Monday, 28 July 2014

Three special bottles and two new (to me) restaurants...

I was very lucky last week to try two new restaurants and have some lovely bottles...

First up was a trip to Umu in Bruton Place, just off Berkeley Sq. This is a location I had heard a massive amount about..."the best sushi outside Japan" is even? The setting is a nice mix of West and East, the crowd for lunch was a good mix. I was well led through the menu by both waiter and my fellow diner who had a few visits under his belt. I didn't take notes or pics of the food (it just didn't feel right to do so) but without doubt there were some of the best mouthfuls I have ever eaten! Sushi to die for, excellent Lobster, incredible grade 11 Japanese Wagyu may be pricey BUT it's very very good and as an eating experience flavour-wise it is hard to beat!

So what did we drink? Well, to start a bottle of Billecart-Salmon 2004 which had good focus, a nice texture and performed well. To follow it was Chevalier-Montrachet 2010 from Francois Carillon. The historic Carillon estate was split after the 2009 vintage to allow Francois and Jacques to set up their own Domaines. The 2010's were the first for each. The holdings were split but amongst them was Chevalier and Bienvenues and to split these would, as I understand it, left both with two little to be able to really "use". So Chevalier went to Francois and Bienvenues to Jacques. This wine is in such short supply that the UK gets bottles not cases. I had never had it before but, whilst I am totally biased, I was incredibly impressed, there is great acidity but also a flattering amount of lemon fruit, generous and full, over three hours (having had a double decant mid morning) it got better and better. This is a Chevalier with a nod to both the Montrachet and Batard, very smart wine.

The red to follow was a real treat - Monfortino 1982. The last time I had this was at Monfortino Magnum Monday 1970-2006 back in May and on that day it showed well but at the same time I was very keen to see it in it's own right. It did not disappoint one bit. I decided on a cool temperature (crucial) and a gentle double decant 2-3 hours before lunch. There was good red fruits as well as that slightly ferrous saline edge, an almost perfect time to drink it. The 1982 will never be a monster. The vintage as a whole remains under appreciated I feel, there is real class and grace to the best wines. It went superbly with the beef but would have drunk brilliantly alone as well...

All in all a really rather splendid way to spend a Tuesday in July.

The second new restaurant could not really have been much more different - Mash Steakhouse - in Soho. This is the only site of a Danish set of restaurants set below ground in Brewer Street. The food is good, well sourced steaks and the selection of sides and starters you would expect BUT the thing really gets exciting when you see the wine list. On this occasion those I was with had, very generously, arranged for a bottle to be there but more of that in a minute. We first had a glass, ok two, of de Fieuzal Blanc 1990 which was fully mature and slightly clinging on by it's fingernails but nevertheless was a test of the senses. With starters over it was time for the red - Grands Echezeaux 1995, DRC. The only previous time I had this was during  Grands Echezeaux, DRC 14-vintages. This bottle was from a private cellar that had been supplied by the agent but was a little damp hence the state of the label. The state of the wine was the opposite. Fresh almost ripe raspberry red in fruit character with a glorious persistence and life, it is hard to say much more than that, it was glorious and perfect now but certainly no rush needed. I can't imagine this wine will ever be one to make savoury "old bones" it's a feminine Grands Echezeaux. What a treat!

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