November 3, 2008

An evening with Matthew Jukes

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OK, OK...I know I stole the title from Quintessentially Wine, for whom Matthew works. But it works... Anyway, Matthew was in town again and organized a tasting at Crown Wine Cellars. After skipping all the previous events to which I was invited, I finally agreed to attend and support my friend.

I have used Crown Wine Cellars to store my wines for a few years now, but I have never had an opportunity to dine at the clubhouse. I thought the food was OK - not outstanding but of reasonable quality.

Pan fried sea scallop with wine ripened tomatoes, topped with a saffron dill dressing - the dressing was very fragrant and lovely, but unfortunately there was just the one scallop...

Pan fried Australian beef tenderloin glazed with Marsala and serve with Italian homestyle roasted potatoes - the beef was indeed tender, but somehow tasted different. I guess I still prefer the taste of US beef.

Cheese platter Tarte tatin aux pommes & vanilla ice cream - a wonderfully wafer-thin tarte tatin. It disappeared from my plate in no time.

Now the wines...there were 12 wines in all - 1 Champagne, 5 whites, 5 reds and a dessert wine. The line up was interesting as promised, and included quite a few eye-openers.

NV Ayala Brut Majeur 'Extra Age' - toasty, yeasty and a bit acidic on the palate. I would have liked to have tasted this a bit more, but needed to switch over to the whites... Should pit this special cuvée against some other NV Champagnes to see the difference.

2003 Ostertag Pinot Gris Zellberg - nose was initially muted as th wines were just too cold. Floral, bananas with a hint of wet chalk. A little rie on the palate with a sharp alcohol finish. As the wine warmed up and opened there were also mineral notes on the nose.

2006 Taille Aux Loups Montlouis Sec Rémus - lots of tropical fruits like coconut, banana and a little toasty - with a surprising dry finish given how hot the nose is. A nice Chenin Blanc.

2005 Jean-Claude Bessin Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume - huge and punchy nose, very steely, smoky and flinty...kinda not what I was expecting. On the palate, it was interesting that there was a start and a finish, but pretty much nothing in the middle!

2005 Lis Neris Fiore di Campo - a very funky wine, with a big, pungent nose of blue cheese and plastic. There is a lot of heavy, toasty oak here with a hint of sweetness and lemon. Not really what I was looking for in a white. Matthew suggested that there is some durian in the nose, but myself and a Singaporean guest beg to differ.

2004 Lusco do Miño Albariño Pazo Pineiro - lots of tropical fruit like tangerine, pineapple and a bit of green apple. A little bit tart on the finish, but a very enjoyable wine.

2004 Domaine des Saumades Châteauneuf-du-Pape - nose of ripe prunes, black cherries and very sweet. Stewed prunes and sweet dates emerged later. Tannins are firm here and I think this wine needs another few years of aging, which is quite surprising for something that is 100% Grenache.

2004 Cigliuti Barbera d'Alba Campass - an explosive nose of sweet fruits that kept on giving. Grippy on the palate with firm tannins. This was my second favorite red but needs a couple of more years in bottle.

2004 Jorge Moreira Poeira - made by the winemaker at Quinta de la Rosa (which I visited in 2006), the wine had tons of minerals, iron, chocolate and red fruits in the nose.

2004 Giaconda Shiraz Warner Vineyard - what a surprise! Here is an Aussie shiraz that, in a blind tasting, I would place as a Cote-Rotie any day of the week. Classic Cote-Rotie nose with only the faintest hint of the floral nose from the Viognier, with grilled meats, smoke and bit of that farmy nose. Very smooth and round tannins on the palate. Definitely my favorite wine of the evening.

2004 Frog's Leap Merlot - an interesting wine as I wouldn't have pegged it for a Californian Merlot. Sweet, red fruit nose with lots of smoke, almost Bordeaux-like. Only slightly sweet on palate which is deceptive.

2005 Larredya Jurançon Moelleux Cuvée "a Capcèu" - nose of mandarins, orange marmalade, ripe melon, acetone and honey.

Once again I was pretty toasted by the end, but happy to have discovered a few gems this evening!

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