Given my title for this post I want to make it abundantly clear that my violent illness had nothing to do with lovely Richard and his brilliant cooking. Sometimes my insanity expresses itself in physical terms and I was inordinately unhappy that the trek across London messed with my mind so much that more spew was forthcoming than one might expect to find outside a curry house after the post-closing-time detritus have been slung out. Not only did this hamper my enjoyment of the wine, but also editor Daniel reported the food was of the very highest order and I couldn’t even swallow a mouthful – bugger. Sorry, Richard, we will have to arrange more larks soon (and do please pop and relish the Arlaud we left with you).
Ignoring my manifest failures to function like a normal chap, it was a fun evening. Richard’s other guests were delightful and we hope to talk them into meeting us at restaurant of the moment A La Cruz for big lumps of masterfully manipulated animal. The wines there may not be as grand as those provided by Richard, but there will be far more opportunities for schoolchild-level sniggering when making suggestive remarks about meat. Anyway, to the wines:
Champagne Blanc des Blancs Grand Cru 1998, Clos Cazals (magnum number 253)
First time I’ve tried this fizz and, given my lacklustre experiences with 1998 fizz in general, I’m finding myself rather taken with it. There is a distinct strawberry/raspberry character to the fruit on the nose which is not what I would expect for a pure Chardy fizz. So a bit odd, but certainly pleasing. It also seems to have a creamy mineral character which could well be due to its single vineyard origins. These single vineyard fizzes can often blow apart the suggestion that the greatness of Champagne comes from being a blend of wines from different sites, this nose has bags of winning personality. The palate is has as fine a mousse as one could ask for, with a good tension between fresh fruitiness and more mature mature biscuit flavours. Its reasonably long, and I think the complexity is just fine. As I said, my first experience with this producer and I would not feel put out if I had more in the future.
Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru 2000, Domaine Ramonet
There is always the worry when popping an older bottle of white Burgundy, and as I saw flashes of orange to the colour of the wine as I poured the fear of premature-oxidation was palpable. By arse, I was wrong to worry. The gorgeous panoply of engaging, riveting, alluring aromas that this nose is suffused with convey with sophisticated panache all the brilliance white Burgundy can be capable of. It has incredible layers of lemon and apple fruit intertwined with a powerful mineral character but, even though there is one hell of a lot, and real density, to this nose, it just seems to soar to heady heights on the lightest wings of gossamer. As I’m swirling and smelling its gaining more dimension and its ravishment quotient just boggles my diseased mind. The palate is a joyful interplay between limpid, exciting, fruity flavours, powerful minerality and energetic acidity. The flavours are a kaleidoscope of captivating jouissance – it has an abundance of exactly what it needs precisely where it needs it to keep you thrilled and bewitched as you witness its phenominal progression across your palate. White Burgundy – nay any white wine – is vanishingly rarely better than this.
Gevrey-Chambertin Mes Favorites Vieilles Vignes 2001, Domaine Alain Burguet
This is a bit of an old favourite that I have reported on before. This bottle, I feel, is perhaps showing better than any previous one – its nose has a perfect balance between lively energy and mature soft fruitiness. It is very Gevrey in terms of its set of aromas, but I’d find a hard job nailing it to a particular vineyard; perhaps not unexpected as it is a blend of old vines from various village-level vineyards. Buts it is tits, man, tits-double-plus. The fruit is charming in high-value spades and its rich earthiness is distinctly pleasing. The palate is really silky, with a deep concentration of old vine complexity. This is far from the cheapest village-level wine you’ll find on the market but there are damned few that’ll deliver those pleasure goods quite so satisfyingly. Top kit. I hope I can score a couple more bottles before they all vanish.
Griotte-Chambertin Grand Cru 2001, Domaine Joseph Drouhin
You want me to say this has a cherry character to the nose, don’t you? It does, actually, but not in an overwhelmingly powerful sense. Indeed, the primary character I’m getting from this nose is one of sleek, svelte elegance. For sure, it is complex and all that stuff, but it is the understated beauty which really tweaks my rude bits – the panache, the élan that it shows is superlatively enjoyable. The palate continues this theme of understated sophistication. It lacks nothing in terms of fruit, minerality, tannin or acidity, but that is not how I am thinking about this wine, it just seems a coherent entity of composed, sculpted satisfaction. Top stuff. Richard and I had a little chat about Drouhin wines as I was trying to fight off waves of infeasible nausea and he suggested that, whilst their house style tends toward being a hint neutral, this can allow really good vineyards to flash their wads with real class. The Drouhin wines I have drank most of are Clos des Mouches (red and white) and (because I am an appallingly flash git) Musigny and I think Richard is spot on – the top Drouhin wines are worth anybodies money but further down the pile one might get caught up with excessive yawning. I loved this Griotte-Chambertin unreservedly.
Riesling Auslese Breumel Im Der Mauern 2008, Muller-Catoir
At this point in the evening I was writhing about on the floor moaning and generally being overcome with thoughts of hurling, so I didn’t taste this wine. However, the rest of the team stepped up to the boiler plate and provided the following tasting note which they claim will suit the Elitistreview style just fine. It goes: This wine is like repeatedly being punched in the face by Paddington Bear with boxing gloves made of ultra-concentrated marmalade and ground glass.
Well, I laughed.
Cheers Richard, it was a top evening despite my mind’s best efforts to ruin it. It’d be nice if you could also make it to the A La Cruz mass meat noshing-fest by way of a change from our normally wine-obsessed evenings.