September 13, 2020

Another Penfolds evening

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 I've been waiting for a while to pop open a few bottles of wine.  After failing to bid on a number of special bottles of Penfolds at a Sotheby's auction last year, I decided I would source them from my usual list of suppliers.  And I figured that 2020 - the 30th anniversary of the vintage - would be a good time to pop them open.   So I roped in Film Buff and V, then was pleasantly surprised when the Candidate agreed to join us even though we were drinking Aussie wines...

I've only been to Dynasty (滿福樓) twice in the last 10 years, but the venue was suggested since a couple of people can take advantage of their membership discount.  The food is pretty solid there, and I've been assured that wine service is adequate.  It was reassuring to see three decanters ready for us to use when I arrived.

Barbecued pork (蜜汁烤叉燒) - always a dish that one must order here.  There was enough marbling here to make this really tender, and the charred edges were great.  I wouldn't have minded just having this dish by myself and not sharing...
Sweet and sour pork with pineapple (菠蘿咕嚕肉) - the sauce was very sweet, and pretty viscous. A tasty dish, but maybe not the best when it comes to drinking red wine...
Crisp bean curd skin rolled with bolete mushroom and vegetables (牛肝菌素鵝) - OK la... The flavors of porcini didn't stand out.
Braised fresh oysters with home-made sauce (台式三杯焗桶蠔) - another dish that I thought didn't work well with red wine, but when people with more expertise in wine order this up, who am I to say anything?  Interesting that they used the clichéd Taiwanese preparation with soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice wine.
Simmered seasonal vegetables with minced fish in fish broth (魚湯手打魚腐浸時蔬) - this was interesting... and the first of three dishes with fish broth as the base.
The giant "fish ball", or actually - "fish tofu (魚腐)" as the texture is very light and airy - was very, very fluffy.  It's been a while since I last had something like this, but in retrospect this was a pretty damn big ball...
Spare rib in 'Shunde' style (順德煎排骨) - finally... a meat dish to go with the reds.  Fried food is always tasty.  
Simmered seasonal vegetable with mixed mushroom and tomato in fish broth (魚湯蕃茄雑菌浸時蔬) - fish broth and vegetables again, but this time with tomato somewhat overpowering the fish broth.
Simmered steamed rice with assorted seafood and vegetable in fish soup (魚湯四寶泡飯)
I was already very full, but since this was my favorite dish from my last visit, I just couldn't resist.  While this may seem like just any seafood and rice in fish broth at first, the pile of delicious rice crispies on the side - which one adds into the bowl - instantly transforms the dish into a winner.  So.Fucking.Good.
Chilled coconut pudding with bird's nest (燕液椰汁糕)   
Egg fritter glazed with honey sauce (香蜜蛋散)
 deep-fried. Fluffy. Drizzled with honey.  'Nuff said.
Of course, the focus tonight was squarely on the wines.  Anticipation was high.

2015 Penfolds Yattarna - huge nose of toast, flinty, some buttery sweetness.  Really lovely.
The three reds were all opened for 1½ hours before decanting.

1990 Penfolds Bin 90A - a little savory soy sauce on the nose.  Still good concentration with some acidity.  A bit smoky.  Much more open after 1 hour in the decanter, showing beautifully some vanilla notes.  Two hours after decanting this was really beautiful, with some coconut butter and tropical notes.  My wine of the evening.
1990 Penfolds Bin 920
- unfortunately this was corked.  Still got the sweet vanilla underneath all the green and vegetal notes, with some smoke.  But kinda flat on the palate now.  Not undrinkable, just not enjoyable.
1990 Penfolds Bin 707
- still pretty tight at first, with a little smoke.  Showed better with the second pour.  Two hours after decanting it showed somewhat better, and pretty minty.  But still not really open.
A pretty fun evening, but amazed that these wines needed so much aeration - which speaks to the quality of the vintage. I wonder if I'll have the chance to do this again...

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