Friday, 25 January 2013

RHR for an Epic

This is going to be one of those posts that I will need to read over and over as I can't quite believe the amazing line up...I have never wanted this to be a show off blog. It is about sharing some opinions on my various hobbies and in this case some very great wines that I was fortunate enough to try. Our generous host knows Royal Hospital Road very well and Clare Smyth, the chef had kindly co-ordinated a menu with Jan the Sommelier (of the year!). So let's get going.
First up was a lovely bottle of Delamotte 1990, fully mature and not with masses of mousse but a delicious bottle that had real poise and balance, not over biscuity but just showing pure bottle age, it worked well with the Risotto and black truffle.
The Whites
Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese GK1983 was then the wine to go with a cracking Sweetbreads dish. The wine was at a lovely stage of it evolution, rich marmalade golden orange in colour. The sweetness was not at all overpowering in fact it had started to become more "dried-fruits" in style, it got better and better in the glass, would have been interesting to have had it decanted (I am a massive fan of decanting Riesling). The next pair of wines were fascinating with a simply brilliant truffle linguine. They were Meursault-Charmes 1992 from Lafon and Meursault-Perrieres 2000 from Coche-Dury. Both were in great condition and showed as you would hope. The Lafon was more masculine in style, quite broad but not at all clumsy, very true to Meursault and not showing any signs of tiredness especially in this very fine vintage for whites. The Coche was unsurprisingly spectacular. A genuine wine of the day candidate. I am always waiting to be disappointed by a Coche-Dury but it has, as yet, not happened. Often with wine "expectation is the mother of all disappointments" but not here. The wine was young, with a dash of reduction, I love that, a youthful colour and a lovely gun-flint nose, so refined, grand cru in quality and some. We all savoured the Coche as long as we could.
Linguine to die for...
From a pair of great white Burgundies we moved to red Romanee-St-Vivant 1993 from Leroy
and Romanee-St-Vivant 1991 from Domaine de la Romanee Conti. Now whilst the Coche stole the show a little from the Lafon this was a very fair fight. Both wines were delicious but with different nuances and profiles. The Leroy was the wine with a long long future, a little more taut. Cheesecloth, a little iodine and truffles (we'd eaten enough of them!) then the fruit was kirsh or cherry, lively but not over expressive, a hell of a wine. The DRC by contrast was a more full fruited wine, lashings of red and black fruit with a herbal almost pot pourri element. This is a great time to drink it but it has much to offer into the future too. Both were very much RSV in style with a soft feminine edge but both an absolute joy to drink. Anyone who owns either has themselves a gem. The two vintages are still a little under appreciated, mostly because 1991 & 1993 did not really produce great wines through the rest of France (northern Rhone aside).
The mags...
As Duck, and duck side "salad", made its way out of the kitchen it was Bordeaux-time, both wines being from magnum Petrus 1979 and Lafite 1975. After such amazing Burgundies it was was a worry that the Bordeaux from less stella vintages may struggle to compete but actually as a pair they did well. Both were in good condition and certainly good wines to have in magnum. The Petrus was initially a little closed but fruit came out more and more with a little exotic fruit showing. The seductive Pomerol-round-fruitedness showed more and more. The Lafite  was classically proportioned, a little harder and a little less giving of fruit, slightly drier too. I feel that is too mean a note really but also that it is correct. With little regard to an bias I may have I thought the Petrus was the greater wine but the Lafite showed well.
Tatin-tastic (poor but I can't resist)
With the end of the Bordeaux and then some Taylor 1977 we had a selection of cheeses. The Taylor was so youthful, spiced, still primary, some of this will have been emphasised by the mature wines that preceded it.
The final food and wine pairing was simply brilliant, not rocket science by any stretch but when something works why change - Yquem 1967 and the RHR Tarte Tatin is magic. I have never had the 1967 before and it was stunningly impressive even by the hight standards of Yquem. There was a sweetness and density but neither overpowering, the complexity of the nose and the balance of the palate both being very hard to describe but fabulous to taste. There was a intensely rich and hedonistic Krug Collection 1985 to finish but I was beyond notes at that stage. I do remember think it was very much a food champagne, the Risotto would have worked well and there we are back at the beginning again...
A Epic occasion...
GC...playing "host"

Monday, 21 January 2013

Smokes in the snow

A snowy weekend offered up the chance to wrap up warm and get outside for a couple of smokes whilst on the way to/from toboganning. First up on Saturday was a 2007 Edicion Limitada - R&J Escudos, a Gorditos or Robusto Extra in size. This was a gift from Mr Sabourin and a very good smoke. It started out rich, almost Bolivar rich with toasted tobacco and roasted coffee but also a nice bit of cherry-like tang about it. This would be an even better after dinner smoke than it was in the middle of the day it was really enjoyable right to the end. Tasted blind I would not have thought it had 5-6 years on it and it is clearly an LE that can be aged. There was a little bit of dark chocolate about the profile too but never too much..impressive (93-94 if I had to rate it).
Second up, on sunday, was a Por Larranaga Petit Corona - PLPC to it's friends (box code MLO FEB 2012) - I have had several from this box and this was the worst, the constant snow and cold might not have helped! Ordinarily they are delicious, and have been from this box, although they would be better with a little age, 12-18 months at least. The main reason I have had a few of these so young is that I'm not quite where I want to be with my rolling-stocks yet. But with the two boxes that arrived today (see below) this is now less of an issue - Partagas Shorts (REA ABR 2010) and Ramon Allones Small Club Coronas (OGA NOV 2011) are both great smokes that are a great winter size and ready to go...

Thursday, 17 January 2013

BY THE BOTTLE - new magazine, a review

Ok so you could say this includes some self-promotion but not really, no money swapped hands…there is a new interactive, digital, Wine & Lifestyle magazine which will be distributed via Apple's Newstand - BY THE BOTTLE The magazine has been written, in large part, by the wine-trade and for the public. Almost all those involved can be found lurking on twitter under various guises. I’ve done a piece on cigars if it interests you. The whole beast is edited by Geordie Clarke and can be found via ITunes HERE.
Future editions will include all tablets, android and apple, but for now, it has just launched and is only compatible for the Ipad. 
So what sort of thing does it include and why recommend it? Well firstly the layout is good fun and it is the perfect thing to dip in and out of, I wouldn't read it cover to cover but some may well do. The first edition includes:
A full Interview in this case with Maximilian Riedel.
Lost of Basic and helpful information – hints and recommendations - for those who know they have a passion for wine but don’t necessarily know where to start!
Wine investing and Collecting – pieces on Disclosure, Fakes and more.
Wine appreciation – mastering the technical terms and getting the sommelier “on side”.
Leisure – Other drinks, Cigars (that’s me!) betting (I write on betting on the horses for the next issue...)
Life & Fashion – Suits, Movies, stress relief you name it...
...and well that is it, lots to read and all enthusiastically written with nobody taking themselves too seriously. So download it (FREE!!), fill a large glass (red from Piedmont works well) and light a proper cigar (Cuban with a little age if possible but then you can read about that in there)…

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Chateau Margaux - a mini tasting

On Thursday last week it was great to have Alexandra Petit-Mentzelopoulos and Aurelien Valance of Ch. Margaux at the office to do a tasting for the team. They are keen to get closer to their customers and consumers and this was a great opportunity to hear what was going on at the estate and taste one example of each of the wines they are currently producing. Alexandra is the daughter of Corrine Mentzelopoulos, the owner of Ch. Margaux, and Aurelien is the Marketing Director for the Chateau. Aurelien spoke about how much R&D was going on at the Chateau and how they do not want to "die stupid", things - 
closures, clones, selections - must not just be left to chance. 

So on to the wines:

Pavillon Blanc du Chateau Margaux 2011 - I was very interested to taste this especially as I have recently had the 2007. The 2011 is a lovely wine, taut on the opening, white fruit and good texture, a little lanolin too. Coming back to it after the reds it had opened up a lot to reveal a little lychee, coconut and melon but without being in any way sweet, very complex. I think that along with great white Burgundy and German Riesling this is a great style of wine to have in the cellar. The wine itself is, unusually, 100% Sauvignon Blanc and does not go through malolactic at all, it sees 8 months on oak only 25% of which is new, this has dropped in recent years from 33-35%, a good thing in my book. 1000 cases are made now, before 2005 it used to be 3000. The team there are also looking at bottling more in magnum in the future, I've never seen it in magnum!! The plot that the wine itself is made from is 11 hectares in size and 4km from the main property it used to be planted with red varietals but was prone to frost. From a marketing perspective it is a little strange to have the second red wine and the first white wine sharing the "Pavillon" name so it may well be that the white becomes Chateau Margaux Blanc soon, we will have to wait and see. It was while tasting this that Aurelien mentioned the procedure that the Chateau goes through in selecting it's corks. They buy bags of 500 made from only the cork in the middle of the tree, they then randomly take out 50 and place them in glasses of water, when the water is tasted later that day if any has an aroma that is anything but perfectly neutral then the whole bag is binned! Oh, and on the Blanc the bottle itself has a neck just a fraction narrower so as to keep the pressure higher and reduce the chance of any oxidation.

Next up was Pavillon Rouge 2008, roughly a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 10 Cabernet franc. The wine leads with a classy new leather and tobacco nose, the fruit is there but quite closed down, young for sure but not too young to appreciate. Aurelien made two linked comments that make Pavillon rouge more and more interesting. Firstly that due to the wine going up in price massively on the secondary market they are making more and more effort with it in terms of selection "it has to meet the price". Secondly, that because of the fact they have made more and more "savage" selections to make Chateau Margaux itself the very best it can be the Pavillon now contains many plots that would have been in Margaux in the 80's. One further result of these selections there will be a third red before long destined for the established traditional markets and on-trade representation - probably named Margaux de Chateau Margaux - and the fourth wine would be sold in bulk. And so to the "main man"...

Ch. Margaux 2004, having said "man" I think it is best to say that Margaux is the most feminine of the first growths by consensus. The 2004 is a really lovely wine. Bordeaux as it used to be in many ways. Very classical, lots of lovely elegant red and black fruits with no one fruit shouting at you. The tannic structure is there but coats the tongue rather than attacking it. It is approaching drinking now but at the same time will age and develop gracefully over the coming decades. In both pricing and style the 2004's are arguably the last classic drinkers vintage. This wine just shout "drink me" at you. The alcohol is always very low, by modern standards and this adds to the easy elegance of the wine.

It was a crack tasting filled with priceless nuggets of information. Brilliant to see a first growth showing their wines outside of the Chateau and being open to lots of questions... 

Thursday, 3 January 2013

So 2013...

What are my plans for 2013? I'm not a big one for resolutions so I'm calling them plans, none of them are earth moving but I think they are all worth a bit of attention:

1) Eat less greedily, self-explanatory really and as close to dieting as is remotely likely or possible.

2) Don't drink for the sake of it, you know that feeling when you're half way through a bottle of wine and remember thinking a day off would have been a good idea.

3) Read more, it won't be the classics but I like it so do it more, will all be about, wine, cigars, racing.

4) Bet more, really enjoying it and like the challenge of it, I record all bets and keep tabs on things so why not!

5) Say YES more, to events, ideas etc.

6) Smoke more, ok a weird one but this is cigars only, I love them so should do it more.

7) Keep blogging but challenge myself with different approaches to subjects and include better photography.

8) Up the activity and exercise, keep on the bike and slot in the odd run and plenty of walking.

9) Entertain at home more.

10) Try and get over my dislike/fear/suspicion of odd numbers (hence why this is No 10!)

Right, enough nonsense...