It seems Hawksmoor is our favourite restaurant in London at the moment; it is certainly London’s best meat restaurant. They indubitably delivered the goods when celebrating Non-Stinky Jeff’s birthday, providing wonderful bits of grilled animal. I recommend Tamworth belly ribs followed by a hilariously rare sirloin steak with two fried eggs, bone marrow and macaroni cheese. So, the wines:
Savennieres ‘Cuvee d’Avant’ 2005, Chateau de Chamboureau
This nose is really bold and brazen in its statement that I’m about to be drinking a bloody big wine. It is massive! There are a lot of baked apple fruit, compelling stoniness and plenty of rotten wood/wet dog aroma here. Certainly a nose of enough personality and general whacked-out craziness to be a properly impressive bottle of Savennieres. Yes, the palate is a large-scale mouth-filler with layers of dense flavour kept lively by a stomach-smarting thrill of acidity. I suppose it is sort of fruity, but that is not really the kind of character I search for in Savennieres. I want terroir–driven minerality and a weird collection of slightly mouldy favours which might not sound nice but actually but actually bring new interest and pleasure to the white wine experience: this wine delivers these characters impeccably. Drinking well now but really no rush.
Champagne ‘les Ursules’, Roses de Jeanne/Cedric Bouchard
Buttered bread and a Pinot Gris-like rich fruitiness to the nose. There is an obvious stony/earthy character to it as well. It smells extremely complex, very vinous and really frightfully pleasing. The palate is rather dense for a Champagne but its flavours are all in total harmony. Lovely fine, delicate mousse to it, some redcurrant fruit complete with redcurrant acidity. Delivers pleasure in high-value spades; one bottle is just not enough.
Pinot Noir ‘Woori Yallock’ 2008, Mac Forbes
Cripes, the nose! Even by the terribly alluring standards of Pinot Noir noses, red wines don’t often smell more enticing than this. The fruit is throbbingly attractive and utterly refined in a come-hither style that just pleads you to jump in and ravish it. So I will. Ah, as a lover of harmonious and elegant wines this palate squeezes my pleasure centres in all the best ways. Lovely winsome fruit with a fine acidity and I’ll swear there is a distinct minerality to it as well. This may not be the cheapest Australian Pinot, but by arse you’ll not find a better, more pleasurable one. Top kit.
Gevrey-Chambertin ‘Mes Favorites Vieilles Vignes’ 2001, Alain Burguet
A bold nose that clearly shows old-vine concentration, there is a real depth to its fruit. Elegance and class are there as well, this is a village wine of serious quality. Yum, I like the nose and I’ll like drinking it. There are some pretty big tannins on the palate, but they seem ripe and seductively silky. More than enough fruit here to match its tannins, certainly, and it really persists to give it a long and appealing finish. Ripe for drinking but I feel this has many more years of delight-dealing life yet; village wine which is pretty much as good as it gets.
Cornas ‘Billes Noires’ 2005, Domaine du Coulet
One sniff of this and I know it is going to be good with the meat I’m noshing on; 55-day aged rump steak of particularly serious quality, I feel like adding. The fruit aromas are very ripe and dark with powerful earthiness and an obvious Cornas rusticity. This has a masculine personality and genuine concentration to its nose. As I’m chewing and tasting this I’d say there is a masculine essence to it in the mouth as well, but I imagine my less chaste readers would think I am being concupiscent. It is highly tannic and, even though they are very ripe, there is an evident gnarly edge to them. This is not a problem as when drinking Cornas we crave a little rough, wouldn’t you agree? There is certainly scale here, the palate is puissant in its dark fruitiness and rugged tannins, but as I’m drinking this I don’t feel the tiniest bit over-whelmed or shagged out; ultimately it has the consonance to slip down a treat. Really satisfying finish. Needs a bit more time, if truth be told, and I imagine it’ll age for many years yet in delectable style. Given this is the first time I’ve imbibed this producer’s offerings I would feel safe recommending the experience and will keep my eyes peeled should I encounter more.
Silvaner Beenenauslese Iphofer Kronenberg 2006, Hans Wirsching
I love the shape of these Franken bottles. I think they make a nice change but one of our number is a bit sniffy about them; he is not writing this blog, though, so we’ll leave the bottle shape’s status as ‘approved’. Incredible botrytis action on the nose, apricots-a-go-go. There is also a vivid earthiness to it which boosts the complexity of this nose into something really worth an analytical sniffing. Yeah, the interplay between fruit, botrytis and vineyard character is more than adequately thought-provoking. Crivens, it is sweet, almost tooth-achingly sweet. However, acidity, once again, is our friend in this wine. There is an almost wincingly high level of it which provides perfect balance making for a remarkably moreish and unexpectedly refreshing sweetie. There is a creamy minerality in attendance as well. Definitely the best Silvaner I’ve had and an acutely enjoyable sweet wine. Drink it now, boys and girls, and it will provide much gratification.
Happy birthday Jeff!