Once a year the hottest ticket in the wine trade is offered to a select few – Harry’s annual wine lunch at his wonderful wine bar The Arches in Fairhazel Gardens NW6 an extraordinary throwback to the 70s with every centimetre of space dedicated to his love of wine, it is a legendary venue.
So it was yesterday a dozen or so of us met for a palate cleansing glass of Pol Roger and then were ushered down below ground to feast in the company of an extraordinary array of really great wines all of which are served “blind” so allowing us to make spectacular gaffes in mostly mis-identifying them!
Rare white from Laurent Ponsot, Morey St Denis, Clos Montlouisants 1990 kicked us off, in immaculate health although showing a little “seche” on the finish, Puligny 1er Cru Referts, Carillon 2001 from Sam the Man – more whites including a Maxim Grunhaus Absburg Auslese 1976 brought by the very urbane Oliver, delicious quite orange in colour a hint of tangerine on palate but very much alive.
Red action next starting with some great Pinot – RSV, DRC 1998 brimming with minerality, grip and style, elegant fine and lovely fruit but still a way to go, NSG Jayer 1995, courtesy of a heavily coiffed Reece, lovely then something I had never experienced or even knew about Vosne 1er Cru Duvault Blocher DRC 1999, made very seldom, first in 1934, then 99, 02, 04 ( france only ) and 06 – WOW, gorgeous perfectly balanced a treat. Ch Musar 1981 fooled us all brilliantly to John’s delight, the Sage of the group who has been to each and every one of Harry’s 20 odd lunches, it drank really well seeming quite Rhone-like. Richebourg Hudelot Noellat 93 completed beautifully the mostly Pinots showing coffee, black fruit rich violet plums choc orange and a touch of flint – lovely.
So Bordeauxs time and to kick off Haut Brion 86 v v fine and really fresh a long future, Lascases 85 pure precise classic with plenty of length. Latour 1996 – rich sweet fruit cassis touch of sweaty saddle but so smooth and a treat. Leoville Barton 82 in great shape balanced meaty and a sweet finish. Valandraud 93 rich volcanic lvely texture but lacking the wow factor – time for some sweet action including Haut Peyraguey 76 and an extraordinary Croft 1920 ! What a day, not sure what time it was or what planet I was on when I left but I sure did have a huge smile on my face and recognize what a great privilege it was to have been included.