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Jay Labrador

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WTN: Chateau La Nerthe dinner

by Jay Labrador » Thu Jan 24, 2013 12:29 pm

One of the oldest estates from Chateauneuf du Pape is Chateau La Nerthe which has its origins in the 12th century. It is also unusual in that it uses all the 13 grape varieties authorized for Chateauneuf du Pape. The importer of this estate’s wines, Straits Wine Company, organized a dinner at the Makati Shangri-La’s Red restaurant showcasing several vintages of La Nerthe going back to 1988. On hand to provide commentary on the wines was La Nerthe’s Export Director, Christophe Bristiel and Red’s Sommelier Daniel Blais.

Upon arrival I was immediately handed a glass of Chateau La Nerthe Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc 2011. This wine is dominated by a talcum powder aroma. Light to medium bodied with mineral and lemon notes, a fine acidity frames the wine. This shows good length as well. Very good.

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Chateau La Nerthe Blanc 2011 by jaylabrador.winesteward, on Flickr

The first wine poured after we were seated was the Chateau La Nerthe Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc 1993. Light orange/gold. Quite honeyed on the nose with a touch of oxidation as well. This has a gentle butterscotch sweetness that made me think of an aged, low-puttonyos Tokaji. Slightly bitter on the finish but with good length. A rather lightish wine but I like the way it’s put together. Excellent. This was accompanied by a poached white prawn with a Peckhams Triumph pear compote, prosciutto bits and Madagascar vanilla oil powder. Mr. Blais commented that the pear notes in the compote would complement the pear notes in the wine but I wasn’t convinced by the pairing. It was neutral at best to my taste.

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Chateau la Nerthe Blanc 1993 by jaylabrador.winesteward, on Flickr

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Poached prawn, pear compote, prosciutto bits, Madagascar vanilla bean oil powder by jaylabrador.winesteward, on Flickr

This was followed by two vintages of their top Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc called Clos de Beauvenir. This is from a one hectare vineyard that produces only about 3000 bottles annually. The 2010 has a pale cast, nose of talcum powder again, and with flavors of nuts and some tropical fruit. The 1990 was much darker, almost gold, with a strong oxidative note. I thought this was not showing well as it seemed hollow and tired. It reminded me of a very light amontillado sherry. Although it wasn't to my taste, Noel, who was seated beside me seems to have had a better opinion of this wine. The Beauvenirs were matched by an oven-poached spring chicken with butter and thyme, sautéed asparagus, soubise cream and savory almond crumbs. The 2010 was a great match for this dish, bringing out the creaminess in the wine while the wine cut the richness of the chicken. This was my favorite pairing of the dinner.
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Clos de Beauvenir '90 and '2010 by jaylabrador.winesteward, on Flickr
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Oven poached spring chicken with butter and thyme, sauteed aspargus, soubise cream and savory almond crumbs by jaylabrador.winesteward, on Flickr

Done with the whites, we moved on to the reds. First up were two of the regular Chateauneuf bottlings. The Chateau La Nerthe Chateauneuf du Pape 1988 was the oldest wine we had. This was still quite dark and with a strong earthy, barnyard, leather nose. Light to medium weight. There’s prune and some oxidation however, there is also some sweet black fruit still showing beneath the characteristics of age. There’s some meat as well. This was one of my favorite reds. Apparently, our table got one of the better bottles as Richard, one of our friends at another table complained that theirs was completely dead. I gave him a taste from our bottle and he thought it was much better than the one they were given. Served beside this was the Chateau La Nerthe Chateauneuf du Pape 2008. This was already quite soft with dark fruit and liquorice notes. Already good to drink but not showing too much character. This needs a few years to flesh out and develop more interesting nuances. These were matched by a very good home-made panzerotti with lamb ragout and prunes, eggplant salad, coffee jus and pink peppercorn husk. The match was spot-on. I wish the dish were bigger, though as it was only good for two forkfuls.
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Chateau La Nerthe '88, '08 by jaylabrador.winesteward, on Flickr
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Panzerotti stuffed with lamb ragout and prunes, eggplant salad, coffee jus and pink peppercorn husk by jaylabrador.winesteward, on Flickr

The highlight of the evening was the three magnums of the top wine Cuvee des Cadettes. The oldest of these magnums was the 1989. This is a rich wine with soft tannins. Very complex with leather, tar, asphalt, coffee and earth. There’s also still quite a bit of ripe dark berry present which gives some sweetness. Excellent wine. This was served alongside the 2009 Cuvee des Cadettes. Very primary, black fruits, plum and berry, cedar and espresso. Very good but obviously young and primary. These two were served with Braised beef cheeks and grilled sirloin, mushroom ragout, wilted sprout leaves and balsamic sauce. A good match. I preferred the beef cheeks, though, as the sirloin was a bit tough.

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Braised beef cheeks and grilled sirloin, mushroom ragout, wilted sprout leaves and balsamic sauce by jaylabrador.winesteward, on Flickr

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Cuvee des Cadettes '89, '99, 09 by jaylabrador.winesteward, on Flickr

The last Cuvee des Cadettes, the 1999, was served with the cheese course of Reblochon with chunky fig and walnut jam and oat cakes. This wine is still primary, showing all fruit. Sweet plum and blackberry; full and rich with soft tannins. Good to drink now but not really compelling at the moment. Needs more time.

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Reblochon with fig and walnut jam, oatcakes by jaylabrador.winesteward, on Flickr

The dinner ended with an excellent Bitter Belcolade dark chocolate and yuzu tart with cherries mascarpone and cocoa nib tuiles. Overall, it was a good dinner with an excellent showing by all the wines, except for the 1990 Beauvenir.

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Bitter Belcolade dark chocolate and yuzu tart, cherries mascarpone and cocoa nib tuiles by jaylabrador.winesteward, on Flickr
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Tom Troiano

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Re: WTN: Chateau La Nerthe dinner

by Tom Troiano » Thu Jan 24, 2013 12:35 pm

Sounds fabulous. Thanks for sharing. I'm hungry now.

Is it correct that any one vintage may not include all 13 grapes?
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Jay Labrador

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Re: WTN: Chateau La Nerthe dinner

by Jay Labrador » Thu Jan 24, 2013 12:42 pm

Tom Troiano wrote:Is it correct that any one vintage may not include all 13 grapes?


Good question. They didn't specifically say they used all 13 in every vintage so I suppose you would be correct. I'll try to find out and let you know if I learn anything.
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Re: WTN: Chateau La Nerthe dinner

by Brian Gilp » Thu Jan 24, 2013 1:27 pm

Thanks. While not a big fan of Southern Rhone, I have really enjoyed the few Le Nerthe's that I have tasted. Probably the only producer for which I have had multiple vintages and consistently enjoy. Although I do recall being let down by the 1998 a while back. I have read reports of greater than normal bottle variation with Le Nerthe due to different bottling runs but don't know if that is true.
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Jenise

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Re: WTN: Chateau La Nerthe dinner

by Jenise » Thu Jan 24, 2013 5:40 pm

Love La Nerthe wines, but I probably haven't had enough of them as I've not been subjected to the kind of variation Brian talks about. Very interesting report and as always I appreciate the pictures and descriptions of the food. The eggplant 'salad' underneath the lamb panzerotti has me captivated. The eggplant slices look crisped up--were they deep fried do you think? I've never had eggplant treated in that manner nor thought to do that myself, but the pic has my mind whirling with possibilities.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Jay Labrador

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Re: WTN: Chateau La Nerthe dinner

by Jay Labrador » Thu Jan 24, 2013 8:50 pm

Jenise wrote:The eggplant 'salad' underneath the lamb panzerotti has me captivated. The eggplant slices look crisped up--were they deep fried do you think? I've never had eggplant treated in that manner nor thought to do that myself, but the pic has my mind whirling with possibilities.


Hi Jenise,

Glad you enjoyed the report. Yes the eggplant was deep fried.

Jay
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Bob Henrick

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Re: WTN: Chateau La Nerthe dinner

by Bob Henrick » Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:14 am

Jay, do you suppose that the Chef would divulge the recipe for the eggplant salad? Jenise is probably gifted enough to figure it all out, but I am not. :lol: and I am interested in perhaps trying it someday soon. Thanks.
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Jay Labrador

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Re: WTN: Chateau La Nerthe dinner

by Jay Labrador » Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:49 am

Bob Henrick wrote:Jay, do you suppose that the Chef would divulge the recipe for the eggplant salad? Jenise is probably gifted enough to figure it all out, but I am not. :lol: and I am interested in perhaps trying it someday soon. Thanks.


Hi Bob,

I think "salad" doesn't really describe it. It just seemed like deep fried eggplant chips to me. I don't remember it having any dressing. I don't go to that restaurant often and I've never met the chef but if I get a chance to take it up with anyone at the restaurant I'll do so.

Jay
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Re: WTN: Chateau La Nerthe dinner

by Jenise » Fri Jan 25, 2013 3:41 pm

Jay Labrador wrote:
Bob Henrick wrote:Jay, do you suppose that the Chef would divulge the recipe for the eggplant salad? Jenise is probably gifted enough to figure it all out, but I am not. :lol: and I am interested in perhaps trying it someday soon. Thanks.


Hi Bob,

I think "salad" doesn't really describe it. It just seemed like deep fried eggplant chips to me. I don't remember it having any dressing. I don't go to that restaurant often and I've never met the chef but if I get a chance to take it up with anyone at the restaurant I'll do so.

Jay


I would guess that they drizzled something sparingly on or around it, even something as simple as a few drops of vinegar in order to give it some lift and brightness to counter the heavier flavors of fried-ness and lamb. Marvelously mediterranean and terrific for CdP.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: WTN: Chateau La Nerthe dinner

by Bob Henrick » Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:29 pm

See, I told you she could figure it out! :lol:
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