The last ten days has seen three particularly good lunches: Burgundy at The Ledbury, Italian at Zucca and then a mixture at Theo Randall in the Intercontinental. All three were “end of year” catch ups with customers who are also friends.

Burgundy at The Ledbury:

The three wines were Meursault 1er Cru Rougeots 2002 from Coche-Dury, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St.Jacques 1979 from Rousseau and Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Aux Combottes 2006 from Dujac. The Meursault was lovely, has mellowed that little bit so the distinctive “reduced/struck match” nose you get with Coche was in the wine rather than in front of it. Certainly that bit more complete now that the stunning yet youthful 2004 I had not that long ago. The 1979 Clos St.Jacques was a really strange wine, very cloudy and muddy, the nose was fine, evolved obviously but very much Rousseau (not that I would quite know how to describe that moniker). The palate was initially a little chalky and to be honest very subdued but as the wine had time in glass the nose became better and more clear and the palate improved as well. This was a bottle that could have “turned turtle” but was pleasantly surprising from a tricky vintage. There was just time for one more half bottle and the list at the Ledbury had an interesting candidate in the Dujac 2006. This was quite tight, dark fruited and very primary. A good drink but a wine to probably re-assess on it’s 10th birthday (even in half). I do like the 2006’s but I would rather drink the 2007’s or even junior 2005’s right now. The food was as good as ever!

Italians at Zucca:
A glass of Perle 2006 from Ferrari gave way to Soldera 2006 (the last bottling i.e. “Toscana“), this is a wine I have had a few bottles of on three different occasions now. It is simply brilliant, elegant, clean, crisp, focussed, perfumed wine that is without doubt the best expression of Sangiovese I have ever had. There is amazing precision of fruit and a density of flavour but with no heaviness at all. It is one of those wines you feel you could plough though a magnum of all alone, stunning. Next was a, sadly corked, Barolo Brunate 1990 from Voerzio a real shame but actually it allowed us to continue on the 2006’s and next up was Cappellano Barolo “Piè Franco” 2006  this is from a parcel planted on its own roots with Nebbiolo’s “Michet” clone in 1989. Cappellano does not allow his wines to be scored, I have had a few and I am buying whenever I can afford to. This was delicious, focussed and taught but even in a masculine vintage like 2006 it is not too hard to enjoy now, this will be serious. There was just about time for one more Barolo, and that was another great name in traditional production – Beppe Rinaldi and his Cannubi S.Lorenzo 2006 the wonderful thing here is that the wine is so different from Cappellano but  has just the same integrity and interest. The texture is richer and the wine more savoury. Both great Barolo’s with a long life ahead of them. The food was, as ever, a perfect foil for the wines.

Two “M’s” at Theo Randall:
A new restaurant to me and good flavoursome food. There isn’t quite the atmosphere of Zucca but I really liked it. The two wines both showed well. Meursault 1er Cru Sous Le Dos d’ane 2007 from Domaine Leflaive is a halfway house between the poise of Leflaive’s Puligny and the more heady richness of Meursault. The real deal for this meal was to be Monfortino 2001 from G.Conterno. The wine is big in density, still has that lovely clarity of colour that you can only really get from Pinot, Nebbiolo and Grenache from the very best names. The fruit is tight but there in spades, I would say ultimately this is a wine of weight and density rather than tannin. If I had a case (sadly I don’t) then I would be waiting 5 years to try it again…not because it is too young to drink, just because there are layer and levels to follow. A mighty wine.