Last night was the final gathering for MNSC this year, hosted by Paulo at the China Club. There was a bit of tension going into the dinner, as there were two of us at the bottom of the rankings, and tonight's results would determine the loser for the year.
Paulo starts us off with some champagne. Not just ANY champagne. We were drinking the 1907 Heidsieck Monopole Gout Americain. This was one of the fabled bottles salvaged from a shipwreck off the Finnish coast, part of the cargo of the Jongpoking en route to Tsar Nicholas II of Russia when the ship was sunk by German U-boat in 1916. The wine had stayed at the bottom of the ocean for 81 years under constant temperature and pressure. I'm not sure how much Paulo paid for the bottle at auction, but recent reported prices were around USD 4,000 per bottle...
We were all curious to see if there was still life in the bottle. Paulo carefully removed the wiring around the cork, and pulled gently. We could hear a faint fizz as the cork was popped. We watched in anticipation as the waiter poured the champagne into flutes and served them to us.
The champagne was lovely. Being gout Americain, it has a higher dosage of sugar than the brut champagnes we normally drink. The result, after years of aging, is a wonderful caramelized nose. There were still some bubbles in the champagne flute, and there was still life left in the wine. The taste was very much that of aged champagne, but more advanced. Very smooth and mellow, it was just delicious. We each poured ourselves a little more and savored this treasure from the sea.
We then proceeded to enjoy the best meal I've ever had at the China Club. The menu was actually full of courses which clashed with red wine and messed up our palates, but everything was just so delicious.
pan-fried tofu skin (香煎腐皮卷)
sauteed giant "glass prawns"（玻璃大蝦球）- this was really delicious and about the size of a hockey puck. With the pungent prawn sauce on the side, this did a lot to kill our palate for wine
supreme pork belly stir-fried with soy sauce（極品醬油泡豬肚片）- delicious and tender
shark's fin stir-fried with crab meat and eggs（蟹肉炒桂花翅）- normally I don't eat sharks fin, but this was just awesome. All the ingredients worked well together
poached pomelo rind with abalone juice and shrimp roe（鮑汁蝦子扣柚皮）- nicely done, but the shrimp roe again detracts from wine
fried eastern star garoupa（生炸原條東星斑)
mutton claypot（枝竹羊腩煲）- very yummy and tender
fried sticky rice（生炒糯米飯）- excellent stuff, I could have eaten two more bowls of this
Now the wines. Turned out the theme was a horizontal of 1976's - Paulo's birth year - arranged in 4 pairs.
1976 Ausone - we all thought this was classically Left Bank...
1976 Rayas - the nose was a bit "funky" and we took it for a Bordeaux...
1976 Comte de Vogue Musigny Vielle Vignes - half of us made the classic mistake of confusing between an old Rhone and an old Burgundy...
1976 Lafite-Rothschild - half of us actually did well and thought it was a Pauillac, although no one guessed Lafite
1976 Paul Jaboulet Hermitage La Chappelle - we all identified the wine as an Hermitage, although only one of us nailed it on the head
1976 DRC Grands Echezeaux - we all knew this was a Burgundy, and most people guessed Echezeaux. This was a classically delicious Burgundy
1976 Petrus - we all got it wrong and thought it was a Left Bank
1976 Guigal Cote-Rotie La Mouline - this was clearly the wine of the evening. It was very, very yummy and the syrah clearly showed. But at least half of us knew it was a syrah, despite guessing it was an Hermitage...
At the end of the evening, the scores were tallied and I came out a bit worse than Alex, which meant that I came last in the rankings once again this year...I couldn't believe that I lost by 0.002 on a 10-point scale!!! Aaargggghhhh!!!!