This was a very fun lunch. Mr S co-ordinated us and foursome was completed by Zucca Sam, Mr Mann and myself. Having not seen Sam since the closing (not a dry eye in the house) of Zucca it was a long overdue Lunch. We also had Mr Mann’s engagement to celebrate. The venue was to be Macellaio in Exmouth market. Not a place I knew. They specialise in sharing plates with a focus on Tuna (aged 7 days) and Beef (aged 7 weeks). It’s a fun place.

Everyone brought a bottle or two and away we went. The starting point was Dom Ruinart Rose 1996 which has a bright colour but certainly more tizer than Salon pink, on the nose it was fruited and balanced no real signs of age barring a certain sense of roundness. The palate was generous and a little lush, the parts having fallen nicely into place. We then moved onto Meursault 2008 from Coche-Dury, a refined nose, focussed and very true to 2008 if almost more like Grand Cru Chablis than Meursault in its drive and elegance, very impressive indeed. There was that dash of reduction but no more than that. Long and elegant and certainly a wine to treat like a great red, plenty of air and plenty of time to appreciate it.

My bottle was next – Ausone 1975. A very kind 40th gift last year from a friend and customer who appears in these pages rather a lot. Sam and I are both 1975er’s so it seemed a good moment. We decided to pop the cork, it broke but not badly, and pour straight into the four glasses as you never quite know how these older wines will be. We could in fact have been decanted as it got better in glass rather than fading. There was a ferrous smoothness to the palate, the texture of tannins remained but not dryness. The fruit character was darker than you might expect with a definite Cab Franc character at times. Velvety and whilst fully mature not on the way down.

L’Eglise-Clinet 1985 was the second Bordeaux and reminded me, in quality rather than style terms, of a brilliant bottle of the same estates 1989 some years ago. This was a wine that got better and better with air. Soft and voluptuous but in no way lacking definition. Darker fruits initially that got redder and more expressive with time, a wine at it’s early peak. Such a treat, exciting!

Now to a more expected region, given this crowd, Barolo. Two vintages of the same wine – Barolo Sarmassa from Brezza. Brezza are a good producer based in central Barolo with good holdings and well worth a visit. On one trip we dropped in for lunch and had some fun as you can see here. The two vintages were a real treat as well – 1990 then the 1989. I felt they performed as you might expect though this was exaggerated by the 1990 having been double decanted with some time and the 1989 just decanted at the restaurant and served. The 1990 had more opulence and more “mass” the 1989 had more drive, vigour and energy, more definition. Less bruised fruit more saline. I like both but you would always pick the 1989 if being fussy. They both have time ahead but as with all the wines here they are mature.

Mr S wasn’t that pleased with the other wine he bought but Sam, Tom and I were all happy enough to drink it – Barolo Villero 1978 from Giacosa (white Label) is a wine he knows well. The nose was a little bruised and aged but the palate had a sweetness to add to the slightly grainy texture. An expressive mature Barolo may be not but a good, interesting, glass of aged Nebbiolo, oh yes!

A predictable ending…

From there things became predictably Negroni based before a beer on departure…happy days. Macellaio’s I will be visiting again. Chaps…thanks for the bottles and the laughs.