Ming's Birthday

Imperial Treasure Super Peking Duck, Paragon
Tasted Saturday, August 25, 2012 by Paul S with 339 views

Introduction

Another year has gone by and we gathered at an old haunt to celebrate Ming's birthday. Wines were blind and BYO as always, with the birthday boy throwing in some real gems to augment what the rest of the table generously contributed. With the serendipitous symmetry of the wines, the company of close friends, great food and some lovely pairings, we had a night to remember.

Flight 1 - CHAMPAGNE - PAIRED WITH CHILLED JELLYFISH IN SESAME OIL (1 Note)

  • 2000 Vilmart & Cie Champagne Cuvée Creation 93 Points

    France, Champagne

    It was a privilege to have this beautiful Champagne for the second time in one year. While still really young, it was a smashing start to the dinner. Such an nose interesting here, with wafting scents of sour plums and slightly browned apples, some exotic spice notes reminiscent of green chili and tamarinds, a touch of vanilla and finally a drift of stony mineral accents. A really interesting, complex nose. The palate was no slouch either. Fresh from the bottle, it was very racy, with an energetic bead and livewire acidity springing through mellow appley flavours and brighter tones of lemon and lime peel. There was clearly plenty of substance, but it was just a bit one dimensional at first. With time though, a fleshier white-fruited background started emerging on the midpalate and a nice nutty, yeasty note started coming out as well. Finally, the little spicy notes picked up on the nose reverberated all the way at the finish - green chilis and peppercorns again, drifting away into the distance. This was such a nice, mouthwatering start to the dinner. Yummy, complex and interesting, and a superb pairing with chilled jellyfish in sesame oil too. Still very younthful though, it started out a bit slow and only really showed its chops as it warmed up and took on some air. It should pick up more depth and weight with time in the bottle and should make a beautiful Champagne in 3-4 years.

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Flight 2 - WHITE BURG - PAIRED WITH SCALLOP AND TRUFFLE EGG WHITE (2 Notes)

  • 1998 Domaine Amiot Guy et Fils Montrachet 93 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Montrachet Grand Cru

    This was quite lovely. It had a gorgeous nose, with deep pulls of honey and malt, earthy morel mushroom scents, sweet red apples aromas and a touch of musk in the background. Wonderful stuff. Great palate, too. Here, melting acidity was wrapped around quietly profound flavours of white fruit, apple flesh and melon tapering into a beautifully long finish, where a spine of gentle earthiness, stoney mineral and more truffley perfume filled the back-palate. Really lovely focus and definition on this, yet there was also power and presence, with a sense of quiet strength that peeked in on the attack and grew and grew into that tremendous finish. There was hardy a doubt that this was from Le Montrachet given how complete it was. Really nice stuff, and it paired well with a truffle egg white dish too, with the truffley notes on both the food and wine echoing endlessly in the mouth. About the right time to drink this I think.

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  • 2001 Henri Boillot Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet 94 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru

    A brilliant wine - most of the table agreed that this bested a very good on 1998 Amiot Guy Montrachet on the same flight. We had another lovely nose here - a lot of honey, a nice earthy undertone, sweet white flower scents, ripe melons and stone fruit aromas - beautiful stuff. Absolutely delicious on the palate too. Really round, fleshy, luscious, yet wonderfully balanced, precise and oh so focused. It had such great poise, with a spine of vibrant acidity and slatey mineral running through its deep flavours of melons and pears, almost feminine in its shape, but certainly masculine in its depth and breadth. Lovely stuff. The finish had a nice length to it as it rounded the wine off, with fleshy stone fruited flavours seasoned with motes of spice and a lift of citrussy lemons. There was just a touch of vanilla bean in there as well as the wine faded off. Really delicious stuff at a nice place now - this is what white Burgundy is all about.

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Flight 3 - RIESLINGS - PAIRED WITH DEEP FRIED MARBLE GOBY IN SUPERIOR SAUCE (2 Notes)

  • 2004 Freiherr Heyl zu Herrnsheim Niersteiner Brudersberg Riesling Großes Gewächs 93 Points

    Germany, Rheinhessen

    Excellent. It is a testament to just how good this wine was that half the group preferred this to the very good (and several times more expensive) 2000 Trimbach Clos St Hune served alongside. No one was in any doubt that this was a German Riesling when blinded - it had a lovely nose, with classic drops of petroleum, a bit of vanilla, and then sweet wreathes of peach, nectarine and a tropical, pineappley touch floating out of the glass - very fruitily attractive as you would expect from a Rheinhessen. The palate was very much a child of its vintage - very fresh, lively, almost etched with a superb sense of definition, this showed wonderfully lemony freshness racing through a nicely deep, white-fruited palate. It was still very young and maybe a bit one-dimensional, but it was very nice even in its youth, with a classic German balance of quiet power wed to elegant balance. Lovely finish too, showing sweeter stone-fruited notes floating away into the distance on a bed of spice. Such a nice wine. This should be quite stunning when its time comes, but a lot of patience is required - I would say 5 years at least, but this really does deserve far, far longer than that to develop and grow.

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  • 2000 Trimbach Riesling Clos Ste. Hune 93 Points

    France, Alsace

    A really solid wine. It spite of being opened in the morning to slowly breathe before being served blind over dinner, it still seemed so very young and tight. It had a lovely nose, with beeswax and honey scents, a little bit of petroleum, melon and stone fruit, nice layers of earth and some woody spice - very rich, weighty, almost heady scents there. It was quite a bit simpler on the palate however. Still so young and primary, it showed almost as a single powerful coil of white fruit with citrus notes of lemon and grapefruit weaving its way through the mouth with little touches of spice peeking out at the sides. There was tons of depth here, yet it was ever so focused all the way into a brilliantly integrated finish which was quietly profound with its depth of fleshy white fruit, motes of spice and gentle washes of chalk. Very impressive indeed, and a really good foil for a heavily flavoured fish dish (deep-fried Marbled Goby with Superior Soy Sauce). However, this still needs a lot of time yet. With all the depth here along with the great balance it showed, I would put this away for at least a decade before broaching again.

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Flight 4 - BAROLO - PAIRED WITH SUCKLING PIG CRACKLING (2 Notes)

  • 1990 Conterno Fantino Barolo Vigna del Gris 94 Points

    Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo

    This was such a pretty wine - I was sure it was a Barbaresco rather than a Barolo. It had a wonderful, wonderful nose - classic Nebbiolo, with gorgeous notes of cherries and red berries, spice and smoke, earth and tar, all dancing out of the glass in a beautiful melange. Wow. The palate was amazingly youthful, but it had also clearly already started to sing, with clean, clear acidity giving a wonderful sense of transperancy to its lovely flavours of red cherries, ripe strawberries and raspberries seasoned with notes of spice, smoke and tar. Beautiful finish too, with dried flowers and a wicked twist of smokey tar floating away on a bed of silky tannins. Just wonderful, a really elegant expression of Barolo starting to drink very well. This can go on for a very long time yet, but I think it will be in a sweet spot over the next 5-6 years.

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  • 1989 Giuseppe E Figlio Mascarello Barolo Monprivato 95 Points

    Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo

    Wow. This was amazing - the wine of the night amidst some real gems. It had that sort of shifting, beguiling mixture of earth and perfume that only a great Nebbiolo presents, with lovely aromas of dried plums and black cherries, orange peel and haw flakes, black tea, tar and dried roses - a beautiful bouquet. The palate was simply wonderful. Still strikingly young, it was glowing with fresh acidity, and showed delicious flavours of black cherries and dark berries seasoned with a touch of menthol and tea. This was deceptively simple, with a zen-like depth and wonderful purity to it that belied the quite tremendous intensity and weight on the wine. There was a beautiful fine structure too, slightly drying towards the finish, where firm, but ultra-fine tannins were littered with dried floral accents that lingered on and on and on in the mouth. Amazing stuff - this was a profound Barolo, but not quite at peak yet to my taste - it needs more time for its more subtle, complex nuances to be drawn out. I can only imagine how good this will be given another decade or so.

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Flight 5 - RED BURG - WITH MUSHROOM TOFU / TRUFFLE MEE POK (2 Notes)

  • 2007 Domaine Jacques Prieur Musigny 94 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Musigny Grand Cru

    Absolutely superb. This wine was a beautiful example of how much early-dinking pleasure some of these top 2007 red Burgs can give. At first blush, this showed almost a bit too modern and oaky in style for my liking, far too young too, but it had so much charm and quality to it that it just grew and grew on me. Opened 8 hours before serving, it had an absolutely crazy nose when poured, with vanilla and mocha oak notes shading perfumy aromas of sweet red cherries and berries, tons of fresh cut flowers, and a little twist of green herbs. A knockout bouquet. Sexy, floral, expressive - it was actually more reminiscent of a seductive Amouresuses than a young Musigny I thought. The palate was very Amoureseuses-like too. It had a lively freshness to it, with lovely 2007 cut and precision and an unusual amount of Chambolle character showing up in fine tannins wrapped around a beautifully clear, transparent core of red fruit and deeper blueberry flavours. These were then met on the midpalate by reams of perfumy floral touches, and layered with a bit of earth and spice. The finish was firm, yet ever so elegant - here, wreathes of smoke and the finest tannins swirled around delicious flavours dark cherry and another touch of mocha-ish oak notes as the wine stretched away with a lovely show of length. Such a pure, transparent wine, and absolutely delicious too - the oak was certainly there, but not quite enough to detract from how delicious this truly was. I have no doubt that this will age well for a long time to come, but it was already tremendously enjoyable on the day.

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  • 2000 Louis Jadot Chambertin-Clos de Bèze 94 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambertin-Clos de Bèze Grand Cru

    Superb. While not quite at peak yet, this has come a long, long way from the surly bottle that I had four years ago, which was full of potential, but offered little pleasure. This had a wonderful nose. Really earthy, mushroomy, with lots of sous bois, a touch of broiled meat on first sniff, and then unfolding into beautiful notes of red cherries and berries, with a tiny waft of mint and herb at the back of the bouquet. The palate was really strong as well, with a wonderfully transparent expression of pure red cherries underpinned by beautiful layers of mineral and earth, herb and dried flowers. It was profound without needing to shout, with real Grand Cru depth and power wed to sculpted tannins and lovely acidity that carried the wine into finish of elegantly lengthy, spice-infused finish. A superbly elegant wine - classic Clos de Bèze. I was quite sure that this could hardly be anything else. The only similarity that it had with the bottle in the past is that I once again thought it was a 2001 rather than a 2000 given the fine, but slightly austere structure and wonderful fresh clarity it had. Such a treat, and while thoroughly enjoyable on the night, I thought this particularly well-stored bottle still had an upside over the next few years. In fact, this would probably go on aging well for many, many years to come.

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Flight 6 - NAPA CABERNET - PAIRED WITH ROAST WHOLE ROASTED LAMB SHOULDER (2 Notes)

  • 1985 Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 93 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    One of a pair of excellent aged Napa Cabs, this was really enjoyable, quite clearly besting the 1985 Mondavi Reserve on the same flight. The nose was super-Bordelais, with lots of fragrant tobacco-leaf and black tea accents hovering around lovely notes of ripe cassis and dark cherries, and more savoury aromas of sous bois and meat. Very nice indeed. The palate was at a beautiful place. Beautifully fresh and balanced with a lovely lightness to it, this was a complete ringer for a ripe St Estephe, with deep flavours of cassis and sweet blackberries flecked by tobacco, spice and earth as the the wine drew into a long, fresh, and ever so fine finish. It was all wrapped in the silkiest tannins as well - this was such an elegant expression of Napa. A lovely wine at a perfect place now. Magic when paired with a whole-roasted lamb shoulder too. Excellent.

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  • 1986 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 92 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    A very nice wine, but a bit overshadowed by the illustrious company on the night. Even within its own flight, the table almost unanimously preferred an excellent 1985 Clos du Val Reserve to this. Nevertheless, there was a lot to like here. It was more Pauillac to the Clos du Val's St Estephe on the nose here, with very masculine inflections of meat and earth, sweet spice and black tea notes on a backdrop of cassis and cigary tobacco. The palate may have lacked the brilliant freshness of the Clos du Val, but was very delicious in its own way, with yummy flavours of ripe cassis and black cherries on the attack, and then lots of black tea and spice, meat and sous bois on the midpalate, before the wine pulled away into a long, powerful finish filled with chewy cigar notes. There was still quite a bite of firm but beautifully ripe tannins at the finish that gave a sense of musuclar structure to the wine. Very nice indeed, and while quite at the right place for drinking, this bottle could easily have held up for the next few years as well.

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Flight 7 - RHONE (NORTH AND SOUTH) - PAIRED WITH FRIED SUCKLING PIG BONES (2 Notes)

  • 1996 E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Turque 93 Points

    France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie

    Excellent. Second time round, this bottle was not quite as impressive as the one I had a year back. It seemed a bit simpler, more reticent, perhaps because it did not get as much time and air as the last one. Still a gorgeous wine though. It had a classic Côte-Rôtie nose, with sweet plums and black cherries mixed in with hints of violets, a twist of herbs and spice, all playing against a very classic backdrop of roasted earth, dried flowers and curls of tobacco smoke. Just a beautiful bouquet there. So delicious on the palate too - it unfolded in lovely layers of blackberries and plums and dark cherries, all lined with the fresh acidity and fine but firm tannins of the 1996 vintage. The only thing that made this less than completely enjoyable was the fact that it was still very primary, still a bit simple. Otherwise, this was a wine that had depth, breadth and effortless intensity in a single package. It had a beautiful finish too, chocked full with spice and cigar notes. A lovely wine and very deliciously even now. However, it still has its best years way ahead of it. This is worth waiting another 3-5 years for before opening another to gauge its progress - I have a feeling that peak drinking may some way beyond that.

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  • 1995 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Hommage à Jacques Perrin 94 Points

    France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape

    Oh man... I loved this wine - a great way to end off a great evening. This still has many years ahead of it before it really hits its stride, but boy it was superb even on the night. It had a wonderfully complex bouquet, with shifting scents of bramble and spice, blackberries and plums, earth and meat, and some chalky mineral notes at the rear. Lovely. The palate still seemed so young on the attack, with its fresh flavours of dark cherries and black cherries textured with really fine, supple tannins. There was a reservoir of savoury, meaty depth beneath that, which was then followed by complex little notes of tobacco and spice winding away into a beautiful finish. This wine had it all - length, power and nobility - a wonderful marriage of deep dark flavours with a defined, focused, really fresh feel that lent it a delicious litheness. Like the Guigal La Turque that preceded it, this came across as a very complete wine that just needs more time to blossom into greatness. Great stuff.

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