The Tasting Panel magazine

JUNE 2011

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 22 of 132

STEVEN SPURRIER’S LETTER FROM LONDON A Great Dinner O ver the years I have been fortunate enough to attend many great wine dinners, but few have come near that served at One Lombard Street in the City of London, as a guest of two City financiers whom I had met a few weeks earlier at a Domaine de la Romanée-Conti evening. The wines were from their considerable cellars, with thought to present not only great bottles, but also a seamless flow of continuous comparison. With the canapés came two perfect champagnes: a simply beautiful Salon 1996, both crisp and creamy with endless depth and an extraordinarily delicate Jacques Selosse NV Rosé, with the bubbles enhancing but not interfer- ing with its soft purity. A fascinating Zind-Humbrecht 1996 Riesling Rangen de Thann Clos Saint Urbain accom- panied tuna carpaccio with oriental spices: amber gold, almost botrytised, cracklingly sweet with a rich dry finish. Artichoke and wild mushroom salad, caramalized sweetbread with pumpkin seed oil followed with a Kistler 2006 Chardonnay Stone Flat Vineyard, very rich both in colour and flavour, a sort of tropical Bâtard-Montrachet. This led into the “real thing” with a fricassé of lobster and turbot with Chablis and tarragon velouté; Domaine Leflaive 2002 Chevalier-Montrachet, whose clear and precise almost “taffeta” fruit and superb length outclassed the Marc Colin 2002 Montrachet, a lush, rich wine that didn’t evolve much in the glass. For the next pair of wines to match a Barbary duck with Szechuan pepper sauce, we stayed in Burgundy, with two Romanée-Saint-Vivants from the under- rated 2000 vintage. That from Sylvain Cathiard, still young with a beautifully silky texture, almost sexy with perfect harmony, was the “girl” of the two, the “boy” being Robert Armoux’s broader, spicier, more robust but less elegant bottling, the table’s preference being the former. With tournedos Rossini—the helpings were of a perfect 22 / the tasting panel / june 201 1 small size, but large enough to savour and linger over—came Château Pichon- Comtesse de Lalande 1986, still incred- ibly young, smoky and spicy, a Dorian Gray of a wine, mixing cedar box and coffee essence over a supple, dry finish. Yet this was outclassed, at least for me, by a magnificent Vega Sicilia 1998 Único with jugged venison, the stag having been shot by the chef: superbly dense in colour, incredibly rich, youth- fully fresh, totally grand and totally living up to its reputation. After this, with a selection of cheeses, Henschke’s 1999 Shiraz Hill of Grace, from vines planted in 1860, managed to stand up honourably well, with dense richness over chalky tannins, its spicy elegance benefitting from being decanted five hours prior to serving. Finally, accompanying a feuillantine of caramalized Granny Smith apple with Guinness ice cream, came Château d’Yquem 1988, bright amber gold, the same colour as Zind-Humbrecht’s Riesling, with aromas of orange peel and huge energy, concentration of sweetness on the palate and great controlled length. What an evening! Those who might think 12 wines over a single dinner excessive would have been overwhelmed, as was I, at the dinner for L’Académie du Vin de Bordeaux on April 5 during the “en primeur” week. Here no fewer than 69 wines—eight white Graves, 49 Graves/ Médoc/Pomerol/Saint-Emilions, 12 Sauternes—were on offer from vintages ending in 1, down to 1961, many in grands formats. The 200 or so lucky members and their guests could take their pick from the bottles open on a vast buffet, while every table was served the First Growths Château Haut-Brion 1971 white, still showing freshness and balance, a vigourous Château Mouton- Rothschild 1991 from magnums, an incredibly youthful Château Latour 1981 from double magnums and a simply perfect Château d’Yquem 2001. Another great evening. PHOTO: DECANTER

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Tasting Panel magazine - JUNE 2011