Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Nov 21, 2005. Dom Perignon Dinner

Monday night. We had a nice dinner at Petrus - the restaurant at the top of the Hong Kong Island Shangri-La hotel. The food was decent. The canapes were quite nice. The Jabugo ham was a bit of a disappointment. Anyone having had the real thing (i.e. 36month aged Jambon Iberico Pata Negra ) will feel the Jabugo came up a bit short as far as flavor depth goes. Next was the Lobster in the shell with spaghettini and oscietra caviar. Lobster was decent but I really enjoyed the spaghettini with caviar in tomato confit. The challand duck breast was quite good here - well executed. Good depth of flavor in the duck as well as a nice "fatty" layer right under the caramelized skin. hmm hmm.

Anyway on to the wines.

1998 Dom Perignon : Really forward wine, acidity perceivably lower than the '96. Nutty hazelnut/almond nose. Drink up fast - don't think this is one for the long haul. 92pts.

1990 Dom Perignon Enotheque : Much better. Nutty hazelnut, almond and toasty nose. Still very lively with numerous bubble trails. A champagne in adolescence starting to pick up maturity and 2ndary notes but not losing its youth. Probably needs another 5 years before it hits its maturity plateau. Good depth of flavor and smooth. 94pts.

1995 Dom Perignon Rose: Very different, nice pink hues. Nose throws off surprise surprise ... Pinot Noir aromas. Think the tannins a bit too dominating over the other elements. Not quite the complexity and depth to take this to the next level. I kept going back to the 1990 Enotheque. The '98 was by now almost flat at this point (~2hours). 91+pts.

Of the three the 1990 Enotheque was the winner. The '98 while less complex is drinking well now - hard to say if it will remain pleasurable later in life. Rose was not bad but maybe given my expectations and its price - got rated slightly lower than the rest ( the Rose costs more than even the Enotheque - figure that one out).

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Nov 16, 2005 - Champange & bubbles

It’s getting towards year end and one can almost imagine the sounds of popping corks and fizzy effervescent wine just around the corner. Champagne is synonymous with celebration, elegance and abundance or at least that’s what the marketing wizards have many of us thinking. Spin city aside lets take a look at what Champagne is about.

Here is a short video ==> http://www.champagne.fr/videos/en/localisation-choix.html

Not all sparkling wines can be called Champagne. In fact, only sparkling wines conforming and grown in certain areas in the Champagne-Ardenne region are deserving of the AOC ( appleation d’origine Controlee) designation. Does that mean that all Champagne AOC are good? Not quite. In other parts of the world they resort to other names such as sparkling wine, Asti Spumanti, Sek and Cava - Champagne however is off-limits.

The essential grape varieties going into Champagne are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot meunier – usually as a blend. Some people would say – hang on that’s the same stuff that goes into other wines!! Well yes same grapes - different process. The key behind Champagne bubbles is Secondary fermentation brought on by adding sugars and a special yeast ( the initial fermentation should already have exhausted the initial sugar content). Until more scientific methods were invented in the early 1800’s, the control and measurement of the sugar level was a bit haphazard. Before then, producing Champagne was a bit risky as well as occasionally explosive. The by-products of fermentation is sediment and its removal requires special effort, time and expense. Traditional methods or “method Champenoise” require a gradual rotation of the bottle over time until the sediment settles directly above the cap with the bottle now orientated cap facing down. It is kept in this position until the wines are ready to ship. At this point a final process called “disgorgement” occurs. The wine in the neck portion of the bottle is frozen along with the sediment into an "ice plug". Expansion due to freezing causes the plug, frozen wine and sediment to fly out - voila clean Champagne. The wine is then topped up, adjusted for sugar level ( in certain cases) and corked.

Champagne comes in several varieties differing by the amount of residual sugar: Brut Nature (0-0.5% - very dry), Brut (0.5%-1.5%-dry), Extra Dry (1.2%-2%), Sec (1.7-3.5%), Demi-Sec(3.3-5%-very sweet), Doux ( >5%).

It is said that the Benedictine Monk Dom Perignon invented Champagne but that is debatable. Some historians believe he tried to get rid of the bubbles in his wine to no avail. Champagne houses of note: Moet-Chandon (Dom Perignon), Bollinger, Krug, Salon to name a few.

Fear not : Champagne review to follow soon.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Nov. 7, Winehunter in Tokyo again - More '02 Burgundies

Dinner notes from a dinner in Tokyo with some friends.

'02 Corton Charlemagne - Betrand Ambroise.
Some oak, hint of citrus, fat & buttery, some power. 89 points.

'02 Corton Charlemagne - Bonneau Du Matray
Very closed at outset. High acidity and structure yet not overly shrill. Made the Betrand Ambroise looked downright flabby. Around 2.5 hours later, very distinct minearal/flint/rocks aromas as well as hints of citrus & honey?. This thing wasn't even hitting its stride yet ( probably 3-4 hours) while the Betrand Ambroise was sliding downhill. This one probably needs 7-10 years to really show itself. One of the best from this domaine I have had ( back to 1992). 93+points.

'02 Charmes Chambertin - Charlopin Parizot.
Immediately upon uponing - wonderful distinct pinot nose of cherries and red fruits. Supple, soft, light. Find myself feeling guilty - not supposed to be enjoying young grand crus like this are we? This wine did not clam up with time and air as sometimes is the case - didn't have enough left to test this - all gone. Perhaps the finish is a tad short but we are splitting hairs here. 92pts.