April 3, 2014

Surprising Martha

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It was finally time for our first MNSC tasting of the year, as it's already been a couple of months after our annual dinner.  The Ox was first up, and he decided to host it again at the Grill Room of the Hong Kong Country Club.

I was still digesting my rather long lunch, so I wasn't exactly hungry.  Ordering 2 courses à la carte seemed to be the solution... but our host had ordered some things for us to share at the start.  The sliced ham with melon was pretty nice - especially the melon.  I also had a bite of some battered and deep-fried prawns.

Poached egg in red wine, caramelized onions, crispy bacon and croûtons - the club was doing a Burgundy promotion, and the minute I saw that œufs en meurette was on the menu I was sold.  I dived into the dish soooo eagerly that I totally ignored the plate of toast strips served on the side... until I had finished the egg and the onions, and had practically no sauce or yolk leftover.  Well, I ate the plain toast on its own anyway.

Barbarie duck breast glazed with lychee honey, pan-fried ravioli "gyōza" style, filled with thyme scented vegetables and pak choy - very classic.  The duck was tasty but a little overcooked.  The pot sticker ravioli was pretty interesting.

Grapefruit gratin with chestnut honey - I should have stopped at 2 courses, but I wanted some fruit.  Unfortunately I just wasn't a fan of this... the combination of flavors just seemed wrong.

We all looked forward to what the Ox was serving us tonight, and we knew they were bound to be some pretty good shit...

1990 Moët and Chandon Cuvée Dom Pérignon - a little plummy, a hint of grass, mineral notes.  Young and fresher than I expected.

1998 Domaine Leflaive Bâtard-Montrachet - very toasty nose, with lots of grilled corn, and citrus notes.  Very clean and powerful on the palate - yet round and soft - with a long finish.  Beautiful!

First flight, decanted 30 minutes prior to serving:
1978 Paul Jaboulet La Chapelle - smoky, tobacco notes, minty and sweet.  A bit of acidity on the palate, and alcoholic.  Later on the nose turned really sweet, with vanilla notes.  94 points.

1978 Beaucastel - a little chalky, some sweet grass, and sharp alcohol.  92 points.

1978 Chave Hermitage Rouge - ripe and sweet, a very big wine.  Black olives, more meaty and minty.  Interestingly the acidity was very obvious in the nose.  Good concentration here.  94 points.

Second flight, decanted 70 minutes before serving:
1988 Heitz Cellars Martha's Vineyard - nose of led pencil, smoky, a little green pepper, a little earthy and mineral.  Very concentrated on the palate, clean with a long finish.  A beautiful wine.  99 points.

1989 Heitz Cellars Martha's Vineyard - a bit smoky, alcoholic.  A little savory, with a little plastic at the end.  Also a beautiful wine.  98 points.

1991 Heitz Cellars Martha's Vineyard - sharp and alcoholic on the nose at first.  A little green pepper and smoky.  96 points.

I found the second flight of Martha's surprisingly good, and most of us scored the wines in the 97 to 100-point range.  Now I need to look around and stock up on these!

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