Another superb night of rare and vintage wines matched to exemplary food. This was a night that once again left me and many of the attendees in complete awe. I cannot recommend enough, that every wine enthusiast in their lifetime should attend at least one of these amazing dinners.
The notes below are courtesy of David English and the individual wine notes further down are courtesy of Cam Wheeler. You will notice a difference of opinion on some of the wines and this is one of the beauty’s of wine, everyone has a different palate and in turn a different opinion. Thank you to everyone who attended and I look forward to seeing you all again sometime in the not too distant future.
Last night we had a fantastic Wine Dinner at Arras restaurant in Sydney (http://www.restaurantarras.com.au/) drinking through a bevy of old wines from France, Italy and Germany. Shannon from Rare Wine Dinners organised it all and the line-up, as always , was very interesting and special. The night overall was very well organised. So big kudos to Shannon and his team.
First up on the food/restaurant, Arras was once again spot on with the variety and matching of the food and impeccable with the service. It was just one of those evenings where everything ‘just happened’ there was no looking for waiter/sommelier for top-ups for water, bread, questions, new cutlery, it was unobtrusive yet attentive at all times. The food was very interesting and if anything I think there was too much of it! I was really struggling and had to start utilising the Dessert Stomach reserves we all have. The Raw and Cooked salad/vegetable plate at the start of the night was a perfect counterpoint for the Raw and Cooked Dessert plate and executed brilliantly with a real hunter and gatherer type fishing around of all the different components on the plate, who said eating couldn’t have a fun element. From Skate to Salmon, to duck, venison and lamb to name a few courses all had their own strengths. And of course the Willy Wonka factory-like Petit Fours at the end of the night is always a great finisher as we wound the night down. We started eating at 7pm and didn’t finish much before 1am. So a big well done from me to the restaurant staff and kitchen.
Also thanks to the company of the others really enjoyed the banter as always, always makes it much more enjoyable with people with experience and knowledge in the wines/styles etc.
The final line up of wines on the night were as follows…
1985 Veuve Clicquot, Rare Vintage, Rose, Champagne, France
1988 Veuve Clicquot, Rare Vintage, Brut, Champagne, France
1978 M Chapoutier, Chante-Allouette, Hermitage, France
1978 Cantine Conte Zandotti, Frascati DOC Superiore, Tenimento San Paolo, Italy
1987 Dr.F.Weins-Prüm, Erdener Pralat, Gold Kapsel, Spatlese, MSR, Germany
1945 Furst Von Mettinich, Schloss Johannisberg, Rosalack, Auslese, Rheingau, Germany
1964 Schloss Eltz, Rauenthaler Rothenberg, Auslese, Rheingau, Germany
1947 Albert Bichot, Hospices de Beaune, Beaune Cuvee Estienne, France
1969 Leroy, Hospices de Beaune, Auxey-Duresses, Cuvee Boillot, France
1964 M.Chapoutier, Hermitage, France
1979 M.Chapoutier, Cuvee de Bellerouche, Cotes Du Rhone, France
1928 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Premier Cru, Pauillac, France
1964 Chateau Cheval Blanc, Premier Cru, St Emillion, France
1959 S A Huet, Le Haut Lieu, Vouvray Moelleux, Loire Valley, France
1969 Schlossgut Diel, Dorsheimer Goldloch, Edelbeerenauslese Cabinet, Nahe, Germany
I’ll give brief notes/impressions about various wines.
The 85 VC had some lovely secondary characteristics coming through on the nose, with crushed apple, pear and hints of cider and oxidative notes. The 88 was silky smooth, with caramel, banana and pineapple through the palate. Are these Chardonnay dominant? As they exhibited to me very chardonnay type aged characteristics.
The 78 Chapoutier White Hermitage aka Marsanne, started off with some VA, this had nuances of butterscotch and caramel, the palate was very silky, almost oily. There was some mustiness and the acid and alcohol also came through on the palate was a great match for the food.
The 87 Weins-Prum GK Spat, started off with fly spray on the nose which blew off after a while, it was very tart and acidic, with lemon sherbet and Robinsons Lemon Barley coming through after letting it sit in the glass for about 30mins. This will live forever, not sure if the fruit will keep up thought.
The 45 Auslese was beautiful, with mandarin, burnt caramel, pith with it moving to toffee and iced coffee after sitting on it for about 2 hours, wonderful balance of structure and fruit. Brilliant.
We then moved to the reds, the 47 Bichot was a bit past it in my opinion, it still had some interest but I found the portiness, coffee bean characteristics a bit out of whack to the 69 Leroy in the same flight which was drinking really well. Hints of strawberry and cream, lots of acid and floral notes, hints of tea – almost green tea like with its tannic structure. Wonderful drink.
The 64 Chapoutier Hermitage, still had great structure, it was soft and ethereal, people were describing it as delicate almost pretty. This is the Aubrey Hepburn of wines. It then started to develop a lovely smokiness, wood and tobacco characteristics. We’re not worthy.
The 79 Chapoutier, had some brett on the nose (surprise, surprise), with lovely red fruits underneath. Someone sat on their one for an hour or so, it was like a phoenix rising, it slowly opened up to these wonderful complex jammy notes of blackcurrant just wafting out of the glass.
28 Lafite, massive wine, hugely tannic after 80 years, lots of blackcurrant, leather, coffee bean. I’m not sure what amazes me the most – that ostensibly it still has life in it even today (I’m talking lick the inside of your mouth coating tannins) or that it still exhibits fruit to try and overcome the tannins. You can see it’s age by the bricking around the edges but it still appears remarkably youthful. As I left it in the glass it moved to more Xmas Cake characteristics of cherry brandy and wood/cedar notes.
The 64 Cheval Blanc was probably WOTN for me. A massive wine, huge structure, cherry, marzipan. great length, dare I say Petrus like. The balance of the wine is off the charts, it just has the most remarkable melding of tannins, acid and fruit on a 50 year old wine. Had I not known what it was I wouldn’t have said it was more than 20 years old. Certainly up there with 66 Grange as my favourite ever wine. Brilliant.
The 59 Huet was showing nutty, honeysuckle and a wonderful freshness of tangerine, acid and zest and great foil to the heavy French wines and a great match to the dessert.
The 69 EBA was a strange one for me. Having had some 53 EBA’s I was expecting similar things with the volume turned down a bit. If anything I thought the 45 Auslese was streets ahead of this. It still had heaps of acid, orange marmalade with lots of length. Masterful balance on the wine will ensure it will no doubt live for another 40 years no problems. It was just missing that wow factor after all the fantastic wines preceding it. On its own I’d have probably raved about it.
All in all a great night of wine and food.
1985 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut Rosé Rare
Another late disgorged bottle. Mocha and earth with some apricot, apple and honey. The palate doesn’t quite have the same brightness as the last bottle which really gave it such great spark but there is good depth and length and this is still very good. 91 points
1988 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut Vintage Rare
Lemon pith, browned butter, sea spray and pear aromas. Bright acidity that is integrated brilliantly into the rich, rounded fruit. Great length, this lovely Champagne is right near its peak and drinking amazingly well. 93 points
1978 M. Chapoutier Hermitage Blanc Chante-Alouette
Amazing lifted orange peel and apricot over the top of butterscotch, some oxidative nutty notes and quince. The palate is a highlight, it is tangy and has some grip to it while having terrific texture. Complex and fully mature, this is great stuff. 93 points
1978 Cantine Conte Zandotti Frascati Superiore
Wood, caramel, nutty and marzipan notes – with some time it took on a more sherried character that seemed like it would dominate given sufficient air. The palate has that same aged wooden note, though it was interesting that it had some freshness to it even though all the other characteristics were so aged. Medium length but trailed off very quickly afterwards. An interesting wine that would probably have been better quite some years ago but was worth trying. 87 points
1987 Dr. F. Weins-Prüm Erdener Prälat Riesling Spätlese
Lemon barley nose with some florals and grapefruit in the background. A touch of bitterness distracts but the sweetness is there to almost cover it up and draw attention elsewhere. With medium length, it isn’t overly complex and I think it should be consumed now based on this bottle. 88 points
1945 Schloss Johannisberg Riesling Rosalack Auslese
Wonderfully complex nose – honey and ginger with some toffee, various earthy spices and mandarin. The palate shows off excellent structure and balance still, with impressive powerful fruit and uninterrupted flow. The sweetness is present and gives the wine a delicious quality that had me drinking it much too quickly, the last sip of this was the best with the balance still extremely impressive. 93 points
1964 Schloss Eltz Rauenthaler Rothenberg Riesling Auslese
Wheat, apple and graphite with a light touch of spice to it. The palate is balanced though it is perhaps a touch shallow overall and either more intensity or depth would be appreciated. Holding up fairly well, but a 1971 of the same wine earlier this year was probably just a bit better quality wise. 88 points
1947 Hospices de Beaune Beaune Cuvée Estienne
Smoky barbecue sauce with some undergrowth and a smidge of vegemite. The palate is similar and for me was just a bit too far past its best, though others at the table found much more pleasure and preferred this to the Leroy. N/R
1969 Hospices de Beaune Auxey-Duresses 1er Cru Les Duresses Cuvée Boillot Leroy
Very appealing aromas of strawberry, rose, cherry, tea leaves and a dash of rhubarb. Initially the fruit on the palate is bright and lovely, though it started to drop away with time and the tannin that was hidden became more evident. A pure and pretty wine that was eminently enjoyable. 91 points
1964 M. Chapoutier Hermitage
A pretty and perfumed nose of violet, raspberry and cinnamon plus a bit of briar, smoke and intense licorice. The palate is both complex and enticing, it is helped along by nearly resolved tannins that give the wine much needed structure and balance for the amazingly pure red fruit flavor. Held well in the glass for half an hour then seemed to start fading. 93 points
1979 M. Chapoutier Côtes du Rhône Cuvee de Belleruche
The nose has some appeal with earth, cherry and smoke. The palate however was short, with tannin and acid dominating over faint traces of fruit. Others liked this more but I couldn’t see it. N/R
1928 Château Lafite Rothschild
Promising scents of graphite, undergrowth, cassis and earth. More youthful than could be anticipated on the palate, this wine has beautiful finesse and it is incredibly precise with a framework of fine tannin providing impressive structure for the age. The palate actually started to fill out a little with time in the glass, though it never quite got to the level of impact that one might expect from a typical Lafite. The length is very good and while it is not as complex as one might hope for (a result of the pasteurisation?), it was still a privilege to try. 93 points
1964 Château Cheval Blanc
This is a wine that I have overly fond memories of, in 2007 I gave it 100 points after I was left completely mesmerised. It was with some trepidation that I approached this, given the expectations and potential to not live up to that incredible last bottle.
The initial impressions were promising, the beguiling aromas brought back strong memories of the last bottle – cherry, cedar, licorice, raspberry and after some swirling and patience it took on more earthy and truffle characters. If the nose wasn’t enough to convince me the palate certainly was, with exceptional class on display. The balance is stunning with plush, powerful and remarkably youthful fruit, in harmony with superb structure through impeccably fine tannin and acidity. This is a legendary wine and to have tried it twice is humbling. My clear favourite on the night, a great distance out in front of some other special and rare wines. 98 points
1959 Domaine Huet Vouvray Moelleux Le Haut-Lieu
Heady intoxicating notes of beeswax, pear, ginger, apricot, pineapple and marzipan. The palate has plenty of rich honeyed fruit up front with the fine acidity providing a perfect foil. Has very impressive length and carry, with good complexity there already but still the potential to develop further. Awesome. 94 points
1969 Schlossgut Diel Dorsheimer Goldloch Riesling Edelbeerenauslese Cabinet
Marmalade, pineapple, pear and some slate. Really quite lovely balance with pure sweet fruit and plenty of restraint rather than outright power. Great length and a very tasty wine, though it feels a tad superficial. Some more time in the bottle wouldn’t hurt and perhaps the complexity will continue to develop. 93 points