2011 Simple Series VII: Sean's Birthday

Imperial Treasure Super Peking Duck, Paragon
Tasted Thursday, September 1, 2011 by Paul S with 833 views


This was one of the best dinners of the year, perhaps of any year that we have had since starting to drink together. Thanks to Sean for organising it and providing generously from his collection, and to everyone else for contributing little treasures. Blind as always, I was once again surprised by what a lovely balance of wines we had spread through the night. As good as the reds were on the night, this was yet another dinner where the whites threatened to overshadow them. I must say that we did have a truly spectacular line-up of whites though - how fitting given the birthday boy's love for the white stuff. Happy Birthday Sean!

Flight 1 - BUBBLES (2 Notes)

  • NV Krug Champagne Brut Grande Cuvée 94 Points

    France, Champagne

    A smashing Champagne - this was one of the better bottles of Grande Cuvee I have had in recent times. The bottle age certainly had something to do with it. TM had kept it in his cellar for two years after purchase, and though we could not place the disgorgement date, the cork remained shrunken after popping - a sign that this was no spring chicken, and it showed on the way the wine drank as well. For a start, I always like the nose on this bottling when it has had some age, and this bottle was no exception. It showed lots of of yeasty aromas, apple flesh and bits of kumquat mixed in with a Burg-like toasty creaminess and a touch of earthy minerality dancing around some herby accents. Really expressive, and absolutely beautiful. The creamily textured palate still had some of the sharp, primary citrus fruit of a young Krug but, like the nose, it had already started developing lovely secondary notes of kumquat, lime and yeast streaked through with a serious stony, steely minerality. Finally, the finish had beautiful length, lots of depth and a lovely amount of complexity wed to a classic balance and structure that made the wine such a pleasure to drink. While I have no doubt that this would be better in a few years time, it was really quite nice even now. Lovely stuff.

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  • NV David Leclapart Champagne Premier Cru L'Apôtre Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut 92 Points

    France, Champagne, Champagne Premier Cru

    Very interesting. Opened 5 hours before serving, this showed a very expressive, almost aggressive nose - white meat, kumquat, apples, white flowers and yeast aromas, all tumbling out of the glass in a rush. The palate was still marked by a frothy mousse and a lemony freshness on the attack. Past that, there was lots of pure green appley fruit laced around an elegantly shaped midpalate. The finish was wonderfully rounded, pulling out with a lovely bit of mineral and yeast. Soft, fleshy, delicious, yet very well-balanced. This had tons of character to it, but to my taste still very young - it should be a lovely wine in 3-4 years or so.

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Flight 2 - A LONE LOIRE RANGER (1 Note)

  • 2005 Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fumé Silex 93 Points

    France, Loire Valley, Upper Loire, Pouilly-Fumé

    Still really good - but this was perhaps the weakest showing of the wine so far. It had been opened some 8 hours before serving - a bit too much, or still not enough; served a bit too warm, or was the bottle just going through a weird stage - I could not quite figure it out. It still had a really interesting nose - lots of chalk, a touch of meadow grass, some alfafa sprouts, white flowers, and a nice little melange of pineapples, grapefruit, lychee. Nice stuff, and it opened up more and more with time, taking on grassy, gooseberry notes on the hour mark. It was the palate that did not show quite as well as the previous two occasions. I found it a bit heavy on the attack, creamily textured, with powerful strokes of white fruit laced with some alcoholic heat. Not the best showing then, but it still had the typical focus, persistence and definition of a Silex, with the rich fruit melding into fresher citrus notes on the mid-palate and then a long unfolding of flinty mineral, prickly spice and floaty floral notes that carried the wine all the way into a superb finish. This just went on and on, refusing to let go of its grip on the midpalate. All in all, a very intellectually impressive wine, if not quite as compellingly drinkable as the last two bottles I had.

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Flight 3 - COTE d'OR GRAND CRUS (2 Notes)

  • 2004 Louis Jadot Chevalier-Montrachet Les Demoiselles Domaine des Héritiers Louis Jadot 94 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru

    Lovely stuff - I liked this very much indeed. It was very forward for a Chevalier this young, showing first in a beautiful nose, with gentle notes of water chestnuts and cream and egg white beaten over white fruit, white flowers and a gentle little layer of chalk, beeswax and honey. Gentle, pretty and very nice indeed. The palate was not the most powerful for a Grand Cru, but a Chevalier is never quite about power, especially from the Demoiselles side. True to its terroir, this had rather a sneaky depth and just beautiful definition, with melting acidity spreading through the palate, carrying with it a gentle flow of delicious chestnut, pear and melon flavours. The finish again may not have had the authority that I normally associate with a Grand Cru Puligny, but it had a subtle, gentle length that unfolded ever so prettily with notes of white flowers wreathed around little notes of beeswax and honey. Absolutely lovely, elegant stuff. Many on the table noted that it was very forward for a 2004, and more than one person remarked that it may not be all that long lasting. No complaints from me though. This was bang on form and very good indeed.

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  • 1996 Verget Corton-Charlemagne 95 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru

    I had plain forgotten having had this before - cannot for the life of me understand why though. It was brilliant before, and it was every bit as brilliant today - if not even more so. As good as the Jadot Chevalier Montrachet that preceded it was, this threatened to blow if out of the water. There was an incredible nose on this wine - it literally burst out of the glass with tumbling notes of flint and seashell, buttery cream and white chocolate, and then a serious layer of white fruit and some exotic spice. Beautiful stuff. The palate was at a beautiful place as well. It had all the fresh, zippy acidity of the 1996 vintage, and it needed it too, for this was wed to a ton of weighty, sweet, succulent fruit - ripe lemons, red apples and Chinese pears - there was serious depth here, with the fruit emerging from the midpalate into a long, expressive finish lined with honey, white chocolate and floral notes. Somewhere in there, some subtle minerality floated around, adding a note of seriousness to the deliciously pleasing fruit. This was awesome stuff. A complete wine, yet one that was not only intellectually interesting, but also really, really yummy. Drinking nicely now, this was white wine of the night for quite a few people.

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Flight 4 - CHABLIS GRAND CRUS (3 Notes)

  • 2002 François Raveneau Chablis Grand Cru Blanchot 94 Points

    France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis Grand Cru

    Wow. In any other night, this would easily have taken the wine of the night gong. Pity about the incredible opposition it faced though, so this was probably 3 or 4 out of the 5 Burg whites that we had. Nonetheless, an absolutely brilliant Chablis. It had a rather sweet nose, with flowers and ripe lemon aromas layered over lots of chalk, beeswax and lanolin and little sprinkles of exotic spice. Very expressive I thought, but it changed gear a bit on the palate, so that it came across a lot more reserved than the very showy Corton-Charlie that preceded it. This was a lot more subtle. Sleek, stylish, with a beautiful balance to its superbly integrated flavours of pear, breadfruit and chalk, it moved from a wonderful compact and poised mid-palate into a wonderfully long finish that spoke of more honey and beeswax. Another complete wine, this was absolutely supeb. Most of us thought the Corton-Charlie was clearly superior at first, but I changed my mind as this started opening up in the glass. While the former was all exuberant expressiveness, this was subtle, gentle, even noble in its aspect - a wine that whispered rather than shouted its quality. Like a true Blanchots, you really needed to pay attention to this to grasp its pure depths, but when you did - wow. I loved this. Unlike the 2000 Raveneau Valmur that followed, this is a wine that clearly needs quite a bit of time yet - I would love to try this in another 5 years' time.

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  • 2000 François Raveneau Chablis Grand Cru Valmur 95 Points

    France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis Grand Cru

    This was incredible. Possibly the best Chablis I have ever had, it knocked my socks off and those of the rest of us at the table as well. Opened 5 hours before serving, the wine threw up yet another wonderful nose. This had some age to it, and quite a bit of ripeness - it had lovely aromas of honey, caramel and then ripe yellowish fruit, with lemons at the fore and then red apples and gentle flowery hints, all laced with a chalky, seashelly minerality. With time, some exotic Asian spice started floating out. Complex, intriguing stuff. The palate was singing too. Creamily textured, yet clean as a whistle, with such fresh, juicy acidity racing through what was otherwise a palate of wonderful depth and breadth. Most of us felt this was so much more ready and giving than the more subtle 2002 Blanchot on the same flight. On the mid-palate, this had lovely flavours of lemons, apples and pears, lined with a seashelly minerality that was so very Chablis. Like the Blanchot that preceded it, this was superbly integrated, beautifully balanced and absolutely complete, yet always classily subtle. But unlike the Blachot, this was showing wonderfully. Drop-dead gorgeous pairing with crayfish with truffled egg-white, this was my white wine of the night amidst some of the sternest competition a white Burg could hope to face in one sitting. I would happily drink this now, although I could not help but feel that it would be even better two or three years down the road.

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  • 2006 Vincent Dauvissat (René & Vincent) Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 93 Points

    France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis Grand Cru

    Better showing than the last bottle I had in Burgundy a few months back, but this was still very good rather than great. It certainly did not help that it was preceded by a quartet of fantastic wines, not least a pair of truly excellent Raveneau Grand Crus. Nevertheless, there was much to praise here. Opened 7 hours before serving, it was certainly a solid Chablis even in its youth. It was definitely a change of gear from the Raveneaus that came before. This had a seriously steely minerality that socked you the moment you stuck your nose in the glass. I liked that though. With bits of spice and dried flowery accents floating over the bed of stony, metally, seashelly mineral, it actually made for a very intriguing, complex bouquet. The palate was very nice too. This had quite a melting, creamy quality to its white fruited flavours. Rich, as one would expect from a Les Clos, especially in 2006, but always laced with more of that lovely mineral picked up on the nose. So minerally in fact that this was almost pure stone and flint as it pulled away into a long finish. With time, some juniper berries, spice and white chocolate notes started emerging. A solid wine, but too young and rather overshadowed by the pair of Raveneaus. I am a lot more sanguine about now than after drinking the last bottle though. One to revisit again, perhaps a decade later. My only worry, as with the last time, is that the wine seemed to lack some of the precision and definition of truly great, age-worthy Chablis.

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Flight 5 - BURG AND BOJO (2 Notes)

  • 2009 Thibault Liger-Belair Moulin-à-Vent La Roche 91 Points

    France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Moulin-à-Vent

    A wonderful Beaujolais. This had nothing to be ashamed off even when placed amongst a line-up of some of the most illustrious names in French wine-dom. It had a lovely expressive nose - tons of flowers, with a robe of violets and roses draped expansively over sweet aromas of black cherries and strawberries, which in turn were sprinkled with just the lightest touch of dried earth. Pure Gamay, as was the palate, which showed spice, earth, quite a depth of dark cherry fruit seasoned with a little touch of carbonic funky sweetness at the edges. Gamay, but clearly from a strong vintage given its depth and breadth of flavours. The finish was very decent too, with a nice earthy, spicy length. Still young, but very good stuff. This should be even better in 5-6 years' time.

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  • 2007 Domaine Marquis d'Angerville Volnay 1er Cru Clos des Ducs 93 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Volnay 1er Cru

    I am really growing to love the 2007 vintage as a young, early-drinking year for red Burgs. This bottle showed just why. What a lovely nose. All roses and violets and lovely red cherry aromas laced with iron and stone. When we were told it was a Cote de Beaune, there was no doubt at all in my mind that this must have been a Volnay The palate was drinking very nicely indeed, almost surprisingly so for a wine that still seemed so youthfully fresh and primary, so much so that it made me call it a 2007 on a whim. On reflection, it could hardly have been anything else. It showed all the depth you would expect from a top 1er Cru, or a low to mid-tier Grand Cru, but was so soft and silky, almost caressing the palate. Lively, elegant and focused, it displayed delciously fresh and succulent red cherry notes with a crown of Volnay flowers floating around. This may not have been the most powerful Clos des Ducs given the vintage, but it was an eloquent expression of its terroir, and had all the benefits of a friendly, early drinking year with no lack of substance to boot. Lovely stuff.

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Flight 6 - BORDEAUX (3 Notes)

  • 1996 Château Trotanoy 90 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol

    Good, but barely more. It is very rare that a Trotanoy shows up as the weakest wine of a line-up, but this was unfortunately one of them. It was probably a reflection of both how good the other wines were, as well as how weak a right-bank vintage 1996 was. Indeed, while this had a very nice nose, with sweet dark cherry and cassis notes, these were liberally sprinkled with tea leaves, tobacco and green pepper notes, suggestive of perhaps a higher percentage of Cabernet grapes. The palate was quite un-Pomerol as well. Nicely balanced, but rather lacking the lush depth and opulent power I normally associate with Trotanoy. This was more about lacy dark cherry and cassis fruit, almost left-bank if not for its silky softness and sweet spice and flower edge. It lacked a bit authority, and the smoky, tobacco-laden finish could have been a bit longer. All in all, this was decently good rather than great, and I am not sure age will improve it that much either. A bit disappointing.

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  • 1986 Château Mouton Rothschild 94 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    Opened 6 hours before and decanted another 3 hours, yet this was so, so closed. It had a beautiful flowery bouquet, with dried violet petals floating like a halo over a lovely noseful of dark fruit, tobacco smoke and dried earth. A glorious Pauillac nose. The palate was so very tight though, so this drank like a wine at least a decade younger, with super fresh, super primary cassis fruit at the fore precious else beneath but for a graphite-like nuance. So pure, yet so tightly clenched and barely showing. Still though, this was clearly a First Growth, with great depth, superb balance and a lovely, ringing transperancy to its dark fruit as it moved into a finish of effortless power and subtle length. So obdurate, so clenched, so young. This needs decades yet. At the moment, it was intellectually great, but rather less pleasurable. Some said that the quality here was greater than that of the 1966 Latour we had together. Perhaps so, these things are hard to tell, but the older wine was just drinking so much better on the night. I would recommend locking bottles of these away in the cellar and forgetting about them for a long, long time.

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  • 1966 Château Latour Grand Vin 94 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    Absolutely beautiful stuff. This was probably the red wine that was drinking the best on the night. It had a wonderful nose that drew me in and won me over on first sniff. Starting with gentle washes of tobacco and spice, then little earthy notes, a touch of capsicum and darjeeling tea, and finally a wonderfully lush layer of very Pauillac cassis scents. Beautiful, profound stuff. The palate did not quite match it all the way unfortunately, but was still nonetheless top class. The tannins here still had a touch of grippiness to it, on the attack and right at the finish, making me guess 1966, but the rest of wine had otherwise softened into a velvety caress. Matched with fine acidity, this made a lovely backdrop for melting cassis notes that spread across the mid-palate before melding into a gentle finish with black tea and autumn leaves floating around like a halo. Unsurprisingly, this was beautifully integrated by now and really harmonious, but what stood out for me was how the wine, at 45 years of age, still showed lovely purity, definition and balance. Superb stuff, which made me guess Latour. My only issue was perhaps the lack of power at the finish, but that was nitpicking - with time, it kept unfolding with those lovely autumnal tones, filling any gaps that might have been there at first. This was brilliant - a wine that I will remember for a long, long time.

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Flight 7 - RHONE (2 Notes)

  • 1985 Delas Frères Hermitage Marquise de la Tourette 93 Points

    France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage

    Elegant, complex and drinking wonderfully - this was a very nice wine. It had a beautiful nose. No one was in any doubt it was a Hermitage, with its scents of peppery spice, some cloves, black and blue fruit, winter melon and a toss of dried earth. With time, a dried flowery lilt started emerging. Lovely stuff. The palate had probably just started to thin out, but there was enough substance for it still to be a great a pairing with roast lamb with mint sauce. This had a lovely ring of deliciousness to it, with yummy, but every so elegant notes of black and blueberries, sweet spice, licorice root and a note of dried earth gliding into a long, lingering finish that licked the backpalate with little whiffs of smoke, leather and meat. Beautifully fresh, and cloaked in melting tannins, this may have been better three years back, but it was such a pleasure on the night.

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  • 1996 E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Turque 95 Points

    France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie

    My red wine of the night. Quite a feat when there was a 1966 Latour and a 1986 Mouton on the same table. This was wonderful though. It had a beautiful nose that left me in no doubt that it was a top-notch Cote-Rotie, most probably a La-La too at that. Lush, plummy and ripe, with glorious scents of black cherries and blueberries backed up with scorched earth, spice and tobacco notes. Absolutely lovely. What a palate too. Maybe not as profound as that crazy nose, but it was balanced to a T, with beautifully judged acidity spread throughout delicious flavours of dark cherries and blackberries. This had a wonderful sense of elegance and poise to it, but was also strong and sinewy - graceful, but rather more like a gymnast than a dancer in the way it was shaped. Past the mid-palate, the wine drifted into beautiful finish replete with gentle spicey notes wafting all around the mouth. Wonderful. Another complete wine, yet unlike the pair of Bordeaux Firsts, this was both intellectually stimulating as well as entirely delicious and soul-warming. A great wine.

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Flight 8 - SWEETS (2 Notes)

  • 1976 Reichsrat Von Buhl Friedelsheimer Gerumpel Riesling Beerenauslese 93 Points

    Germany, Pfalz

    On to the sweets, and our first non-French wine. This was really nice. It had a wonderful nose - in the midst of a night full of beautiful bouquets, this was probably the best - with little droplets of petroleum and rubber, sweet aromas of dried apricots and nectarines, some candied orange peel, and a bass of molasses with a little citrus hint thrown somewhere in there. Mmm... nice. The palate was still very sweet - a BA then we though - lacking a little in acidity, so probably a 1976, but this had profund complexity, with a whole melange of candied flavours - oranges, tangerines, and very Pfalz notes of nectarines, peaches, all coated with a rich layer of honey and molasses. Lovely stuff. I would have appreciated a bit more freshness, but this was delicious nonetheless. Not a bit cloying, it was sweet, yet balanced. Very nice indeed - a real treat.

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  • 2000 Sine Qua Non Viognier Mr. K The Noble Man

    USA, California, Central Coast, Edna Valley

    Wow, this was rich on the nose. Golden syrup, treacle, almost liquified apricots and figs. Attractive, but almost threatening in its thick, almost viscous aroma. The palate was very much in line with a nose. Thick, viscous, oily - a real mouthful, with sweet, candied apricots and nectarines and peaches lined with honey, treacle and a slightly rubbery note. This needs a good few decades yet, at the moment, great depth, power and weight, but just a bit too much sweetness. There is some acidity in here that bodes well for the future, but I found this a bit hard to drink at the moment. Not rated.

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