April 14, 2011

1991 Burgundy horizontal

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The long-awaited MNSC annual dinner finally happened.  We've never had a year when we started so late, and everyone was really looking forward to this evening to kick off the year.  We started a series of loose gatherings back in 2001 which ultimately evolved into our current little group, and looking back we've definitely tasted many, many awesome wines together during this time.

After our wonderful experience two years ago, I decided we should go back to Yung's Club (嚐真) for another fantastic meal.  I set up menu and made sure we had enough glasses for the evening.  We started with a selection of appetizers:

Century eggs with ginger (子薑皮蛋) - one always starts with this, and while it's delicious it ain't exactly wine-friendly...

Deep fried mini sea cucumber with spicy salt (椒鹽參扣) - well these aren't mini sea cucumbers... they're sea cucumber stomachs.  These are always great when deep-fried, as they become crunchy with lots of bite.

Smoked marinated layer pork (雲霧燒肉) - I remember this well from the last time.  The smoky flavors are nice, and fatty pork is never a bad thing.  Unfortunately, the lean meat was a little too tough and chewy.

Chilled abalone with sake (清酒鮑皇) - I've had this before and it was pretty decent.

Steamed tomato with mini crab roe (禮云金茄) - a little disappointing... the crab roe from the small local crabs was nice but the combination was only OK.

Barbecued pork (蜜汁叉燒) - one of us knows the restaurant well, and requested for the fatty and charred parts which I love as well.  Well, what came on my plate didn't quite do it for me... not quite fatty nor charred enough. 

Roasted goose (金牌燒鵝) - as with the barbecued pork, the quality of what you get on the plate is highly dependent on how well the restaurant knows you... so our friend also made sure that we got a decent goose.  I must say that given the premium we pay for dining up here (as opposed to being downstairs with the plebes) the presentation of the dishes were on a different level.  The goose was arranged to look like it was spreading its wings and about to take off.  And you know what?  It was good.  Better than the average stuff you get downstairs.

Double boiled dried seafood soup with abalone (寳鼎奇珍) - this is where I got a little pissed off at the restaurant.  I don't eat shark's fin for environmental reasons, and back in January when I first arranged the menu I had given specific instructions not to have shark's fin soup for this very reason.  I guess they totally ignored the fact that while this wasn't a shark's fin soup, shark's fin was one of the key ingredients!  Sigh... All I could do at this point was to ask the waiter not to ladle any fin into my bowl.

Having gotten myself upset, and proceeded to sip the soup from the spoon, and my frown disappeared immediately.  The soup was damn good...  The abalone was lovely, the sea cucumber had practically liquified from cooking, and all the flavors of the ocean was in my bowl.  Someone remarked that this was one of the best bowls of soup he's had in a long time, and I would have to say the same for me...

Stewed fish maw with vegetables (花膠菜膽) - the fish maw was very soft and delicious.  The Chinese mustard wasn't really bitter at all. 

Fried lobster with preserved olive (欖角龍蝦球) - the lobster was pretty tasty, and the use of preserved olives was interesting.  The surprise was how yummy the broccoli was...  The whole thing was served in an edible, deep-fried bird's nest, but I didn't get any of the nest...

Steamed tiger garoupa (清蒸老虎斑) - very nicely done and demonstrates the skills of the chef.  The flesh was tender and juicy. 

Wonton noodles in soup (銀絲細蓉) - I was already very full by this point, but just couldn't resist the sight of this simple bowl of noodles.  The wontons were petite and absolutely delicious.  In fact they'd give the wontons from Mak's Noodles (麥奀記) down the street a run for their money...

Chinese petit fours (精致美點) - the mini egg tarts were pretty good, and the osmanthus and red bean jelly (桂花紅豆糕) were nice and lovely.

Sweetened red bean cream with dumpling (紅豆沙湯圓) - I was beyond full at this point, but just couldn't resist dipping my spoon into the bowl... the fragrance of preserved orange rind was front and center, and the black sesame filling of the glutinous rice balls was nice, too.

This turned out to be way too much food... and because of my little indiscretions this afternoon, I was so full it actually hurt... 

But this is an MNSC annual dinner, where the main event was wine!  The theme we chose for tonight was a horizontal of 1991 Burgundies, in honor of our trip last year.  We put together an impressive line-up, which was par for the course for these annual dinners...

1990 Louis Roederer Cristal - the Champagne almost stole for show... it was THAT good. Lovely nose of salty plum (話梅), very yeasty, sweet like sugar cane, fleshy and plump on the nose with salty minerals. Yes, the nose was oxidized and I loved it. Still some crisp acidity on the palate. One of my last remaining bottles which I bought from Tokyo more than 10 years ago, this was definitely an amazing wine. 96 points.

First flight:
1991 Armand Rousseau Chambertin - Wow! Sweet, grassy, a little smoky, with some animal notes and some herbs, and a hint of roasted corn. Very light, well-balanced and the epitome of elegance. This is a classic example of why some of us love Burgundies so much... Everything was just so nicely balanced and silky smooth. With all the sediment in my glass, a huge nose of toast came out. I bought this in Taipei over 10 years ago, together with the Chambertin Clos de Beze that I drank almost immediately. 97 points.

1991 Hubert Lignier Clos de la Roche - the color was darker compared to the Chambertin. The nose was very sweet, a bit more meaty, minty with black fruits. 93 points.
Second flight:
1991 Leroy Musigny - pretty sweet with a hint of smoke. Still a bit alcoholic but in general the nose was pretty tight. I think we just needed to let it breathe more... 92 points.

1991 Emmuanuel Rouget Echezeaux - smoky and a little tight at first. Opened up and was very lovely, sweet and opulent. There's that little sharpness of alcohol again... 95 points.

Third flight:
1991 DRC La Tâche - very high expectations, naturally, which were not fully met... Initially the nose was reasonably open, with a little leather and quite animalistic. The wine was clearly very concentrated and powerful, with noticeable alcohol. But I think the wine would have benefitted from additional aeration to open up fully. Pity. 93 points.

1991 DRC Romanée-Saint-Vivant - leather, farmy, a hint of smoke, some sweet fruit. Lovely but kind of light. 92 points.

1991 DRC Richebourg - nose was very open and beautiful. A bit salty, with minerals, sous bois, a little toast, leather and animal. The body was lighter than La Tâche but the nose was much lovelier. I couldn't remember where I bought this... but most likely in Singapore years ago. 95 points.

This was a great collection of wines.  Unfortunately, we were dining in a restaurant without a good sommelier to take care of them, and we ourselves got distracted along the way.  The result was that some of the wines didn't have enough aeration to achieve their full potential...  Still, it was quite a privilege to drink them, and I look forward to our gathering next month.


Omander said...

Hi Peter,

Very truth, most of the time, if you bring good wine to the chinese restaurant, you have to consider to bring your own glass and decanter (if necessary), except for the chinese restaurant in Hotel, otherwise, over 80% of them cannot provide proper wine tasting equipments.

I always feel difficult in matching Burgundy with Chinese food, cos most of the time, the sauce ruins the structure of the wine. Mind to share your thought?


Peech said...

The glassware was absolutely fine or I would not have gone back there for this dinner. But I would have liked to leave the decision on when to open the wines to a sommelier so I wouldn't have to worry about it.

I know it's sacrilege but I actually don't really try to do food/wine pairing... At dinners like this we only really care about the wines, and food becomes secondary. It's only natural when the cost of the wines is at least 2-3x the cost of food.

Most of the time I'll bring white wine to Chinese food since it's so much easier. In any case many things in Cantonese food will kill the palate... century eggs, prawn sauce...


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