French dinner notes:
with Dungeness crab cake, Kobe beef tartare, and fresh oysters:
1995 Drappier Champagne Cuvee Millenaire – bottled for the year 2000, this bubbly showed even better than I’d hoped. Noiw showing a bit of pale straw colour, the nose was excellent yeasty and full, and it showed very good balance, excellent length and acidity, with time still to go, though it drinsk well now. We continued this wine with the next course, scallops with tomato confit and spiced vanilla sauce.
with a wonderful dish of fresh chanterelles, goat cheese and puff pastry with chive sauce, a couple of Burgundies:
1999 Albert Morot Beaune Toussaints 1 cru – a mature nonstinky nose with just a whiff of pong that quickly blew off.. Good pure fruit on palate, and a clean balanced finish. Very pleasant wine.
2002 Dom. de la Vougeraie Clos du Prieure Vougeot – this well structured wine started out well and kept getting better in the glass. Its most delightful aspect was the nose, which was very prettily perfumed and attractive to start with and was a real knock-out by the time I finished my aliquot. Elegant wine with soft tannin and a smooth round mouth feel, forward and drinking well now.
with a great venison chop with Madeira sauce and a foie gras cromoquis – a small fritter of FG that when popped in your mouth released the now liquid FG in a sensuous wave across the palate. My agitation for a platter of these was not heeded.
2000 Vieux Donjon Chateaneuf du Pape – as a long admirer of VD….let me rephrase that – as a Donjon aficionado, I was more than a bit surprised at how this wine showed. Grenache clearly featured in the nose, which was a little hot, but the tannins were mostly resolved and the wine was far more forward than I had anticipated. I have this in the cellar and was expecting something along the lines of a slightly lesser version of the wonderful 1998, but this was a lap dog compared to that proud hound. Pleasant for all that, but much gentler and more drinkable than I’d have thought.
1979 Vieux Chateau Certan – had you told me what this wine was before we tasted it blind, my expectation would not have been high. I checked my notes and I have tasted this only twice, both quite a few years ago in company with other 79s and 78s, and those notes indicate that it was getting long in the tooth even then. This bottle transcended that reputation and record, however. It still showed a very good fruit based nose with a bit of cocoa and obvious maturity, though I thought it perhaps a 1985 given the balance and fruit on palate. It still had good colour, was very smooth and really quite nice. Isn’t it fun when a bottle ‘fools’ you by showing like this?
1982 Ch, La Lagune – from my cellar, the first from a case I have stored there. Good colour. An interesting nose with a definite hint of mint that had some scratching their heads in puzzlement. I thought that the fruit to tannin balance was good; another taster thought the fruit a bit low compared to the significant remaining tannins. In any case, the tannins have softened and the wine drinks well now and I shall move this wine up to my drinking list!
2000 Ch. Smith Haut Lafite – a big wine with a primarily coffee scented nose with a mocha touch and I thought I detected just a hint of anise. The nose was warm, perhaps even slightly hot, but I forgot to check the label for alcohol content. Lots of extract and a slightly astringent finish left me wondering where this wine is going and when it will get there, but I liked it.