August 29, 2008

Legendary redemption

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A few of us gathered for a casual wine dinner at the Legend Concept tonight. It's been a few months since my last visit, so I wanted to see whether I would catch the chef on a good night. Fortunately, I did.  The general theme tonight for the wines was red Burgundy.

We started with a bottle of Riesling, which was poured out of a Jacob's Creek bottle. Initially I almost wanted to inflict physical harm to the owner of the wine...What was he thinking?! But on the palate it actually tasted nothing like what the crappy Aussie winery was capable of producing. The wine was very sweet on the palate - definitely late harvest. And the nose was full of toasty oak, minerals, and petrol - classic Riesling. As it turned out the owner was playing a trick on me, as the wine was actually the 1999 J.J. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese. An interesting choice as the wine to start with...

Next up was the 1990 Nicolas Potel Pommard 1er Cru Les Pezerolles. Unbelievably, there was massive amounts of tannins for a wine this age, and unfortunately the finish was short. The nose was reasonably elegant, with a bit of fruit still evident. The wine improved with time, but unfortunately it was still my least favorite bottle of the evening.

We moved to the 1994 Leroy Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Les Vigneronds, which was a classic Leroy. There was amazing amounts of sweet fruit in the nose, along with obvious notes of leather. A very powerful wine with a good balance between acidity and tannin. Still going strong after a few hours.

I had some trepidation in opening my bottle of 1990 Armand Rousseau Clos de la Roche. Rousseau wines are known for their elegance and not power, so I thought this would be overshadowed by some of the other wines of the evening. In the end I was pretty happy, as the wine turned out to beat my expectations, especially considering the source of the bottle. This was a classic, elegant Burgundy through and through, with a nose of leather, grilled meats, good amount of sweet fruit (although not powerful like the Leroy), plum and even a hint of mint I thought. There was a good amount of acidity on the palate, but initially the wine faded quickly in the glass. Towards the end, a bit of smoke emerged from the nose. A very enjoyable wine.

The last bottle of red was the 1996 Robert Groffier Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses. A very big wine, my first whiff of the nose showed plenty of sweet caramel, then gradually came a bit of leather. The wine has lots of oomph! and has such concentration and finish. After a couple of hours it did soften a little, but was still going strong. A tough choice between this and the Leroy for the wine of the evening. 

We finished with a half bottle of the 2004 Yves Cuilleron Condrieu Ayguets. This was a big dessert wine, with loads of orange marmalade, apricot, honey and a hint of ripe melon. Very, very enjoyable.

In terms of food, we started with a platter of fruits de mer - consisting of two different types of oysters (one being Tasmanian I believe) as well as Alaskan king crab. The oysters were lean, briney and not creamy and sweet at all. Taste was decent but I felt it did not pair well with the Auslese. The king crab was obviously frozen, and while there was a good balance between the sweetness of the meat and the salt, the texture wasn't quite to my liking.

The soup was a totally regrettable consomme with some vongole and tomato bits. Once again the chef totally failed to deliver on the soup, just like last time. I am still scratching my head about this one... 

However, the chef started to redeem himself on the next course - scallops and spinach baked in pastry. This was a nice blend of the sweet scallop meat with the spinach, accompanied by some alfalfa sprouts. The pastry itself looked (and tasted like) Cantonese cha xiu sou (叉燒酥).

After a scoop of watermelon sorbet to cleanse our palate (unfortunately a little marred by the decision to leave the seeds in the blender), we were served the main course of roast quail stuffed with rice and liver. This was really nicely done, as the cubes of liver and the rice worked well with the bird. The cream sauce, mushrooms and baby pea shoots also worked well together as garnish. Yummy stuff, and much better than what I had on my last visit!

For dessert we had lemon cheesecake accompanied by mango and lobster ice cream. Huh? Well to be honest it actually reminds me of the lobster salad with fresh fruit that you sometimes see during Chinese banquets, except that you now have ice cream instead of mayonnaise...

Overall it was a pretty good meal, and redemption has been achieved...for now. Let's see what happens on my next visit.

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