November 2, 2011

100-point dinner

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About a month ago one of my friends hosted a dinner party at her home.  When I browsed through the pictures she posted on Facebook, I jokingly commented that she and her friends were committing "infanticide" by drinking wines like 2001 Lafite-Rothschild and 2003 Montrose much, much too young.

That, of course, drew swift reaction from the participants... including the contributors of the wines who vehemently defended their decisions to pop open a bottle of First Growth at the tender age of 10 - and using Robert Parker's comments as ammunition.  Well, just because a wine can be drunk now doesn't mean now is the right time to drink it... unless, of course, you've got a warehouse full of cases of the same First Growths that you can age.

My friend the host then challenged me to bring a 100-point wine at our next dinner - a wine that is old and mature enough so it wouldn't be infanticide.  I accepted the challenge, and agreed to meet up for dinner the evening that I return from France.

After I landed in Hong Kong this morning, I made a trip to Hong Kong Wine Vault and fished 2 bottles from my cellar.  On the way back home, I did have a little hesitation about popping open this particular 100-pointer.  It's rather rare, and it's my favorite vintage of my favorite wine.  Did I really have to open it tonight?  Couldn't I just bring something else that also fit the bill?  I'll bet a bottle of 1990 Montrose would be equally mind-blowing...

Well, I made it to Fan Tang (飯堂) with the same two bottles.  The venue was chosen by one of the foursome who is apparently a regular there.  That makes a huge difference here, as my previous observations indicated.

The manager suggested a few dishes and we decided to keep things light.

Stir fried diced beef fillet with garlic (蒜片牛柳粒) - these were OK.

Deep fried small yellow croaker with chili and pepper (椒鹽小黃魚) - these were really good the last time, and still something worth ordering.  Not exactly the healthiest dish, but definitely very yummy.

Deep fried salted egg yolk with corn - off menu, but pretty yummy.  The saltiness of the yolk is tempered by the sugar in the corn kernels.

Fried glass vermicelli in clay pot - not bad at all, with lots of wok hei (鑊氣).  A little short on ingredients, though... but this meant that the calorie count - especially with the vermicelli made from mung beans - was kept low.  The fried rice vermicelli with barbecued pork and vegetables (家鄉炒米粉) I had last time was much, much better...

Pan fried chicken pieces with ginger and spring onion (順德生煎雞) - not bad.

Stir fried choy sum (清炒菜心) - the chef sources some of the best ingredients around, and it definitely showed here.  This was just naturally sweet, and doesn't need much in terms of additional condiments.

Crab roe xiaolongbao (蟹黃小籠包) and baked flaky pastry with ham and spring onion (黃橋燒餅) - not bad.  Hairy crabs are in season so lots of places are now offering XLBs with the crab roe (technically most of it is tomalley...)  The baked pastries were pretty good, though.

Onto the wines...

Jacques Selosse Exquise - a bit acidic on the nose, a little fruity. Definitely a sec and not a brut, very round and voluptuous on the palate. The finished seemed slightly bitter at first. Nose of dried straw. Much better after 15 minutes. 30 minutes after opening, the nose really opened up to show minerals and salty plum (話梅). I chose this for our lady who prefers Champagnes that are not so "aggressive" and more like wine, and this seemed to have done the trick.

1983 Guigal La Mouline - double decanted at home. A little brett and medicinal at first, which was surprising. Slightly mineral. The second pour after 2.5 hours was very sweet, plummy, a bit smoky, gamey, and a little dirty. Sweet on palate with very silky tannins. The finish was a little short. Black olive and savory. Pretty disappointing considering this is my favorite vintage of my favorite wine, although perhaps I had allowed it to over-breathe.  Seems that the last bottle I had from my cellar also underperformed...

After dinner we adjourned to my friend's place just around the corner. She decided to pop open another bottle for us...

2003 Lascombes - very sweet and ripe, with coconut butter, smoke, dried herbs, a little woodsy and coffee notes. Drinking pretty well despite the young age.

It was a very enjoyable evening, although unfortunately nothing came close to 100 points this evening... except the company.

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