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 Ch√Ęteau 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

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