August 19, 2008

High notes at Highcliff

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Last night Arnold hosted his first MNSC tasting of the year at the Highcliff clubhouse. He had arranged for an outside caterer and we were treated to a Chinese feast which left me very, very stuffed.

Of course, the wines served were also outstanding. The three flights each had a distinctive theme, and the identities of the wines were revealed after each flight.

We started with the 2000 Dom Perignon - the first time all of us had tried this vintage. The nose was very toasty, and the wine was a little "heady" and vibrant due to its young age.

First flight:
1988 Beaucastel - smoky nose of grilled meats, bacon fat but the wine was a bit short on the finish. There was no sweetness at all on the palate, and in fact was a bit acidic while there was still a good amount of tannins you can chew on. 93 points.

1988 Joseph Roty Charmes-Chambertin - the first whiff presented a very explosive sweet nose which disappeared pretty quickly. Afterwards a bit vegetal with distinct nose of green peppers. 90 points.

Second flight:
1989 La Fleur de Gay - nose very sweet, a bit medicinal with acetone notes. The combination pointed to a right bank Bordeaux. Caramel emerged later on. 92 points.

1989 Le Gay - sweet nose but again distinctively right bank Bordeaux. Notes of chocolate emerged with time. 92 points.

1989 La Fleur Petrus - nose was a bit funky with distinct notes of preserved lemon peel (陳皮), a bit sweet on the palate and tannins were pretty evident. 90 points.

Third flight:
1998 Rayas - an explosive sweet nose, with lychees all over and clearing up your sinus...lots of tropical fruit. Sweet on the palate, too. If this weren't the telltale combination for a Rayas, I would wonder if we were served a red dessert wine... Color was surprisingly light and the rim was already orange, misleading us about its age. 99 points for this wonderful bottle.

1998 Beaucastel Hommage a Jacques Perrin - very farmy with nose of smoky, grilled meats. Tannins very firm. Very distinctively Beaucastel. Delicious now but I'm sure it would only improve with age. 98 points.

We also had many courses of wonderful Chinese food. We started with giant "glass" prawns (玻璃蝦), which were very juicy and firm. I stayed away from the oyster or prawn sauce so that my palate wouldn't get messed up for wine.  Next up were little "omlettes" of pan-fried bird's nest with egg white and crab meat. These were pretty delicious with nice texture.  The stir-fried fish cubes with celery was next, followed by a wonderful pan-fried chicken. Then there was the delicious deep-fried spare ribs with garlic and chilli, which I really enjoyed.

The bowl of braised beef brisket with turnip (清燉蘿蔔牛腩) was exquisite, with really soft tendons. I couldn't help but have a second bowl of the char siu fried rice, since it was done so well and the rice grains so chewy. I'm pretty full at this point, but finish the delicious bowl of almond milk with lotus seeds and bird's nest (蓮子燕窩杏仁茶). I normally don't go for almond milk but somehow this seemed the perfect way to finish the meal.

After gorging myself on the wonderful selection of fruits, I decide that I couldn't fit anything more in my tummy, and bid farewell to the host and the other guests. I think next time I should turn down the second bowl of fried rice, regardless of how yummy it may be...

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