|Not the worst setting…|
I was lucky enough to get an invite to what I believe was the 10th annual Paulee organised by Jeremy Rata and Ron Morton. This used to be up in Yorkshire at the Devonshire Arms (mentioned in a few blogs) but is now held at Bovey Castle down in Devon a truly glorious setting. We were very well looked after for food and hospitality. Things started with a dinner on the monday evening:
Pre-dinner it was Salon 1996 which is still a puppy. I have been lucky to have this several times and it needs in my view 5-10 more years to be properly “drinking”, there are elements of lemon sherbet but it is all firmly “in-check”. The wines at dinner were all served blind and much conversation followed, consensus, over region/grape, was reached fairly easily and the wines revealed before any of us could make fools of ourselves.
First was Riesling Schlossberg 1988 Grand Cru from Weinbach. It was slightly, overly, dry but was waxy, oily and unctuous, coming out more in glass as time went on, enjoyable. One bottle of Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume 1986, L.Michel had an outing and was oxidised so the idea to serve it was binned but later the other two bottles were tried and were a truer reflection of the wine, nose clinging on and interesting, palate not really still there. The first red was introduced as an “experiment that should be knackered”, it wasn’t at all, femininely aromatic with plenty of poised and crisp red fruit, the introduction made it hard to guess at but I would have been in mature Volnay it turned out to be Chassagne-Montrachet Rouge 1er Cru Les Boudriottes 1983 from A.Ramonet, delicious and one of the best surprises in a long time, delightful.
A pair of Rhones followed both from Jaboulet. In truth they performed the opposite way round, in quality terms, to how they would generally be billed. The first Cote Rotie Les Jumelles 1985 showed a great balance and blend of gentle maturity and a little spiced elegance, impressive and very good. The second Hermitage La Chapelle 1983 was a funky, rich but savoury monster, a wine whose nose had you guessing and interested and palate that grimaced a bit, a hard wine, not very giving. The dinner was finished off with Climens 2003 which really confused the assembled, the nose and finish tried to convince me it was Sauternes but the palate was very delicate and freshly floral, I kept questioning myself, it might be a slightly bi-polar wine but it was good.
|Ready for battle|
A very decent nights sleep and a proper breakfast set things up for a 12.30 meet on the lawn to start the Paulee. The drill is that everyone brings at least two bottles or a magnum (many brought more) of a wine they enjoy and then pours it round the assembled, which was 24 in this case split over three tables of eight. The early morning fog had cleared to give us a cracking bright sunny but fresh day. On the lawn we had Bollinger 1999 RD from Magnum. In short I didn’t really like it but this is almost certainly me. I am a fan of Blanc de Blancs and of bottle age over late disgorgement so it would never be “my bag” so to speak. It was nutty but not lively and I didn’t drink much of it. The first wine of the lunch was served totally blind by the winner of the blind wine competition last year (Chewy, see previous but one post). It turned out to be – St Peray Cuvee Rousanne 2010, Dom Tunnel – I liked it in a waxy yet fresh and floral way, a little simple as it is so young but good.
The first Paulee white was Juffer-Sonnenuhr Auslese 1990, W.Haag, and it stayed in my glass (everyone has six numbered glasses that you need to rotate and clear regularly) for a long while which is a good sign. It had a lovely element of dryness from age but still fruit richness, loved it. Chablis 1er Cru Vaudesir 1981, L.Michel came round hot on Mr Haag’s heels and was a combination of coffee bean and toffee, in good shape, a little sweaty, decent. The Pinot Gris Jubilee 1996, Hugel was a weird wine, my notes say, nicely dirty, sweaty cheesecloth, ceppes, dry…on reflection it was passed its peak but I enjoyed it, warts and all. Capuchino 30yr old Palo Cortado, Osborne is a funny wine to have amongst so many others and I would love to try it again, the smell on pouring was wonderful a fine example if hard to evaluate amongst these others. You could slightly say the same about the Vina Tondonia 1976 because wines with deliberate and complex oxidative notes are never going to shine amongst wines with fruit in my opinion. I would love to try this again and have no problems with oxidative wines at all, here I just got yeast and dryness which is not a fair assessment. Pouilly-Fume 1999 Cuvee Majorum, M.Redde followed and behind a subdued nose was a green fruit and mellow completeness, not exciting but good.
The Cote d’or whites then followed leading off with Chassagne-Montrachet Villages “Morgeot” 1999, Marquis de la Guiche This was a little smoky and reduced and reminded me of other 99’s I have had. I really liked the small glass of it, I wondered if I could drink a lot of it but that was never going to be an issue here, impressed. As we were on Foie gras (the food did us very well, especially a brilliant bit of beef I will forget to mention later) a bottle of Coutet 1983 came round it was pure clean, fresh and with only a little age showing, very complete and really good, Sauternes as I like it. I was delighted that the next wine was not blind as I would not have been within a decade or in the right continent for the Peter Michael Chardonnay Cuvee “Indigene” 1991, Magnum. It was both refined and focussed, probably saw little new oak (great news!) and had a very complete feel, never earth shattering but mellow and lovely. Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeot 2009, Ramonet was next, it had aromas of both grapefruit and grapes, was fresh crisp and an infant, a good mid-term wine to drink while waiting for ’07, ’08 and ’10’s to open out. Pavillon Blanc du Chateau Margaux 2001, from magnum was next up, it changed quite quickly from that “nailpolish”, in a good way, freshness to more saline and oyster shell like, a funny wine that might have been between young and old. The next wine was back in the infant world – Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2009, L.Michel – tight as anything, a little apply spice and purity but very closed.
Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru 2001, Ramonet was unctuous and a little less refined than I had expected, darker and broader, good fruit though. Hermitage Blanc Chante Alouette 2004, Chapoutier had a nose of honey and greek yoghurt, then I felt fell a little flat before showing some melon…it was good but in truth is not really my thing. Latour Martillac Blanc 2005 was all there but some how a little too subdued, balanced and decent just not exciting. And so to the Corton-Charlemagne 2002, Louis Latour this was good, broad for C-C as I feel it was a little over-oaked, with a few exceptions this seems a common problem in C-C as people give it the same treatment as the Grand Crus from further south and, in my view, it needs gentler treatment. It was a good rich white Burg with a way to go but not, for me at least, a great Corton-Charlemagne, a good one yes.
Cantemerle 1998 magnum, hard but rich and impressive, savoury and grown up, not a soft wine but almost better for it. My two offerings followed as I wanted to get them served near the Burgundies both Barolo Cascina Francia 2005 and 2007, from Giacomo Conterno showed just as I wanted them to. The 2007 fresher and younger and very primary, the 2005 (which was double decanted) being more deep, tighter and ultimately more serious to my mind. Vieux Chateau Certan 2004 I really enjoyed, plummy fruit and very Pomerol in texture and weight, I could have drunk a lot of it. Dominus 1989 was a little toffeed and medium bodied, I had never had the 1989 before. Dominus is never heavy or extracted and always drinks well as a result. Bahans-Haut-Brion 2005 magnum was very decent but not overly exciting, straight forward and with years ahead of it. Like any 2005’s now is just not the time to open it.
Brunello di Montalcino Il Poggiolo in Riva al Fasco from Roberto Cosimi was sadly the beginning of where my notes got very short. A nice wine that possibly suffered in comparison to some more lush wines that preceded it. Often a problem with Italians that are so great with food. I would love to taste again as I feel it was probably right up my street. Vega Sicilia Valbuena 1996 was impressive, perfect from now onwards, good tannins and a perfect balance of fruit to go with them. Echezeaux Grand Cru 1999, Dujac was a real star, classy, delicious fruit, elegant but with a way to go, top stuff. Lynch-Bages 2000 in magnum was a classical Lynch all those things you expect, cedar, graphite, black fruit, good ripe tannins, made you wish you had some for 5-10 years time. Cos d’Estournel 1995 was very “Cos” high toned and little exotic but with biggish tannins, just getting into its stride, nice (if you see the 1996 buy it!). Arzuaga Riserva 1996, got a note of fruit meets oak meets air, nice but a little one-dimensional. Tenuta di Trionoro 2008, magnum, showed as it is, super charged almost off dry, big and probably hard to evaluate in this company. Mouton 1986, was exotic and high toned as ever, really good, very mouton and not very 1986…a generous bottle for this many people.
Sa’etta Chianti Classico 2007, Monte Bernardi came across as a lovely drinker, serious? no, profound? no but enjoyable. L’ermita 1998, A.Palacios a little monolithic, will the fruit outstay the structure? If it does then it’ll be a great in 5-10 years time, if not then drink now and enjoy it for its Priorat density. Guiraud 1964 was delicious, Tarte Tatin in a glass, baked apples and wonderful fresh richness…so drinkable and enjoyable. Fonseca 1966 (J&B bottled) was really lovely, spiced and fruited, tastes like Christmas in a glass with a dash of black pepper. It sparked a discussion about different bottlings, some being better that others but to my mind this was delicious.
So as is “normal” at Luncheon on such occasions it was time for “nearest the pin”. Bovey has a very good golf course, from what I can see, and one of the holes is an island green not too far from the lawn, let’s say 175 yards or so. I was happy with my 6 iron but even more happy that Ron gave me a Cohiba Robusto to enjoy. I was then most disappointed to look at my watch and realised that it was 4.55 and with a car coming at 5pm I would have to dash off before treacle tart!! There’s that saying about leaving while you’re having fun…I’ll be back, if selected!
|Nearest the pin!|