Rhone and Riesling dinner

Jade Palace, Forum Galleria
Tasted Friday, July 10, 2009 by Paul S with 672 views

Introduction

Shuen Yuen flew back from London and pulled together this fantastic dinner for some of the Jiuwine gang. Food was good as expected, as were the Rhones, but it was the aged Rieslings that took the breath away. The beauty of the wines showed how young we have been drinking ours! Cheers to a fantastic night though.

Flight 1 - Starters - fried fish skin, silver fish and seafood tofu (2 Notes)

  • NV H. Billiot Fils Champagne Grand Cru Brut Rosé 91 Points

    France, Champagne, Champagne Grand Cru

    I just love these grower's Champagnes. 100% Pinot. Started off a bit shaky for me, with a distinct alcoholic edge adding a sense of imbalance. However, as the night wore on, this simply blossomed into a really nice Rosé - fully fruited and exuberant, yet with some stuffing. Rosy pink in colour, this had a fine, persistent bead and decent mousse. Nose was richly fruited, starting out with grapefruit and cherries, all pretty high-toned, which then mingled with touches of yeast, mineral and lots of nutty accents with time. The palate had a clean, crispness to it with a slight wash of heat at the back of the mouth at first. However, the heat went away with time as the fruit just unfolded into rich cherry and strawberry flavours wed to a little stream of minerality and a whole lot of juicy acidity at the finish. With time, a distinctly orange sherbet like flavours filled the back of the mouth. Very nice, and full of personality.

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  • 1997 Domaine Ponsot Chambertin 91 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambertin Grand Cru

    This should have been showing well, but for some reason was not at all. I was hard pressed to recognise it as a Gevrey at first, thinking Morey 1er Cru instead - let alone recognising it as the Gevrey of Gevreys. It did pick up some steam with time in the glass, taking on more typical characters, but always had a lean, miserly edge to it. Light core and slightly orange colour on the rim showed some age, while a slight paucity of fruit on nose and palate made me think 1997 at first, but I changed my guess to 1998 because of a certain hard, unyieldingness on both fronts. On the nose, I got tight scents of mushrooms, mineral and pepper with the slightest perfume in its red fruit character. With lots of time, some earthiness emerged. Palate was very clean, lean and minerally, with a pure lingering aroma of dark fruit in the mouth suggesting some quality. Otherwise, plenty of hardness, with bramble and herbs along with spicy, peppery notes mingling with the resolved remnants of rather fine, but tightly-coiled tannins. There was a touch of alcohol at the back of the throat too, although that dissolved away with time. Finish carried on the team - plenty of juicy length with nice acidity, but its whole way marked with bittersweet dried herbs, wood spice and dusty tannins. With plenty of time in the glass, almost a couple of hours, the wine became a little weightier and took on deeper notes with some sweet cherries showing on the palate, along with a little Gevrey chorus of leather and earth. Better, but never quite shaking off the lean, mean feel. I doubt it ever will. Good wine, but ultimately disappointing for what it is. Are the 1997s now on their way down?

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Flight 2 - Peking Duck (2 Notes)

  • 1983 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage La Chapelle 92 Points

    France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage

    Lovely wine - how much the style has changed since the 1980s! Beautiful nose was exuberant and expressive, almost dancing across the senses with a bright, sherbet-like display of perfumed flowers , dark cherries, plums, mint and spice - all very hight-toned and aromatic - along with savoury, leathery bass notes and a gentle meatiness. With time, and air, the wine packed on some herbal and umami tones, distinctly Korean ginseng chicken soup like. Marvelous. Pity the palate could not quite keep up. Very alive on the attack, with perky acidity wed to flavours of dried raisins and figs, fresher dark cherry notes and dried herb and orange peel accents. The wine was rather truncated from the mid-palate at first though, with the fruit dropping off suddenly, leaving a hollow ferrous note before moving into the finish which showed a touch of heat. Fortunately, it filled up pretty well with some time. While not showing much pulling power, the heat dissipated, leaving in its place a long, aromatic linger of dried fruits and orange peel. Lovely while it lasted, but time to drink up before it fades away into the sunset.

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  • 1989 Château de la Font du Loup Châteauneuf-du-Pape 86 Points

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

    A great year, but not a great wine. Storage issues maybe? The wine was throwing buckets of sedimentation and was a dead ringer for a slightly aged vintage port by the time we got to it. Obviously some VA issues as well, though maybe not enough to call the wine flawed. Nose had the usual VA acetone, glycerine and nail varnish removal tones seeping in and out of vanilla, butter and caramel notes, with porty dried figs and apricots, along with dark plums, all washed with a bit of alcohol. Very sweet on the palate. Again, more alcohol, but the dominant flavours were dark cherries and plums, with a porty, dried fruit note to them along with whiffs of mahogany wood and plenty of spice. Finish was short and bittersweet. Did not know quite what to make out of this wine. Interesting experience, but not one I would care to repeat.

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Flight 3 - Shredded Duck with Bean Sprouts (2 Notes)

  • 1985 Rene Rostaing Côte-Rôtie Côte Blonde 92 Points

    France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie

    First of a pair with the 1989. Absolutely gorgeous nose. Garrigue, brambly herbs, tree bark, along with meaty roast duck and black chicken soup notes, all layered over deep scents of sweet dark berries and plums, licorice and orange peel, with a whiff of toasty smokiness floating around. The palate was fresh and alive still. Again, herbs amd bramble, orange peel and fleshy back fruits and a touch of sweet cherries. Very elegant and full, with some depth, but perhaps lacking the complexity of a truly great Côte-Rôtie. Finish showed a little heat at first, but that dissipated to leave lingering flavours of chinese herbs, winter melon, some smoke and a little eucalyptus lift. Very nice, but time to drink up.

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  • 1989 Rene Rostaing Côte-Rôtie Côte Blonde 91 Points

    France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie

    Hard to judge this one. It was perhaps seasoned by the tiniest pinch of TCA, raising its head every so slightly in a hint of wet cardboard around the edges of the nose and palate, and a little flat hollowness just before the finish. Yet it was so slight that even the most sensitive of us could still enjoy the wine, especially when its other flavours filled out slightly with some air. Nose was very deep and masculine, with sauvage, animale tones or leather and fur along with dark plums and smoky, toasty notes. Palate seemed a little lean compared to the 1983 - or was hat the TCA? Lots of fresh acidity still, with nice fresh cherries, filling out into shades of dark fruit with some depth on them with time. There was a little truncated pause, before the wine moved into the finish, which was a nice, long linger of fruit and meat drizzled with orange peel accents. Nice.

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Flight 4 - Lamb Stew (2 Notes)

  • 1995 Clos des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape 93 Points

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

    The pair of Clos des Papes was quite clearly the strongest red flight of the night. This was excellent. Lots of depth on the nose, with deep meaty scents wed to lush, fruity plums and dried figs, seasoned with spice, eucalyptus, a touch of barnyard and a semi-buried stream of minerality. Muscular, but elegant at the same time. Much the same on the palate - this was still so young! Fresh and lively, yet very full and deep, it had fresh flavours of red cherry fruit, licorice and pepper held up by very fine, but still grippy tannins. Lots of strength on this wine from the attack to the finish, which showed prickly freshness and a long, dry linger of dried fruit notes. This can go on for quite some time yet, picking up complexity along the way. But why wait too long though? It is drinking beautiful now.

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  • 2000 Clos des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape 93 Points

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

    My favourite red of the night by some distance, and the best showing I have had of the 2000 Clos des Papes yet. Still rather monolithic and primary on both nose and palate, this wine obviously has a long way to go, but it is such a beautiful drink even now. Lovely nose, with lots of sweet, sappy cherries and minerals. No confection at all though, just a lovely, natural fruit sweetness, almost perfumed, with plenty of brooding complexity underneath. Again, a little primary on the palate, but with such great purity in its expression of rich red fruit, which went seamlessly from the nose to the palate and into the finish. Nice flecks of spice here and there and, again, that buried complexity. A happy, confidently expressive wine this, with lovely, fresh balance and a nice sense of elegance and focus to its exuberant richness. Finish was wonderfully long, with orange peel tones added to the mix. Gorgeous.

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Flight 5 - Scallops with Prosciutto (2 Notes)

  • 1971 Dr. Bürklin-Wolf Wachenheimer Böhlig Riesling Auslese 94 Points

    Germany, Pfalz

    Deep golden colour. Drop dead gorgeous nose. Full-on botrytis scents for an Auslese, with vanilla, butterscotch, dried apricots and peaches, honey, chrysanthemum and marzipan. Some petrol there, but very much submerged under the rich golden tones. As expected, the palate had lots it sr obe of sweetness, in its place was beguiling elegant and complex panoply of dried apricots, dried figs, haw flakes, and a metallic, oyster shell minerality all held up by fresh acidity in a profound and brilliantly balanced package. Beautiful pairing with the scallop and prosciutto dish. Long finish was packed with metal-flacked oyster shell flavours , some rubbery petroleum and more dried figs. Incredibly good, heaunting wine, but I suspect it is starting to fade. Drink up!

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  • 1976 Schloss Groenesteyn Kiedricher Sandgrub Riesling Auslese 94 Points

    Germany, Rheingau

    A classic Rheinghau Auslese, at its absolute peak and drinking gloriously. Nose was replete with fresh peach, dried apricots, butterscotch and musk, all tumbling out of the glass in a nicely botrytised package. While not as arresting in terms of balance as the 1971 Pfalz we had alongside, this showed plenty of freshness and a whole lot more power with round, delicious flavours just filling the lush, creamy palate - rich stone fruits, figs, vanilla, droplets of rubbery petrol, smokey minerals, orange peel - a very complete wine and absolutely addictive. Finish was perhaps shorter than the 1971, but with very respectable length, with dried figs and smoky caramel rounding off a wonderful wine.

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Flight 6 - Lobster and Lobster Bee Hoon Soup (1 Note)

  • 1990 J. Lauerburg Bernkasteler Bratenhöfchen Riesling Spätlese 93 Points

    Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer

    This went just beautifully with the lobster and lobster bee hoon soup. Still looking as young and freshly coloured as the day it was bottled, the nose had a drop of petrol, a touch of vanilla, a little toasty butter scotch and a nice treacle accent along with rich white fruit. Stunningly young and fresh on the palate, with lots of orange and grapefruit tones tumbling in the mouth. Delicious and impeccably balanced, with lots of underlying depth. Finish was simiarly bright and lively, with snappy acidity bringing the wine to a delicious close.

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Flight 7 - Fruits Platter, Ma Lai Gou and Almond Cookies (2 Notes)

  • 1989 Von Schubert Maximin Grünhäuser Abtsberg Riesling Auslese Nr. 96 93 Points

    Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer

    Another "wow" nose. A drop of pertrol, little bits of earth and then tons of botrytis with beautiful scents of peach, apricots, sweet melons and watermelon. Incredible balance and poise on the palate, which was every bit as gorgeous as the nose, with fresh acid lifting uber-fleshy fruit in the shape of ripe lemons and sweet red apples. Classic Mosel at the finish, with lots of slatey minerals kicking in with the apples. Will gain even more complexity with time I think, but gorgeous even now.

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  • 1990 Bert Simon Serriger Würtzberg Riesling Auslese 94 Points

    Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer

    Incredible nose. Rubber, petroleum, sweet fruits, with pears, honeydew and watermelon, butterscotch, lots of rich honey tones, musk - one cold faint with pleasure after breathing too much of these intoxicating aromas. Lots of focus on the palate after all that, very Mosel, with rich flavours of ripe lemons and red apples from the vintage balance out with fresh acidity and a nice minerality. Finish was still sweet, with caramel tones. But again, lovely balance, with a long fresh pull of the lemon notes. Brilliant, and very young still. Lots of time to go on this one.

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