This dinner is an annual event organised by a member of a tasting group I recently joined. He is starting to host some public dinners and upcoming events can be viewed here.
The event was hosted at Arras restaurant and they did a great job with a custom menu to match the wines. The food was mostly excellent – similar to a few weeks prior when I visited for a Champagne dinner and there were a couple of dishes that didn’t quite work for my taste.
I had a seriously good time – most of the wines were at the very least interesting and there were a number of WOTY contenders. I’m looking forward to next year!
- 1985 Krug Champagne Brut – France, Champagne
Golden coloured. The nose shows development, with hazelnut, cocoa, earthy notes and some ginger and caramel. The palate showed (excellent and trademark) power, richness and depth. I felt that this bottle was around its peak and probably missing some vibrancy to take it to the next level, though there was no sign that it was going to fall over in the glass. 92/100
- 1979 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut La Grande Dame – France, Champagne
The nose was appealing complex, with sea spray and seaweed, graphite, honey and floral notes. Some seriously impressive cleansing acidity on the palate gave the wine vibrancy and driving focus. While it didn’t have the depth of the Krug served by its side, it was equally enjoyable in its own style and should hold for some time based on this bottle. 92/100
- 1953 Staatsweinguter Kiedricher Gräfenberg Riesling Auslese – Germany, Rheingau
Utterly magnificent nose of chocolate, raisins, apple, ginger and coffee – if it weren’t for the long list of great wines ahead, I would have been happy to appreciate the complex and layered aromas on this all evening. The palate had a surprising level of pure sweetness to me but it was delicious regardless, with a core acidity that carried the wine into a lingering finish. A complete wine and an amazing experience. 95/100
- 1976 Freiherr Langwerth von Simmern Eltviller Sonnenberg Riesling Auslese – Germany, Rheingau
There is a very ripe tropical fruit element to both the nose on this wine as well as passion fruit, yellow and white floral notes, some spearmint and a touch of kerosene. The palate is rich and ripe as well, but there is balance through the acidity. Good length and delicious at a superficial level, it could use a touch more depth to be brilliant but it hardly matters when it is enjoyable like this. 91/100
- 1929 Château d’Yquem – France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
A Belgian négociant bottling. Deep brown, with a rusted-gold coloured core. The nose showed volatility initially but revealed ground coffee, orange peel, quince, marzipan and roasting nuts during its time in the glass. The palate is extraordinary – out of this world in fact, a striking richness paired with flawless acidity which led into an explosive and nearly endless finish. After an hour in the glass it had built and somehow amplified in intensity. This was a superb wine with no doubt, but if I may be permitted one criticism it is that the nose didn’t quite hit the same level of brilliance as the palate, but this is a minor point in the overall context. I left some in my glass until near the end of the dinner and it wasn’t until the last stretch, after many hours, that it finally started to fade away. A privilege to try and something I’ll remember for a long time. 96/100
- 1978 Domaine Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Ruchottes – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru
Intense sesame oil aromas, followed by sencha tea leaves and an earthy edge. The palate has a somewhat pleasant oily textural element, but it suffers from a serious lack of depth and falls a touch flat at the end. The nose was more interesting than the palate, but this didn’t hit any heights for me. 87/100
- 1962 Masson-Dubois Meursault Charmes – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault
Muted nose, there are some roast nuts and oxidative notes. The palate is disjointed and flat, finishing short. Despite still being just drinkable, it has sadly faded well past its best.
- 1949 C Marey & Liger-Belair Richebourg – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Richebourg Grand Cru
Fantastic nose of earth, sour red cherry, autumn leaves, stems and a undercurrent of florality. The palate had lovely complexity and texture, while still having a woven core of red fruit and acid lifting the wine. A terrifically appealing and balanced wine across all its elements. 93/100
- 1964 Enrico Serafino Barbaresco – Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
Leather, smoke and some cloves on the nose. The palate is drying out, with the tannins not fully resolved and sticking out a little bit. Austere and I think it was probably suffering from some brett as well. It was more drinkable than I have made it sound, just not providing great enjoyment. 85/100
- 1967 Enrico Serafino Barbaresco – Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
Older in colour than the 1964, with some browning around the edges – but it is actually more youthful to me initially otherwise, on the palate especially. The nose is strongly iodine dominant, but there is smoke, iron and graphite as well. The palate doesn’t have great depth, but there was some fruit remaining and was pleasant enough to drink. It did start to fade in the glass after not a huge amount of time, so drink now. 88/100
- 1961 Château Montrose – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
The aromas were muted at first, but they opened with time to display cherry, spice, redcurrant and tobacco. The classy palate was the highlight for me, lovely subtle red fruit and integrated structure. Balanced and with good length, I think this will continue to hold but not improve over the short-medium term. 91/100
- 1929 Château Abel Laurent – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
From a producer that was later absorbed into Chateau Margaux. The nose is complex and intriguing – peppermint up front, then bacon, earth, praline and coffee. The palate is not as riveting, it has some remnants of black fruits with enough structure to give it purpose across its medium length. For me it held up reasonably well in the glass, though some others noticed it falling over fairly quickly. A really interesting wine that I enjoyed experiencing. 90/100
- 1961 Château Coutet – France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Barsac
The nose here is enticing, with brown sugar, mandarin, cinnamon and light apricot. The palate has a large dose of sweetness but there is a nice line of acidity and it ends with good length. Ready to drink now. 90/100
- 1953 Staatsweinguter Kiedricher Gräfenberg Riesling Edelbeerenauslese Cabinet – Germany, Rheingau
Incredibly complex and layered nose of swirling floral aromas, chocolate, butterscotch, sultana and caramel – one of those wines where you keep picking up on more elements every time you return to it. The palate is flat-out brilliant – there is stunning concentration and intense richness that is bound by a coil of some of the most amazing acidity I’ve ever encountered. To describe the length as long would be to do it a disservice as it went so far beyond long. For me this was the highlight of the night among some exceptional wines. 97/100