Ten days before Christmas 2021 Team Elitistreview hosted Charles and Alex for a light lunch. They were very forgiving of us forgetting to put our lunch roast chicken into the oven before they arrived – I think this is because they got an extra bottle of fizz out of it!
Notes will necessarily be brief, if it is possible to write them at all for a couple of the wines, but I hope to communicate that we drank amazingly well!
Champagne Assemblage ‘Dans un premier temps…’ , Dhondt-Grellet
Heard of these people? Neither had I, but you should. This is a non-vintage Champagne based on the 2016 vintage with 30% reserve wines selected from vintages going back to 1986.
A commanding, powerful set of toasty, autolytic aromas on the nose. It is deep and broad with the character of fully mature Champagne of prodigious scale.
It is very weighty on the palate with a dazzlingly complex set of profound, mature flavours. This shows itself as a Pinot-dominated fizz that has been boosted by reserve wines of real quality. They have power and dimension to have not only survived but blossomed and became more characterful as they have aged.
Quite wonderful, and this wine is the bottom of end of the wines Dhondt-Grellet make. I really loved it and will seek out more from this producer.
Vintage Champagne 2009, Gratien
There is a lot of ripe, delicious fruit on the nose, but it also has poise and a direct focus to the aromas. There are plenty of autolytic characteristics as well. This is a very satisfying nose, not as complex or classy as the 2008, but nonetheless this is clearly quality fizz.
The palate also shows a dichotomy between delicious, ripe fruit and precise directness. It has a great mousse and texture, good acidity levels and has excellent length.
It is easy to be sniffy about 2009 Champagne, as they tend to be a little heavy and ripe fruit-dominated, but this one is balanced, stylish and a cracking drink!
Wild Rose sparkling wine 2018, Black Chalk
Lots of red fruit that is most engaging, there are hints of black fruit too. Hampshire sparkling wine should be fruity and this does not fail in that department. I love this stuff.
Explosively fruity palate with an impressive energy to it, The mousse is fine and it has very good length with a satisfying, taut chalky grip on the finish. The faculence of the finish, indeed the whole palate, is charged with the brightness of the fresh hedgerow fruit. Delicious.
Old Vines Groendruif 2020, Naudé Family Wines
This is made from Semillon Gris vines that were over 80 years old when this wine was made. There is no foul ‘orange wine’-style skin contact so the wine is a star-bright, pale green rather than having any pinkish (or orange) hue.
Wow, what a nose! Lanolin is charged with explendency by energetic glisks of bright lemon fruit. There is more: aromas of melon, apple, gunpowder, nettles and more wax and wane, all whilst showing the nigh-limitless depth of complexity and broad power that is a result of old vines.
The mineral, terroir-y aromas are strong, permeating the fruit with aromas of powdered rock. God lord (Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare if you cannot think of one), this is an utterly fabulous nose.
The palate is extremely refined, elegant and poised, whilst having the depth and power imbued by old vines grown in a special place. It is extremely energetic and charged with life.
Complex, intricate flavours tumble across your palate giving an impression of extreme sophistication. Cripes, even though it is so vivacious and elegant it is a real mouth filler – those old vines again.
This is really special. Drink it now with an enormous amount of pleasure and mind-boggling engagement, age it for ten years and be transfigured by its intensity, labyrinthine complexity and sheer quality.
And it is only 12.5%!
Bandol Cuvée Speciale la Miguoa 2000, Domaine Tempier
Paul Day, the master at whose feet I learned to taste incredibly fine wine, recently suggested that Bandols such as this may as well be drank on release. No, Paul. No! This showed they blossom given enough time.
Soft scents of dark fruit mellowed by age, grilled meat, earth and flowers permeate the air around where the wine has been poured. For a 14.8% wine this smells more refined and perfumed rather than seem a big, rustic bruiser. Really delightful, very charming.
The palate is structured but the tannins melt in the mouth, there is a good thread of acidity entwined around them. 20 years ago this would have been a tannic monster, with age it has become a softly spoken wine of beautiful structure.
It has plenty of soft, plummy fruit, meaty and leathery flavours too. The floral scents suffuse your nasal cavity as you swirl this around your mouth. It is both really charming and intellectually engaging with its dazzling complexity. Wonderful.
Perfectly mature at 21-years-old, but there is no rush if you have a good cellar.
Cornas 2015, Gilles
Olerasay 1, Mullineux
Not Tonight Josephine 2020, Duncan Savage
Nec plus ultra.
Two of us preferred one, the other two the other, but when you are dealing with wines of such transcendental quality, just feel lucky to taste them and do not feel the need to compare.
Thank you, Charles, for the Dhondt-Grellet!
Thank you, Alex, for the Olerasay!
What a fabulous line-up! I can’t wait to see what you guys drink for Christmas proper!
It was a rather fun afternoon.
I’ll have to disappoint you about Christmas, we usually mix cocktails!
And thank YOU Davy and Dani for your generous hospitality and extremely sympathetic food. It’s true that to get the best from a wine you have to have the right accompaniments – both comestible and sociable – and I couldn’t have wished for better!
Your tasting notes sum up the wines so well.
Life is Good!
We were really happy to host you both, Alex, we couldn’t have wished for better company for a pre-Christmas booze-up! The social-part, as you say, was not lacking. I’m also pleased you approve of my notes.
Shame about that Cornas, it should have been marvellous.
Life is, indeed, very good. Wonderful, in fact.
Lovely notes! Thanks for sharing – looks like a superb lunch.
Oh thank you, I’m pleased you like the notes! Not my usual essays…
It was an awful lot of fun!
A great write up. Amazed the Olerasay was not the unanimous wine of the lunch and even more surprised that the Savage wine was favoured by two of you. Suspect I know which two :). What a bummer that the Cornas was corked . Happy Christmas Davy and Dani. Cheers `Keith
Thank you for dropping by, Keith! A Happy Christmas to you too! I hope you will not suffer too much in the nice weather in South Africa😉
Not that it really matters, as we all thought them truly amazing, but Charles and Dani preferred the NTJ and Alex and I the Olerasay. As I say in the article, we would have felt lucky to try either, two was an amazing treat!
And yes, what a swine that Cornas was corked, it should have been superb. Gilles is so hip a grower he has an extra buttock!