December 25, 2016

The last of the fortysomethings

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It's Christmas Day, and that means one of MNSC's own is celebrating his birthday... and it's a big one this year.  As one of us noted tonight, the eight of us are now finally all in our forties - but only for the next 4 months or so - until the big handle changes for one of us.  So this is a really special time!

Following tradition, the birthday boy hosted dinner at the Hong Kong Club.  The menu is kept pretty simple, and in any case the evening is all about the wines for us.  The better halves were invited to join us this year, and we ended up having separate boys' and girls' tables tonight.

Roasted Australian quail, braised baby roots, pomegranate jus - this was a lot bigger and a lot more plump than I had expected.  Just look at that ass!  You'd think you're staring at Nicki Minaj or Kim K...

The quail itself was pretty tender and succulent, while the stuffing seemed curiously to have been made with salted eggs - with a little white pepper for kicks.  In any case, this was very tasty.  Except, of course, for the beet roots on the side.

Whole poached ocean trout, ginger, shiitake, spring onions, soy sauce, white rice - this is something we look forward to every Christmas - the giant fish done Cantonese-style.  This one was 3.6kg.

This was perfect like all the other ones we've ever had here.  This really is one of the best ways to serve fish... with the soy sauce giving a little flava, and with steamed rice soaking it all up.  Yum.  I tried to gobble this up, but I got such a big chunk that in the end I had to leave a little bit of the fish on the plate...

Whole roasted American Prime beef rib-eye, black pepper sauce, rösti potatoes, glazed carrots, braised Brussels sprouts and sautéed baby spinach - I wasn't expecting both the ocean trout and the prime rib tonight, but since there were 14 of us, I guess we needed a little more food.

There were, of course, varying degrees of "doneness" to the whole ribeye, but my piece was still pretty rare inside.  This was a pretty thick cut, and I had serious problems putting a dent in this thing.  I ended up taking down the edges, where the meat was more done and had more seasoning and flavor.  Oh, and of course the fatty bits... The rösti was pretty nice, too.

Grand Mariner Soufflé - yes, boys and girls, the menu read "Grand Mariner"...  But I gotta give it to them - they do know to do soufflé here.  Very fluffy.  Not sure why I agreed to the dollop of cream on top, because I definitely didn't need the calories...

This being a big birthday, we had expected the birthday boy would be generous and feature wines from his birth vintage.  True to form, he blew all our expectations away... and was extremely generous.   We got a massiiiiive '76 horizontal the whole evening.

1976 Salon - disgorged perhaps 5-6 years ago, which explains how fresh this tasted.  Just beautiful.  Mature nose of toast, roasted corn, some sweet grass, a little caramelized, and sugar cane notes.  Good acidity on the palate.  96 points.

1976 DRC Montrachet - opened for 30 minutes prior to serving.  Very mature nose, with sweet grass, caramelized sugar, and a hint of salty plum (話梅).  Later on with further aeration we got some coconut, sugar cane juice like 竹蔗茅根, and honey.  Just an incredibly beautiful wine, and what a privilege to have tasted it.  98 points.

1976 DRC La Tâche - opened 1 hour prior to serving, without decanting.  Beautiful and floral, with plenty of sweet fruit.  A little iron and a hint of leather.  Acidic and light on the palate.  Another 20 minutes later the wine in glass was over the hill, thinned out with more pronounced acidity.  96 points.

1976 Henri Jayer Richebourg - opened 1 hour prior to serving, without decanting.  Initially showing a little wet cardboard and vegetal notes.  A little earthy.  91 points.

1976 Armand Rousseau Clos St Jacques - opened 1 hour prior to serving, without decanting.  A big, pruny nose, a little sharp, with leather notes and slightly acidic on the nose.  A little savory on the palate.  94 points.

1976 Ausone - opened 1 hour prior to decanting and serving.  Nose of lead pencil, mint, some fruit underneath.  94 points.

1976 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection - opened 1 hour prior to serving without decanting.  A little burnt rubber, smoke, and some star anise in the nose.  92 points.

1976 Penfolds Grange - opened 1 hour prior to decanting and serving.  A little lead pencil, sweet on the nose with a little bit of coconut.  A beautiful wine.  97 points.

1976 Henri Bonneau Réserve des Célestins - opened 1 hour and decanted 30 minutes prior to serving.  Nice fruit, oaky, a little savory, and a little stinky.  93 points.

1976 Guigal La Mouline - opened 1 hour prior to decanting and serving.  Lovely and fragrant nose, with coffee notes, and a little savory.  Just beautiful.  100 points.  The only other time I've had the privilege of tasting this wine was also at a dinner hosted by our birthday boy some 9 years ago.

1976 Vega Sicilia Unico - opened 1 hour prior to decanting and serving.  Awesome wine.  Soooo exotic and sweet, with amazing coconut notes.  100 points.

1976 Yquem - acetone, paint thinner, honey, nutty, grapey, and honeydew melon.  Great acidity here to balance out the sugars.  96 points.

What an incredible evening! Some of the wines we tasted tonight are so rare that it was truly a privilege to have tasted them.  Many thanks to our generous host, and welcome to the club!

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