Before I even begin to talk about this dinner and the wonderful wine people i met in Perth, I must make special mention to the people that convinced me to come to Perth in the first instance. David and Amy first attended one of my Rare Wine Dinners in May 2012 in Sydney and since this first dinner we have become good friends. A chance visit to Sydney in September for business saw them here on a weekend i had another dinner organised and they found the opportunity to attend again to good to pass on. Emails followed as did the discussions and after a couple of other people in Perth showed great interest in my dinners i decided the time was right to come and present one of my wine experiences on the beautiful west coast of Australia.
There were a number of obstacles to overcome in presenting a dinner on the other side of the country but we managed to overcome the majority and the minority we did our best to deal with when we arrived and on the night. As with everything you do for the first time there is always that extra bit of nerves that comes along with it and our first dinner in Perth was no exception. Now onto the wines and the success that was our first Rare Wine Dinner experience in Perth. We arrived at the restaurant nice and early around 4.30pm and began removing the wines into the private dining room for the night ahead. As with all my dinners the wines had been resting in the restaurant since the Wednesday before in an upright position to allow them a full 3 days to settle any sediment to the bottom of the bottles. We take great care to present each and every wine in the best possible condition hence the wines had also been resting in Perth for a full 5 weeks prior to the dinner. Once the wines had been moved to the private dining room we set about opening each wine one by one and checking to ensure no bottles were corked or oxidised. To my amazement not one bottle was in poor condition. We decided to leave the 2 Burgundy to open closer to pouring as we also did with the two sweet wines for the end of the evening. Most importantly for me was the great sigh of relief upon opening the 53 Petrus to reveal a wine in magnificent original condition. Next was the decanting of some wines and the set up of the room before all the guests arrive and that final tweak of the menu after checking the showing of the wines upon opening.
In no time at all the room was buzzing with anicipation and conversation as some checked the corks and capsules of the wines and took photos of the bottles. The time had arrived and i asked everyone to take their seats as the Champagnes were poured I gave a quick introduction to the night ahead and welcomed my guests for what was sure to be another night to remember packed with great and rare wine experiences. The notes on the wines will be brief as i found myself busier than normal assisting the restaurant with the handling of the wine and my attention often elsewhere on conversation and answering questions on the wines. First up was a pair of vintage Veuve Clicquot Champagnes under the Rare label and what a great start they were.
1985 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Rare Vintage Rose, Champagne
Popped and immediately poured. A slight hint of caramel on the nose, then florals and earth fill the glass. On the palate it’s mousey and mouth filling with explosions of lime and strawberry. An acid line cleans this wine up into a neat package. Lovely drinking.
1988 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Rare Vintage Brut, Champagne
Popped and immediately poured. A fine bead streamed through the glass. Honeycombe on the nose, intense focused fruit that lifted with food. Creamy on the palate with figs, limes and bread. The finish on this wine is lingering and impressive.
Next was two equally impressive white Burgundy but for very differing reasons. One for its amazing nose and the other for its power and weight.
1969 Hospices de Beaune (Delauney), Cuvee Loppin, Meursault
Opened for 1.5hrs but not decanted. Upon opening this had the most amazing smoky, white truffle, earth and coffee nose. We immediately recorked to hold these aromas for the dinner as they were too good to lose. When pored for the dinner the smoky nose had melded with fruit notes that had started to appear beneath the smoky coffee dominated nose, nectarines and chargrilled nuts filled every bit of the glass. The palate had structure with charred nuts and spices showing predominantly, decent acid and nice grip on the finish. I wondered if perhaps it could have benefited from a decant that would have allowed it to gain more weight, while others felt it was beginning to fade in the glass. Regardless of opinion, a unique and wonderful experience. This was brilliantly matched with the dish served by restaurant 1907.
2000 Domaine Ramonet, Batard-Montrachet
Decanted for 1.5hrs. Rich and minty but at the same time fresh with a funky edge. Preserved lemon, bacon fat, mixing with garden spearmint. This filled the mouth and rolled to every taste bud, oily texture with a slightly toasted oak influence. There was a lot going on in this wine including a perfumed vanilla that could almost fill the room with its aroma. Beautiful with great power and excellent weight this was deserving of its pedigree.
Moving right along we reach what is very likely to be some of the best wines of the night with the first two of the four Riesling. By the way i might be a little biased as i do love my German Riesling but I am glad to say at the end of the first 2 of these wines a number of people were calling the 79 Spatlese their wine of the night so far.
1971 Schloss Johannisberger, Grunlack Spatlese, Rheingau
Decanted for 2hrs. Intense honeyed sweetness, ginger and spices played a role on the nose and palate. This wine was balanced by a great core of acidity but the fruit was a bit dull and palate slightly flat which did not come round with more time in the glass. A pity as this could have been magnificent.
1979 Schloss Johannisberger, Grunlack Spatlese
Decanted for 2hrs. The total opposite to the 71’. Smoke and coffee notes sprung from the glass, mixed with apricot and underlying pear. The fruit was singing in this 34 year old wine with the balance of acid and sweetness the key to its brilliance. The length on the finish was awesome and some people already had this as wine of the night so far. Exactly what one should expect from the great house of Schloss Johannisberg.
Now we step up from Spatlese to Auslese and move from the Rheingau to Mosel with two very rare and exceptional examples of Mosel wine making at its best.
1959 Karthauserhof, Hans Wilhelm Rautenstrauch, Eitelsbacher Hofberger, feine Auslese, MSR.
Decanted for 3hrs. There was some sweat on this at first, intense lime and smoke came through as it sat in the glass, very mineral and very pure on a phenominal palate that danced with elegance and displayed a myriad of minerality all rolled up into an amazing performance of complexity and balance. The mid palate melded into the finish for a seamlessly and long complex finish. Stunning!
1964 Joh Jos Prum, Wehlener-Zeltinger Sonnuhr, Auslese, MSR.
Decanted for 3hrs. Herbs leapt out and filled the glass, minerals and lemon pith showed their presence. The palate has a great acid line that starts upon the first sip and continues through to the finish with that ever present lemon pith and mineral complexity. This is a very elegant wine with great complexity.
They do say all roads lead to Burgundy but not necessarily so for me on this night.
1949 C. Marey & Cte Liger-Belair, Musigny, Grand Cru
Popped and briefly decanted to remove sediment, then poured. Opened with fresh cherry compote, the sweetness coming right through and the fruit sawed briefly. Quite tannic and smoky this had wonderfu complexity it opened right out quickly and then started to fade on the palate just as quickly. Unfortunately didn’t hit the heights of the 47’ experienced at a previous dinner. None the less many found it indeed a good wine tonight.
1964 Jules Regnier, Les Marconnets, Savigny Les Beaune, Premier Cru
Popped and briefly decanted to remove sediment, then poured. A real cellar must to the nose. Charcoal and earth, the fruit seemed a little underipe or stemy maybe? The palate was pleasing but this didn’t hit any heights for me and it just couldnt seem to shake that cellar mustiness.
One of the great things i find about old Barolo is you just never know what you are going to get until you open that bottle.
1971 Enrico Serafino Barolo
Decanted for 1\2hr. Dried earth, leaves, rose and dried flowers, plenty of tar and quite rich. This fills the mouth and commands attention as the tannins go to work. There is a little volatility lifting the raisins and cherry fruit profile. Palate is thick, chewed tobacco and brambly. A very interesting wine.
1971 Marchesi di Barolo, Gia Opera Pia, Barolo
Decanted 1/2hr. There was lots of undergrowth and leafy notes to this wine. A brush across the weeds aroma even. The palate was all vintage Barolo leather and cherry finishing rather sweet. A huge explosion on the back palate also announcing Barolo that carried a long finish. Very good.
The time had arrived and people began to sit back in the presence of these wines as they were placed on the table. This represented a rare and unique opportunity to try a real 53 Petrus in great condition and superb Magnum of one of the great second growth Bordeaux.
1953 Chateau Petrus, Pomerol.
Decanted 1/2hr. Menthol and ground spices, very savory and earthy with mulberries and black olive coming through as it sat. The wine glides over the palate with that silken Pomerol texture. The wine gradually builds in the mouth, that mulberry spectrum again mixing with savory nuances that combine with an ever present black olive note. Elegance at its best. This left everyone in the room smiling from ear to ear.
1964 Chateau Leoville-Las Cases, Saint-Julien 2eme Cru Classe (Magnum)
Decanted 1hr. This had amazing richness, big cabernet blackberries, and spicy old wood. Very balanced, acid and tannins are there but never dominate the wine. This is a good 2nd growth that benefited from being in magnum. To me a great wine.
To finish the night there were two very great wines that are extremely hard to find and seldom do you see them.
1959 S.A.Huet, Le Haut Lieu, Moelleux
Decanted 1/2hr. Fresh beeswax, spices and roasted nuts on the nose. Palate has nice texture, smooth and honeyed. Sharp and zingy acid on the finish and even though it has got residual sugar it finishes quite dry and grippy.
1964 Langwerth Von Simmern, Hattenheimer Nussbrunnen, Edelbeerenauslese, Rheingau
Decanted 1/2hr. Aromas filled the room on decanting and in the glass. Tangerine, graphite and glace pineapple on the nose. Apricot syrup and ginger spice on the palate. This is long long long on the finish with fruit focus and acid balance impeccable from entry to finish. A simply brilliant way to end the night.
I have to say the food was some of the best i have seen at any of my dinners and yet again the wine dominated the stage. Perths first Rare Wine Dinners experience was now complete and Rare Wine Dinners now has a self declared fan base and following that continues to grow even after we have gone. Thank you Perth for a wonderful weekend and for allowing me to share with you some of these wonderful and rare wines. Thank you for your support and encouragment to return and let it be said “we will return” and i hope to see you all again.