A lovely mix…

This was a really fun evening at Kitchen W8, a good spot that for whatever reason I have never blogged about, despite having been a few times. This is a poor omission, the food is very good, classy and flavoursome and stops on the right side of fiddly. The service too is friendly but not fussy. They are pro-wine and deserve to succeed, which I am sure they will, the only thing I would tweak would be the quality of the wine glasses but that’s me being picky. The format of this evening was to enjoy a bottle of Grand Siècle, Laurent Perrier that would then be followed by 5 reds all served blind. The wines then had to be scored, or ranked more specifically, with scores of 10, 8, 6, 4 and 2. This is produces a winner. There had been no instruction other than bring a red.

Now to some this may sound very structured and possibly a little like work but these are keen (and generous) wine people that I am getting to know better and better and actually it is crucial to do this sort of tasting as you have to be honest and really pay attention. We were 6 people in total with a mix of trade and amateur (not that the difference is easy to spot these days) with one MW amongst the gang.

The Grand Siecle was round, rich and quite full without the focus to make it really exciting, in retrospect as I write this I wonder what the dosage was, north of 6g I am thinking. It is not a Cuvee I know well, though I know it became a Non Vintage a few years ago.

So on to the first pair of reds which were: Langhe Nebbiolo Cerretta 2008, Giacomo Conterno and Sori Tildin 1974, Gaja, both suffered a little from being a little warmer than is ideal and a little shaken as a result of tube Journeys  It is fair to say that these two were not that well received and actually came last with Conterno edging the Gaja. I was very surprised and you’ll not be shocked to know they certainly were not bottom two in my book. The Conterno is a wine I have written about many times. Roberto Conterno finalised a deal to buy this plot in June 2008 so only had a small involvement in the vineyard for this wine and as a result released it as Langhe Nebbiolo other than the Barolo he could have. The wine is light in colour and to my mind pretty but some of the criticisms were, a warmth and also a greenness, an odd showing. The Gaja was a wine I guessed as a warm vintage Barbaresco, the problem it has was an odd texture. I enjoyed it’s degraded iron like richness but I had a good idea what it was and that made a big difference. It was not however 100%. It was a very kind bottle to bring from such an acclaimed vintage.

The three wines served next were:

Shafer Hillside Select 2003
Impostor McCoy 1997, Sine Qua Non
Montrose 1989

My first SQN…

Sadly the Montrose was corked which was a great shame as it was harsh on its generous “bringer” and also I have not had it before. Fortunately  I had another bottle in my bag – Biserno 2007, Tenuta di Biserno – so we added that in, again blind. The Shafer was so primary, so full, rich and the guesses were all over the place. This was mostly due to the succulent black fruit and the slightly indigestible oakiness. My view was that it was Australian, I was hoping it was really young and that would have meant the oak was more logical but as it is 12 years old I feel it will not change and whilst perfectly honest it is not exciting or complex. The bottle was one of the most heavy I have ever come across. It came in mid-division in the overall rankings. The Impostor McCoy was next and ended up winning the evening, I had it down as “weirdly enjoyable”, herbs and cinnamon. There was a suggestion of northern Rhone which I came to agree with more and more, possibly out of desperation as I was struggling to place this wine. There was a sense of development but not a degradation. It was good and I was very pleasantly surprised when it was revealed, my first “SQN”. The late addition – Biserno 2007 – actually came second with good lush fresh fruit, it is the first vintage of the wine and is mostly Cabernet Franc, it will repay more time but is open and ready for business.

A really fun and well co-ordinated evening, thanks to our hosts. I am already plotting for next time…

A rather delicious veal starter