The invitation email from our host read as follows: each year I organise an evening to provide wine lovers with an opportunity to open those one (or two) notable bottle/s which they have been saving for a special occasion and share it/them over dinner with a select group from Hong Kong’s elite. Unfortunately Hong Kong’s elite are not available this year so instead I thought I would invite you guys.
I was delighted to be on the distribution list having attended the same dinner last year which I blogged last March. I thought that we would struggle to beat last year’s line up. I was wrong.
The team gathered at Crown Wine Cellars at 7.30pm where we started off the evening with a magnum of 1996 Krug – golden colour, really complex, notes of brioche and toast. This is now ready to go but plenty of life ahead – and a bottle of very youthful, nervy Louis Roederer Cristal 2002. Slight infanticide here, what idiot brought that? (Me).
The first flight with dinner focused on the whites. We started with a Corton Charlemagne Verget 1995. Quite deep in colour but not prem-oxed. Delicious. We then had an excellent Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Les Referts Domaine Carillon 2006…the broad, oaky nose was in stark contrast to the tight, mineral, lean palate. We then had a brilliant Gewurztraminer Furstentum Domaine Weinbach 1995 (vendage tardive). This was just lovely, lots of acidity but bags of character and complexity. I put mine aside in the hope that it might last until the other sweeties came out to play.
Earlier we had much discussion on what order to serve the reds, as you will see from the list it was not absolutely obvious but this is what we went for.
First up, old kit…a magnum of 1934 Pichon Baron (lots of fruit, very much alive and kicking, delicious although it did fade in the glass after 20 minutes or so), a bottle of 1925 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Castillo Ygay Reserva Especial (again plenty of fruit, lively and if tasted blind would have been in the 50s/60s – grew in the glass) and a quite lovely Musigny Leroy (negociant) 1966. Lots of sweet fruit here with a slightly burnt oak nose. I gave it 18.5/20. We then had a quite brilliant magnum of 1959 Canon which won my vote as the top wine of this first flight. 19/20. I wrote: Brilliant! Bags of sweet fruit and here. Very pure, mineral, and still youthful. Excellent.
We decided to stay in Bordeaux and the next flight was 80s left bank. 1983 Pichon Lalande (had this before – a terrific 1983 and a favourite wine of mine), 1986 Pichon Lalande (not the best example of this excellent wine that I’ve ever had) and a truly excellent Rauzan Segla 1986 (bags of dark fruit here, lots of concentration). We then had two right bank 1998s. Cheval Blanc (wine of the night?) and a (leafy minty) La Conseillante. Not a shabby pairing.
We then stuck with 1998 vintage but headed south to Mas de Daumas Gassac, served in magnum. Lots of leather and saddle. Really showed well after the two right bank treats. We then stayed in the south and had a lovely bottle of Beaucastel 1990. It was in perfect condition – one of the finest examples of this wine that I can remember.
We then had a quite herbal, dusty, black fruit driven Heitz Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet 1988 which the generous supplier felt was served in the wrong place, and would have been far better off slotted into the 1980’s left bank flight. Fair point but he can be a bit tricky. We then had a pair of Vega Sicilia Unico’s, 1979 in magnum and a bottle of the 1991. The 1979 was in excellent condition, and I would have definitely picked a younger vintage if served blind. The 1991 was also in excellent form with spicy, exotic, dusty sous bois (forest floor) notes. If I had to pick one of them then the 1991 just shaded it.
Pudding was then served with three sweeties. An excellent, balanced 1989 Climens had a lot of admirers (including me 19/20), the 1983 Doisy Daene lacked a bit of acidity but was impressive nonetheless, and then we had a super sweet, super ripe, hedonistic 1976 Gilette Crème de Tete.
The poor wine then selected to take us from the twilight zone back into the reds was my Clos des Lambrays 1999 – it did a pretty good job, and that was followed by a Peter Lehman Stonewall Shiraz 1999, spicy and hot, hints of black cherry and plenty of oak.
It then seemed perfectly sensible to have four blind red wines. Quintessa Cabernet 2004, Henschke Hill of Grace 1996, Ferrous Mornington Peninsular Pinot Noir 2001 and Bonnes Mares Drouhin Laroze 2001 were all not identified. This then led to a further blind tasting of a corked ’99 Chateau d’Epire Savennieres Cuvee Speciale and then a salty mineral NSG Pruliers Gouges 1998.
We took a vote on the wine of the night and the winner by some way was the 1925 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Castillo Ygay Reserva Especial. No 2 was the Canon 1959. 3rd equal Rauzan Segla 1986, Pichon Baron 1934 and Beaucastel 1990.