I have used or been to Otto’s quite a few times since it opened a few years back. Very traditional french food and a good attitude to wine. Last Thursday I was back there with “Irish” and “Halifax” for a “meeting” and for us to revisit the first time we all met at this lunch.
Halifax did the co-ordination and kindly provided the bulk of the wines with Irish and I bringing the last two reds. This time we started with Salon 1995, a wine I know really well having gone to Biarritz many moons ago for the launch and I have followed it since. There is a nice bit of brine to this, it is softening and is certainly at stage 2 or 3 of development, a little bit of coffee bean showing. This we had just before and with a “light” starting course, well that is what had been ordered – it turned out to be steak tartare with a lobe of foie gras on top!! Now, one of finest areas in the Halifax cellar is White Bordeaux and we had a pair of them here; Laville Haut-Brion Blanc 2001 and Malartic-Lagraviere Blanc 2006. We had them in that order as well. We guessed well and got very close on the Laville which was lovely, some salt, a little green spice, good mellow yellow fruits and a lovely waxy texture, young for a 16 year old wine but just the class you’d expect. When we then tried the Malartic both Irish and I thought it was probably also Laville but a fair bit older. When I say older that is not necessarily a negative it is just a more mature wine. Lemon, cream and a little ginger, some oak shows but not too much, “ready to go” right now.
So having had our starters (second starters)! it was time to get onto the reds. Cheval Blanc 1989 was up first and got better and better. It was a shade muted at first and tight but with air it took on a lovely almost red fruited quality whilst remaining very proper and very Bordelais, savoury and cedary. In bottle format it is drinking well with air-time, I imagine magnums are worth waiting with a little. We were all on rich meat dishes so the relative youth and vigour of the next two wines worked well. Rayas 2007 is a wine the three of us had shared earlier in the year with some of the “lads” on this day. I am pleased to see, looking back, that my observations are consistent. There is a definite raspberry and white pepper element here, lovely. Barolo Paiagallo 2010 from Giovanni Canonica was our last bottle of the evening. I was very keen for the guys to try this. It is a single-vineyard wine from just above the town of Barolo and is made in a very traditional fashion, it is just starting to drink well though I will be keeping the other bottles and magnums I have until the wine is 10 at least. The sweetness from the quality of the vintage balances the lovely structure, Canonica always seems to get a degraded ripeness, a little like Mitjavile.
And with that it was time to head home…a cracking evening of wine, food and chat! Onwards!