Saturday, 29 June 2013

Some recent smokes...SLR Petit Corona, Partagas Lusitanias, PLPC & San Cristobal El Principe

Partagas Lusitanias 2005 
Ok so it hasn't been a vintage summer as yet but it has been pretty dry and light evenings and a lack of rain  mean a few things but primarily cigars. So a few days ago Tino, Egon, Mr S and myself met up for a few smokes in the west end and some Lebanese food in the middle. The first smoke was supplied by Tino a Saint Luis Rey Petit Corona they were from a five pack and as this cigar in that packaging was discontinued (don't get a lover of Cuban cigars onto a rant about the smokes that have been discontinued) in 2009 this was certain to have had at least 4 years age. The smoke was on the mellow but not light side, probably just under medium for strength and medium or just over for richness and flavour, just what you want to get the taste buds firing. A lovely balanced smoke from a size I love, just fits the hand right. After a couple of bottles of wine and some good food at Fairuz, go for the set menu, we went to another pub and managed to grab a table.
Out came Mr S' big boys and the Mojito's were ordered. The smokes were Partagas Lusitanias (TBR AGO 2005). Now these are a "proper" size, Double Corona, and are one of the iconic smokes of Cuba. It was rather an omission but much as I love Partagas I had never had a "Lusi" before. The construction and look was lovely, just right. The opening had a lot of class about it, a little Partagas spice and some leather. I just loved the mellow completeness. It was just on the lower side of medium but the quantity of smoke was great and the chat flowed. I often try to think of where on the scale of flavours - from dark espresso and dark chocolate to older leather and tea - a smoke comes and this was definitely at the latter end. Very refined. Almost flawless to a fault. A delicious smoke but, and there doesn't need to be a "but", it never quiet built up or got richer. This isn't so much a criticism as a fact. If I had to rate it is would get a very solid and very enjoyable 90/100. My experience of older or at least middle-aged smokes is not great but this has helped. A cracking evening all round.
Back at home last week and I just had a 40 minute gap after supper and wanted something that would have some richness and a rustic flavoursome edge and frankly that almost always means a Partagas short or what I went for on this occasion - Por Larranaga Petit Corona MLO FEB 2012. It is such a good smoke. Doesn't look too polished or perfect but just gives loads of rich smoke and a molasses like flavour with a meaty savoury edge too. It was just the job. I also noticed for the the first time a dry spice on the lips when smoking it, almost like a sort of green chilli or wasabi flavour, not too dominant but very interesting. The last smoke on here was after a lunch at Otto's and it was a small one, a minutos, the same as a Partagas Short, RASCC or Monte 5. The San Cristobal El Principe AME NOV 2012 was a lovely little fire cracker, darker chocolate good smoke, some younger leather and a cracking finish. Not overly strong but nicely punchy for a small size.
The range of cigars out there is great, get smoking!

Monday, 17 June 2013

Cafe Anglais then roof top BBQ with mags and cigars

After an ad hoc 4 days off the Cigars and all alcohol (I feel you have to do this from time to time) it was Friday and time for Lunch at Cafe Anglais just above Whiteleys in west London. I went years ago, probably 5+ years ago, and enjoyed it and as I was meeting a customer/friend who lives over that way it seemed a good opportunity to return. With Fish soup and asparagus we had a bottle of Meursault Les Gruyaches 2007, Fichet from the list. It was really very good. I love the inherent richness of Meursault with the tension of 2007. The vintage is edgy and exciting if you ask me. The producer is not one I know well but this Liet Dit site was lovely. We then had a main course of the Cafe Anglais Chicken, their signature dish, with this we finished the white and went on to have the beginning of the Tertre Roteboeuf 2006 from Francois Mitjavile's wonderful estate. The wine looked older in colour may be 5 years older but this is often the case with Francois' wines as he is all about the stems and pips being ripe not just the fruit. You never get a inky blue black wine. The nose was decadent and degraded, delicious, a lot of richness and weight on the palate, fun and fine now but better on it's 10th birthday and beyond. An afternoon of finishing that and going over my fellow luncher's cellar came after.
With that done it was time to head to a wine trade mate's house in Fulham for a roof top bbq, and roof top means cigars! We started with a magnum of Henriot Cuvee des Enchanteleurs 1990 which was good but a little flat and had entered a very wine-like phase...a good richness and yeasty complexity. The cigars came out and I decided on a Partagas Serie D No4 (MGR May 2012), I have had one from this batch before and found it good but very youthful, almost too youthful, this one was lovely and probably all the better for being smoked slowly while chatting. It had the Partagas DNA of spice and was really balanced, I hope the "Jazz hands" in the photograph do not distract you.
My white wine was out next and didn't let me down. Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spatlese 2009 J.J.Prum in magnum, German and Alsatian magnums are a thing of considerable beauty (if a pain in the arse to chill!). This had a very slighty "reduced" nose but then started to show well. That reduction is a part of the Prum signature. If I owned more of this I would leave it at least 3-5 years even being a more open vintage like 2009. Moving on the red and a magnum of Vosne Romanee 1er Cru Les Brulees 2000, R.Engel. The nose was lovely and opened out well to give a good balance of cool red and black fruit, the palate though was a little mean and "stringy", overall not bad but for a 1er Cru you could hope to have a bit more "lushness". With a sadly corked bottle of Napanook behind him, "Jazz hands" dashed home (100 yards) to grab a magnum but actually got a double magnum out - Deer in Headlights 2002 Barossa Valley Shiraz by Two hands. This was arguably "wine of the night". Full on but with loads of fruit and not lacking in freshness, it will clearly outlive most people my age! It was a perfect match for some great BBQ'd burgers, sausages and chicken. It also went rather splendidly with a post dinner cigar - Vegas Robaina Famosos (BGM Apr 2012). I have always wanted to like Vegas Robaina as a marque but until this cigar had never quite managed to "click" with them. This though was delicious, like a cigar version of a double espresso with no sugar but not bitter either. It is definitely designed to be smoked slowly with a full stomach...I was delighted to enjoy it.
A cracking, relaxed evening with friends, a great way to ease into the weekend.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

No Golf but a great BBQ and Poker...a few smokes and lots of Mags

This was a great day and a rather apt 200th post for me on this Blog, the first being back in April 2009. This day, that was aimed at being a replica of last August's Golf, BBQ, Wine & Poker , was a little scuppered by the weather as the golf had to be cancelled but that didn't stop the BBQ, Wine and Poker happening!!
Mr Sabourin hosted impeccably as ever. We started with a couple of really lovely bottles of Dom Ruinart 1996 which went very well with the first cigar - Le Hoyo des Dieux 1999 from Hoyo du Monterrey. The Ruinart was still youthful but just starting to age, at a really lovely stage and on the elegant side of things. The Des Dieux was rich and dense without being heavy, a cigar known to age well this was just that, lovely. I have a young box tucked away and may add another.
With food not far away it was white time and that meant a mag of Morey Saint Denis Blanc 1er Cru Clos des Monts Luisants Vieilles Vignes 2002, Domaine Ponsot. A wine I have never had before and in all honesty I didn't know there was such a thing as white Morey Saint Denis. It was also at a lovely stage, starting to thicken and up in intensity, a richness here reminds me of Bourgogne Blanc from de Vogue. Our host being a slow-cooking fiend it was a brilliant beef short rib...simple meat done brilliantly. Clearly it was now red wine time so why not start with Tignanello 1997 from magnum? Consensus being that it was far better from magnum than the bottles are now, this is often the case at this level I guess. Either way it was delicious.
The next wine was one of only a few from bottle not magnum albeit two bottles - Calon Segur 2003 one bottle seemed a little more open than the other. Both were on the brooding and serious side of 2003 with dense black fruit and a structure to match. This is far better than the sometimes burnt 2003's. The question though I suppose is when or if the charm will come to the fore, as a betting man I would say this will peak in 4-6 years time. The luxury of a post main course ciagr was allowed now and it was time for an uncompromising Por Larranaga Petit Corona (MLO FEB 12), it's one of those cigars that just does what it should, richness without being overly heavy and a sweet molasses caramel side to the flavours. A lot of people say they need 2-4 years minimum but I'm happily smoking them young. Now back to Bordeaux and a magnum I really enjoyed Canon 1990 - it just had a real proper St.Emilion-ness about it. If any commune has, to my mind, an identity crisis then it is St.Emilion. I can't see many similarities between  the styles I like, Madgelaine, Canon, Tertre Roteboeuf and the rich massiveness of Troplong-Mondot and Pavie etc etc and that is not saying there is just two styles either. Pomerol does well because there are variants on a theme, not so in St.Emilion...anyhow, rant over. This Canon was very together mellow, slight cheesecloth nose it made you want to drink a lot of it, easy and enjoyable but not simple, medium weight, sweetly degraded, a joy.
The poker was now up and running but the wine continued to flow, I had not had Saffredi 1990 before but this magnum was utterly delicious and served blind I would have struggled to be within 10 years of 1990 such was the focussed purity of the dark fruit, it flew down as quickly as the Canon did, back to back gems.
Time for a quick hemisphere swap and now it was time for a bottle of Torbreck "The Factor" 2004, Torbreck was high up on my "never tried" list until this. The nose was extravagant but also focussed red fruits and freshness as well as serious depth, I'm not good enough at this to do the nose justice in fact. The palate showed that this has a long way to go to full maturity...very impressive wine. Now it was time for my magnum and I can't pretend I wasn't slightly regretting my decision to go for something a little "different" but the Achaval-Ferrer Finca Altamira 2007 magnum actually did me proud, it profitted massively from a vigourous double/triple decant and a bit of "throwing around". The primary oak was gone and actually it was pretty damn good. I'm tempted to tuck a few mags away for 5-7 years.
Now the next bottle to come round was something of a rarity, one of only 588 bottles - Graham 1969 Single Harvest Tawny Port (Colheita) - and it as simply stunning, such depth of flavour and complexity from nuts to dried fruit and with amazing poise, a combination of the best whisky you've ever had and the best vintage port and then you might be able to tell I rather liked it!! As the poker continued our kind host put his head in his eurocave and brought out a couple more bottles. Gevrey-Chambertin 1999, D.Bachelet from magnum which was still primary but at a lovely stage, elegant and pure (as an aside someone very kind in a restaurant the other day (Otto's) sent over a glass of Charmes-Chambertin 1999 from Bachelet and it was stunning, purity and precision, I would have been miles out on vintage if tasted blind). The final bottle of the night, well final one before I got the tube was a Sancerre Rouge Belle Dame 2006 from Domaine Vacheron not a wine I know at all but certainly the most serious Sancerre rouge to pass my lips!
What an afternoon and evening!