December 4, 2009

Eleven on fourth

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There was a gathering of winos tonight, and the outcome from such gatherings is never pretty.  I've never come away from one of these dinners unscathed, and as usual I was totally wasted...and still have a hangover as I type.

This pre-Christmas gathering was originally scheduled for the 11th but subsequently moved to tonight.  The venue was Sup 1 - same as the last gathering I attended.  The organizers seem to be on good terms with the owner, and like the mix of cuisines being served here.

As usual we started with some Japanese appetizers - grilled Japanese pepper (獅子唐辛子), grilled ox tongue, and fried chicken wings.  We moved on to the sashimi platter, with some flounder (平目), yellow tail, some fish I didn't recognize and a squid roll stuffed with sea urchin... Keeping with the Japanese theme, there was the soft shell crab salad with flying-fish roe (とび子).

A trio of meat mains followed - the wagyu steak was not bad, the roast suckling pig pretty decent but there was too much rosemary, and the roast chicken also came with rosemary, onions, garlic and potatoes.

The carbs came in the form of duck rice, which was similar to the Portuguese arroz de pato - with shredded duck meat inside. The rice grains were nice and chewy, with just a bit of rice crispies.

There was a chocolate tart with almonds and cashews, but the crème brûlée was pretty yum.  I initially thought they were using vanilla extract, but as I grabbed the ramekin to scrape the bottom clean I saw some vanilla seeds.  I guess they just didn't put a lot of it in...

But honestly, who cares about the food?!  This was a gathering to drink ourselves silly!  Speaking of which...I was a little annoyed at the restaurant in the beginning.  We were upstairs in the private area with lots of bottles of wine, and they knew we were serious winos.  So why did they insist on using these scented air freshener thingies?  I was so distracted by all the artificial smell of flowers I had to ask the owner to take these things away to clear the air.  They should have known better.

1988 Pol Roger Brut Chardonnay - nose of toasty oak, caramel, vanilla, cinnamon apple, and slight minerals on the finish.  Pretty flat as there weren't many bubbles left, and the acidity was pretty mild for a Chardonnay.

1988 Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin Brut - I remember this wine well from another dinner earlier this year.  This bottle was even better! Notes of apricot, minerals, toasty oak, caramel and that lovely oxidized nose coming from an old Champagne... A little more fizz than the Pol Roger with a hint of sweetness on the palate.  This one won against the Pol Roger tonight.

1970 Roger Sabon Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Marquis - nose of stewed prunes, a little bit of smoke, brett and sharp alcohol.  Smooth on the palate with reasonable length on the finish.

1985 Nicolas Potel Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Combettes - I brought this bottle tonight because I remember drinking this wine last year with Nicolas Potel, and it blew me away.  Not quite the same performance tonight, but it got better after being "released from prison" - when we poured the wine from  the original small Sauvignon Blanc glasses into the large red Burgundy glasses.  Slightly oxidized nose of sweet grass, corn, citrus, minerals, beeswax and green nashi pear (水晶梨).  Good acidity balance.

2003 Nicolas Potel Charmes-Chambertin - a beautiful wine with a very sweet and fruity nose.  Slightly alcoholic.  Very smooth on the palate.

1996 Pascal Doquet Blanc de Blancs Le Mesnil-sur-Oger - I carried this back from Reims earlier this year, and it was recommended to me by Fabrice, the owner of Les Caves du Forum.  This was very, very nice.  Nose of marshmallow, caramel, a little toasty oak, lots of yeast, citrus and a little oxidized.  Coming from the great 1996 vintage, the wine was very vibrant and drank very well.  Now why didn't I buy more bottles of this?!

2005 Marius - I was prejudiced against this wine as I've tried their first vintage (2004) and wasn't very impressed.  The wine's pedigree is impeccable, however.  This is the family winery of Frédéric Engerer, the Director and President of Château Latour who graciously hosted us this past April. The vine cuttings were from the Latour nursery, so one would expect this to be a pretty awesome Cab.  The 2005 vintage is better than the 2004, with a sharp alcoholic nose, brett and smoke.  The wine was sweet on the palate, and showed good concentration.  I would expect this wine to improve with a little more age.  But truth be told, I think there are better buys for the price...

2004 Janasse Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Chaupin - eucalyptus, sweet fruit, a little jammy, tangerine...really rich with very sharp alcohol in the nose.

2001 Altesino Brunello di Montalcino Montosoli - smoky with good amount of sweet fruit. Sharp alcohol with good concentration.

2001 Pierre Usseglio Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée de mon Aïeul - very alcoholic and sweet nose.

2004 Musar Rosé - this was surprisingly good, with nose of caramel and ripe fruit, and a reasonably good acidity balance.

2002 Drappier Cuvée Charles de Gaulle - oxidized with a bit of toast, yeast and citrus.

2001 Clos des Papes - sweet, smoky with a bit of alcohol.  Reasonably smooth.  Contribution from the restaurant's owner...

There was another bottle of Pierre Morey Meursault that was opened late, but I just couldn't drink anymore. I think I was lucky enough to stagger home in one piece...

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