July 4, 2011

Te Koko and friends

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I've been wanting to do a tasting on top New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs for some time, ever since a friend and I tasted a great one at dinner last year.  I finally got around to organizing the event after a few delays, and ended up at Island Tang (港島庭) for this little gathering.  I joked with my friends that this would be the first and last time for this kind of tasting, as there are just too few of us who would be interested in something so academic...

I had lined up a mini-vertical of Cloudy Bay's premium offering Te Koko - from 2004 to 2007.  There was also a bottle of 2007 Ram's Hill, which was facing off against Te Koko from the same vintage.  A friend also generously shared a bottle of Dog Point with us.

First flight:
2004 Cloudy Bay Te Koko - very strong muscat, white grape, a bit of minerals, a little ripeness, and a little more oxidized and rounded.  Metallic, like white asparagus from a jar.  Smoky and toasty oak.  This is certainly more complex than the younger vintages, and shows the evolution of the wine with time.  My favorite Te Koko of the evening.

2005 Cloudy Bay Te Koko - green apple, muscat, a bit more pungent with a little flint.

2006 Cloudy Bay Te Koko - more pungent nose with sulfur, pipi de chat, and green apple.

Second flight:
2007 Cloudy Bay Te Koko - flinty, a lot of oak, pipi de chat and sulfur.  Didn't detect any of the typical fruity notes...

2007 Ram's Hill - soft, butter and sweet.  A bit more metallic, a little bit of pear, muscat, a little floral, and almost jackfruit.  A very lovely wine.  Trounced the Te Koko tonight.

2008 Dog Point Section 94 - oaky, toasty, straw and popcorn.  In a blind tasting, I would have picked it as a white Burgundy and not a Sauvignon Blanc...  Very different in style to the others.

This was definitely an interesting tasting, at least for me.  We agreed that Kiwi Sauvignon Blancs were generally pretty simple, at least Te Koko is...  Nose is better than the palate, and it was interesting to see the progression of the wine as it ages - and it did get a little more complex with age.  For something that costs USD 40 a bottle, I don't mind drinking a simplistic wine.  The Ram's Hill is definitely in a different league, and it would be interesting to see how this wine ages.

We did nibble on some food, too... even though the focal point was clearly the wines...

Honey glazed barbecued pork (叉燒) - it's pretty tough to find a char siu around town that I like better than this one.  Sooooo succulent and tender...

Oven baked silver cod fillets with Peking scallions (京蔥燒焗銀鱈魚) - pretty yummy.  Cod is always an easy choice for me thanks to the texture.

Deep-fried de-boned duck coated with taro crust (荔茸香酥鴨) - just had to get it one last time.  Soooo good.

Steamed high-finned grouper (蒸老鼠斑) - I hesitated about ordering this, as I thought it might be in the "avoid" category in WWF's seafood guide.  I was right.  Oh well... It was a very delicious little fish, just perfect for the small group of us who were eating.

Simmered two kinds of vegetables in soy broth (豆乳浸雙蔬) - we asked for wax gourd (絲瓜) and bok choy.  While this is no doubt healthy, I wasn't such a big fan of the soy broth.

Braised assorted vegetables and bamboo piths (竹笙鼎湖上素) - the mixed mushrooms were very, very yummy after braising.

Some of us were still hungry, and ordered some braised ox tongue.  This was very, very tender and yummy. 

I was freezing my cojones off, drinking cold whites and having the aircon blow on me, so I ordered a bowl of sweetened almond cream (杏仁茶) - for the third night in a row...  This was much better than what I've had for the last 2 nights.

Many thanks to my friends who agreed to participate in this experimental tasting.

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