October 8, 2010

Drowning in the Rhône

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Another gathering with the Winos, this time to celebrate another birthday.  Dinner was arranged at Tubino and corkage was waived, so it looked like a really good deal.  We actually set a theme for tonight, and everyone brought something from the Rhône Valley.  I decided not to participate in the semi-blind tasting, and ended up being responsible for pairing the wines together.

Beef carpaccio - the beef was pretty good.

Lobster bisque - nice bits of lobster in the bowl.  The only thing is that too much flour was used and the soup was a little too thick for my liking.

Prawns risotto with wilted spinach - I was pretty surprised to find the risotto black, but it was done well - al dente but not quite runny.  The prawns were good.  But what's the deal with that huge sprig of rosemary?  Totally unnecessary and distracting.

I didn't stay for dessert, since I was already too full and drunk...  So what did we drink?

2002 Gonet-Medeville La Grande Ruelle - this small production blanc de noirs was very very yummy.  Prominent nose of minerals, yeast, lemon, slight hint of caramel giving sweetness, gooseberries... Very fragrant and beautiful.

1997 Chapoutier de L'Orée - for some reason I've always had trouble with this wine... and once again it was too cold when we opened the bottle.  Straw notes and very ripe and hot on the palate.  Much later the nose turned chalky.  Not a good thing...

2000 Rayas - notes of tea, tropical fruits, violet and floral, bacon fat, smoked meats and pine needle.  Color was incredibly light for a wine that is still relatively young.  Syrupy.  If I didn't look at the color, I would have figured it to be Guigal's La Mouline.  The classic telltale lychee notes of Rayas were curiously absent.  A very beautiful wine, and most certainly my wine of the evening by far.

1995 Château de Fonsalette Cuvée Syrah - while the wine was also made by Rayas, the difference between the two bottles was like night and day.  Even thought this was an older wine, its color was much, much darker thanks to the Syrah, and the wine was much more powerful, even a little sharp in terms of alcohol.  Nose was a little minty.

2001 Chapoutier L'Ermite Rouge - notes of forest, potpourri, smoke and coffee.  Once again, a prestige cuvée 100-point Chapoutier that didn't even come close to wowing me.

2002 Two Hands Ares - kicked Chapoutier's butt... spicy, sweet and syrupy, very typical Aussie Shiraz... ripe prunes, blackberries, then turned herbal and medicinal - like Chinese 涼茶, and a little coconut butter.  Yes, I do appreciate high-octane Aussie Shiraz...

2000 Guigal La Landonne - pretty minty and fruity.  Nose wasn't as open as its sibling, which was to be expected.  After all, the pair is still relatively young at 10 years of age!

2000 Guigal La Mouline - some fruit in the nose, a little more floral than its sibling, with some sweetness and bacon fat.  Even a little sharp on the nose.  Amazingly, this wine actually paled in comparison to the Rayas from the same vintage.

2003 Pegau Cuvée da Capo - very powerful and alcoholic.  Still needs more time to develop.

1998 Pegau Cuvée da Capo - I brought this bottle to match the 2003, knowing there was a little risk involved.  I bought the wine on release from a reputable London broker, and hand-carried it back from London one winter several years ago.  The first bottle I opened a few years ago was cooked.  Very obvious heat damage.  So I brought this bottle with some trepidation.  This bottle was not cooked, but corked.  Very prominent vegetal nose.  We asked the restaurant for some cling wrap, swirled it in the glass to let it absorb TCA.  While the others thought it worked well, I still smelled nothing other than vegetal notes in my glass... Oh well.  What a huge disappointment!

2005 Pibranon - I got nothing out of the muted nose.

2007 Clos des Papes - I couldn't get anything out of the nose other than minty notes.  Either the wine wasn't open enough, or my olfactory abilities had been shot by this point thanks to the amount of alcohol I consumed.  I vote for the latter...

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