I have been crap at attending the fairly regular team meals so was delighted to be able to make one even if it was to be hosted in South London (I had my jabs and made sure my passport was to hand). Joe “Egon” Muller (@mulleredreview) was our very able host. The rough brief was bring two bottles of wine (or a mag, or both). Over the week we’d made sure that all the bases where covered so we had fizz (more of that in a minute), a few whites and then red with a dessert wine too. The other crucial point is that everything is served blind, we didn’t spend forever trying to work things out.
So to kick us off: Ben (@BRPym) served us up the fizz, Conterto Reggiano Lambrusco 2011, clearly sparkling red and a dry one and that as not what we were expecting and to be honest the dry finish and lack of sweetness all round left us all a bit stranded, I felt it may be some southern french scenario, others, Banyuls or some such. I think serving it first may not have been ideal. It was interesting but no more than that, definitely what a tannic red with sparkling water may taste like, no points (not that there were any on offer) to any of the tasters.
Time for some whites now and I was up first, my bottle was Bourgogne Aligote Raisins Dores 2008 from Lafarge. This seemed a tricky shout and nobody guessed Aligote (why would they) and nobody guessed Burgundy. It seemed to go down well. I bought a case after visiting Lafarge in November 2009. There is a grapefruit character and a tart acidity. I cracking “smaller” wine and from 50 yr old vines if my memory serves me correctly. Next into the glass was Valentina’s offering and this had guesses (and they were guesses) from mostly Italy but anything from Vermentino to Soave, it turned out to be Muller Thurgau 2010 from Kettmeir in Alto Adige. A really balanced wine that drank excellently with the superb haddock wrapped in streaky bacon and served with asparagus and lemon mayonnaise. Now it was Luke “Lulu” Lupton’s turn to produce a white and I think it was the white of the night. I guessed it might not be that old (wrong) and that the colour came from Furmint in Hungary (kind of not bad), Guido (@guyseddon) had a sensible punt at white Rioja, it turned out to be Musar White 2001. Really delicious, an almost Savvenieres-like nose that gave way to nutty, almond palate and was dry but not fiercely so. Really an excellent bottle…must look out for some.

Plenty to drink!

Sensing that DJ Lulu was keen to get to the iPod we now moved on to the first red. This was probably one of the worst blind performances all things considered but I like to think we were wrong for solid reasons. The wine was clearly a class act, dense but not too dense in colour there was age but not old age. So the first main mistake was arguing over where in the Rhone it cam from. Lulu did point out it was may be not saturated enough in colour to be northern Rhone. Anyway I guessed 05 northern Rhone not wanting to change my mind. It was Clos Vougeot 2002 by F.Lamarche, a very impressive and generous bottle from Guy. Now the defence; 2002’s are rich, big and have a from my experience a large gamey element with density. On top of this Clos Vougeot is one of the more masculine expressions of Burgundy. We loved the wine just put the jigsaw together wrong. Several people recently have said how Clos Vougeot needs possibly the most patience of any Grand Cru to show itself and this doesn’t dispel that theory. The excellent stew and dumplings with mash and green beans hit the table and so did my red which was a magnum of Barolo Brunate 2004 by Marcarini. The two paired well. Knowing what I am like Piedmont was quickly nominated so then it was a matter of vintage with a couple of people getting 2004, it seemed popular and showed well, there is good grip which makes it much better with sturdy food now but that will mellow with time. Egon was up next and showed a wine that we didn’t discuss for very long or not as far as I can remember anyway. I was a very difficult glass to get the age of, I think I said 2002 or 2004 as I felt it was a decent Bordeaux rather than much more than that. It turned out to be Pavie 1999, Egon was very disappointed in a “I’d never buy it these days” sort of way and I know where he’s coming from it is impressive but two problems for me, firstly, it is not exciting and it needs to be at that level and secondly it is stuck in a “primary fruit time warp”. there is no obvious reason why it will evolve, I feel it will continue to be one dimensional and then will just fade, I could be wrong but…We next swapped banks in Bordeaux and had Mr Pym’s Talbot 1996. I was still on the other bank and couldn’t get Gazin out of my head, who knows why. Most others seemed in agreement about it being St.Estephe. It was a decent claret, no more or less than that, very honest. Next up before we broke for a quick smoke was Lulu’s Barolo Brunate, Bricco Roche Ceretto 2004. Ceretto are a more modern producer but this was very high-toned and had an almost sweaty feel, we all agreed it was rather charmless sadly. It certainly wasn’t corked but at the same time it probably wasn’t a good bottle, it struck me as a little strained, volume turned up too high.
I decided on a bit more Pavie 1999 (the good if slightly same-ish fruit – meeoooww – working well) with a Sancho Panza Belicoso from Egon’s humidor. This is a lovely mellow pyramid that is almost always balanced and very underrated.
Back indoors Lulu was “in charge” of the iPod and M C Hammer appeared to have got his trousers out. We had one more red before the tart and it was a really good one. I can now not even nearly remember what I though it was but it was certainly impressive. It turned out to be Pintia 2005 under the same ownership as Vega Sicilia. When it comes to Ribera I have a convenient and professional bias to all things Domino de Pingus but you can not deny how exceptional the wines of Vega Sicilia and Pintia are (al be it that Pintia is actually from Toro). This was youthful but not too young, impressive. And so to pudding and a Sauternes – de Malle 2003 – I though it was slightly “higher up the tree” name but from 2005, it was very good, I can’t remember what the other guesses were. De Malle seemed to have made a rich 2003 but not one that is in any way burnt…impressive and good value. A cracking evening was over; may impressive wines seen off, very few shinning examples of blind tasting skill but then they are a rarity. Excellently hosted! All I know is that I’ll need more glasses for when I host mine especially if Mossy & Mr Bird (@Burdhound) can make it!!

Pym and Muller take things seriously as usual!
Amazingly Egon is not Northern!
DJ Lulu has a snooze!
What’s the world coming to? A picture of people picturing the line-up!