Last week a select few of the wine taster illuminati who were at Oxford contemporaneously with me travelled from far-flung corners of the world to meet at Hawksmoor for quality meat, fine wine and, it seemed, a rather large amount of discussion about being a father to a young child. Even though I felt deeply unqualified to join in such discourse (owning a cat doesn’t count) it was delightful to see the chaps again and indulge in superior wine escapades whilst consuming the barely-grilled flesh of pampered animals. I’ll précis the food first if that is alright.
Once again Hawksmoor provided victuals that tickled me to a florid state of high-lighter pink. As usual, I started with some Tamworth pork belly ribs which surpassed even the normally exalted standard they achieve at Hawksmoor. They were rich with piggy flavour and yieldingly tender. The flavours of the ribs’ spice treatment harmonises synergistically with the luxuriant pork character to result in a preposterously pleasurable entity of gustatory wonder. I may just order ribs there again…
My exceedingly rare sirloin steak with two fried eggs and some bone marrow followed after an apposite pause. I’m sure my long-term reader will know by now that I think Hawksmoor’s sirloin is in a privileged echelon in the ambit of steaks. They are as tender as fillet steak but with much more flavour. Fried eggs are an inspired combination with steak and surely there is no one in the world who would turn down the offer of well-prepared bone marrow. It cannot be denied that Hawksmoor is London’s best meat restaurant; their bits of muscle manifestly come from happy animals. I’m happy to eat them so it is an even-handed covenant for all parties involved. Now, the wines:
Champagne Brut Chardonnay 1988, Pol Roger
Pol make one of my favourite blanc des blancs Champagne, as I sniff this it its is abundantly clear why; it is throbbing with class. There are certainly mature characters to how it smells, but this is an ‘experienced’ gent who bicycles 30 miles every day type nose, not some knackered old fart that goes to sleep on the floor after falling out of bed. Good lemony fruit and buttered toast aromas too. The palate has a soft, fine mousse and an array of developed yet lively flavours. By arse this is long. A delicious bottle of fizz that had aged in a pleasingly mellow style.
Champagne Blanc des Noirs ‘Les Ursules’ , Cedric Bouchard/Roses de Jeanne
The nose is exceptionally stony. This expression of where it comes from, the earth, is more pronounced than any other Champagne I’ve tried. There is some good apple/pear fruit as well. This is a very wine-y nose, apart from the gas it is not incredibly Champagne-like in style. It is not amazingly fizzy, either, the mousse is fine and polished. Indeed, the whole palate seems like a sophisticated, rounded, refined wine that just happens to have a few bubbles in it.
Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru Gruenchers 1995, Domaine Dujac
Hermitage 1995, J-L Chave.
Yes, oh yes, I love this wine and revelling in its earthy, dark fruit nose is just making me grin like a fool; I’d climb in the glass if I could. This bursts with sophisticated, complex, stylish aromas which do not lack Hermitage manliness. It is a delight. Its tannic structure has softened a bit with age, but it still has a satisfying supporting role in keeping the palate vigorous rather than soupily loose-knit. There are a melange of dark, ripe fruit flavours and more than a suggestion of opulent earth, all of which add to its multifarious character. It is really long. This is drinking very, exceedingly, well now, but no rush; it’ll live a long time in a good cellar.
Riesling Auslese Breumel in den Mauern 2008, Muller-Catoir[link2post id=”68″]I had this at the start of April[/link2post] and bleeding-well loved it; this bottle shows my judgement was not clouded that evening. It is an amazing wine of power and intensity, whilst being finely balanced and bursting with lewdly debauched life. This is a wine that picks you up and shakes you around before giving you a light peck on the cheek and handing you a flower. Crazily top stuff.
Nice to see you all, chaps. Even though I was knackered and generally shagged out after no sleep I had a pulsingly good time. Many thanks for the wines and many thanks to Hawksmoor for delivering the meaty goods.