Hilariously fine drinking with two Peters

Last night the Elitistreview team hosted Peter from Hand-Picked Burgundy and ‘The Kid’ Peter of international consulting fame; we drank extraordinarily well.

The only let-down of the night was that a bottle of Lafon Volnay Clos des Chenes was totally corked. I really love Lafon reds so this was a pain, but HPB Peter had a rather good backup wine so my nerves were soon settled. I was terribly chuffed with how my bottle of Chave Hermitage showed.

We had a slightly minimalist meal but it suited the wines just fine. I roasted a leg of lamb with more skill than the last time I served it almost totally raw (sorry Chris). Editor Daniel’s roast potatoes are always quite brilliant, for them alone goose fat’s existence is justified.

If you fancy a change when cooking green beans just blanche them in hot boiling water for a couple of minutes before draining and transfering to a hot frying pan. Add a little tin of anchovies that have been chopped up, about 5 cloves of crushed garlic and stir fry them togther until the beans are still slightly crisp but just beginning to wilt. They’ll taste delicious.

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Champagne Chardonnay Brut 1996, Pol Roger

The lemon fruit on the nose smells remarkably youthful, there is some toasty maturity but this is really striking me as being quite undeveloped for a 14 year old bottle of fizz. The combination of fruit and that toasty, biscuitty complexity make this a most pleasing bottle of fizz to sniff. But I need a drink after being awake for much too long so I’ll stop sniffing. By arse, 60s student dormitories have less acid than this palate. If it were not for its richly buttered-toast and powerful fruit flavours this would seem rather severe. The balance is just perfect, though, a joy to drink and no rush to finish off any bottles you may have.

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Riesling Spatlese Graacher Himmelreich 1995, Willi Schaefer

This is a slightly worrying shade of yellow/orange, but now I’ve sniffed it it seems I worried for nothing, it is in rude good health. Mature petrolly citrus aromas of marked complexity are here, and it is amazingly slate-themed, so this seems like it has really repaid its time in the cellar. The palate is a fulgurating entity of refined beauty. The acidity is thrillingly vivacious and its fruit, whilst being mature, is totally moreish. Love that minerality. It is just a seriously sapid delight to drink and even a little taste makes you just want more and more. I could drink this all night, but sadly this is HPB Peter’s last bottle. Thanks for sharing, Peter.

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Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru Aux Reignots 2004, Domaine Robert Arnoux

Considering how often we are told that 2004 Burgundy is either green or has the character of crushed ladybirds I am rather pleased with the palpably ripe fruitiness of the nose. Moreover, there is the correct degree of Vosne exotica present here which has slapped a smile charged with aesthetic mirth right across my visage. Just from the nose I’d say this would reward a decent amount of time in the cellar. The palate gives me the same idea as the tannic structure could do with a degree of amelioration. This is not to say it is out of balance with what is quite delicious fruit and restrained but adequately lively acidity. I’ve found Arnoux wines to be slightly on the hard side in the past so it is a pleasant eye-opener how much charm this exudes – it is a properly salubrious bottle of Vosne that would just merit more cellar time.

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Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru les Cras 2002, Domaine G Roumier

Oh lovely, wonderful, beautiful Chambolle, how I love your enchanting jouissance. This is quite a ripe example, though, with a rich panoply of fruit that move toward darkness in tone. These aromas are inter-twined with a distinctly rich earthiness giving an overall impression of refined sophistication, albeit of a marginally large scale. I freaking love this nose, it is suffused with class and style. Tastes rather stylish too; all the wonderful, vaguely floral fruit that infuses it show this to be a very fine bottle of Chambolle that is confidently loquacious about its origins. The tannins are very ripe and silky but do not lack in terms of giving this all the structure it’ll need to last and improve for many years to come. This is just beginning to emerge from middle age and flash its delectable delights, and those delights are joyfully gorgeous. One of the very best Chambolle Cras I’ve had from Roumier, well up to the heady quality heights reached by the 1995, 1999, 2005 and 2009.

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Hermitage 1996, Domaine J-L Chave

Wow, Hermitage rarely smells as unmitigatedly beautiful as this; it is remarkably refined, extremely elegant and stupefyingly sophisticated. The fruit it shows is mellow with mature softness, but does not seem in the slightest bit tiring or shagged-out – plenty of life here. The extreme perfumed beauty this exudes makes me want to revel in the nose for hours, but I’ve got to know if the palate lives up to this sensual gorgeousness or if it suffers from ‘1996 syndrome’. Hooray! Whilst the acid is certainly vivacious, it is far from being extreme or over-whelming, rather balanced in fact. And it is a gloriously balanced, ravishingly attractive palate of total rapture. It has plenty of fruit, slightly mature in character, and an utterly silky tannic structure with stunning persistence of these complex favours on the finish. Certainly mature, but absolutely no rush to drink this elaborate entity of bewitching brilliance.

Bonnezeaux 1997, Chateau de Fesles

This is the best bottle of this astoundingly brilliant wine I have ever had, and it is my last. Previous bottles have been stunning entities of star-bright intensity but this is blowing my mind. This almost limitless beauty leaves me dumbstruck.

  • Thanks for hosting a really fun evening, David. The lamb was delicious, despite your unnecessary self-flagellation. And boy, the wines were indeed, mostly, great. But just one point of disagreement (apart from the “crushed ladybirds” analogy, for which I have no reference points). I’m afraid I didn’t enjoy the Schaefer as much as you did. I thought the deep yellow flavour was fully reflected in the slightly past it taste. I found it rather flabby, and not all there. It was missing acidity, which was perhaps why this had happened. Disappointing.

  • Hi Peter,

    Our tastes are generally aligned it is refreshing to disagree about something for a change. I thought the Schaefer was quite mature, slightly more so that I’d expect from a quality vintage and masterly prodcuer, but it was lively enough with quite enough acidty. It seemed a mouth-watering drink to me. HPB Peter, care to comment?

    You haven’t heard about the 04 ladybirds? Many people claim that in 2004 Burgundy was infested with ladybirds which covered the fruit, made it into the fermentation vats and so were pressed along with the grapes. The result of this, we are informed, is that the final wines have a particularly nasty bitter character. I think out of the 04s we have had I’ve never noticed this so I am not so worried about the ones I own. Jeremy, did you see ladybirds in 04?

    I’m just editing the pictures for last night’s larks before getting down to writing – I loved your Arlaud so much.

  • Guy Dennis

    Can anything compete with Chave Hermitage, other than really good Burgundy, when it comes to wonderful enjoyment? For me it is in a different league to other Northern Rhones, with the possible exception of some Guigal wines that I haven’t been fortunate enough to try. I wish there were more similar but lesser wines for more frequent drinking….

  • When singing, Chave Hermitages are suffused with such exquisitely gorgeous beauty of well-nigh incomparable refinement that vanishingly few aesthetic experiences approach worthiness of mentioning in the same postcode where the brilliance of Chave was witnessed. I got editor Daniel a bottle of 2005 at a distinctly bargain price, but it still so expensive that once it was charged to my debit card my bank manager couldn’t resist cackling with euphoric elation at the prospect of all the bank charges he’d sting me with. Their expensive nature makes me think that will be the last bottle of Chave I’ll ever purchase.

    If you want a really beautiful Rhone wine of finely-honed finesse you should buy some Clusel-Roch Cote-Rotie from a good vintage and age it for 8-10 years. They are compactly constructed wines of carefully carved, completely compelling charisma tuned to ignite the pleasure points of those who seek sophisticated, sculpted, seductive style from their Syrah. Not as good as Chave at their best, but throbbingly good and deeply delectable. Not immoderately priced, either.