June 26, 2011

MNSC at 10: 1978 Burgundy horizontal

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MNSC is 10 years old this year.  Back in 2001, a small group of young wine lovers started getting together informally to share a few bottles together.  From our not-so-humble beginnings of tasting 1961 Ducru-Beaucaillou, 1983 Guigal La Mouline and 1983 Penfolds Grange... the core of the group was formed over the next few months.  The seven of us have been gathering regularly to taste great wines from around the world for the last 10 years, with a couple of "offsites" along the way that gradually evolved into our annual wine tasting trips.

It's not easy to find a group still hanging out together after such a long period of time, and at our annual dinner a couple of months ago, we decided to do something special this year.  As the number of gatherings are cut back due to our increasingly busy schedules, we would focus on drinking an incredibly good group of wines.  Themes like 1961 Bordeaux, 1971 Burgundy, La Tâche vertical were suggested.  The message is clear: the budget was going up by at least a factor of 3, and all the wines were going to be pretty legendary.

Our first gathering for this celebration took place tonight.  The venue was Cépage, which has a high reputation for its wine list and wine service.  The theme was 1978 Burgundy horizontal, including a truly legendary wine.  The initial line-up included another legendary bottle, but since we had already tasted the 1978 DRC La Tâche on our trip to Burgundy last year, we decided to use the budget for other wines.

1978 Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Pucelles - a huge, sweet nose with lots of caramel, toast, orange marmalade, almonds, straw, minerals, amber and sweet, unsalted, creamy butter.  An hour later the nose was full of shredded coconut and honey.  A totally mind-blowing wine!  97 points.

Thanks to the age of the wine, the color has now turned a golden amber.  I got the last pour from the bottle and there was plenty of fine sediment in the glass.

The rest of the wines were served without decanting, semi-blind in two flights.

Flight #1:
1978 Armand Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Beze - more concentrated than the other wine in the flight, with more animal notes, mint, smoke, really sweet with lots of fruit.  97 points.

1978 Henri Jayer Echezeaux - explosive, floral, sweet and fruity, leather, rose, black olives, dates and a hint of smoke.  Very opulent.  The color has turned amber at the rim and you could tell this was an old Burgundy in prime condition.  What an absolute privilege to drink this legendary wine!  98 points.

Flight #2:
1978 DRC Grands Echezeaux - leather, animal, floral, minty and exotic coconut.  96 points.

1978 DRC Romanée-Saint-Vivant - animalistic, raw with tons of sweet fruit.  95 points.

1978 DRC Richebourg - very awesome, floral, a bit of leather, dates, dried fruits and mushrooms.  96 points.

All three wines from the second flight were clearly more concentrated and appeared younger compared to the first flight.  In a blind tasting, we would never have guessed that they were from the 70s...

1976 Gilette Crème de Tête - honey, orange, botrytis, a little mineral and flint.  Alcoholic.

On an evening like this, food takes a backseat to the wines.  Dr. Poon had arranged a nice little tasting menu with the chef, but the group collectively decided that we didn't want to eat so much... which was great for me.

Joselito "Gran Reserva" Spanish ibérico ham - pretty good way to start, and served with the usual toast and tomato salsa.

Amuse bouche - looking kinda like the Italian flag here... with tomato purée at the bottom, avocado cream, clear tomato jelly, and finally topped with some cream.  Simultaneously savory and sour at the same time, which prompted us to drink plenty of water to cleanse our palates afterwards.

Le crabe rouge sur une gelée de crustacés, crème d'oursins pour agrémenter le tout - made with red crab from the Philippines, on a bed of shellfish consommé gelée along with some sea urchin cream.  Very nice and fine.

L'Agneau cuit simplement à la plancha, carottes nouvelles glacées, jus court - a very pretty and simple array of mini lamb chops.  Perfect for me to pick up with my fingers and nibble on.  Also easy to share with friends so I don't end up eating so much...  Very nice and tender.

I nibbled on some young, sweet and creamy Comté as well as some older and salty Mimolette that was surprisingly moist.

We adjourned to the rooftop to enjoy the dessert wine as well as our cigars.  I waited until I had finished my dessert to light up my Montecristo No. 2...

La mangue "Alphonso" en plusieurs texture, petit sablé à la noix de coco - the meringue contained a scoop of delicious mango sorbet, while the coconut sablé added both an interesting texture and a complimentary flavor.

What a completely decadent way to spend an evening... Very much looking forward to our next dinner!

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