January 10, 2013

La La La, La La Laaaaa...

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A few weeks after our last gathering, the MNSC boys got together again for our traditional annual dinner.  The losers get to host it jointly, and an interesting theme is usually chosen for this evening.  This time around, though, we didn't go through with the original suggestion, so the bunch of us pulled a few bottles out of our respective cellars and off we went…

It's been a while since we were last at Golden Leaf (金葉庭) together, and I still like the food despite the place having lost its macaron,  so I'm glad when our new convener chose this as the venue.

Golden Leaf deluxe appetizers: mixed vegetables roll, shrimp dumpling, jelly fish, pork roll (金葉四小碟) - the jelly fish was OK, and the shrimp dumpling was kinda interesting, hidden in this ball of crispy "fluff".

The mixed vegetable roll was OK, with shiitake mushrooms, black fungus and the like.

Pork roll was pretty decent, thanks to that pile of garlic on top…

Double boiled sea whelk soup with Chinese herbs (淮山杞子燉螺頭湯)

Steamed razor clams with vermicelli in garlic (蒜茸粉絲金菇蒸蟶子) - very yummy, again with lots of garlic.  Interesting use of enoki mushrooms (榎茸).

Steamed fresh spotted garoupa (清蒸東星斑) - yum.

Braised fresh oyster with port wine and fresh abalone with barbecued sauce (砵酒生蠔伴燒汁鮮鮑魚) - the oyster was OK…

…but the abalone was better.

Minced pork with stewed eggplant in clay pot (紅燒肉崧茄子) - very tasty.  Definitely wanted more.

Poached pea sprout with dried shrimps in fish soup (鮮魚湯蝦乾浸豆苗) - the fish broth was light and delicious, and the sweetness and the tender texture of the pea sprouts contrasted well with the savory flavors and chewiness of the rather large dried shrimps.

Roasted crispy chicken (脆皮吊炸雞) - wonderfully thin and crispy skin.

Fried rice "Yeung Chow" style with preserved vegetables (梅菜楊州炒飯) - certainly a pretty delicious "flied lice", with the rice grains being a little dry and chewy.  Flavors were also slightly heavier than normal thanks to the preserved leafy mustard (梅菜).

Double-boiled fresh pear with dried longan and inca pan (川貝元肉燉雪梨)

Chinese petit fours (美點映雙輝) - walnut cookie and osmanthus jelly.

We started the evening with a bottle of 1971 Henriot Réserve Baron Philippe de Rothschild.  What a beautiful, aged Champagne!  Lots of coconut and nutty notes, with light fragrance of salty plum (話梅).  Sweet nose with marmalade, honey that was just like nectar.  Awesome.

We wanted to do an evening of Guigal's famed La La La's, since they seldom show up in our tastings nowadays.

Flight 1:  1991 La La La horizontal
1991 Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Turque - beautiful nose, with gamey, animal, plummy and floral notes.  Palate was pretty ready, but a little short.

1991 Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Landonne - nose was pretty closed… a bit chalky.  Animal notes with a little potpourri.  Still tannic on the palate.

1991 Guigal Côtie-Rôtie La Mouline - a little smoky, and the nose was still kinda closed.  After 1½ hours this was finally a little more open.  Nice and floral, but slightly dusty.  A hint of coffee here.

Honestly, the first flight was very disappointing.  These are all wines that were given 99-100 points by Parker, and I've had each wine on prior occasions and have always found them to be delicious.  So what went wrong tonight?  Understandably there is bottle variation, but all three bottles were muted compared to my expectations.  Perhaps we simply didn't decant them and breathe them enough tonight.

Flight 2:  La Mouline vertical
1998 Guigal Côtie-Rôtie La Mouline - a little vegetal, green pepper, leather and animal.

1995 Guigal Côtie-Rôtie La Mouline - metallic at first.  Finally open after 3 hours, showing a very floral nose that was still sharp.  Also notes of Sichuan peppercorns and lavender.

2000 Guigal Côtie-Rôtie La Mouline - ripe and sweet on the nose.  Alcoholic.  Minty and a little plastic.  Pretty tannic.

The second flight showed much better, perhaps due to their longer aeration.  I wasn't impressed with any of them, but at least the nose came out and said "hello".  All were simply too young - even the '95 which I have had less than a month ago.

Nevertheless, it's always good to get together with the boys and unwind over some good food and good wines.  I'm very much looking forward to this year's line up of dinners, and the resumption of our annual offsite!

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