This is still a work in progress as I upload tasting notes and wine labels from as far as 1999... Check back once in a while to get the updates.

October 31, 2010

Les Forts de Latour dinner

Dinner tonight was at Pierre with a range of Les Forts de Latour.  Altaya Wines organized one of only a handful of tastings of Les Forts ever held, with the help of Frédéric Engerer and Florence Rogers-Pinault who were in attendance.

Latour had always emphasized that Les Forts de Latour is not really a "second wine", since the grapes come from its own, designated vineyard and not made with grapes that didn't make it into the grand vin.  Tonight Frédéric wanted to make sure that message got across to us.  The initial goal had been to make a wine that is as good as the Second Growths, and he felt the quality of the wines is certainly at least worthy of Third Growth status.

1999 Les Forts de Latour - this was drinking beautifully, and took me by surprise.  Nose of smoke, saddle, pine needle, game meat, black pepper...and even a little bit of sweetness on the nose. 

2006 Les Forts de Latour - nose of herbal medicine, smoked duck with a hint of sharpness that reflects its youth.  Complex and exotic nose of nutmeg, coconut, mint, toffee and spices.  Almost a hint of sandalwood.  Pretty awesome and I would love to taste this wine again in 10 years.

2004 Les Forts de Latour - nose of mint and smoke, very open and fragrant.  Very round and balanced.

2003 Les Forts de Latour - what a wine!  Minty, open and fragrant, exotic with lots of spices, along with the sweetness I expect from such a ripe vintage.  Such a pleasure to drink now.

2001 Les Forts de Latour - smoky, minty with good amount of fruit, but not as sweet as other vintages.  A hint of grass.  Pretty smooth on the palate.  Lovely.

1990 Les Forts de Latour - sweet, exotic and ripe with notes of smoke, pain grillé and a bit of grilled meats.

1970 Les Forts de Latour en magnum - vegetal and green, smoky, leathery with prominent soy sauce notes.  Not much fruit left here.  Light and smooth on the palate.  Honestly a little disappointed, although it could have been the bottle variation.  I've had the '70 Latour on numerous occasions, including a magnum tasted last year at the château itself thanks to Frédéric's generosity.  There is a huge difference here between the grand vin and Les Forts. No doubt a big part of the difference comes from the age of the vines - the vines were only planted in the early '60s, and would have been less than 10 years old when this vintage was made.  In any case the wine is pretty much over the hill.

2005 Les Forts de Latour - a huge wine.  Nose was sweet and exotic with caramel, toffee and spices.  I could see that after being double-decanted for more than 3½ hours, it still wasn't completely open.  Another wine I would love to taste in another 10 years...and compare with the 2006.  Frédéric's money is on the 2006...

2000 Les Forts de Latour - minty, smoky, leather and fruity.  Actually a very well-balanced wine on the palate, with enough acidity.  Certainly drinking very well tonight.

Full post on the dinner is here.

October 29, 2010

A pair of aromatic wines

Dinner at Cipriani.

2000 Malartic-Lagravière Blanc - this wine definitely met my expectations.  Nose of minerals, pipi de chat, toasty oak, lemon, fragrant and floral, buttery and a hint of muscat.  Very aromatic and enjoyable.
2002 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Coastlands Vineyard - very fruity, jammy, full of strawberries, bubble gum, vanilla and a bit alcoholic.  A bit hot on the palate.

October 27, 2010

Krug Champagne in the Krug Room

Dinner at the Krug Room

Krug Grande Cuvée - always my favorite and did not disappoint. Honey, lightly toasted oak, yeast and a little sweet on the nose. Kinda acidic.

Krug Grande Cuvée en magnum - I figured we wouldn't have enough alcohol so I brought the magnum that I was dying to get rid of... Definitely more "fresh" and lively compared to the 2 bottles we drank up earlier.

1998 Krug - pretty sweet and toasty nose, with lots of ripeness and caramel later on as it opened up more.

1970 Montrose - given to the birthday boy as a present, the condition of this bottle (sourced from my friend at Altaya Wines) was impeccable. Exactly what I would want and expect from this wine. Mint, sweet grass, sweet fruit, cigar smoke and even some savory notes. The wine has clearly aged and developed but it tasted incredibly fresh and vibrant.

Krug Rosé - minerals and oak, with some salty preserved plum (話梅) in the nose.

Estrella Damm Inedit - this was the famous "El Bulli beer", as it was made by Estrella Damm especially for Ferran Adria and his team. The label says it's brewed with spices, and I definitely thought it was a floral, fruity version of Hoegaarden. After all, the beer was brewed from hops and wheat, so there are similarities with the famous Belgian white beer.

Full notes on dinner is here.

October 26, 2010

Le Tertre-Roteboeuf tasting

Tasting of Le Tertre-Roteboeuf wines at Classified Exchange Square, with Louis Mitjavile on hand.

2007 Le Tertre-Roteboeuf - fruity, smoky, sharp alcohol, soy sauce (or in any case definitely something savory), roast meat. Obviously a little too young. On the palate the wine was actually reasonably soft and approachable.

1996 Le Tertre-Roteboeuf - nose was very open and beautiful, a little sweet and jammy, with mint, herbs and a bit smoky. Initially I thought the wine was smooth on the palate, but with each following sip I felt the chewy tannins more and more - pretty surprising for this vintage.

2003 Roc de Cambes - fragrant and beautiful, fruity, prunes, smoky, exotic, coffee and jammy. A bit hot on the finish. A very complex wine, and not at all surprising given the vintage.

2006 Le Tertre-Roteboeuf - sweet nose with pine needle, mint, a hint of smoke. Generally pretty straightforward. Second pour was much more opulent and enjoyable.

1999 Roc de Cambes - kind of muted, with a hint of smoked meats, some fruit and mint on the nose. Smooth on the palate.

2005 Roc de Cambes - nose was really open and showy, with lots of sweet toffee, a little smoke, mint and sharp alcohol.

2000 Le Tertre-Roteboeuf - ripe and sweet nose of toffee. Powerful and exotic. Definitely a crowd-pleaser, and the crowd drained the wine in no time!

1997 Le Tertre-Roteboeuf - Louis has a soft spot for this vintage, as it's the first vintage where he helped his father make the wine. Minty, kinda nice and open, with a bit of sweet grass and a little roast meat. Smooth and silky on the palate.

Full notes on the tasting is here.

October 23, 2010

An aromatic mix

Dinner at a friend's house.

2006 Muffato della Sala from Antinori - very sweet with lots of honey in the nose.

2004 Pazo Piñero de Lusco Albariño - I wanted an aromatic white. Unfortunately I had waited past the wine's prime, and the nose was flinty, mineral, lemon citrus and very toasty. No more fresh and floral notes. Pretty high acidity on the palate. 
1989 Lou Dumont Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Charmes Léa Sélection - this was opened to match the veal, although my original plan also called for a white wine to match. This was a very beautiful wine, which I decanted about 1½ hours before we got to drink it. Big, sweet and fruity nose, with black dates,sous bois, smoked meats notes. Absolutely lovely and feminine - just what I'd expect from a Chambolle. 

2005 Kongsgaard Viognier/Roussanne - sadly, I had also waited a little too long to pop the cork on this one, so we did not get the floral notes from the Viognier immediately. But the wine was still delicious, with notes of honey, marmalade, marzipan, a hint of chalk. The floral notes came out later - almost like osmanthus.

Bijofu Yuzu Liqueur (美丈夫ゆずリキュール) - still wonderfully fragrant and full of that citrus flavor.

Full notes on dinner is here.

October 20, 2010

White wines for crab

Dinner at Tien Heung Lau (天香樓).

2005 Marc Morey Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Referts - nose of minerals, sweet and really ripe.  A little hot on the palate but with a slightly acidic finish.  Nicely balanced.

2002 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Vintage Rich - definitely "richer" and sweeter than your average Brut, since this is Sec.

2007 Ram's Hill Sauvignon Blanc - I think most people had no idea who made this wine, so had very low expectations.  This limited production "reserve" wine from Marchese Lodovico Antinori - who makes a very delicious New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc under the Mount Nelson label - blew us away.  It was intense and rich, with an explosion of fruit like muscat and white grapes, minerals, flint and green apple.  The only other New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc which gives me this much pleasure is Cloudy Bay's Te Koko, but some of us think Ram's Hill may be even better.  I think this calls for a blind tasting face-off!

2005 Hétszőlő Tokaj Late Harvest - lots of honey, marmalade, acetone and floral notes.  Pretty sweet since it's a late harvest wine.  I was always under the impression that Tokajs are made only with Furmint, but that just shows you how little I know... This was made with 95% Hárslevelű and definitely very fragrant, thanks to maceration with the skin.

Full post on dinner is here.

October 18, 2010

2006 Taille Aux Loups Montlouis Sec Rémus

Dinner at Tim's Kitchen (桃花源小廚).

2006 Taille Aux Loups Montlouis Sec Rémus - showed floral notes along with orange marmalade and honey.  Nose was kind of sharp.

Full post on dinner is here.

October 17, 2010

Brunello and Barolo

Dinner at Kimberley Chinese Restaurant (君怡閣).

2003 Siro Pacenti Brunello di Montalcino - sous bois, pine needle and a little sweet.

2004 Marengo Barolo Brunate - some spices and potpourri.

Full post on dinner is here.

October 16, 2010

MNSC Dinner - Tim's Kitchen Macau

MNSC dinner at Tim's Kitchen (桃花源) in Macau, hosted by Dayliao.

First came a flight of white wines, which were a pair of 2002 Meursaults from Comte Lafon:
2002 Comte Lafon Meursault 1er Cru Goutte d'Or - muted nose with some oak, vegetal, chalky and minerally.

2002 Comte Lafon Meursault 1er Cru Les Charmes - a bit ripe, oak, sweet on the palate, and also hot on the palate.

First flight of reds was a pair of 1991s:
1991 Comte de Vogüé Bonnes-Mares - ripe and mature. Suddenly oyster sauce notes emerged, along with a little salty plum (話梅). Really silky smooth on the palate. Later on the wine was much more acidic. 91 points.

1991 Dominus - brett and medicinal, smoky, lead pencil and some fruit. 93 points.

Second flight of reds was a pair of 1994s:
1994 Dominus - mint, smoky, brett, sweet and a bit of caramel. Should have known from the caramel that this wasn't French... 93 points.

1994 Latour - initially closed, later some smoke. Actually still a little tannic. 94 points.

Third flight was a pair of 1988 Clos de la Roche:
1988 Dujac Clos de la Roche - very fruity, sweet and full of berries. Vibrant and lively. 95 points.

1988 Hubert Lignier Clos de la Roche - orange marmalade, a little farmy, nose seemed a little cooked. A little grassy and vegetal, with some potpourri. 93 points.

Last flight was a pair of 1985s:
1985 Margaux - very bretty and medicinal, green, vegetal, mint, and almost a little ripe on the finish. 94 points.

1985 Mouton-Rothschild - ripe with a little brett, and a little sweet on the nose. 94 points.

Full post on dinner is here.

October 8, 2010

All-Rhone evening

Dinner at Tubino. Theme was an all-Rhone line-up.

2002 Gonet-Medeville La Grande Ruelle - this small production blanc de noirs was very very yummy. Prominent nose of minerals, yeast, lemon, slight hint of caramel giving sweetness, gooseberries... Very fragrant and beautiful.

1997 Chapoutier de L'Orée - for some reason I've always had trouble with this wine... and once again it was too cold when we opened the bottle. Straw notes and very ripe and hot on the palate. Much later the nose turned chalky. Not a good thing...

2000 Rayas - notes of tea, tropical fruits, violet and floral, bacon fat, smoked meats and pine needle. Color was incredibly light for a wine that is still relatively young. Syrupy. If I didn't look at the color, I would have figured it to be Guigal's La Mouline. The classic telltale lychee notes of Rayas were curiously absent. A very beautiful wine, and most certainly my wine of the evening by far.

1995 Château de Fonsalette Cuvée Syrah - while the wine was also made by Rayas, the difference between the two bottles was like night and day. Even thought this was an older wine, its color was much, much darker thanks to the Syrah, and the wine was much more powerful, even a little sharp in terms of alcohol. Nose was a little minty.

2001 Chapoutier L'Ermite Rouge - notes of forest, potpourri, smoke and coffee. Once again, a prestige cuvée 100-point Chapoutier that didn't even come close to wowing me.

2002 Two Hands Ares - kicked Chapoutier's butt... spicy, sweet and syrupy, very typical Aussie Shiraz... ripe prunes, blackberries, then turned herbal and medicinal - like Chinese 涼茶, and a little coconut butter. Yes, I do appreciate high-octane Aussie Shiraz...

2000 Guigal La Landonne - pretty minty and fruity. Nose wasn't as open as its sibling, which was to be expected. After all, the pair is still relatively young at 10 years of age!

2000 Guigal La Mouline - some fruit in the nose, a little more floral than its sibling, with some sweetness and bacon fat. Even a little sharp on the nose. Amazingly, this wine actually paled in comparison to the Rayas from the same vintage.

2003 Pegau Cuvée da Capo - very powerful and alcoholic. Still needs more time to develop.

1998 Pegau Cuvée da Capo - I brought this bottle to match the 2003, knowing there was a little risk involved. I bought the wine on release from a reputable London broker, and hand-carried it back from London one winter several years ago. The first bottle I opened a few years ago was cooked. Very obvious heat damage. So I brought this bottle with some trepidation. This bottle was not cooked, but corked. Very prominent vegetal nose. We asked the restaurant for some cling wrap, swirled it in the glass to let it absorb TCA. While the others thought it worked well, I still smelled nothing other than vegetal notes in my glass... Oh well. What a huge disappointment!

2005 Pibranon - I got nothing out of the muted nose.

2007 Clos des Papes - I couldn't get anything out of the nose other than minty notes. Either the wine wasn't open enough, or my olfactory abilities had been shot by this point thanks to the amount of alcohol I consumed. I vote for the latter...

Full post on dinner is here.

October 7, 2010

2003 L'Esprit de Chevalier + 1990 Guiraud

Dinner at On Lot 10.

2003 L'Esprit de Chevalier - this was pretty dry when I first tasted it. It got better.

1990 Guiraud - this mature Sauternes drank very well. Definitely lots of honey, marmalade and honeydew melon in the nose. Very yummy.

Full post on dinner is here.

October 5, 2010

1940 Angelus

1940 Angelus - drank at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Taipei for dad's 70th.   I didn't have any expections for this wine.  After all we've drunk bottles of Latour and Haut-Brion in the past, and 1940 ain't exactly a stellar vintage. Still, it was the significance of the vintage.  Benoit didn't decant the wine, and poured it into glass pretty much right after opening.  Initially there was nothing but preserved plums in the nose, although it wasn't as intensely savory as I'd expected.  There was also some sun-dried tomatoes and a hint of smoked meats.  The wine improved after a wine and gained a little more body.  Nothing spectacular but it served its purpose well tonight.

Full post on dinner is here.

October 1, 2010

1996 Peter Michael Chardonnay Belle Côte

1996 Peter Michael Chardonnay Belle Côte - drank at Whisk.  This was just too sweet, and definitely over the hill. The nose was clearly oxidized, caramelized, with honey, straw, white flowers and marmalade. Kinda alcoholic at 13.9% and burned a little...
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