April 12, 2008

A free-flowing evening

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Last night I met up with a few friends for our long-awaited gathering to drink some good wine. As some of them work as wine merchants, we brought along wines which were a bit out of the mainstream for the new experience. The venue was the Legend Concept, a private kitchen which had just moved to its new location in Wanchai. I haven't visited Pian and Andy in a while, but the food quality remained high.

We started with 2 slices of toro, which were a bit more red than I'm used to.  We then had cream of mushroom soup, topped with a dollop of ground black truffles.

Things got more interesting with the pan-fried foie gras, topped with a slice of apple that was not caramelized.  Pink guava sorbet was served to cleanse our palates before the main course. This was a very nice touch.

For main course, Pian served us different plates - three different choices among the seven of us. I got the duck confit - which I remember having from my last visit. This was prefectly fine for me. The skin of the duck has been fried to a crisp in its own fat, which was so aromatic and delicious.

We finished with a slice of chocolate cake.

The main event of the evening of course was the wine.

Interestingly we started with sake - the Fuji Takasago Daiginjo (富士高砂大吟醸) - which was nice and smooth but a little sharper than my normal tastes. Obviously this worked well with the toro.

1997 Verget Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru La Romanee - minerally nose but a bit acidic on the palate for my taste. Not much ripe fruit here. I think I'm too used to new world whites these days...

1997 Sine Qua Non Twisted and Bent - brought this for Elen as she loves all these funky wines from SQN (this one is a blend of 60% Roussanne and 40% Chardonnay). Nose was a bit harsh at first, didn't show well when the wine was too cold. With a bit of warming up and breathing, the wonderful nose of flinty minerals combined with an explosion of rich, buttery taste on the palate. A full-bodied wine with a long finish.

1989 Zind Humbrecht Gewurztraminer Heimbourg Selection de Grains Nobles - I initially brought along this half bottle of dessert wine to finish off dinner, but a suggestion was made to break it open for the foie gras. It was pure nectar, an explosion of lychee, pear and floral notes like rose. Everyone seemed to enjoy this wine and I regret having brought only a half bottle.

2000 Mount Mary Quinet - pretty disappointing. The wine was flat and there was no fruit left. This wine was famously panned by Robert Parker, who gave only 1 vintage a score higher than 80 points. I can see why. I don't remember liking the last vintage I tasted (1996) either...

L'Interdit de Badon Thunevin - here was a wine with an interesting story. During the 2000 vintage, Jean-Luc Thunevin laid plastic on part of the vineyard to prevent the vines from being soaked in rain. This was deemed an illegal practice by the authorities, and consequently wine from this part of the vineyard had to be declassified. Thunevin called it L'Interdit, and was not allowed to vintage date or to label the appellation. It comes with an interesting label. I bought the wine during the en primeur campaign out of pure curiosity, and drank it for the first time.

I had low expectations, but I think most of us were surprised on the upside. The nose was simply classic Bordeaux. The finish was a little short at first, but after the wine opened fully there was loads of smoke, grilled meats, leather and earth. A nice wine to drink considering how little I paid for it, which was 150 pounds for the case.

1997 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Cerretalto - this was a generous contribution, as James Suckling rated this very highly. I didn't like the wine much at first, as I felt the nose showed stewed prunes and generally a hint of having been subject to heat. With more aeration, the nose improved significantly and it was quite enjoyable at the end.

2000 BOND Matriarch - this one was a crowd pleaser, a wine that drank well after sitting in decanter for 2 1/2 hours. Classic Californian with nose of sweet cotton candy and vanilla. Sourced from the winery directly, I was not disappointed by this effort from Bill Harlan.

For the second night in a row I leave a restaurant past midnight. 7 1/2 bottles of wine for the 7 of us...not a bad way to spend Friday evening!

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