The week-end of 12 to 15 September 2014 was one to remember, with tremendous impact on all senses.
My family and I began it by attending the Pharrell Williams concert at Forum in Copenhagen on Friday night. Great concert, starting with a bang and ending on a high note, with little let-up in between. Visceral impact from the speaker system, music to seriously get the rhythm sense going and PW in finest form, happy (!), inspirational, full-on funky yet elegant, balanced, delicate. In fact, much like great wine. We left elated. The rare class of artist that PW belongs to has shamanic powers, a knack for bringing people together and making them swing to the same rhythm, the same message, the same elusive glimpse of a better world for all.
The next day featured one of the recurring wine dinners I have with old wino friends, this time at my own house. More on that below. And, as if just to extend the week-end’s positive vibe, I attended a lovely, interesting tasting of Croatian wines on the Monday, care of my friend Marie von Ahm; more on that in a later post.
The menu for the wine dinner on the Saturday, care of yours truly:
– ”Dirty eggs” my way – soft-boiled quail’s eggs, crispy potato crumbs, saffron mayo, trout roe, tarragon and chervil
– Beetroot crisps, fresh goat’s cheese, black pepper, chives
– Tuna tartare, angelica liqueur, spruce oil, ginger
– Caramelized cauliflower, mussel ragout, emulsion of Skyr (low-fat acidified milk) and buttermilk, dill oil
– Panfried cod loin, zucchini alla poverella, fried fava beans, cheese emulsion, mint
– Chicken liver mousse, aubergine two ways (moutabbal/baba ghanouj and fried in batter), coriander oil
– Mushroom rye-otto, pan-fried veal sweetbread, braised endive, fried sage
– Pork cheeks, puffed pork rind, Jerusalem artichoke puree, braised beetroot with dog rose vinegar, beer/stock cooking jus reduced with noble rot solaris vinegar, chervil
– Tykmælk (acidified “thick” milk) panna cotta, blackberry/port/liquorice compote
I was happy to record two personal firsts with this menu: 1) The volume was sufficiently small to allow all to actually complete the full menu, and 2) all dishes actually came in as planned, without major mishaps. From subsequent reactions I gather that the guys were rather pleased with the menu, which pleases me no end. Difficult customers, high demands. Ego polished.
As usual, we had brought some of our best bottles. And as usual, they were all tasted blind. The following are tasting notes in chronological order, omitting colour notes, as usual, but with aspect for the bubblies.
White sparkling wine. Very fine, persistent bubbles. Nose of fresh citrus peel, crispy aromatic apple, hint of autolysis. Slim to medium weight, soft, rounded, dry. Long, repeating the nose, with a deeper, darker hint of sourdough rye. A lovely aperitif sparkler. The wine: Esterlin Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs NV.
White sparkling wine. Very fine, extremely persistent bubbles. Deep, rather dark nose of bruised apple, chalky minerals, umami/Maillard reaction, hints of dried ceps and rancio; extremely complex and interesting. Medium weight, dry, very elegantly balanced between considerable dry matter, taut fruit and ripe but abundant acidity. Very long, repeating the nose, emphasis on the mushroomy, rancio aromatics. Great wine, hugely complex. The wine: R&L Legras Champagne Brut Cuvée St. Vincent 1996. Legras is probably my favourite Champagne producer right now. Great range, and all of it not only complex, balanced and accomplished, but also affordable.
White still wine. Lovely, energetic nose with apricots, ripe citrus peel, toasted oak, hint of oysters. Medium weight, lovely plump fruit, good acidity, dry, with a hint of oak tannins. Good length, repeating apricots and citrus from nose, with added soft resinous herbal notes. The wine: Olivier Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1’er Cru Les Réferts 2010.
White still wine. Dryish nose with apricot, bruised apple, hint of oxidation (in the form of furniture polish), hazelnut. Powerful, round wine, dry, with hint of aged acidity. Very long, with hints of leather, apple leather, Fino Sherry and hazelnuts. Somewhat oxidized and past its best, but no mistaking the intensity and class. The wine: Domaine Amiot-Bonfils Le Montrachet Grand Cru 1991.
White still wine. Somewhat closed on the nose, tight, with peach, citrus peel, green herbs and flint dust. Medium weight, quite fat and soft, very smooth mouthfeel, dry. Good length, repeats aromatics from the nose, remaining somewhat closed and young, with a final hint of bitter orange. Too young yet, but great promise. The wine: Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault 1’er Cru Goutte d’Or 2002.
White still wine. Tight, intense, really energetic nose with boiled herbs, quince and cloves. Medium weight, dry, great acidity, firm and intense. Very long, very much repeating aromatics from the nose, but widened and detailed, with great intensity. Super! Wow! The wine: Dauvissat Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2004.
White still wine. Somewhat aged/premox nose, bruised apple, granite minerality, caramel/toffee, butter. Powerful, intense, dry, with lots of dry matter and a hint of bitterness. Very-very long and intense, but compromised by premox. The wine: Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault 1’er Cru Charmes 1995.
Red still wine. Tight, berryish, juicy nose with cranberries, gunpowder, anise and hint of autumn leaves. Light to medium weight, tight/juicy, mild tannins, finely balanced acidity, very pleasant mouthfeel. Fine length, recalls aromatics from nose, emphasizing autumn leaves and with a hint of dried ceps. Lovely, hugely drinkable wine. The wine: Domaine Pierre Amiot Clos de la Roche Grand Cru 1997.
Red still wine. Initially a hint of dank cellar, but that dissipated, leaving a complex, finely fruited wine with redcurrants, cherries, cranberries, a tight/intense note of anise, sweet liquorice, then autumn leaves, funghi, leather. Medium weight, firm and tight, but smooth and fine, intense, lovely mouthfeel. Very long, again initially with a dank cellar hint, but that faded, leaving long, fading notes of anise, fennel and liquorice. Lovely wine once given some air. The wine: Domaine Armand Rousseau Le Chambertin Grand Cru 1994.
Red still wine. Delicious, dark nose of graphite, cigar box, green lobster shell extract (!), mulberries, cranberries and a hint of sweet wood tar. Medium weight, lithe, elegant, mild, with fine-grained tannins. Very long and lovely, repeating the nose, fading slowly away on notes of beautiful red fruits. Great wine, mature Bordeaux from before they went astray. The wine: Château Mouton Rothschild 1978.
Red still wine. Initially, chlorine cellar nose, almost reminiscent of TCA, but with time in the glass developed into a glorious, mature Bordeaux nose with notes of graphite, cigar box, anise. Medium weight, very fine-grained tannins, dry and soft. Very long, lovely complexity of dark ripe mulberries, graphite, cigar box, spices. The wine: Château Montrose 1982. Apparently, the deceptive initial chlorine nose is a hallmark of this particular wine.
Red still wine. Dark, tight nose with dried ceps/umami, extract of blackcurrants, bark, liquorice, rosemary and anise; very interesting. Medium weight verging on big, handsome tannins, lovely acidity, lots of dry matter. Long, with tight red berries and otherwise as per nose, fading away with a hint of anise. The wine: Domaine Chevrot Santenay 1’er Cru Clos Rousseau 2008.
Red still wine. Deep, dark nose of perfumed dark berries, hints of bark and cigar box, moss. Medium weight, juicy, soft, round, with lots of very soft tannins, almost sweet in its fruitiness. Long and perfumed, warm and soft, with bark, liquorice, blackcurrants, anise. Just on the soft, sweet side for me. The wine: Château Figeac 1995.
Red still wine. Juicy, delicious nose with pomegranate, smoked greenness, vanilla and touches of acidified milk and tar. Medium weight verging on big, dry/big/grainy tannins, somewhat low acidity. OK length, weakly reminiscent of the nose. Did not quite follow up on very interesting nose. The wine: Château Phèlan-Segur 2008.
Red still wine. Intense, spicy nose with dark and red berries, iron, graphite and a touch of anise. Medium weight, intense and powerful, yet light on its feet and balanced, with finely-grained soft tannins and lovely balancing acidity; a commanding, handsome presence. Very long, austere, aromatics as per the nose, fading slowly away with anise and bark. Super, seamless perfection. The wine: Domaine Meaume Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru 1996.
Red still wine. Lifted, light-red-fruity nose with leather, tar, truffles and dried rose; a deeply classical, intense nose. Medium weight, tight-juicy, beautiful acidity, lots of soft and finely-grained tannins. Very long, with red berries, anise, leather, liquorice and a touch of shaly hydrocarbons. Beautifully balanced, classical wine. The wine: Giacomo Conterno Barolo Cascina Francia 1997.
Red still fortified wine. Tight, muscular nose, spicy with both green herbs and oriental spices, liquorice, cranberries and a balsamic hint; super nose, complex and handsome. Medium weight, tight, good young tannins, the dryness of tannins and considerable dry matter contrasting beautifully with the sweetness. Very long, red-fruited, fading away with anise and liquorice, juicy and fresh, despite the complexity of evident age. Great wine, decades still ahead of it. The wine: Gould-Campbell Vintage Port 1970.
That wine concluded the evening in a resounding manner, both in terms of its taste impact and in terms of the sheer alcoholic strength, the coup de grâce, as it were, to a long and gruelling session.
Looking back over the list, this was an extremely francophone line-up, even worse than normal. I was in fact the only one to have presented non-French wines. But then, the French do make great wine once in a while, and perhaps the somewhat experimental character of the menu, which was announced in advance for people to be able to bring along matching wines, had prompted the guys to make relatively safe bets in wine terms.
Luckily, we’ll all be meeting again shortly, for an out-of-number 60th birthday celebration with a game theme. We have been instructed not to bring any wine ourselves, so can probably expect an impressive line-up of things someone has been collecting for quite a while.
I can’t wait.