September 13, 2008

Burgundian Evening

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I was staying in Hong Kong for the Mid-Autumn Festival weekend, and called out a few friends for a get-together and drinking session. We gathered at the Conrad Hotel's Brasserie on the Eighth, since there were quite a few bottles for the evening, and I knew we would get great service from Alson, Andrew and the crew. We actually had 6 glasses laid out in front of each of us - one for each wine plus the water glass - and it was quite a sight.

We started with a bottle of Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle, the luxury cuvee which is a blend of 3 vintages. I am not sure which three vintages were in this bottle, but it was certainly a good way to start the evening off.

After the Champagne, the first white wine was the 2002 Leroy Meursault 1er Cru Les Blagny. The fruit was very ripe and sweet on the palate, while there was also a good balance of acidity. Toasty oak in the nose came out towards the end.

I started with the Alaskan crab salad with mango and avocado. Crab meat was nice and savory, which turned out to be a good balance with the sweetness of the fruits. I paused and focused on the wines while the others enjoyed their second courses.

The next white wine, which needed a lot of time to warm up from being too chilled, was the 1999 Baron Thenard Montrachet.  Even though none of us knew the Domaine, this was a real treat.  Smoky, flinty and almost steely on the nose.  The wine was pretty ripe on the palate, while again achieving a good balance with the acidity. Just about my favorite wine of the evening.

I chose the duck breast and leg confit with pan-fried foie gras. The foie was not very memorable, but the slices of duck breast were very yummy and medium-rare like I asked for. I took a long time for this dish and the leg was already cold by the time I got to it, but I can still say that it was pretty decent - and a bit better than the confit I had last week in Taipei.

The 1996 Leroy Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Les Combottes was to me classically Leroy. Initially the tannins were still very obvious on my tongue, a bit surprising given that this is only a 1er cru. The nose showed slightly higher acidity initially, but this quickly disappeared and the old familiar Leroy came back, with plenty of sweet fruit and ripe prunes. Not a bad effort. Production of this wine was tiny - 1,461 bottles for this vintage.

The last red was the highly anticipated 1996 Roumier Bonnes Mares.  Prices for Roumier has skyrocketed in the last 18 months, thanks in no small part to the publication of the Japanese wine comic 神の雫 (Les Gouttes de Dieu) - where the 2001 Roumier Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses was chosen as the "first disciple".  Anyway, back to the wine. After a couple of hours in an open decanter, the nose that developed proved to be quite nice, with lots of very sweet red fruits, and very classic Burgundian. However there was something missing there. You can sense that the wine could be so much more. Perhaps we are just drinking it too early. In any event, it was quite a privilege to be able to drink this wine, and I have Michelle to thank for it.

I shared a dessert sampler, and after some espresso and more pleasant conversation - and finishing off the Montrachet - we finally left the restaurant and was the last table to do so...

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