Dots and Bubbles with the Trait-d-union

It was with great excitement that I was able attend this fascinating event with the 6 houses that comprise the Trait-d-union Champagne group and their Australian importers. The Sydney tasting was held at Utopia Art and had a theme that examined the common “sense of place” that exists both with indigenous Australians and these producers in Champagne. I enjoyed the unique theme and hearing from guest speaker Bruce Pascoe on his research into Aboriginal agricultural practices, as well as the artwork displayed by gallery owner Christopher Hodges especially for this event. The opportunity to speak with some Champagne producers that I really admire was also a privilege and of course the wines were extremely impressive.

I’ve included a few photos I took at the event with the tasting notes below, but there are a fair few more at the following gallery – Trait-d-Union Gallery

    Larmandier-Bernier

  • NV Larmandier-Bernier Champagne Longitude – France, Champagne
    Lemon curd, spice, apple, pear and a mineral core to the aroma profile. The palate is more rounded than on other bottles I’ve tried but that minerality pushes through again and gives it essential lift and brightness. Delivers consistently high quality each time I’ve tasted this wine. 90/100
  • 2009 Larmandier-Bernier Champagne Terre de Vertus Premier Cru – France, Champagne, Côte des Blancs, Champagne
    100% Chardonnay, zero dosage – from the Les Barillers and Les Faucherets parcels within a single vineyard in Vertus.

    Wispy, perfumed aromas of white floral notes, pear, honey and light truffle. On the palate, the intensity of the ripe fruit plays off beautifully against the zero dosage character of the wine – giving it an opportunity to show off its acid drive and structure, while having mouthfilling flavour. Has both depth and deliciousness. 92/100

  • 2007 Larmandier-Bernier Champagne Vieille Vigne de Cramant Grand Cru – France, Champagne, Cramant, Champagne
    Single vineyard in Cramant, from two parcels of vines that are 48-75+ years old. 2 g/l dosage.

    More power here than the Terre de Vertus. On the nose it shows complexity through ginger, peach smoke, spice and an appealing toasty nuttiness. Brings plenty of fruit weight to the palate but maintains balance and extends into very good length. A complex wine that deserves tasting attention. 92/100

    Roger Coulon

  • NV Roger Coulon Champagne Réserve de l’Hommée – France, Champagne, Montagne de Reims, Champagne
    Equal parts Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier. 2010 vintage base, 5 g/l dosage.

    Smoky, graphite and apple nose – draws you into the wine nicely. Clean and slightly tart, the fruit is fairly lean and I feel a touch more density would fill out the palate, but as it stands it is refreshing to drink. Finishes with medium length. A couple of years of bottle age would likely serve it well. 89/100

  • 2006 Roger Coulon Champagne Blanc de Noirs Brut – France, Champagne, Montagne de Reims, Champagne
    An equal blend of Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir, aged for 5 years prior to disgorgement.

    Honey, floral, spice and pear aromas. Better length and intensity on this compared to the Réserve de l’Hommée, while retaining that cleansing acid spine. My favourite of the 3 Coulon wines, though the interest factor of the Les Coteaux de Vallier puts it a close second. 90/100

  • NV Roger Coulon Champagne Cuvée Prestige Les Coteaux de Vallier – France, Champagne, Montagne de Reims, Champagne
    20% Pinot Noir and 80% Chardonnay, from a single vineyard plot, Les Champs de Vallier. Aged eight years on lees, 2002 vintage base.

    A nutty, oxidative driven nose with bruised apple, ginger and earth. The palate also has that oxidative note, but there is also good richness from the fruit that leaves it with a sense of balance. Finishes with good length and ends cleanly thanks to the acidity. Good interest with this wine, though it was mostly from the style rather than having layers of complexity. 90/100

    Egly-Ouriet

  • NV Egly-Ouriet Champagne Brut Tradition Grand Cru – France, Champagne, Ambonnay, Champagne
    Disgorged January 2014. 45 months on lees. 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. 50% 2008 fruit and then 30% 2007 and 20% 2006. Around 3 g/l dosage.

    Redcurrant, earth, and light toast to the nose. Fruit has a fair bit of sweetness to it, which compliments the assertive acidity well. Medium-good length. Very good, and with a couple more years in bottle I think it will be improved further. 89/100

  • NV Egly-Ouriet Champagne Brut Rosé Grand Cru – France, Champagne
    65% Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay. The base vintage is 60% 2009. Disgorged 07/14. Dosage 2 g/l.

    A nose of great appeal to me, showing cherry, musk, delicate floral notes and smoke. I really like the focus and precision on the palate, it is in a leaner style than the Tradition at this tasting and the minerality shines. Very good flow and length. 91/100

  • NV Egly-Ouriet Champagne Blanc de Noirs Les Crayères – France, Champagne, Ambonnay, Champagne
    Single vineyard Les Crayères in Ambonnay with vines planted in 1946. 60% 2008 fruit and 40% 2007. Dosage is 3-4g/l.

    A much more powerful style after the previous two Egly wines. Lemon, orange, smoke, apple and brioche. The palate is powerful, with the richness of the fruit the centrepiece. I’d like to see a little more drive behind it, as at times it seems to want some more focus to bring the broadness into line, but overall it is impressive and will improve in bottle. 91/100

    Jacques Selosse

  • NV Jacques Selosse Champagne Blanc de Blancs Les Carelles – France, Champagne, Le Mesnil Sur Oger, Champagne
    Disgorged 13/02/14 from solera with vintages starting from 2003. 2 g/l dosage. Orange peel, earth, peach, nuttiness and smoke – similar to the last time I tried this wine in 2012 but maybe a touch more complex! The palate has all those many layers of flavours but at the same time it is precise and has great finesse. Fantastic balance, texture and mouthfeel. A wine that feels complete. Spellbinding. 96/100
  • NV Jacques Selosse Champagne Blanc de Noirs La Côte Faron – France, Champagne, Aÿ, Champagne
    Disgorged 07/04/14 from solera. 2 g/l dosage. On the nose there is perfumed musk, strawberry, pear, earth and a very light background nutty oxidative note. The palate feels very powerful and forward, though there is a light tartness throughout the palate that counters it. Very good length. A great wine that was just in the shadow of the Selosse Les Carelles on this day. 93/100
  • NV Jacques Selosse Champagne Blanc de Noirs Extra Brut Sous le Mont – France, Champagne, Ambonnay, Champagne
    Disgorged 17/02/14 from solera. 2 g/l dosage. Roses and spice, plenty of earth and even some smoked charcuterie. The palate is medium weight, with a slight oxidative twang to it. Has good length and I found it had a real moreish quality to it. The weaker of the three Selosse wines at this tasting, but still decidedly unique and memorable. 91/100
    Jérôme Prévost

  • NV Jérôme Prévost Champagne La Closerie Extra Brut Les Beguines – France, Champagne
    LC12. Very lifted and bright nose with grapefruit, ozone, sea spray, pear and a light white floral touch. The palate is similar, with brilliant purity and spark. Driven, with great length and acidity – this wine makes it obvious why this producer is so sought after and I wish I could encounter it more often! This 2012 was a notch up on the 2011 I tried late last year. 93/100
  • NV Jérôme Prévost La Closerie “Fac Simile” Les Beguines – France, Champagne
    LC12. Strawberry, cherry, sea spray, and citrus peel. A wine of great purity and with acidity that pierces through the palate. Excellent. Not generally a Rose Champagne fan but this and a small handful of other wines are doing their best to change my mind. 92/100
    Jacquesson & Fils

  • NV Jacquesson & Fils Champagne Cuvée No. 738 – France, Champagne
    A restrained nose that does show pear, saline and sea spray character. Nice intensity, the body has quite a bit of fullness but also a good line of acidity that brightens it up. Very pleasant to drink. 90/100
  • NV Jacquesson & Fils Champagne Cuvée No. 733 Dégorgement Tardif – France, Champagne
    Aged character shows through on both the nose and the palate – aromas of honey and spice, pear and brioche. Shows some of the 2005 fruit richness on the palate with more honeyed character and rounded off edges. Has good carry and is drinking really well now. 90/100
  • 2005 Jacquesson & Fils Champagne Dizy Corne Bautray – France, Champagne
    Aromas of straw, sea spray, pear, a lifted floral character and a touch of citrus peel. Very good persistence and texture. Has good structure with a deft touch of oak. Excellent now but should develop well over time also. 92/100
Domaine Huet wines

I went to this tasting late last year and was so pleased to get the chance to try the wines as well as hear from the current Domaine Huet Jean-Bernard Berthomé and president Sarah Hwang. I found them both to be really passionate and proud to present the wines to the gathered trade and would like to thank them for taking the time to come and speak with us in Sydney.

  • 2013 Domaine Huet Vouvray Sec Le Haut-Lieu – France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Vouvray
    5g/l residual sugar. Lemon soap, mint, apple and a light earth quality. Open and quite weighty fruit, this has a fullness and density to the mouthfeel, but the acid does cut through nicely and with almost equal intensity. Should be better with a couple of years to settle. 90/100
  • 2013 Domaine Huet Vouvray Sec Clos du Bourg – France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Vouvray
    Flint, apple, pear, white florals and light salinity on the nose. The mineral character is present on the palate as well, but there is more richness to the fruit and that prevents it from feeling too wound up. Has a nice texture and has appeal already, but will certainly improve at least over the medium term. Shows the quality of the vineyard to come up with a wine of this quality from a very tough vintage. 92/100
  • 2012 Domaine Huet Vouvray Sec Le Mont – France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Vouvray
    Aromas of peach, violet, light nuttiness and earth. The palate shows nice fruit purity and elegance initially and then through the mid palate, but the intensity fades towards the finish. I liked it but it did seem weaker than the wines next to it. I would like to see how it develops. 88/100
  • 1998 Domaine Huet Vouvray Sec Le Haut-Lieu – France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Vouvray
    Light golden colour. Ginger, quince, apple, almond and earth – this has plenty of interest from the aromatics. Still has good structure on the palate, the acidity really drives it through and lends it brightness. With more depth to the fruit this would be stunning. Another difficult vintage according to the winery, and this pre-dates the use of a sorting table (only being selected on the vine in 98) but another great wine that is drinking well now and should continue to do so over the next 5-6 years. 91/100
  • 2007 Domaine Huet Vouvray Demi-Sec Le Mont – France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Vouvray
    20g/l residual sugar. Apricot, honey, apple pie and ginger on the nose. The ripeness in conjunction with the sugar is quite forward at this point in time but there is spice woven into the ripe fruit giving it another dimension. At a stage now where it has lost some of its youthful freshness and time would be beneficial before approaching again. 90/100
  • 2001 Domaine Huet Vouvray Demi-Sec Clos du Bourg – France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Vouvray
    Just starting to deepen past light straw in colour. Pear, ash, oriental spice/sandalwood, chalk and minerals – really rocking on the nose. The sweetness seems to be of a similar level to the 07 Le Mont it was next to (I looked it up later, and this is 23g/l vs 20g/l for the Le Mont) but the acidity is a step up in level and it gives it superb spark and verve. Pure fruit and rather delicious, it is just starting to hit its straps and is delivering in a superb way. Now-10 years. 94/100
  • 2009 Domaine Huet Vouvray Moelleux Le Mont – France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Vouvray
    53g/l residual sugar. Mango, peach, pinepple, pear and a dash of floral character gives it some prettiness over the tropical fruits. The palate is concentrated with roundness but the acidity has good drive and the sweetness ends up feeling like it is close to being in balance. Has excellent potential once this youthful sweetness drops a notch and lets the other elements shine. Give it plenty of time! 91/100
  • 1985 Domaine Huet Vouvray Moelleux Le Mont – France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Vouvray
    40g/l residual sugar. Shows buttered toast, peach and apricot initially, with some pear and lanolin after time in the glass. The palate has excellent freshness still, the acidity draws the length out and it is really bright. The only signs of age on the palate are a tinge of caramel flavour around the edges and some hints of complexity starting to show. This could age for another 10 years without problem if the bottles are in good shape. 92/100
  • 1985 Domaine Huet Vouvray Moelleux Clos du Bourg – France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Vouvray
    Jean-Bernard Berthomé said that “Sometimes it is necessary to have great patience” and he applied this to the 1985 vintage wines which have taken a long, long time to come around. In the case of this wine I can only think that the wait was well worthwhile. 40g/l residual sugar.

    A superbly complex nose of truffle and florals, quince and mango, licorice and apple. Wonderfully pure and delicate fruit, this has a great level of depth and layers of flavour throughout. There is excellent acidity that sparkles across the length of the wine. Lingers on and on. Breathtaking wine that could probably take another 10-20 years of ageing if it continues at this rate. 96/100

  • 2009 Domaine Huet Vouvray Moelleux 1ère Trie Clos du Bourg – France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Vouvray
    92g/l residual sugar. Entrancing nose – ginger, orange peel, five spice, apple pie and peaches. Plenty of concentration and sweetness but it handles it magnificently with structure wrapping around and controlling its direction. The acidity is really impressive, with the finish feeling precise and clear. Definitely a notch upward in volume for all elements compared to the 2009 “regular” Le Mont Moelleux but doesn’t feel like the balance is compromised at all. Another wine that will benefit greatly from time and could be mind-blowing at its peak. 94/100
  • 1995 Domaine Huet Vouvray Moelleux 1ère Trie Clos du Bourg – France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Vouvray
    Musk, mandarin peel, lemon, ginger, dried floral notes and a graphite/smoke character – another stunning set of aromas. After spending significant time with the nose, I took a taste and was enthralled – there is great concentration but it is oh-so bright and precise with some a compelling line of acidity driving through into a very long finish. Another sip is inevitable, it took all my restraint not to just drink this as it would be gone in a flash. A wine with so much to offer already, but it won’t hurt to give it more time for development. 96/100

After a successful inaugural Sydney Burgundy Celebration in 2014, the event returned with a series of tastings and dinners that looked to be excellent. Unfortunately due to my work schedule I was only able to attend one, the Iconic Wineries master class. This tasting was fantastic and I’m glad I was able to get along to it – thanks to Franck Moreau, Amanda Yallop, Sebastian Crowther and Nick Stock for organising and hosting this class.

The wines were served blind, I only knew based on the event description that there should be wines from Raveneau, Dauvissat, Roulot, Roumier, Rousseau and Domaine de la Romanee-Conti – but no vineyards, vintages or other information were provided until after tasting and discussing the two flights.

White Burgundy Flight

  • 2008 François Raveneau Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre – France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis 1er Cru

    Mineral, spice, stonefruit and some light alcohol warmth on the nose. The palate shows more weight and ripeness than the mineral driven aromas – the balance is decent, but not great, with the density of the fruit really taking centre stage for now. The palate does has good texture and length and once revealed the intensity could be viewed as a classic trait of the winery style, but it didn’t quite resonate with me as other bottles of Raveneau have in the past. 88/100

  • 2004 Vincent Dauvissat (René & Vincent) Chablis 1er Cru La Forest – France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis 1er Cru

    A nose that is a little confrontational, but it undeniably interesting – truffled earth, orange peel, seaweed/iodine and a light saline chracter. The palate here doesn’t quite have the same complexity but it makes up for it with excellent texture and balance between rich but vibrant fruit and the powerful acidity. Still feels rather young and I can see room for further positive development. I liked it a lot, but I could see that the aromas may not be appealing to all. 91/100

  • 2012 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Clavoillon – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru

    Sulphur up front and it really needed time in the glass to eventually show sea spray, smoke, a little bit of soapy florality and apple. The palate is the highlight for now, with a sense of power that is controlled and delivered with precision across very good length. I did get enjoyment out of trying this already, but I’d be hopeful that its best is yet to come. 92/100

  • 2012 Domaine Jacques Carillon Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Macherelles – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru

    There is some immediate appeal with notes of pineapple and grapefruit as well as some lifted floral character and a moderate oak presence. The ripeness of the fruit is also quite forward on the palate, the acidity is well integrated but I’m not sure that it entirely keeps up with the fruit. Drinking fairly well now, it is good but all a little too obvious to be better than that for the moment. 89/100

  • 2011 Domaine Roulot Meursault 1er Cru Clos des Bouchères – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault 1er Cru

    A fine combination of sesame, spice, white florals, orange peel and pear aromas. The mineral core that drives the palate is a highlight, with pure, delicate fruit in great balance and supporting superbly well. For me, the best length of the wines alongside it. There is something distinctly impressive about this wine. It was my stand out favourite of the flight and of the attendees along with the Leflaive. I believe this is the first vintage of this wine with Domaine managed fruit and it is a seriously compelling debut. 94/100

Red Burgundy Flight

  • 2009 Domaine Armand Rousseau Père et Fils Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Les Cazetiers – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru

    Both complex and pretty aromatics out of the glass right from the start, showing truffle, black cherry, blood and delicate roses. The palate continues with the same style and character. The fruit maybe feels a touch soft but some excellent acid really rushes through and gives it back a feeling of brightness and balance. Felt confident that this was the Rousseau and it obviously was. Already relatively approachable but it has the structure for it to show well for a long time to come. 92/100

  • 2011 Domaine du Clos de Tart Clos de Tart – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Clos de Tart Grand Cru

    One of the hardest wines to get a good read on in this flight. At first the nose is closed down but it did start to show some stalks, violets and a fair bit of earth. The red fruits on the palate did have more presence along with good length and acidity. I’m not loving this right now and would want to see it with a serious amount more time in the bottle. I was not surprised when its identity was revealed as I tried it one year ago and it was rather introverted, with this bottle probably showing even more so. 90/100

  • 2012 Domaine G. Roumier / Christophe Roumier Morey St. Denis 1er Cru Clos de La Bussière – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Morey St. Denis 1er Cru

    Purple coloured. Earthy spices launch out of the glass and are complimented by black cherry, licorice, dark florals and a background lines with oak. I expected the palate to have significant density based on the aromas but the fruit is not in that style, it does have brightness but there is also restraint and the good structure behind it helps to bring it all together. Overall it seems rather nicely balanced with plenty of youthful appeal already, but also a promising future ahead. 91/100

  • 2011 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru

    Violets, red cherry, raspberry and a light spice element, this is a bright and pure nose initially that does starts to show some layers after time in the glass. The tannins are the driving force behind the wine, they are very fine and work well to provide grip to the vivacious fruit elements. If this builds up some complexity with further ageing then it will be superb. 91/100

  • 2010 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Echezeaux – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Echezeaux Grand Cru

    An exotic nose with wild roses, musk, cherry, five spice and a very light stalk note that gives it another element of complexity. Opens with great power, but also great balance, structure and responsibility. A savoury streak runs across its length and provides it with yet another dimension where it already has significant depth. Finishes with precision and excellent length. A clear table favourite well before its identity was revealed. For me this was a touch ahead of the 2009 DRC Echezeaux that I tried and loved a couple of years ago but both are superb. 94/100

The Riesling Down Under festival kicks off tomorrow in Melbourne but for those of us in Sydney that can’t make it, an exciting week of tastings with some of the top Riesling winemakers and producers in the world will be on offer next week. I’ve listed the tastings I know about below (plus one producer coming in early March), please let me know if I missed any!

Wednesday 11th February from 7pm @ Prince Wine Store – Hugel – Gentil 2013, Riesling 2012, Pinot Blanc 2011, Pinot Gris Tradition, Gewürztraminer 2011 & a vertical of Riesling Vendange Tardive 1998, 97, 96, 95, 89, 88) – $45.

Thursday 12th February – Robert Weil @ The Oak Barrel from 6:30pm to 8:30pm- $35 Oak barrel members or $45 for non-members.

Thursday 12th Feb – Hugel @ Five Way Cellars from 5.30-7.30pm (2013 Gentil, 2012 Riesling, 2011 Pinot Blanc, 2011 Pinot Gris Tradition, 2011 Gewürztraminer, 2005 Gewürztraminer SGN, 2001 Pinot Gris VT + 1 mystery aged Hugel wine) – Free Tasting, book on (02) 9360 4242.

Friday 13th February – Cellarhand portfolio (including – Dr Loosen, Dönnhoff, FX Pichler, Bründlmayer, Gunderloch, Georg Breuer, Heymann-Löwenstein, Wittmann, Christmann, Koehler-Ruprecht, Stadt Krems, Pikes, Framingham, Frankland & Paul Blanck) @ Prince Wine Store from 6pm – Free tasting book via link or (02) 96620463.

Sunday 15th February – Summer of Riesling Festival 2015 with over 30 top Riesling producers @ Cell Block Theatre, Darlinghurst – $45

Tuesday 3rd March – Clemens Busch @ Oak Barrel 6:30pm to 8:30pm – $35 Oak barrel members or $45 otherwise.

Since trying the wines of Equipo Navazos in late 2013, in particular a taste of the Nº 37 and Nº 31 Amontillados, I have been constantly seeking the chance to try more of their range, and even just more sherry in general. An opportunity arose late last year to attend a masterclass with the Australian importer Bibendum and the co-founder of Equipo Navazos, Jesús Barquín, and I took the chance gratefully.

The tasting was a highlight of my year in wine, not just for the often spectacular contents of the bottles, but to hear and learn from Jesús, who is both passionate about this project and extremely knowledgeable about Sherry but also conveyed the immense respect he has for the Bodegas and vineyards where these wines are sourced.

  • 2010 Colet Colet-Navazos Extra Brut – Spain, Cava
    Shows apple, honey, ginger, chalk and a tinge of caramel. The palate has a very mild oxidative note that I rather enjoyed. Good texture and plenty of spice. Complex and interesting but won’t be universally loved. 90/100
  • 2011 Equipo Navazos Vino de Mesa de Andalucía Navazos-Niepoort – Spain, Andalucía, Vino de Mesa de Andalucía
    From a single vineyard Marnachundo in Albariza and described as unfortified fino. Heady florals, straw, lemon and chalk aromas. The palate is rather clean and fresh but it just spread out across the mid-palate and take on some more weight. There is just a hint of bitterness but it was not entirely out of place or unlikeable. 89/100
  • 2010 Equipo Navazos Jerez-Xérès-Sherry La Bota de Vino Blanco MMX “Florpower” nº44 – Spain, Andalucía, Jerez-Xérès-Sherry
    Unfortified, from the Pago Miraflores vineyard in Sanlucar. Light orange-gold coloured. Funky, saline, nutty and complex spices on the nose. Intense mineral and saline drive to the palate. There is richness to it, but it takes a back seat to the rush of refreshing acidity. Carries through to a long finish, leaving you wanting more each time. Stunning. 94/100
  • 2010 Equipo Navazos Jerez-Xérès-Sherry La Bota MMX “Florpower – Más allá” nº53 – Spain, Andalucía, Jerez-Xérès-Sherry
    The same base as the stunning #44 but with an additional 10 months barrel time, this was still very good but was not quite as expressive right now for me. Orange peel, the funkiness of #44 is backed off a little but still shows a little bit as well as popcorn and a reductive note that comes from just being bottled. The palate is beautiful, there is power but it is considered and balanced, without having the racy drive of #44 but probably showing more depth. Probably requires some time to settle and open up. 91/100
  • NV Equipo Navazos Manzanilla en Rama – Spain, Andalucía, Manzanilla de Sanlúcar de Barrameda
    Bottled February 2013. A chance to look at this in a bit more detail after the quick tasting yesterday. Sea spray, violets, apple and a light nuttiness. Refreshing citrus acid on the palate, the flavours carry well and there is even a good amount of depth to the fruit. Has some bite to it that I find interesting and I really like this, punches well above its level. 90/100
  • NV Equipo Navazos La Bota de Manzanilla nº 42 – Spain, Andalucía, Manzanilla de Sanlúcar de Barrameda
    Sourced from Bodegas Sanchez Ayala, with the fruit coming from the Las Canas vineyard in Sanlucar. Smokey, earth, light hazelnut, pear and a chocolate raisin note to the nose. Rich and with great presence to the fruit, it is amazing how fresh and bright the palate remains, both from the acidity and the alcohol influence. Has good grip and length. 91/100
  • NV Equipo Navazos Manzanilla de Sanlúcar de Barrameda La Bota de Manzanilla Pasada Nº 50 “Bota Punta” – Spain, Andalucía, Manzanilla de Sanlúcar de Barrameda
    From a single cask, only 900 half bottles produced. Aged in a 600 liter American oak barrel for 15 years, with the first 10 years being under a layer of flor and the final 5 years with the barrel topped up and nearly full. The nose shows an oxidative leaning, with oatmeal, popcorn, apple and an intense nutty caramel streak throughout. That nuttiness is present across the whole length of the palate and it finishes with a great deal of persistence. Given the depth of the flavour, it is impressive how it retains finesse and class. Extremely good. 93/100
  • NV Equipo Navazos Jerez-Xérès-Sherry La Bota de Palo Cortado Nº 52 “Sanlúcar” – Spain, Andalucía, Jerez-Xérès-Sherry
    From the 2010 vintage and the Pago Miraflores vintage in Sanlúcar. Melon, nuttiness, straw and spice. Fairly light on the palate, the alcohol does show through a little bit as a result. Feels a bit angular, without the depth or roundness to give it some dimension. 88/100
  • NV Equipo Navazos Montilla-Moriles La Bota de Oloroso “Montilla” nº 46 – Spain, Andalucía, Montilla-Moriles
    Out of this world. Sourced from Bodega Perez Barquero. 25-30 years average age. Aromatically explosive and intoxicating – citrus rind, mango, salted caramel, apricot, a tinge of oxidative character and toffee. The palate is dry and very nutty, but there is richness via the glycerol that draws the length out to an unbelievable point. 21% alcohol and I didn’t pick it up on the nose, while it is more apparent on the palate, it feels very well integrated. One of the best wines I had in 2014. 96/100
  • NV Equipo Navazos Jerez-Xérès-Sherry La Bota de Amontillado Viejísimo Nº 49 “Bota A.R.” – Spain, Andalucía, Jerez-Xérès-Sherry
    Single cask resulting in 1200 half bottles. 55-80+ years average age. 22+% alcohol. Medicinal nose with orange, old oak, mixed herbs, charcoal and caramel also present. Intensity turned up to 12 on the palate, it is an overload of the senses. Alcohol and unbelievable extract, the layers and depth to this are incredible. A tiny, tiny bit is enough, this is an extreme experience and I feel exhausted just thinking about it again! Not something to have all the time but an honour trying it. 93/100
  • NV Equipo Navazos Gran Solera (May 2013) – Spain, Andalucía, Jerez-Xérès-Sherry
    Average age is 20-25 years. Chocolate, raisin and Christmas cake – less rancio on this bottle than the previous one I tried. The palate feels like concentrated raisin it is full bodied and has good length. For 425 g/l residual sugar, it is certainly sweet but it does well to retain balance and not feel cloying – though a small pour is plenty. 90/100
  • NV Equipo Navazos Jerez-Xérès-Sherry La Bota de Pedro Ximenez Nº36, Bota NO – Spain, Andalucía, Jerez-Xérès-Sherry
    Average 30 years old. Licorice, herb, cedar, coffee chocolate and caramel plus a little raisin (though not as much as the Gran Solera which was pure raisin). Utterly mouth-coating and the length is almost endless. A small pour is totally satisfying and yet I’d happily go back for more. Amazing wine. 94/100

Another set of overdue notes coming through, this time from a great dinner at Oscillate Wildly with a small set of friends. Some of my favourite dishes from the night are in the photos below;

Trumpeter, Radish and Ponzu

Beef, Shiitake and Sesame

“Strawberries and Cream”

NV Jacques Selosse Champagne Brut Initiale – France, Champagne
Disgorged 30/04/2013. Lemon, violet florals, ginger snaps and a light nuttiness that adds a layer to the nose that really appeals. The palate shows grand power, it is layered and intense with the pure vibrancy of the fruit also permitted to shine through. Would have been happy to drink this all evening! 92/100

2005 Domaine Matrot Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault 1er Cru
Quite fresh on the nose, it starts of with lemon, green apple and white florals and is followed by some pistachio as perhaps the only sign that it has much age on it. The palate has a richness that also has drive behind it and there is a saline streak that I adore in this type of wine. I don’t think it is a bottle for extreme long term aging but it is showing so well now and should continue over the shorter-medium term. One of the best bottles I’ve had from this producer. 92/100

2011 Domaine Armand Rousseau Père et Fils Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St. Jacques – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru
Served blind. Redcurrant, cherry and roses along with meaty and earth styled aromas, as well as some toasty oak showing through. The palate shows superb balance between the pure red fruit and some complex savoury elements. This is the perfect example of the beauty of Rousseau in its youth. 93/100

2010 Domaine Bruno Clavelier Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Aux Brulees Vieilles Vignes – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru
Corked. NR/100

2005 Bouchard Père et Fils Beaune 1er Cru Grèves Vigne de L’Enfant Jesus – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Beaune 1er Cru
Served blind. Decanted for 4 hours and apparantly had tightened up quite a bit since opening. It was still quite perfumed with raspberry, rhubarb, violet and some earthy hints. The structure is firm, with the youthful fruit and a good lift of acid providing a little bit of respite, but still feels like this needs plenty of time. 92/100

1996 Antinori Tignanello Toscana IGT – Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT
This seems more Cabernet-like at the moment, even though I know it isn’t a large % of the wine. Blackcurrant, cherry, smoke/ash and chocolate. Medium bodied palate, it isn’t super complex but it has some slightly plush fruit and the tannins still provide it with grip. Had a small amount left over two nights later and it was still drinking really well, so it likely has some time left to develop. 91/100

2009 Pedro Balda Rioja Majuelo de la Rad Cosecha – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
Cherry, raspberry, tobacco and some oak. Really good texture on the palate and a light touch with the tannin structure, this would match quite a lot of types of food. Very youthful but will improve for sure. Was glad to try this as I’ve been keen to for some time! 91/100

2003 Gunderloch Nackenheim Rothenberg Riesling Auslese – Germany, Rheinhessen
Pear, grapefruit, spice and peach aromas. Lovely balance, it has really good acidity behind it and as a result the sweetness doesn’t at all stand out. This grew the longer it was in the glass. Super good stuff. 91/100

Sydney La Paulée - Gala Dinner

I’m a few months late with these notes but this was the gala dinner at the end of a week of events for the Sydney Burgundy Celebration, organised by sommeliers Franck Moreau MS, Amanda Yallop & Michaël Engelmann MS. I also attended a large walk-around tasting the night prior and may post some quick notes on the highlights of that.

This BYO event gave our table of 10 the chance to bring out our very best bottles of Burgundy and I think we did very well! Most of these notes are based on a proper glass but I’ve tried to include if they were just a taste/splash from kind friends at other tables.

The food on the night was okay but not amazing, given the calibre of chefs involved I hoped for a bit better – but at least it let the focus on the night be the wines.

WA marron, salt water duck and white miso salad (Neil Perry)

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Roast quail, bacon toast and ravigote (Richard Purdue)

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Slow cooked beef cheeks, roasted celeriac purée, puffed wild rice (Peter Doyle)

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Époisses (Burgundy) and Fleuron Vache (Pyrénées) with black grapes,ficelle and crackers

The Wines:

  • 1995 Louis Latour Bâtard-Montrachet – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru
    Grapefruit, honey, pear and oak. Medium bodied with good texture starting to show, it is definitely still in a fresh phase but is taking on more complexity. I don’t think it will live for an extremely long time but it still has time to improve. 90/100

  • 1988 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier-Montrachet – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru
    Flinty and smoky with lemon and wax. Brilliant palate with oodles of texture and showing both youth and complexity. A sense of extremely fine balance along with great poise. Fantastic wine. 94/100

  • 2008 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier-Montrachet – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru
    Premox affected. NR

  • 2011 Domaine Ramonet Bâtard-Montrachet – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru
    Pepper and mint with candied lemon and peach – aromatics are very much open and singing. Delicious palate with superb acidity assisting the rich but precise fruit. Loved it! 94/100

  • 1999 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Musigny Bourgogne Blanc – France, Burgundy, Bourgogne Blanc
    The nose is quite expressive initially with citrus, florals, light licorice and light herbs coming through but with time in the glass it calmed down and was probably less interesting for it. The palate has a good hit of upfront richness but the mid-palate intensity dips away before the acid kicks in and picks things back up to drag the fruit into a medium length finish. Drink over the next couple of years.
    90/100

  • 1972 Maison Albert Bichot Meursault 1er Cru Charmes – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault 1er Cru
    Butterscotch, nutty and sea spray with plenty of toast – quite interesting though it’s maybe not appealing for everyone. Lots of toast and nutty character on the palate, though it’s a little one dimensional. Did improve in the glass before fading slightly. 88/100

  • 1929 Pierre Bourée Fils Chambolle-Musigny – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambolle-Musigny
    Quite stemmy and dusty earth on the nose – not a whole lot else. The palate is better than the nose, it’s light bodied and there is a light red fruit character still remaining. Nice to try but the age is showing. 86/100

  • 1929 Pierre Bourée Fils Gevrey-Chambertin Clos de la Justice – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin
    Great nose of cinnamon, leather, mint, cherry and earth. Good weight, in that aspect it is better than the last bottle – this one has some sweet fruit hanging on and the structure has receded but is still providing a frame. Considered, resolved and very good. 91/100

  • 1995 Bernard Dugat-Py Mazis-Chambertin – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru
    Great intense aromatics – strawberry, violets, cherry, rhubarb and meaty earthy notes. The palate has fantastically bright acidity and some serious structure to it. Ticking along very nicely. 93/100

  • 2006 Domaine Armand Rousseau Père et Fils Chambertin – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambertin Grand Cru
    Just had a tiny pour of this but it was memorable all the same. Bursts out of the glass – graphite, cherry, florals and spice. Brilliantly pure fruit and the wine has the structure and minerality to easily back it up into the long finish. 95/100

  • 2002 Domaine Armand Rousseau Père et Fils Chambertin – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambertin Grand Cru
    Another short taste but another awesome wine. More restrained aromatically than the 2006 but layered and serious with earth, spices and red cherry. The palate is where this really shines, with genuinely serious structure and imposing tannins that are not out of place with the clean dark fruit and a great core of acid. Super impressive now
    but give it time if you can! 96/100

  • 1996 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, La Tâche Grand Cru
    Complex aromatics that built constantly in the glass, evolving frequently and holding your attention for as long as you can give it. Meaty at first with huge doses of mixed spices, then raspberry and floral notes, followed by musk and cherry and earth. Seamless on the palate, is has immense class and vitality. Long and driven, this is
    without doubt brilliant. 96/100

  • 1998 Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier Musigny – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Musigny Grand Cru
    Fantastic nose with earthy and sappy forest floor, charcoal, roses and strawberry. Initially I’m surprised by the brightness of the red fruit on the palate, but I quickly encounter a very fine but pressing tannic element along with a more expected muscular and imposing structure. Amazing length and of course the wine as a whole should get even
    better from here. 94/100

  • 2004 Lucien Le Moine Clos de la Roche – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Clos de la Roche Grand Cru
    Tasted blind. Stems dominate with plenty of green character – pretty obvious it is 2004. Acidity on the palate is good and well integrated but there is a herbal edge that I just don’t like. 86/100

  • 1996 Domaine Armand Rousseau Père et Fils Chambertin – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambertin Grand Cru
    Extremely floral and perfumed right from the get go – along with supporting notes of earth, cherry and spice. The palate feels complete, with a wonderful feeling of composure. The acidity crackles and works so well with the light red fruits. Has started to show a little development but it’s still a long way from its peak. 96/100

  • 2008 Domaine Armand Rousseau Père et Fils Chambertin – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambertin Grand Cru
    Very perfumed nose along with pepper and spices, smoke and sweet red fruit. The palate on pouring is not immediately approachable, but given time in the glass it started to open ever so slowly. This wine is very serious and really is in need of slow consumption and contemplation at the moment. Essential to give it time if possible! 93/100

  • 2002 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Bonnes Mares – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Bonnes Mares Grand Cru
    Wickedly perfumed – violets, dark cherry, a meaty earthiness and tobacco – showing really well for such a young wine. Even the palate isn’t entirely standoffish, it’s seriously structured but there is enough fruit density and clarity to rise and provide pleasure already. Lovely wine and probably my favourite of these from 1998-2002 that
    I’ve tasted. 94/100

  • 2007 Domaine Dujac Clos St. Denis – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Clos St. Denis Grand Cru
    Sappy but pleasant nose with vanilla, roses, and raspberry. The palate exhibits fine acidity and light but high toned fruit, there are even the beginnings of some complexity, especially in the mouthfeel but the brightness from the acidity and fruit is still centre stage for now. 92/100

  • 2007 Domaine Armand Rousseau Père et Fils Chambertin-Clos de Bèze – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambertin-Clos de Bèze Grand Cru
    Have tried this once before and I commented on how it would have been the star on almost any other night – well at this event it happened to encounter a cavalcade of insane Burgundy, but still well and truly held its own. Meaty, black cherry, spice and musk aromas. Palate has excellent freshness and lift, with great length and depth to the fruit. A great wine that I hope to encounter a third time, on a night where it is allowed to shine bright! 94/100

  • 2008 Domaine Prieuré Roch Clos Vougeot – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Clos Vougeot Grand Cru
    Only a small taste of this – stemmy, violets, cinnamon and cranberry. Bright red fruit on the palate, this is drinking really nicely already, it has fine structure but I can’t see it going very long term. 91/100

  • 2003 Faiveley Chambertin-Clos de Bèze – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambertin-Clos de Bèze Grand Cru
    Dark nose of violets, mocha chocolate, vanilla and smoky perfume. Palate continues the impression of density with deep black fruits and a domineering tannic kick. Very persistent acidity does help and the length of the wine is excellent. I liked it ever still in this stage of its youth but to do it justice needs time. 92/100

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2008 Ulysse Collin Champagne Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs Les RoisesFrance, Champagne
October 2012 disgorgement. One of my favourite grower-producers. Touched by nutty oak, with honey, vanilla, apple, pear and chalk. The minerality and acidity cut a path through the honey tinged fruit, with fantastic balance for my taste. 92/100

2003 Domaine Louis Michel Chablis Grand Cru Les ClosFrance, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis
Toasty lemon, with sesame, honeycomb and florals. This took time to open up but was really very pleasant once it had. Rich on the palate but has control as well. Medium length and good flow. 90/100

2011 Coche-Dury MeursaultFrance, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault
Lot #3. Lemon scented, with flint, ginger, grapefruit and musky florals. Initially feels slightly broad on the palate but it focusses back in quite superbly toward the mid palate and finish – ending up with a feeling of precision. Plenty going on with this wine. 91/100

2006 Domaine Armand Rousseau Père et Fils Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St. JacquesFrance, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin
Complex aromas of spice, graphite, meat, floral and truffle notes. The tannins are ultra fine and they prop up the delicious red fruit. Composed and has fantastic length. Really lovely already. 93/100

2004 Domaine Rossignol Trapet ChambertinFrance, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambertin
Served blind. Vanilla oak, cinnamon, rhubarb and plum with a herbal edge to it. Black cherry fruit on the palate provides a certain roundness and while the herbal notes come through too they are interesting rather than distracting. Medium length, good texture, nice wine! 91/100

2006 Domaine Yves Cuilleron Côte-Rôtie La MadinièreFrance, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie
Menthol/eucalyptus, kirsch, some bretty type notes with plenty of oak and licorice. Rich on the palate with nice spice interwoven. The tannin is prominent and works well with the richness of the fruit. Very good. 90/100

2008 Château Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape ReserveFrance, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Lovely perfume – garrigue, strawberry, earthy and peppery spice with a touch of stem and perfumed red fruits. Very restrained palate, has very fine acidity with the light red fruit. A serious wine is here behind all the perfume and appeal. Came back to a small glass after two hours and it was singing. 93/100

2006 Azienda Agricola Valentini Montepulciano d’AbruzzoItaly, Abruzzi, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
What an idiosyncratic wine. Coffee, musk, licorice, blackcurrant, some herbs and cola. Superb energy, there is sweet black fruit that is cut through by sizzling acidity. Had great length and interest, really shining with food. Constantly changed and evolved in the glass. A great experience. 92/100

1999 Paolo Scavino Barolo CarobricItaly, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
Five spice, rose, licorice, tar and light chocolate aromas. Like the initial intensity on the palate, it is bold and the fruit has a tinge of richness to it, but it feels very well balanced. Excellent even now and has potential to develop for another 10 years or so. 93/100

1994 Soldera (Az. Agr. Case Basse) Brunello di Montalcino RiservaItaly, Tuscany, Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino
A fantastic nose – smoke, black tea leaves, rich red cherry, five spice, graphite and iron. The palate is brilliant, I wished my glass would never end. The detail and texture is outrageously good. Lovely balance between fruit and tannin – it is really drinking superbly well. Fantastic!! 96/100

2006 Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore OrnellaiaItaly, Tuscany, Bolgheri, Bolgheri Superiore
Mint, truffle, camphor, raspberry, kirsch and raspberry aromas – building layer upon layer each time you go back to it. Powerful, driven palate with acidity keeping it bright. Really needs another 10 years as it is all power and only slight nuance on the palate at the moment. 92/100

1995 Zilliken (Forstmeister Geltz) Saarburger Rausch Riesling AusleseGermany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Lemon, orange, grapefruit and even some sulphur still remains. Very dry feeling for an Auslese, there is great fruit purity and freshness. Not really showing any development, this is good but very very young. 90/100

My favourite two dishes on the night (The Bentley restaurant in Sydney);

Scampi + Shaved Lettuce + Avocado

Pork Cheek + Garlic and Yoghurt Puree + Radicchio + Jamon

JJ Prum 2012 Riesling

This trade tasting was held by the Australian importer for these wines (Bibendum Wine Co.) at Mr Wong restaurant in Sydney. As mentioned in my writeup of the 2011 range, I adore the wines of JJ Prum and they are one of my favourite wineries in the Mosel, so while I probably have some bias towards this estate I also hold them to a very high standard due to my lofty expectations.

The 2012 vintage in general across Germany is one that I’ve heard mixed reports on, but based on this tasting I feel that this was a very successful year for JJ Prum, especially among the Spatlese and Auslese wines. These are wines that are immensely pure and bright with acidity is lifted a notch up over the 2011s – while they are utterly delicious now they will reward patience and I believe will develop into classics. As I mentioned elsewhere, the only downside to this tasting was that breakfast the next morning was exceptionally mundane in comparison!

Here are my tasting notes of the 2012 wines that were shown and a 2004 for comparison, as well as a couple of photos of the excellent food that was matched with each flight;

  • 2012 Joh. Jos. Prüm Riesling Kabinett
    Initially there is a touch of funk but this backs away to show peach, lime and a light herbal note. Rounded mouthfeel via the off-dry level residual sugar and some luscious fruit, there is acidity present but it doesn’t assert itself as much as I would like it to. It does have some immediate appeal although the flavour does peter out slightly toward the finish. 87/100
  • 2012 Joh. Jos. Prüm Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Kabinett
    Leaps out of the glass aromatically, I could smell it before lifting my glass. There are wild floral notes, spice, orange peel and mandarin along with ripe peaches. The palate is perhaps not quite as exciting, it has medium fruit intensity with some depth to it and while it held its sweetness much better than the Estate Kabinett, I wish it were just a little bit more vibrant. 89/100
  • 2012 Joh. Jos. Prüm Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett
    Slate pervades the nose, with graphite, violets, lemon rind and some apricot notes supporting it. The fruit shows off lovely purity (a running theme throughout this tasting) alongside a frame of acid that provides a note of clarity and finesse, as such it rose above the other Kabinett wines today for me. With good drive and length, this was both impressive and delicious. 91/100
  • 2012 Joh. Jos. Prüm Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Spätlese
    Not as expressive and more held back right now compared to the Bernkasteler Badstube Kabinett, there is a little peach and a little lime and spending some time swirling coaxed these out just a little more. The sweetness is clearly a step up here compared to the Kabinett, though the tangy acidity also takes a leap forward and I actually like the balance on this more. Medium length with good potential to improve. 89/100
  • 2012 Joh. Jos. Prüm Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spätlese
    Bright aromas of lime, grapefruit chalk, flint and blood orange. The fruit intensity is probably the most dense of the three Spatlese that we tasted, which makes the job done by the acid extremely impressive – it twinkles across the palate and following the finish an impression of minerality remains. The sweetness is really a background character, although with the dish (steamed fish fillet with ginger and shallots) the tinge of sweetness really worked. wonderfully. 91/100
  • 2012 Joh. Jos. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese
    A burst of matchstick initially but this peels away and the resulting aromas are incredibly intense and perfumed – layered florals, pear, apple, slate and nectarine. The balance is exceptional, nigh on perfect, the sweetness is intertwined with brilliantly focused acidity and there is a sense of weightlessness even aside the great depth of flavour. One of the best young Spatlese I’ve ever tried – sublime stuff! 94/100
  • 2012 Joh. Jos. Prüm Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Auslese
    Spiced orange, pear and some tinned pineapple aromas. Very good honeyed fruit provides the weight with enough acidity to keep up. Nice but seems closed and lacks some of the excitement of the other Auslese for now. 90/100
  • 2012 Joh. Jos. Prüm Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese
    Lemon, white floral notes, talc and passion fruit make up the nose. The palate is electric, the acidity soaring and heightening your senses. Surges across the palate and I struggled to keep up at times – fortunately the persistence and carry is excellent so there is plenty of time to think about each sip. A very successful wine that was even better with food to accompany it. 92/100
  • 2012 Joh. Jos. Prüm Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Auslese
    Still very much in the Himmelreich slate/mineral driven style, but at this level I started to see more ripe fruits including peach, apple and pear along with some wax – it’s really quite lovely already and it even feels like it is holding back something more. The fruit character is one of precision, purity and great length, the acidity supporting and lifting the fruit up, finishing with a sense of purpose. 93/100
  • 2012 Joh. Jos. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese
    An exciting nose of peach, mandarin, apricot, white florals and a streak of lime. The sweetness and ripe fruit is delicious and yet there is poise and control at all times, there is some serious magic involved behind this balance. Elongated by a tight swath of acidity, this has the hallmarks of a classic. 93/100
  • 2004 Joh. Jos. Prüm Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Auslese
    A brief interlude from the 2012s, from the 2004 vintage that is described by the estate as having a similar feel. A note of kerosene is just starting to emerge, followed by orange peel, spices, slate and minerals. The development on the nose isn’t as evident on the bright and still youthful palate which is nonetheless starting to sing. Detailed and beautifully composed, this is a wine that has all the elements to develop over the next 15 years. If this is the direction the 2012s are headed then I need to make sure I have some 2012s put away. 92/100
  • 2012 Joh. Jos. Prüm Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel
    A serious amplification of intensity and ripeness on both the nose and palate, I needed a moment to step back and adjust my approach. Struck match, pineapple, grapefruit, flint and smoke. Ultra delicious, with the botrytis only just hinted at behind a wave of pure fruit. Mouth-filling though it doesn’t lack focus somehow, probably in part due to excellent texture. Superb, though patience will be rewarding! 94/100
  • 2012 Joh. Jos. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel
    Has an intensity to it similar to the 2012 Graacher Himmelreich, with a aroma profile including peach, pear, honey, deep floral perfume as well as a herb note on the side that provides an additional layer of interest. The sweetness here is intense but pure, avoiding dipping into syrup territory. There is a saline character to the acidity that enhances the flavour and cleanses the fruit. With a rich butterscotch sauce the sweetness retreated somewhat but the wine was not overwhelmed. A marvellous note to finish on. 94/100

Steamed Dim Sum

Fried Dim Sum

Mr. Wong’s special fried rice with pork and prawn

Steamed fish with ginger and shallots

Salt and pepper lamb cutlets, fennel and cumin

Wok fried baby bok choy with garlic, chilli and oyster sauce

Mango pudding, passionfruit granita, pomelo and pearls

Mr. Wong’s deep fried vanilla ice cream served with butter scotch sauce

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Late last year a few of our wine group got together to try to emulate the success of a friend’s birthday dinner at Black in 2012. There were fewer of us in attendance this time around, but we gave it a good shot and enjoyed some brilliant wines (a few bottles are not in the photo). I’ll highlight a couple of the highlights below;

We kicked things off with a (not pictured) bottle of NV Krug, probably with about 2 to 3 years bottle age on it (pre-dating the Krug ID system but with the new label) – it was drinking beautifully, peach and pear with nutty and complex earth aromas. Vibrant fruit and sizzling acidity on the palate. I adore grower Champagne, but when Krug is on song it is still one of my favourite wines.

I didn’t know what to expect from the 2002 Bernard Dugat-Py Charmes-Chambertin, the wines of Dugat-Py are controversial – some people adore them and others have a long list of criticisms including that they are over worked with huge extraction and density. My own experience has been very limited so I can’t be sure what side I fall on, but this bottle went a long way to convincing me that I’m on the side of those that would love to drink more! This was almost the polar opposite of some of the issues I listed above, it had an etheral, entrancing nose – earth, truffle, floral perfume and raspberry. Oh so brilliantly balanced, with lithe fruit and excellent but not at all ovebearing structure. Like most great wine it was very hard to pin down and it required real focus to tease out its beauty and detail. Continued to evolve and shift in the glass, with the last sip the best all night.

Another producer I’ve had not nearly as much experience as I’d like with, is Tenuta Greppo (Biondi-Santi) and his famed Brunello di Montalcino Riserva (from 2004 on this occasion). I’ve had a small number of older ones but not one this young. After the Dugat-Py I was sure that it would be incredibly difficult to top, but this rose and met the challenge with aplomb. Double decanted for about 8 hours. Cherry, autumn leaves, licorice, iron and roses – earthy and cinnamon aromas too, the complexity is outrageous. Lovely black fruit forms the base of the palate with plenty of depth and acidity supporting. Long and really lovely – superb!

Just the barest step behind the Biondi-Santi, but a wine that would have been assured of top billing on any other night was the 2005 Guigal La Turque. Predominantly Syrah with around 7% Viognier, the La La wines from Guigal would certainly be candidates if I were forced to pick a desert island wine. Superb aromatics – bacon and smoky charcoal, graphite and a real dark floral perfumed lift. The palate is certainly brooding in style, though it has a silky mouthfeel with some lovely spice to it as well. Needs time obviously but also obviously a very very fine wine.

The 2011 Mollydooker Velvet Glove was served blind by the birthday boy. Lots of the full on aromas you’d expect – blueberry, cassis, dark chocolate and raspberry. Rich and quite sweetly fruit driven, there is opulence to it but it has immense freshness and lift that pervades throughout the palate. Bold and viscous, it is really impressive how it manages to somehow not feel entirely over the top!

The final wine I’ll talk about is the 2010 Vieux Château Certan. I’ve essentially given up on the hope of buying top Bordeaux from good vintages again in my lifetime due to the expense involved, but there is the occasional opportunity to taste them thanks to generous friends. 86% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, the nose is a melange of powerful fruits including blackcurrant and plum, with graphite, stalk, earth as well as red cherry. Rich and with a distinct feeling of density, there is nevertheless excellent restraint and the balance is nigh on perfect for me. There is complexity to it already which is amazing considering the potential to evolve alongside the brilliant tannic frame. The more I tasted it, the more I liked it and I hope (pray) to get to try it again in the distant future.

A few photos of some of my favourite dishes from the night;

Beetroot, sheep’s milk curd, beetroot ash
Beetroot, sheep's milk curd, beetroot ash

John Dory, cured in sake, smoked milk w/ rock kelp crisp
John Dory, cured in sake, smoked milk w/ rock kelp crisp

Probably my top dish of the night: Steamed snapper, black vinegar, radish, mushroom
Steamed snapper, black vinegar, radish, mushroom