"Simple" Midweek Dinner - Variety is the Spice of Life

Giant Garoupa Restaurant

Tasted October 6, 2011 by Paul S with 458 views


This was a rather impromptu gathering, but what a fun night it was. After sorting out some wines for William's charity event, 6 of us (with Pete and Pei Yun, HM and Desmond) headed down the road for a casual dinner at Giant Garoupa. Quite incredibly, of the the 6 blind wines, some of them blends, not a single varietal was repeated. Combine that with two aboslutely unusual Italian wines, this made for quite a variety and a very interesting tasting indeed.

Flight 1 - WHITES (4 notes)

2001 Basedow's Sémillon Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
90 points
A slightly-aged Sémillon from Barossa - how odd. This was a really nice wine though. Yellowish gold in colour, if I was uncharitable, I would say an unhealthy urine colour. Bad thoughts aside though, it had a very attractive nose that could only be old Sémillon - rather nutty at the fore, with scents pof almond nut some hazlenut maybe, a bit of oak and toast, a soupcon of petroleum and then ripe but citrusy lemon notes, a layer of honey, some floral notes and finally a flinty minerality. A really nice nose with plenty of complexity to boot. I guessed it as a mid-nineties Hunter Valley Sémillon on that showing. The palate was telltale second-stage-of-evolution Sémillon as well. Rich and tasty on the attack, with a texture just starting to get a little creamier, it showed a nice bit of dried figgy notes, ripe lemons and a mouthfilling honeyed sweetness on the midpalate. Not great depth - in that sense the palate was rather weaker than the nose - but the wine did have a wafting, flowery perfume that lingered on quite a bit towards the finish just before a serious mineral streak set in. It was haunted by some heat at the edges and, while fresh, it was perhaps not quite as zippy or energetic as its Hunter Valley cousins. But that apart it was actually very nice and at quite a good place for drinking now. I liked this - a real surprise. A very interesting start to the evening and a good foil the first two courses of fried fish skin and cuttlefish-balls as well.
2005 Luneau-Papin / Domaine Pierre de la Grange Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie Le "L" d'Or France, Loire Valley, Pays Nantais, Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine
91 points
Needs plenty of time still, but I enjoyed this quite a bit. A good Muscadet that, rather unsurprisingly, paried extremely well with a dish of live prawns steamed in Chinese wine. A bit clumsy when served too warm, it opened up to show a classic Muscadet nose laden with some lovely chalk and seashell scents, some grassy notes, a touch of white fruit and a bit of lime. The palate, given the lees contact, had a bit of flesh and weight in its shades of white fruit and winter melon. However, past that and it was a pure expression of varietal and terroir, with a minerally midpalate that was a bit saline, a bit savoury, with hits of citrussy lime lacing the white fruit and an oyster-shell-like metallic edge running alongside slightly bittersweet, rather stoney minerality licking at the back-palate. Very elegant, focused and balanced with a bit of character to boot. I liked this. A bit tight on the night, it should be a lot better in a couple of years' time.
2004 Nino Negri Ca' Brione Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio IGT Italy, Lombardia, Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio IGT
90 points
An extemely interesting white from Lombardia, not half bad either. A strange mix of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and white Nebbiolo, this tasted in some parts like an old Burg, in others like an old Bordeaux and still others almost Soave-like. It was certainly well-made and very pleasurable though. For a start, it had an opulent nose - super honeyed on first sniff, and then some oyster shell aromas and slightly oxidative notes of red apples starting to brown, and then some rather pretty accents of flowers and nectar. Interesting stuff.The palate was nice too. Still fresh and very balanced in spite of its yummily rich flavours, it had fresh acidity running through ripe notes of lemons, apples and sweet pear laced with honey and a bit of chalk - extremely Burg-like here actually if not for a waxy richness and rather ripe yellow-fruited notes. An intriguing wine, and surprisingly food friendly too.
White - Off-dry
1989 Wwe. Dr. H. Thanisch (Müller-Burggraef) Berncasteler Doctor Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
93 points
This was absolutely lovely - clearly the WOTN for all of us at the table. A orange-gold colour, almost shading into amber told of quite a bit of age. It had a beautifully developed nose as well. Clearly middle mosel, it showed gentle honeyed notes, white flowers, a touch of nectarine and sweet red apple aromas spiked with a little touch of botrytis. Lovely, and the palate, which was at a beautiful place just now, took off just where the nose left off. With each sip, it melted across the mouth with a very Bernkastel spectrum of vanilla bean flavours, some fig, red apple flesh, some pear, all nicely integrated and held in lovely focus. The wine was clearly from a warm year with its ripe tones - the midpalate was almost edged with a tropical pineapple hint - but it was always beautifully balanced and perfectly poised so that it was glowing with a natural sweetness that was always pleasant but never cloying. Lovely finish as well, with a satisfying length that showed a bit of age in its metally mineral tail. Enchanting stuff. We caught this at the perfect time, and it was delicious. Great pairing with a steamed fish in soy sauce and garlic.

Flight 2 - REDS (2 notes)

2004 Weingut Gottardi Blauburgunder Mazzon Italy, Trentino-Alto Adige, Alto Adige, Alto Adige - Südtirol
87 points
Drinkable but not great. This wine's great achievement was perhaps that it was rather a ringer for a tough Burgundy village - perhaps a Nuit St Georges from a tough vintage like 1998. The nose was somewhat a straddle of the old and new worlds, with sweet ripe fruit aromas reminiscent of red cherries and berries and lots of sweet flower petal notes flecked with just a bit of green. Pretty nice, but the palate was not quite as pleasant for me. This had a slightly musty flavour, a bit of gym socks here I thought, and rather stemmy, herby notes running through its dark cherry notes. Balance was decent, finish had a decent length with a nice earthiness, but it was a bit disjointed and I just could not get past that mustiness. I did not quite know what to make of this.
1990 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Crau France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
92 points
Solid stuff - I enjoyed this very much. It opened with rather sauvage, animale notes on the nose, before those receded slightly to show a bit of white pepper, sweet herbs and spices and a good bit of garrigue sprinkled over a core of red cherry and fresh blueberry scents along with some lifted floral notes and a touch of metally mineral. Some parts of that were classic Southern Rhone armoas, yet others seemed more Burgundian, throwing us off somewhat. After some time though, it was the red fruited Grenache tones that really stood out, with scents of fleshy dark chery fruit at the fore. Very nice. I really liked the wine on the palate too. It was still coated with some dusty teeth-staining tannins, but this had a lovely depth of dark cherry fruit with an undercurrant of sweet plums that emerged with time. Past that, earth, dried herbs and cocoa powder mingled with classic Vieux Telegraphe notes of beef broth and umami notes as the wine strecthed towards the finish. This had all the primary power of the vintage and was clearly developed, yet there was still a rather austere edge to it that suggests that it would do even better 4-5 years down the road. Good stuff.
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