November 10, 2009

Dinner with Krug Champagne, 2009 edition

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Tonight I was invited to a dinner hosted by Krug Champagne for the clients of my regular wine shop.  The venue was Plateau at the Grand Hyatt, which was interesting.  Margareth Henriquez, Président Directeur Général of the House of Krug, was in attendance and introduced each of the wines.

We started the evening with Krug Grande Cuvée, which has always been one of my favorites.  The nose was beautiful and open, full of toasty oak - a little heavy at first - along with limestone, minerals, and whole grain bread... The wine was ripe on the palate at first, and the finish was very long and slightly acidic.

The wine was paired with the amuse étagère, which came with three different layers much like the traditional English afternoon tea set:

Blue swimming crab and avocado salad with watercress Keta caviar mascarpone - the dressing was a little sour for my taste, but otherwise pretty good stuff.

Pan-seared Atlantic scallop, Jerusalem artichoke mousse and crisps - the scallops were yummy...seared to just the right level so that the whole thing was still soft and juicy, and was slightly smoky. The artichoke mousse was light and ever so slightly on the sweet side.

Sea urchin crème brûlée - this was not so great.  Sea urchin of course has pretty strong flavors, and you tend to leave some of it on your tongue even after you've swallowed, which would interfere with the tasting of wine and other foods.  And believe me, the carbonation in Champagne and sea urchin do not make a good combination... I had to discreetly maneuver a piece of bread inside my mouth in order to scrape any bits of sea urchin off my taste buds...

Next came the 1998 Krug, which as I expected was just way too young to drink.  It was a year where there was more Chardonnay than Pinot in the blend, and it definitely showed.  The nose was lighter than the Grande Cuvée - not as toasty.  It was more round, ripe with a bit of oxidation and Anjou pears.  The wine was pretty sharp on the palate with a yeasty attack.

This was paired with chervil cream soup with butter poached Boston lobster.  I could definitely taste the liquorice flavor of the chervil.  There were some bits of lobster swimming around the bowl.  This was a little rich so I started to get a little full... The interesting thing was that as the tongue got coated by the creamy soup, it neutralized much of the acidity of the Champagne in the process, and as a result the acidity only showed up on the finish.

One of the two highly-anticipated wines of the evening was the 1998 Clos du Mesnil.  The clos was created in 1698 so this would be the 300th anniversary of the wall going up.  Surprisingly sweet on the nose, which was ripe but a little more closed compared to the 1998 Vintage.  Nose showed a bit more subtlety, again slightly oxidized with pear notes.  The wine was ripe and full on the palate, but turned acidic fairly quickly on the finish - showing its characteristic as a blanc de blancs.

Steamed pink garoupa fillet on truffled leek fondue and Oscietra - not a bad dish at all.  I did get a little shock, though, as there a small bone stuck into the roof of my mouth on the first bite.  The chopped leeks had been slow-cooked for a long time until it was soft and sweet, flavored with diced truffles.  The garoupa was just a little bit overcooked, but it wasn't a big deal.  The dollop of Oscietra tried to steal the show but was finally neutralized by the sweetness of the leeks.  All of this was very well until I took a sip of the Clos du Mesnil...  For some reason the combination failed horribly, and really brought out the metallic/oxidized taste of the Champagne.  I thought I was licking a piece of copper...blegh!

The other highlight of the evening would be the Krug Collection 1982.  This is Krug's version of late disgorgement, so naturally I would expect it to taste younger and fresher than an '82 released some years ago.  Very nice and elegant - softer on the nose.  Nicely oxidized as I would expect in an older vintage, with notes of straw dominating.  Very sweet on the palate, well-rounded and not too sharp on the finish.

The Krug Rosé was actually served alongside the Collection.  The nose was very metallic and a little sharp.  Pretty rich and full-bodied on the palate.  I did not find it as appealing as I did at the Krug dinner two years ago.

The main course was a trio of veal: slow-roasted herbed veal tenderloin, braised veal cheek and poached tongue with glazed autumn vegetables, potato terrine and roasting jus.  The tongue was pretty tender as one would expect, wrapped around some julienned carrots and celery.  The tenderloin was not so impressive.  The cheek was heavy and rich in flavor as it's been braised.  Margareth asked us to try the Rosé with the beef, and I think it definitely stood up to the rich and heavy veal cheek.

I was stuffed beyond my limit by this point, but how could I turn down cheese?!  We had Brie de Meaux, Brillat-Savarin, Langres with quince jam, muscatels and figs.  Brie de Meaux was pretty ho-hum compared to the other two.  The Langres was nice and acidic on the palate, while the Brillat-Savarin - being a salty triple-cream Brie - was sooo rich that it melted in the mouth.  I used some of the quince jam to balance out the heavy salty finish of the Brillat-Savarin.  The muscatels were sweet and yummy while the figs were not ripe enough.

We were once again served Grande Cuvée from magnums to go with our dessert.  For me this was definitely my wine of the evening, drinking beautifully with its open, opulent nose full of toasty notes.

The dessert sampler consisted of 5 items:
Fribourg's - this looked and tasted like a Bordelais canelé whose outer crust was not caramelized.
Apricot and lavender sorbet - a pretty interesting combination although some of my fellow diners did not appreciate the taste of lavender.
Fig and almond tart with sabayon - very ho-hum.
Lait douceur de Normandie with stewed apple and raspberries - this was like a milk custard
Bittersweet chocolate chiboust cream - OK but these days it takes a really good chocolate dessert to get a reaction out of me...

I was amazed at myself for finding room in my stomach for the cheese and desserts, after fully believing that I had already been pushed to the edge.  I'm glad to have had a chance to dine at Plateau, and to taste the full range of wines from Krug (with the exception of Clos d'Ambonnay, of course...).  I went home with a smile on my face, knowing that I've got a few magnums of the Grande Cuvée on the way to my cellar...

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