France Soir 11 Toorak Road, South Yarra 16th August 2012

Champagne, Pol Roger, NV	
Robert Arnoux, Clos de Vougeout, 1996
Frederic Esmonin, Mazy Chambertin, 2002
J.J. Confuron-Cotetidot, Vosne-Romanee, 1997
Carruades de Lafite, 2000
Pichon-Lalande, 1975
Mouton-Rothschild, 1997
Sauternes, La Tour Blanche, 2005
Sauternes, Suduiraut, 2005


Hi Folks,

Yet another fantastic Cellar Geek dinner, with a challenging wine theme (the food matching bit was easy :-)) and great company to enjoy them with.

I will download the pictures and send them around today. 

My brief-ish summary of the wines for the night:

1) Champagne - how good is it that a NV Pol Roger, cellared for a few years, could produce such a pleasurable drink displaying lovely toast and other enriching aged characteristics. What a great way to start dinner. I actually thought this champagne matched the oysters very well.

2) Burgundies - 3 edifying wines, a great bracket 

The Robert Arnoux Clos de Vougeout was elegant with intensity of fruit subtly revealed in layers, and hid its age well despite being the oldest of the three.

The Frederic Esmonin Mazy Chambertin was indeed muscular/masculine and full of fruit but also had a fair bit of secondary characteristics which hid its age as well! 

The Two GCs above offer two different styles of Burgundy for , one could be "feminine-elegant" and the other "Masculine-robust".

(Chambertin being the other commune capable of producing wines that could rival the power of Vosne Romanee made it quite challenging to pry apart. It's only in hindsight and reflection that the way to tell these two communes apart is the tannic structure, with Chambertin ever so slightly more refined than a Vosne-Romanee of the same vintage and comparable vineyard quality.)

The J.J. Confuron-Cotetidot Vosne Romanee village was my favourite for sheet enjoyment - it aged really well, still had loads of sweet red fruits made interesting by aged secondary flavours of savoury meats.

I thought this VR Village offered quite an educational insight: that a village from a great maker, opened at what I feel is the optimal age (and what an age for this level!) stood up so well to two GCs in this bracket. I am not saying it is better than the other two wines as those, with more ageing will eventually surpass the village. But it is such a great drink right now! 

3) Bordeaux - 3 different Pauillacs 

The 2000 Carruades de Lafite was amazing, I honestly thought it was the main wine (ok, I thought it was a Latour). In hindsight, it was such a great year that even the second wines of first growths are amazing wines. Classic Bordeaux, tightly coiled structure with laser-like cassis lines of fruit, superbly integrated oak and just a hint of development. I think this wine will need another 15 to 20 years to uncoil and unleash its potential.

I was very worried about the condition of the 1975 Pichon-Lalande as a previous bottle I had was past it. So I was very happy that this bottle actually turned out much better than expected. Loads of sweet black fruits, tobacco leaves, but quite tannic still. 1975 was reputed to be a very tough tannic vintage with many wine writers worrying that the tannins will never soften before the fruit fades. I think the tannins in this bottle have softened sufficiently, and whilst I usually don't decant wines older than 15 years, this one actually benefitted from it. 

Then there's the 1997 Mouton-Rothschild. What a great drink! This MR is drinking well and I think given the poor vintage rating, pretty much we've hit it at its peak. Again Classic Bordeaux cassis, pencil shavings, subtle/pleasing hint of capsicum, coffee, dark chocolate. I feel, a great comparison against the "young" Carruades and the "old" Pichon-Lalande.

4) Sauternes - not one but two! Thanks David!

I have not had a 2005 Sauternes and have read pretty much a lot of glowing reports about how great a vintage it was, even surpassing the 2001 (which I thought was stellar). 

Beautiful, just beautiful - great mouthfeel, superb texture, honeyed, glazed citrus/pineapple, nougat. Great pairing with the Roquefort - wish we had more of that. 

Thanks again, everyone for making it a memorable night with all your comments, insights and contribution. I look forwards to the next Cellar Geek event - hmm, I think it's my turn to organise...