July 13, 2012

(Not so) blind tasting

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It's been a while since the MNSC boys last got together for dinner, and what made tonight special was the fact that all 7 of us were able to come together.  This is a very rare occurrence nowadays, as 2 of us are stationed outside of Hong Kong, and another one of us is only in Hong Kong half the time.

Dr. Poon was our gracious host this evening, and unsurprisingly (to me at least) the chosen venue was the Hong Kong Club.  The unfortunate outcome of this choice of venue was that I was unable to bring my camera gear with me into the private room, and I'd been carrying the stuff around for an entire day! Sheeesh!

We started with some jamón ibérico, which was fine on its own but didn't work so well with our aged white Bordeaux… bringing out the waxy, plasticky flavors from the fat.

I think we were all watching our health and diet, so there was no pre-set menu tonight and everyone just picked a starter and a main.  I decided to go with two dishes from the "Chef's Creative Menu", with  very different results…

Obsiblue prawn tart: shaved, thin filo pastry, tomato concassé, arugula, Parmesan - I don't see obsiblue prawns on menus often, so I figured I would order this and check it out.  The flavors here were pretty complex, with black olives and baby perilla leaves thrown into the mix.  Very nicely done.  One could argue, however, that the flavors of the other ingredients ended up overpowering the true taste of the raw prawns…

Organic French duck confit: preserved leg, braised puy lentils, tarragon and mushroom gravy - this was NOT what I had in mind when I ordered the dish.  I was expecting the classic duck confit - crispy skin cooked in duck fat, with a layer of fat between the skin and the meat.  What I got instead was done like a shepherd's pie.

Below the layer of baked mash lies a layer of shredded duck meat, and the layer of lentils sits on the bottom.  Thankfully the duck meat was juicy - in fact surprisingly so.  However, this is completely different than the traditional confit, and I'm really not happy about it.

I was kinda full and didn't order any dessert.  OK, the truth is… I was pretty drunk by then.

I had high expectations for wines tonight, and we were off to a good start with a bottle of dry white Bordeaux instead of the traditional Champagne…

1982 Laville Haut-Brion - beautiful, open and explosive nose.  Lots of toast, flint, petrol, with sweetness and a little marzipan.  Wow!  An incredible wine.

We were then served two flights of wines.  Instead of the usual practice of having all the wines in decanters, or having the bottles hidden away elsewhere, tonight all the bottles were bagged but left in the room for us to see.  The boys then thought they could gain an advantage by trying to guess the bottle shape underneath the loose velvet bags, and this influenced their guesses as to which regions the wines came from.  Meanwhile, Dr. Poon had arranged for all the glassware to be Burgundy…

First flight:
1990 Charvin Châteauneuf-du-Pape - very sweet nose, fresh, strawberries, forest, a little smoky.  Second pour was sweet and beautiful.  95 points.

1990 Ponsot Griotte-Chambertin - a little herbal medicine, sharp and alcoholic, with black fruits.  Softened a little in glass.  Second pour was still sharp.  96 points.

1990 A.-F. Gros Echezeaux - this was clearly a Burgundy, with orange and eucalyptus.  Surprising a little tannic.  93 points.

Second flight:
1991 Rostaing Côte-Rôtie La Landonne - amazing nose, absolutely beautiful, medicinal, mineral, huge toasty nose, very smoky.  95 points.

1991 Chave Ermitage Cuvée Cathelin - sweet, bubble gum, forest, sous bois, minty, sweet grass.  Beautiful!  98 points.

1991 Rouget Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Cros Parantoux - very toasty, smoky, burnt rubber, toasty corn.  Somehow not coming together.  92 points.

Our fascination with possible bottle shapes and our penchant for following guesses from the leaders once again led us stray.  Our guesses for the wines included Left Bank Bordeaux, Super Tuscans and Piedmont Barbarescos and Barolos.  For the A.F. Gros Echezeaux, I decided to put down a Super Tuscan as my guess even though the first word I wrote in my tasting notes was "Burg"…

A pretty low-scoring evening for all of us, I think...

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