Arv Rao lured 4 thirsty and hungry oenofools to Phoenix Garden in midtown for a CdP-fest. Châteauneuf and Cantonese? I confess I was sceptical. The food was actually very very very good- we had honey pork ribs, salt & pepper shrimp, scallops, shrimp dumplings, snow pea leaves, peking duck, a braised duck with black mushrooms, and my personal favorite, an oyster-tofu-pork casserole. Only the shrimp dishes were actually a bad match with the red Rhones, but the dishes themselves were tasty -I could come back for a Chablis/Savennieres dinner with all shrimp or squid.
Because of my scepticism, I had also brought along a bottle of the 2001 Dönnhoff Norheimer Dellchen Riesling Kabinett (Nahe). Closed at first. Seems fairly dry for Dönnhoff, big apple and talc-y mineral notes, some lime zest. Did well with the salt&pepper shrimp (with chive and jalapeno). B+/A-
On to the Châteauneuf-du-Papes:
1989 Le Vieux Donjon
Round, mature, almost Burgundian. Medium-bodied, but with full flavors. A little brett but in the "delicate pleasing accent" category rather than the "horse with a poor diet" category for me (I'm moderately brett-tolerant). Nice, I quite enjoyed. B+
2003 Le Vieux Donjon
This is probably my favorite 2003 CdP I've tasted to date.
This was probably my least favorite wine of the night.
Big, ripe, more Aussie than Rhone, but with less overcooked jam and more acidic structure than some '03 CdPs. B
Brawny and earthy, big red fruit, a bit tannic. There's an herbiness that adds a pleasant accent. Nice,needs time. B+
1995 Clos des Papes
Rather delicate after the Beau, nice red plum fruit with garrigue and licorice. B+/A-
1998 Clos des Papes
Bigger and riper, but not overdone. I get a slight roasted note, others argue that it's more raisiny. I think this is quite good, but in need of more time. B+/B
A pretty good showing across the board. Not sure I would buy the 2003 Vieux Donjon, but I would happily drink it if served. All of the others were wines I'd consider buying if I ran across at a good price. Thanks to Arv for organizing.
Grade disclaimer: I'm a very easy grader, basically A is an excellent wine, B a good wine, C mediocre. Anything below C means I wouldn't drink at a party where it was only choice. Furthermore, I offer no promises of objectivity, accuracy, and certainly not of consistency.