April 30, 2010

Born in 1982

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One of my friends hosted her birthday dinner tonight at Man Wah (文華), and I was fortunate enough to be invited.  We met through our common love of wine, and I very much looked forward to tasting the wines at dinner.

Suckling pig, barbecued meat (乳豬燒味拼盤) - a sampling platter of char siu (叉燒), chicken, roast goose, suckling pig and jelly fish (海蜇).  The char siu, goose and suckling pig were pretty nice.

Baked stuff sea whelk, Portuguese sauce (葡汁焗釀響螺) - this was OK, with some liver and a surprising amount of cabbage.

Wok fried scallop, black truffle (黑松露菌帶子) - the scallops and broccoli were pretty nice.  The black truffle didn't have much taste, though... probably came from China.

Double boiled shark's fin soup, chicken, vegetable (菜膽雞燉生翅) - I normally don't eat shark's fin, but it would have been impolite to turn this down... Nice and clear chicken broth, and lots of fin.

Stewed whole fresh abalone, oyster sauce (蠔皇原隻鮮湯鮑) - everything here was pretty nice... the abalone was full of flavor and had the right amount of chewiness, and I liked the mushroom.

Wagyu beef, black pepper sauce (黑椒和牛粒) - I wouldn't have known whether they used wagyu or not, as the beef was so overcooked it became powdery and mushy.

Braised E-fu noodle (長壽伊府麵) - texture was alright but a little bland in taste... had to call in the reinforcements with the pretty spicy XO sauce.

Double boiled papaya, snow fungus, almond (銀杏燉萬壽果) - this was excellent.  The soup was sweet enough but not overly so.  This is not a dessert I normally think about ordering, but this has got to be one of the best versions I've had in recent memory.

Longevity buns (蟠桃壽飽) - de rigeur for a birthday celebration...

For me, wine was definitely center stage tonight.  We started with some Louis Roederer Brut Premier, which was a little on the sweet side.

Next came the 2003 Michel Juillot Mercurey, with nose of honey, a little sweet grass, a hint of corn and very light toast.   The nose was obviously very ripe and sweet, but without the cooked nose of orange marmalade.  Pretty nice.

Then came a trio of '82s from Saint Julien, which I tasted semi-blind and tried to guess the identities.  No cigar, unfortunately...

1982 Léoville Barton - nose was initially muted at first, with a hint of grass showing its Saint Julien character, and the highest acidity level among the three.  Towards the end it became a little spicy on the nose.

1982 Gruaud-Larose - classic left bank nose with smoke and coffee grinds.  Open and beautiful.  Very smooth on the palate with medium acidity.  My favorite red of the evening.

1982 Ducru-Beaucaillou - nose was muted, a little smoky, with acidity level that's the medium of the three.  Very soft and silky on the palate after shark's fin.  Honestly I was disappointed in this wine, especially since it died completely at the end when Gruaud-Larose was still going strong.

With dessert came 1982 Suduiraut, which had tons of honey, orange, botrytis, acetone, a hint of preserved orange rind (陳皮), a whiff of honeydew melon and banana.  Not too sweet on the palate, a little heavy on orange and that tartness.  Much nicer than I expected, and definitely a better wine than what I tasted at the Altaya tasting some time ago.

I was very, very full and well-buzzed by the end of dinner, and excused myself to collapse on my bed while the rest of the group moved on to more drinks at the M Bar...

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