Last Saturday evening ten Aussie wine lovers assembled at the revered Tetsuya's restaurant located in the CBD of Sydney. Seven locals, two expats (now Margaret River, WA) and your truly (Canberra) assembled in a magnificently set private room to a quite amazing degustation menu of the first order, delivered with the most exquisite service imaginable.
gazpacho with yoghurt and basil sorbet
tartare of tuna on sushi rice with avocado
tuna marinated in soy and mirin
soft smoked ocean trout with asparagus
marinated nz scampi with chicken parfait and walnut
confit of petuna tasmanian ocean trout with konbu, daikon and fennel
ravioli of queensland spanner crab with tomato and basil vinaigrette
twice cooked de-boned spatchcock with braised daikon and bread sauce
grilled wagyu beef with asian mushrooms and lime jus
seasonal green salad
selection of cheese
beetroot and blood orange sorbet
white truffle ice cream with white beans and dates
floating island with praline and vanilla bean anglaise
coffee, tea and petit four
Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill 1988 - very youthful straw, finest of beading. Haunting nose of toasted brioche, hazelnuts, complex aldehydic lift, a little washed rind. Crisp and fresh on the palate with zippy acid, gorgeous yeast and biscuity flavours over a strong core of zesty citrus. Finishes long and focussed with vibrancy and great elegance. A beautiful wine. Has time on its side. 95 points
Krug 1989 - deeper, light bronze colour; exquisite, swirling bead. More forceful bouquet with a mushroom/truffle character over a toasty, oak-driven, crusty bread and complex autolysis-derived core. Surprisingly similar on the palate to the Sir Winston - more feminine and caressing than the typical raw punch of a Krug. Wonderful mouth filling, creamy mousse, some latent power evident from the elevage in old wood. Matches the Pol in quality in just about every department. Couldn't separate the two. 95 points A wonderful pairing for starters, beautifully matched to the gazpacho.
Maximin Grunhaus "Abstberg" (Special fuder) Auslese Riesling 1995 - medium green/straw. Struck match and hair oil dominate initially. With much air and vigorous swirling the sulphur, thankfully, subsided and white peach, red currants and nectarine fruit came to the fore. Petrol, minerals and slate holding up the rear. Superb line through the palate. Still primary but with much promise in store. Beautiful balance of sweet stone-fruits, a slaty minerality and ripe acidity counterbalancing the sweetness on a long, composed finished 92 points
Zind-Humbrecht Gewurtztraminer "Goldert" Grand Cru 1997 - aromatically this wine was correct with lychee and rosehip with a floral top note, but not overly intense. The palate displayed an acid attack on the tip of the tongue followed by a medium-bodied palate revealing some pleasant varietal fruit and a little oily viscosity, but again failed to capture the sense of adventure I seek with this grape. The finish a little short with the 14% alcohol making itself known with some heat in the tail. Very good at best and slightly disappointing FWII. Enjoyable enough but not in the top echelon to my thinking. 87 points
Francois Raveneau Chablis Grand Cru "Valmur" 2000 - infantile colour, amazingly bright with a polished hue. Minerals, crushed rocks, a little oyster shell, some regional flinty character with honeydew melon fruit sitting underneath. Tightly coiled palate, steely, acutely focussed but bound in a sheath of bracing acidity. Peacock tail, explosive finish. Great with the food but needing 5-10 years to unveil the Raveneau genius. 93 points with plenty more in store.
Bonneau du Martray Grand Cru "Corton-Charlemagne" 1985 - lovely mature hue, not much colour development for the considerable age. A subtle, somewhat shy yet complex wine with small parts played by some meal, oranges, butterscotch, white peach, lovely understated French oak and softening, ripe minerally acidity. Quite a few "passed it" comments from around the table, but I thought this still very sound and elegant without the raw power and pretence of a fully worked Chevalier or Batard. Bordering on Excellent - about 88 points on tonight's showing. Drink now proposition.
A. Rousseau Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru "Clos-St.-Jacques" 1990 -solid ruby/red colour in the core lightening off considerably towards the outer edges. Superb perfumed bouquet of sappy black plums, game, morello's, Asian spices and strong underlying savoury oak. No shortage of similar nuance to be found on a top notch palate revealing layers of sap-tinged ripe Pinot fruit, relatively low acidity but still with some kick in melting, but seriously robust, tannin structure. Nicely balanced, very classy Burg with 5-10 years of great drinking in store. 93 points
Rene Engel Vosne-Romanee Grand Cru "Grands-Echezeaux" 1989 - more mature hue than the Rousseau with sweet earth, merde, game, undergrowth lending support under sappy florals. Very attractive and seamless. The palate follows along a similar track - soft texture, plenty of tertiary development, just enough reserves of fruit and a silky texture. Finishing smooth as a baby's bum with sufficient persistence to merit a 90 point rating. About Excellent. Enjoyed this a lot. Drink now.
Latour 1971 - holding a solid deep red colour, this wine really took my fancy. Classic mature Pauillac seemingly fully mature but oh so fresh, balanced, superbly structured. Laden with gorgeous ripe red fruits, sweet corn, cedar, subdued influence from the new oak and desrves more kudo's for the similar excellence it delivered in the mouth on the night. Easily rated at 93 points, another one or two points wouldn't go astray if enough time was spent assessing it by its lonesome. Drink now-2011.
Cheval Blanc 1982 - certainly close to wine of the night for good reason but perhaps just lacked the killer punch on the palate to overtake the Zind-Humbrecht. Amazing floral, high-toned perfume with a bevy of nuance too daunting for me to dissect now. The palate offers up plenty of sweet, sexy extract with a rounded, silky texture, low acidity and seamlessly harnessed fine-grained tannin on a profoundly long finish. Lacked some of the magnitude of expansive palate we found in the '85 version opened a few months ago, but qualitatively merits a similar score mainly due to the magnificent bouquet. 95 points
La Mission Haut Brion 1985 - very coarse, phenolic nose at first. Changed radically in the glass to provide seriously good enjoyment over an hour or two until all gone. Plenty of life here - eventually worthy of 91 points. No note taken on this one.
Lafite 1986 - Still unready, this full throttle first growth certainly took me all over the place with an ever-changing nose that just wouldn't lie still. Kirsch, VA, red cherries, cedar, brooding dark fruit, pencil lead, minerals took centre stage like a wine with multiple split personalities. The palate is a veritable powerhouse and is just becoming approachable. Beautifully endowed with copious quantities curranty/black cherry/herb-tinged fruit, some lift, a wealth of integrating new vanillin/savoury oak, plenty of ripe acid and strong, but controlled balancing tannins on a lengthy departure, this wine will merit a higher rating, perhaps in ten years time. Today it scores about 92 points due to the wandering schizophrenic bouquet. Probably has several decades of longevity in front of it.
Leoville-Las-Cases 1990 - Medium ruby, dark core. At first, I detected a strong musty/damp earth scent wafting from the glass but this dissipated relatively quickly to reveal a deep-set, albeit it, "yeasty and elemental" (Dig) nose of Provencal herbs, black olives (Ginger), road tar, pencil shavings (Napoleon) over brooding black fruit and vanillin oak. In the mouth, this seamlessly meshed wine is generously endowed and mouth filling with sweet black-berries, -cherries and -currants, combined with ripe, rounded tannins, low acidity and surprisingly little input from the usual high percentage of new oak barrels employed at this estate. Impressive length. The product of a hot vintage in Bordeaux, the bouquet, seemingly, needs several years to evolve although the "multi-layered" (Ginger), "high-toned" (Danny) palate seems open-knit and accessible and should drink beautifully for at least another decade. Rated as Outstanding (93 points)
Suduiraut 1990 (375ml x 2) - seemed prematurely out of condition. Quite dark in colour with some volatility and oxidisation problems. Certainly bordering on acceptable but hardly inspiring compared to the next wine. Interestingly, recorked by the Chateau sometime with the word "reconditioned ... bla bla bla" on both corks. I wonder why?
Zind Humbrecht "Clos Windsbuhl" Grand Cru Pinot Gris SDGN 2001 - The most superb bright deep yellow colour this wine blew me away from start to finish. I do apologise for not providing much in the way of detail, but this luscious, exotic wine was difficult to fault, harbouring a nose to die for and a class of mouth feel one very rarely sees. I'd drink this sooner than later before the acid leaves the scene and what is left will become fatter, too viscous and probably cloying. Sensationally balanced and with delineation of the first order, I had no hesitation rating this my WOTN at 96 points
Y'quem 1971 - Ancient dark burnished brown/mahogany, equivalent to the colour of a very old Tokay. Initially, the nose offered up attractive, extremely mature notes of burnt sugar, creme brulee', raisins, mixed peel and newly polished wood but unfortunately within a minute or two totally collapsed, leaving a veritable oxidative skeleton behind. From the first sip the wine tasted oxidised and, if there had been one on the table, surely destined for the spittoon of shame. NR
Coutet Cuvee Madame 1971 - Spitting resemblance in appearance and nuance to the Y'quem, although held up much better on both nose and palate. Has seen better days but I thought this was hanging in there - just. Full of complex tertiary characters, I didn't take any detailed notes as I was becoming a bit "emotional" with the enormity of the food and wine that had gone before. 90 points
Last edited by David Lole
on Wed Oct 25, 2006 1:58 am, edited 10 times in total.