saturated enough in colour to be northern Rhone. Anyway I guessed 05 northern Rhone not wanting to change my mind. It was Clos Vougeot 2002 by F.Lamarche, a very impressive and generous bottle from Guy. Now the defence; 2002's are rich, big and have a from my experience a large gamey element with density. On top of this Clos Vougeot is one of the more masculine expressions of Burgundy. We loved the wine just put the jigsaw together wrong. Several people recently have said how Clos Vougeot needs possibly the most patience of any Grand Cru to show itself and this doesn't dispel that theory. The excellent stew and dumplings with mash and green beans hit the table and so did my red which was a magnum of Barolo Brunate 2004 by Marcarini. The two paired well. Knowing what I am like Piedmont was quickly nominated so then it was a matter of vintage with a couple of people getting 2004, it seemed popular and showed well, there is good grip which makes it much better with sturdy food now but that will mellow with time. Egon was up next and showed a wine that we didn't discuss for very long or not as far as I can remember anyway. I was a very difficult glass to get the age of, I think I said 2002 or 2004 as I felt it was a decent Bordeaux rather than much more than that. It turned out to be Pavie 1999, Egon was very disappointed in a "I'd never buy it these days" sort of way and I know where he's coming from it is impressive but two problems for me, firstly, it is not exciting and it needs to be at that level and secondly it is stuck in a "primary fruit time warp". there is no obvious reason why it will evolve, I feel it will continue to be one dimensional and then will just fade, I could be wrong but...We next swapped banks in Bordeaux and had Mr Pym's Talbot 1996. I was still on the other bank and couldn't get Gazin out of my head, who knows why. Most others seemed in agreement about it being St.Estephe. It was a decent claret, no more or less than that, very honest. Next up before we broke for a quick smoke was Lulu's Barolo Brunate, Bricco Roche Ceretto 2004. Ceretto are a more modern producer but this was very high-toned and had an almost sweaty feel, we all agreed it was rather charmless sadly. It certainly wasn't corked but at the same time it probably wasn't a good bottle, it struck me as a little strained, volume turned up too high.
I decided on a bit more Pavie 1999 (the good if slightly same-ish fruit - meeoooww - working well) with a Sancho Panza Belicoso from Egon's humidor. This is a lovely mellow pyramid that is almost always balanced and very underrated.
Back indoors Lulu was "in charge" of the iPod and M C Hammer appeared to have got his trousers out. We had one more red before the tart and it was a really good one. I can now not even nearly remember what I though it was but it was certainly impressive. It turned out to be Pintia 2005 under the same ownership as Vega Sicilia. When it comes to Ribera I have a convenient and professional bias to all things Domino de Pingus but you can not deny how exceptional the wines of Vega Sicilia and Pintia are (al be it that Pintia is actually from Toro). This was youthful but not too young, impressive. And so to pudding and a Sauternes - de Malle 2003 - I though it was slightly "higher up the tree" name but from 2005, it was very good, I can't remember what the other guesses were. De Malle seemed to have made a rich 2003 but not one that is in any way burnt...impressive and good value. A cracking evening was over; may impressive wines seen off, very few shinning examples of blind tasting skill but then they are a rarity. Excellently hosted! All I know is that I'll need more glasses for when I host mine especially if Mossy & Mr Bird (@Burdhound) can make it!!
Pym and Muller take things seriously as usual!
Amazingly Egon is not Northern!
DJ Lulu has a snooze!
What's the world coming to? A picture of people picturing the line-up!

Friday, 14 December 2012

Champagne Salon & Delamotte with Didier Depond for the IMW

I went to a tasting organised by The Institute of Masters of Wine at Trinity House entitled “Salon – the pioneer of Blanc de Blancs Champagne”. The tasting focussed on the sister houses of Champagne Delamotte and Champagne Salon. Both houses are now owned by the Nonancourt family and are in turn under the umbrella of Laurent Perrier. Didier Depond, President of both Salon & Delamotte, presented five vintages of Salon – 1999, 1997, 1988, 1983 and 1976– together with four other wines from Delamotte - Blanc de Blancs NV, 2002, 1996 and 1985 "Collection". Also at the top table was Mark Bingley MW as moderator and Rebecca Palmer representing importer Corney & Barrow.

As a house Delamotte was established in 1760 and is therefore 252 years old. The focus is very much on the Chardonnay grape and and on only Grand Cru vineyards. The only wine that can not be called Grand Cru is the Brut NV as it contains Pinot Meunier, for which there are no Grand Cru sites. The reserve wines are kept in stainless steel. Delamotte owns 30 hectares in 3 villages and buys 30-35 other hectares it needs for the small total prodcustion of 800,000 bottles. The wines all go through 100% malolactic fermentation. So the tasting...

1. Delamotte Blanc de Blancs NV (disgorged in Jan 2012, base wine is 2005). In many ways the "Star" of the company, Asia & Japan specifically go crazy for this wine, it is a firm personal favourite. It spends 48 months on the lees and has a dosage of 6.5g/litre. The wine comes from sites in Le Mesnil, Oger and Avize. I found it lovely, pretty, balanced with white fruits and flowers. Refined is a good word here, the stone fruit and citrus with a refreshing finish make it a perfect aperitif as well as good with Asia food.

2. Delamotte Blanc de Blancs 2002 (disgorged in Oct 2011). A slightly toastier nose than for the NV. Light nutty elements, almond, the fruit more dried than fresh. Tightly in check with very slight notes of apricot and dried banana. Great length. This was better and better on returning to the glass...a class act needing time to be at it's peak. From 2015. Didier commented that 2002 in yielded and style is similar to that of 1996.

3. Delamotte Blanc de Blancs 1996 (Magnum, disgorged June 2006). I think I am right in saying that this particular vintage was mostly sold to Japan. The initial impression is of a more unctuous, nuttier, richer and deeper wine all round. A wider more rounded feel about it, some honey and greek yoghurt, apricot again and fruit that is more tropical. Almost like two wines in one, more restrained and tighter on the nose, more exotic on the palate. Drinking well now onwards.

4. Delamotte Blanc de Blancs 1985 "Collection" (disgorged Dec 2000). Collection is the very small library stocks that are kept back. 1985 was a year of extremes, Didier remembers it as having a savage winter, it was his "army year" and then a very hot summer (up to 40 degrees) before a more normal September. The wine shows this hot spike, not in a bad way but in the high toned - toffee apple richness. Admittedly some of this comes from the bottle age. The nose had creme patisserie and a little caramel as well as the toffee apples. Very vinous. Interesting and a food Champagne.

and so on to...

Eugène Aimé Salon started making his famous Blanc de Blancs a century ago and to date only 37 vintages have been released. It was initially made without any commercial intent, purely for him and his friends.  He was the first producer to focus on this style of champagne, but more importantly from one single village. His unique wines – one cru, a single grape variety and only in the greatest vintages – have become a champagne legend, especially known for their remarkable longevity. A “Mono” wine made against the fashion for blending. No malolactic-fermentation (with one exception see notes below). The "Salon decision", whether to make a Salon or not, is made in the Jan/Feb following the vintage. There have been some notable exceptions when Salon has not been made the two most recent are 1998 (in Le Mesnil the Chardonnay was not perfect) and in 2000 for the same reason. Almost all other houses released 1998 and 2000. Salon is now made from 19 of the original 20 parcels. 17 of these are in the Village of Mesnil. Salon owns 6 hectares and has long term agreements for the others it needs. The release of the wines is famously late just as the wines are starting to show themselves the 1999 was only released 18 months ago and the 2002 will not be until at least 2014. The wines for the tasting were poured one at a time and the notes made over the course of an hour...

5. Salon 1999 (disgorged in June 2012). Taut tight and muted, an infant. White stone fruits. Classical. A Grand Cru Chablis of a Champagne if that makes sense. A tiny toast come through on the very end of what is a multi-dimensional texture. 2015 onwards. A potential legend.

6. Salon 1997 (disgorged in Sept 2010). Stunning and really complete. Real character and already in a nice place. Just moving away from being too young, a little bit of shortbread is showing and a little biscuit. The fruit is bright and definitely on the citrus side. Drink now onwards with no rush, very impressive. (I actually had it again for my birthday the next day and it was just as impressive.)

7. Salon 1988 (disgorged in Oct 2012). This is a unique Salon in that the malolactic fermentation started but never finished. The nose initially was of brine and minerals. Then on the palate elements of spice arrived. The fruit was there but hard to define. The wine as a whole (and it is as much a wine as a Champagne) reminds me of the sea and unsalted nuts. A "Salon for food" as Didier put it. Drink now onwards.

8. Salon 1983 (Magnum disgorged in Oct 2011). Spiced flowers and then mocha, dark chocolate almost. Tobacco elements as well as obvious lees contact. Very pure young and clean. Overall there are a few white fruits but mostly spices especially Cinnamon. Stunning, particularly for a difficult vintage. Drink now onwards.

9. Salon 1976 (Magnum disgorged in Oct 2012). Didier commented that this was, as many will know, a very dry and hot spring and summer with no rain at all in May, June, July or August. The briney character was there on entry with the Mocha and cocoa also present but beyond those there was cassis and blackberry leaves and pomegranate. The late disgorgement made for incredible freshness and life. Drink now onwards.

The fact that so many of these wines had been disgorged for the tasting was incredible and incredibly kind of Didier. I have been lucky to drink let alone taste a lot of Delamotte and Salon over the years and whilst I am very biased I do not see how any one could avoid judging them as being at the very top of the Champagne tree.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Ramon Allones Grandes & Quai d'Orsay Coronas Claro

Given the cold weather we are getting in London at the moment I was very pleased to manage two smokes last week. The first was a Ramon Allones Grandes, courtesy of a friend, released in 2008 as a Edicion Regional Espana with dimensions of 49x180 making it a double corona. I don't often get the time or the inclination to smoke something so large but this was in the cigar room at The Mayfair Hotel and it was just warm enough to get it done. The couple of Mojitos were very welcome too. The cigar was very consistent and really pretty mellow. It was faultless in construction not requiring a single touch-up. The profile was medium bodied at most. The flavour was not that classic Ramon Allones fruitcake. It more reminded me of Sancho Panza as it goes. Mellow, balanced and a dash salty. It was a thoroughly enjoyable smoke without being exciting, if I rating is needed then 90-91.
The next cigar was the Quai d'Orsay Corona, it is one of only two sizes now made as a regular production for Quai d'Orsay (the other is an Imperiales which is a Churchill) and a great size it is too at 42x142 and not remotely box pressed. The full name for this cigar is a Coronas Claro and until 1995 "Claro" was stamped on the base of the boxes. This Corona is fast becoming a favourite afternoon smoke and I want to stock up at some stage. The balance is terrific and the depth of pure tobacco flavours are superb. It is bang on medium in profile. There are elements of tea and hay/staw to this smoke. Certainly no coffee or chocolate etc. The size just feels perfect in the hand. A little like some of the other brands I really love  - Sancho Panza & Ramon Allones - there just seems to be a very relaxed and almost neglectful attitude from the chiefs at Habanos about this brand...a real shame. I thoroughly recommend this smoke to anyone...91-92.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Rafael Gonzalez Coronas Extra & Punch Robusto (Swiss RE)

After a couple of weeks off the cigars I had two smokes I had not had before at the weekend. The first was a fairly recent release of Rafael Gonzalez Coranas Extra which is a Corona Gorda in size (46x143). The look of the stick was very much classic Rafael Gonzalez with a darkish wrapper that never look too oily or rich. The condition and storage had been good and on first lighting it was straight into a nice place, elegant balance is what I look for in RG's. They are never heavy and this got to medium towards the backend but never any more than that and was a perfect mid-afternoon smoke. The size is one that I love, in honesty I’m not a massive fan of going over the 46 gauge. The stick was a fair bit box-pressed, squared-off by being tightly packed in the box, but not to a degree than was irritating though I would always prefer cigars not to be. The dominant flavours were of light milky coffee and tanned tobacco, little or no sweetness and not a cigar that, despite being lighter in weight, I would give to newer smoker. I think this stick was totally ready to smoke, no harshness, but at the same time I think it will be more and more elegant in the medium term. I missed out on buying some of these recently and am regretting it. This specific cigar has been discontinued for some totally ridiculous reason.
The second smoke was both a different size and a different age. It was a Punch Robusto from 2007 that was a designated Swiss Regional Release. Punch does not have a Robusto in its range ordinarily and is not a brand I am that experienced with. This had a lovely white ash that you tend to get more often with tobacco that has more age. The burn was good and surprisingly slow. It was not a remarkable cigar but a good one nevertheless. It reminded me a little of a good Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No2, it had elements of hay, straw and dry tea. I love trying these new releases, I only wish more and more of them were in the more elegant ring gauges 36-42 but this is no new view. Buy the “thinnies” while you can as “wide is beautiful” seems to be the Habanos SA mantra. It is good to be back smoking after what felt like a boring virus!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Birthday bottles....

The venue for this dinner was "Duvault Blochet Towers" and the guests were Eric "Mr Barolo" Sabourin and his lovely wife Claire and Sam "Zucca" Harris as well as Mrs Duvault Blochet. We started with Salon 1997 which is showing so well at the moment, deliciously Salon but quite forward, classy Blanc de Blancs with a little bit of bottle age, lovely. Then we were on to Sam's two white Burgundies which were both showing well but at the same time splendidly different. Having tasted and decanted them both I thought it was better to go first with the Chevalier Montrachet 2007 from Sauzet. This had a real 2007 hallmark about it, very focussed, youthful but approachable, refined, lemon and lime acid structure, very fine indeed, delicious and it flew down with Mrs DB's Bruscettas. Next up was Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Folatieres 2005 from Domaine Leflaive, this also had the stamp of it's vintage on it is that it was ripe and full almost overripe with a tendency to rich nearly exotic fruit and a rich texture. There was a classic Leflaive "struck match" aroma as well, a really good bottle and I would say ready to go now, definitely one to decant.
With the whites done we were now looking at reds to go with my mother-in-laws main course of beef stew and dumplings. Very kindly Eric had supplied two 1975's, Sam as well as my vintage. The first up, and these were both opened decanted and drunk, was Brunello di Montalcino 1975 Castello Poggio alle Mura. 1975 is viewed as a good vintage in Tuscany and this wine still had fruit, lots of acidity too, it was nice but at the end of its life, very enjoyable. The next bottle was something of a revelation, ok you always expect the best from Giacosa red labels, but 1975 is not a fabled vintage in piedmont. The Barolo Bussia Riserva Speciale 1975 was great, real depth and complexity, good fruit and in many ways at a peak, not over it. It got better and better and had real freshness, a wonderful and great surprise. I then thought why not have one more red blind, as well as the end of the whites, with some cheese. I grabbed Contrada Chiappemacine 2009 from Andrea Franchetti's Tenuta di Passopisciaro. A wine of 100% Nerello Mascalese but from a particular Cru. This was a harsh wine to serve blind and the shouts were young red burgundy or Loire Cabernet Franc and both totally justified, it will get better and better but the purity of red fruit is stunning.
Sam's awesome blueberry and almond tart was the end of the meal and went wonderfully with Vin Santo 2004 from Vignamaggio, a good Vin santo with lovely acidity and vibrant marmalade fruits. It had been a night of great wines, even better company and lots of banter...just as it should be.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Otto's: Salon, Laville, Malartic, Mouton and DRC

Luncheon with two friends at Otto’s last Wednesday had been in the diary a little while and was certainly something I was looking forward to. When you are having potentially stunning bottles it is also a little nerve wracking. Fortunately everything showed very well so the nerves were not necessary. 
We started with Champagne Salon 1999 Le Mesnil, served in white wine glasses rather than flutes, serious Champagne should not be too constrained. This was showing really well if oviously very young. It is always a tight and mineral wine but especially so with the 1999. The texture was special. For the Salon devotees out there, and that tends to be most people who have discovered the house, I would say the 1995 and 1997 will offer great drinking while you way for the 1996 and 1999. Anyhow there is a full Salon post coming up soon so more detail there, this showed well. The Grand Cru chablis of Champagnes when young I often think.
From here we moved to two white Bordeaux. This was fascinating, firstly because I like white Bordeaux but secondly because the age and prestige of the two wines was very different. We had the wines side by side but up first was Malartic-Lagraviere Blanc 2005 (Grand Cru Classe de Graves), which is 90% Sauvignon and 10% Semillon. It was in a lovely place, mellowed a bit but still with good acidity starting to get a little richer. Well and truly into the middle stage of development which is as it should be. It had a good long finish. Ripe but not over the top, impressive. The second of the whites was Laville Haut Brion Blanc 1990 (Pessac-Leognan), now called La Mission Haut Brion Blanc. This is the second time I have had this vintage of this wine. It was a little closed on the first pour but did nothing but open out over the next three hours. Both these whites were good with cheese later on. The Laville had the nose of exotic fruit but as with the Malartic it stopped short of being over done. You would have fun with people blind tasting this as the nose suggests sweetness and this is the core point really. I can't remember having a white wine with so much intensity on the nose and a lovely balance of fruit, lanolin and unctuous on the palate but being dry, proper stuff and whilst I wouldn't dream of defending the current release prices of the very few ultra top white Bordeaux I feel their prestigious position is justified and ignored by too many people.
With a cracking mushroom starter and a very generous pre-starter of scallops it was time to accompany my pig's trotter with some red and not just any reds...Mouton Rothschild 1989 was first. To sound completely pompous and I slightly cringe as I write this, the Mouton 1989 was a perfect lunchtime Mouton. My friends agreed and to explain what I mean; it had an exotic and typical Mouton nose, quite high toned, volume turned up, on the plate it had a good hit of initial black red fruit it was not though, profound and was a little light in the middle palate. perfect now, in fact I would say it is one to hedonistically just tuck into now and over the next 3-5 years. I can't see another level of development so drinking it while the nose it stunning and fruit is still there makes sense. The lunch had initially been planned around the next bottle Richebourg Grand Cru 1991, Domaine de la Romanee Conti. It did not disappoint. The wine worked immediately it came into the glass but it also grew in stature and expanded over the next 90 minutes. Delicious red black and slightly bruised fruit but also a savoury edge just arriving, 21 years of age in great for grand cru in my eyes and mind. A wonderfully uncompromising edge about it, "rustic" is too often a negative term but in the world of Grand Crus were a few are a little too polished this had a dash of rustic grace about it. The depth and structure were very much Richebourg. A delicious bottle of wine, still developing and still evolving but if you have more than one bottle definitely a good time to try will not disappoint.
Sharing great bottles with like minded people who just want to enjoy what the best has to offer is one of, probably "the", very best part of the wine trade. This was a cracking lunch, everything worked from the food to the service and most of all the wines and the people!