Lunch with Anthony Hall and Friends

Coppin Grove, Melbourne, Australia
Tasted Saturday, February 23, 2013 by Paul S with 743 views


E and I had the pleasure of hosting Anthony Hall and his lovely family for a short whirl around Singapore a couple of weeks ago (notes on the dinner that day to follow). He returned the favour in a wonderful way when I headed down to Melbourne this week, by putting together a wonderful home-cooked lunch with a few of his friends in his beautiful house (if a gourmet could ever be called home-coooked!). We ate from 1pm to past 7pm - quite possibly the longest lunch I have ever had, with the hours passing by on a flow of great wine and good conversation. Thanks Anthony!

Flight 1 - BUBBLES (1 Note)

  • 2000 Pierre Péters Champagne Grand Cru Cuvée Speciale Blanc de Blancs Les Chetillons 91 Points

    France, Champagne, Champagne Grand Cru

    A nice, if not quite outstanding Blanc des Blancs. It had a slightly oxidative character on the nose, with aromas of over-ripe, almost brown apples along with some briny mineral tones. I expected some flesh on the palate after that, but it was surprisingly bone dry, with a fine, thin mousse and a little minerally streak running through sharp flavours of limes and lemons, with just a hint of appley fruit on the midpalate. This had a nice sense of depth to it, but it still came across as very dry and particularly linear for a 2000 Champagne, especially towards the impressively long and very minerally finish. A very decent wine overall, elegant and with a good bit of character, but without being anything really special at the moment. It is still a bit primary though, so it should continue to improve with age though. On the night, it was be a bit challenging when drank on its own, but made a good companion for fresh oysters.

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Flight 2 - A TRIO OF GRAND CRU WHITES (3 Notes)

  • 2009 Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot Chevalier-Montrachet 94 Points

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

    Great stuff. This wine had a gorgeous nose that stuck with me for the next day or two. Still influenced by a good bit of oak, it showed a layer of very nutty, almost toasted corn-like aromas; but underneath that were lovely wafts of white melon and green apples, orange zest and almonds, with a lovely floral note that was so very Chevalier. It was brilliant on the palate too. Rich and ripe in a way that reflected the warm vintage, it somehow still managed to maintain a real sense of elegance, with a subtle focus and delineation that underscored its creamily textured flavours of lemons and apples. This was depth without heft, power without effort. It had such a lovely, almost feminine feel to it that no one doubted it was Chevalier rather than say a Batard or a straight Montrachet from the get-go. It ended beautifully too, with a lovely stream of chalky mineral pulling away into a long, lingering finish layered with cream and butter notes. This will be an early drinking Grand Cru, but it does need a bit of time yet. Great as it was when young, I felt we only got a snippet of how good this wine will be in a short 4-5 years’ time.

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  • 2005 Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot Chevalier-Montrachet 93 Points

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

    Another lovely wine, but it rather paled in comparison with the superb 2009 on the same flight. The nose here was rather subtler, more gentle, with complex notes of chalky mineral and earth, musk and spice, mingling with little white fruited nuances. Rather understated for a 2005 I thought, and the palate very much carried on in the same vein. There was certainly the depth and density of the vintage on the wine, with a slightly buttery undertone to the whole palate. However, what struck me was how clean, balanced and focused the whole package was, with lovely supple flavours of white fruit, melons and apple, drifting away into a impressively long, if not quite astounding finish of almond and macadamias punctuated by a citrusy lift of lemon flavours. While not quite as exciting or profound as the 2009, the four extra years of age on this wine have given it a lovely integrated feel that made it a delight to drink. 2005 has not always been my favourite white vintage, but this was a beautiful wine. It should continue improving over the next few years as well.

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  • 2008 Domaine Roger Belland Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet 94 Points

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

    Super – this wine rounded up a trio of elegant Grand Crus beautifully. Like the pair of Chevaliers that preceded it, this too had a lovely nose, with dollops of cream, a line of chalk and fleshy apple aromas wed to a rather savoury inflection of earth and spice. A very expressive nose, and very attractive. The palate was fleshy and creamily textured, rather belying its vintage in its depth and scale, yet it was also clean and fresh, with bright, grapefruity acidity laced through the white fruited midpalate and into a long finish that had a touch of white meat and umami on it. There was a very sleek, polished feel to this wine. It may not have had a huge amount of power, but it was still very substantial, with nice staying power wed to a lovely dose of charm. A classic Criots-Batard in other words - everyone agreed with our guesses on this one. Surprisingly good and very drinkable now, this also has the balance to age gracefully over the next 5-6 years and beyond. Great stuff.

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Flight 3 - THE OTHER WHITES (3 Notes)

  • 2001 Coche-Dury Meursault Les Rougeots 92 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault

    A great village by any measure, but this was unfortunately not the most convincing Coche-Dury. However, such is the standard that has been set by the house that even a weaker Coche makes for a very accomplished wine. This had a typically assertive nose, with a waft of gunflint and sulphites wed to buttery cream, ripe white fruit and lots of chalky aromas. Rather arresting. It was a pity that the palate did not quite share the same conviction as the nose. It was fresh and lively, with bright green apple flavours and lemony acidity running through its creamy Meursault depth. Somehow though, while it was very nice, nothing really jumped out to grab you, at least until the lovely minerally finish, with chalk and gunflint tailing away into a spice-filled back-palate. I liked that. All in all though, certainly a very nice wine, and drinking well too, but this just lacked the special something that I have come to expect from a bottle of Coche.

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  • 2012 Grosset Riesling Polish Hill Clare Valley 92 Points

    Australia, South Australia, Mount Lofty Ranges, Clare Valley

    This must be the one of the best young Polish Hills I can remember having. It had a beautiful nose – almost like a German Grosses Gewach in its drifting scents of white flowers and chamomile, along with sweet lemons and limes and just a hint of chalky mineral at the edges. Really pretty, and quite a shift from the usual primary notes of chalk, petrol and lime one would expect to fine in a young bottle of Clare Riesling. The palate was delicious too. Rounder and less flinty than normal, this could almost have been a friendlier Watervale Riesling rather than the Polish Hill if not for the clearly greater depth and length on the midpalate and finish. While it was certainly very dry throughout, there was a lovely juiciness to its fleshy flavours of lemons and green apples, along with a pretty floral note in the background that seemed to lift the whole package. It had a lovely long finish too, with a chalky, minerally tail pulling away into the distance. Delicious stuff – this was all around finer, more complex and better balanced than I can remember from previous vintages, and apparently without losing the grip and balance that will allow it to age gracefully either. Time to get myself a few bottles.

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  • 1990 Tissot (Bénédicte et Stéphane / André et Mireille) Arbois Vin Jaune 92 Points

    France, Jura, Arbois

    I really enjoyed this. It had a lovely nose with a nice bit of rancio character layered over floral honey scents, some dried figs and apples, and just a whiff of lemons – very much like a fino sherry. The palate was a bit of a change in gear though. It had a touch of the saltiness that you would expect from a fino, along with fresh, lively, really supple acidity, but this came across rather deeper, rounder, with fleshy lemon notes undergirded by gentle mineral and spice accents - there was something in there that just reminded me of curry leaf in fact. I like the brilliant freshness on this, with its well-integrated acidity carrying it into a long, rather compelling finish that filled the mouth with a nutty, macadamia and walnut note. Very nice indeed. This was a very versatile wine too – good with oysters, stuffed figs and even a duck consommé.

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Flight 4 - REDS (4 Notes)

  • 2006 Georges Lignier et Fils Clos de la Roche 93 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Clos de la Roche Grand Cru

    This was a wonderfully delicious wine. It probably had the best nose amongst the reds on the day, with a real perfumed character in its notes of floral rose petals and sweet spices, sweet blueberry aromas, with more savoury hints of mineral, earth and meat, and just a touch of herb at the edges. It is bouquets like these that make one fall in love with Burgundy all over again. The palate was very fine, with a nice minerally structure, fine tannins and a bright balance forming a nice structure under deliciously juicy flavours of sweet black cherries and blackberries. This was not the most powerful Clos de la Roche and some may say that it lacked a bit of authority for a top-notch Grand Cru. However, it still had depth, breadth and elegance a plenty, all couched in a pure, clear, high-toned fashion that was almost Chambolle-like in its easy grance. The finish was pure Morey though, with the wine’s black-fruited flavours met with savoury accents of meat, earth and lots of spice. Not the most complete or convincing CdLR, but a lovely wine nonetheless. I thouroughly enjoyed this. Great for early drinking, but it should also reward a few more years of aging.

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  • 2007 Domaine Dujac Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Aux Malconsorts 93 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru

    A fantastic wine for its vintage, this has come some way from when I first tasted it at the Domaine, and it was a joy to drink on the night. I liked the nose, with its beguiling notes of slightly green herbs and spices ringed around high-toned black berry and dark cherry aromas. However, it was the palate that really wowed me. It had great depth for a 2007, with lovely, lush flavours of black cherries and dark berries arrayed around a savoury core of meat and a hint of earth, all seasoned with a lovely dose of warm Vosne spice. In spite of all that though, this was still clearly a child of a cool vintage, with lovely fresh acidity racing through its flavours, so that the wine came across as bright, linear, and laser-focused. It could almost have been tart without food, but somehow all the components managed to pull together just on the side of being impeccably balanced. The hint of green that I picked up on the nose reared its head slightly again on the finish, where herb and warm spice notes mingled with a nice earthy undertone. However, this was more an accent that added complexity rather than a distraction. A lovely wine – I was very taken by this. With its balance and structure, it is a 2007 red that should age effortlessly well into its second decade of life.

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  • 1998 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Richebourg 93 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Richebourg Grand Cru

    This was very much a typical middle-aged Richebourg, meaning that it was very impressive without being particularly alluring. For one thing, it had a pretty nice, if rather reserved nose, with rather ripe scents of black cherries and berries at the fore, little bits of meat and earth, and then some spice and rose petals at the sides. Still very tight I thought. The palate was as archetypally Richebourg as one could imagine. Clearly a wine of power, it had a firm, muscular structure of slightly powdery tannins and deeply buried acidity that formed a serious spine beneath deep, broad-shouldered flavours of black cherries and berries. Very impressive in its scale, but not particularly beautiful at the moment unfortunately. There was definitely some secondary development, with nice notes of spice and herb and meat, along with a patina of preserved red fruits in a softer, rounder, but still very long finish. However, this wine clearly needs another 4-5 years in the cellar at least; it will probably go one aging for a long time beyond that too. It should be a really solid wine when it hits its stride, but it was just shy of being really enjoyable at the moment.

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  • 1943 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche Flawed

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, La Tâche Grand Cru

    Very low ullage on the bottle, and this was unfortunately over the hill. It had a Madeirised twang of cooked berries and cherries, dried flower petals and plenty of mushroomy undergrowth smells haunting the nose. The palate was still blessed with fresh acidity and a surprising firm sense of structure, but it too seemed Madeirised, with lots of flat, cooked fruit notes. A real shame.

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Flight 5 - AND A SWEET (1 Note)

  • 2005 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Halenberg Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 93 Points

    Germany, Nahe

    Probably 20-30 years too young to drink, but this was nevertheless a nice way to end the meal. It had a lovely nose, full of honey and white peach and osmanthus flowers – really pretty. The palate was a lot more monolithic though. Super-rich, thick and sweet, with treacle-like notes of honey and white peaches and dried apricot swathed in rich, creamy texture. Yet in true German fashion, this was still impeccably balanced in spite of its sweet depth. A baby – but there is every sign that this will develop into a lovely wine given enough time.

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