May 12, 2007

A Week of Memorable Wine Dinners

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Last week was amazing as far as wines regular group, MNSC, had two tasting dinners within the same week, including a 40th birthday celebration.

Monday Paulo hosted his tasting in the private area of his gourmet shop, Classified. We had a number of interesting and delicious dishes, but the real story, of course, was the wine. Here's what we had:

1967 Gaja Barbaresco - this was OK but we were not impressed, scoring it below 90 points.

1967 Latour - this was slightly better but again not a great wine.

1953 Marques de Riscal Riserva - most of the others complained about this being "Madeira-ed" and felt it was off, but I, being a great fan of Madeira, actually really loved it. By popular demand we excluded this from our normal scoring.

1953 Canon - we could tell that this wine was fully mature as well, and scored it a bit above the '67 Latour.

1955 Inglenook Cab - none of us had any idea what this was and we all guessed it was Spanish...

1955 Cheval Blanc - this was certainly the wine of the evening! We gave it an average of 95 points

1969 Charles Noellat Romanee Saint Vivant - it's always nice to drink a very old Burgundy, especially one from a great vintage such as '69. Surprisingly the color was not as light as I would expect. This property was subsequently sold to Domaine Leroy.

1969 Paul Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle - this is the oldest La Chapelle I've ever had, and very enjoyable.

Kevin hosted his big birthday dinner for 60 of his friends at Azure, and brought a few of his cult Californian wines to share before dinner. I arrived late and missed most of it, but did manage to taste the Fisher Millenium (vintage 1997 released for 2000) as well as the 1997 HL (Herb Lamb Vineyard, the source for Colgin's first wine). Both were quite interesting and kinda made up for the 1996 Harlan Estate, 1997 Dalla Valle Maya, 1997 Araujo Cab Eisele Vineyard...that I missed.

During dinner, Kevin served the Mer Soleil Chardonnay, followed by both the Cab and the Merlot from Blankiet Vineyards, all from magnums (don't remember the vintages). To top it all, there was an imperial of 1988 Mouton-Rothschild. I must say I much preferred the Blankiet to the Mouton...

This was the much-anticipated dinner, as Kevin pulled out all the stops for his 40th. Dinner was at Caprice and the food was excellent as usual.

The white asparagus and crayfish fricassée with quail egg au plat, arugula salad in yabby jus was a nice way to start.

The Mediterranean frog's legs and tomatoes a la vierge with light fennel purée was simply delicious!

The lightly breaded frog's legs were great to nibble on.

The warm duck foie gras with red berry panache, pistachio nuts and young spinach salad was very yummy, followed by the very interesting morel mushrooms fricassée with roasted gnocchi and sorel emulsion.

The main course was baby lamb rack with poivrade artichokes, barigoule vegetables and natural jus and was very, very tender.

Cheese was delicious as usual, including the nice Comte.

The dessert of black and white chocolate geometry with tonka bean sauce and coca sorbet was devoured in a hurry.

But what about the wines?! The bottles were all wrapped in tin foil, all Bordeaux-shaped, and opened just prior to serving. We knew they were going to be old, and were pleasantly surprised at what they were:

1945 Grand Puy Lacoste - a very good wine from this stellar vintage, and demonstrates why GPL holds such a special place among lovers of Bordeaux

1945 Beychevelle - also a wonderful wine and we scored it slightly higher than the GPL

1947 Margaux - we knew this was a step up from the last flight, and really enjoyed this pair. I noted the hint of grass in the nose so I was able to guess that this was a Margaux

1947 Palmer - as enjoyable as the Margaux

1953 Figeac, ex-chateau - this was an awesome wine and all of us loved it. Wine of the evening for the group as a whole with an average score of 97 points

1953 Angelus, ex-chateau - I thought this was even better than the Figeac and gave it 98 points. These wines just taste incredibly fresh and you would never guess they are 50 years old

1981 Sassicaia - I thought this was an awesome wine with lots of rich, sweet fruit. I never would have guess this was an '81...and scored it 98 points

1985 Sassicaia - I was glad to have finally tasted the legendary '85, which is now going for around GBP 900 a bottle. As delicious as this was, I actually rated the '81 better! And to think that the '81 cost less than 1/10 of the '85...guess I'll be buying lots of the '81!!!

Kevin certainly outdid himself and lived up to the standard set by Paulo at his 30th birthday tasting. I guess the next big one (in terms of birthdays) will be mine in 2010...

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