People often comment that wine is best with food. Whilst I don’t disagree that there is a certain “nice marriage” between the two I’ve always had slight issues with this, on two fronts. Firstly, any great wine should be a great wine without food as well as with and I love to drink wine without food as well as with it. Secondly, and this isn’t really an “anti-food and wine” thing, but one thing goes better with wine than food and that, for me, is people. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t drink alone, I do regularly and enjoyably, but it is more a reflection on the fact that wine and people as a pairing are inseparable – someone has to pick, make and decide upon wine before you even get to drink it – food is certainly, decisively even, separable from wine.

Whilst that paragraph must read as one of the worst examples of English you’ll stumble upon this week the motivation for committing it to “paper” was a brilliant dinner on Wednesday. Hosted by Mr Magnum and Ian (of St.Emilion fame) with brilliant food, lovely guests and stunning wines. Mrs 194kpr also makes a first “non-holiday” appearance on the blog! Great times are made of wine and great people.

Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2002 is never going to be a bad place to kick off. It is exactly where it should be and looks in line to be as good as the 1996 was at a dinner not too long ago. Many 2002s are either a little too muted right now of very over-developed, this is a delight, elegant, persistent and with enough richness.

At the table we started with Chassagne-Montrachet 1er  Cru Les Caillerets 2007 from Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey. A brilliant producer, visited during a superb trip back in May 2014. This wine is poised and at a perfect stage in its progression, mature but energetically so. With drive and balance (the former a watchword for the vintage) it is the sort of wine you could drink an awful lot of. Spot on now.

Now my “work” was to begin, two reds were poured, blind. The left hand glass was very pure, tight but pure with a clean and precise colour. The right hand glass was deeper, richer looking, more brooding. On tasting the left was starting to be playful, slightly exotic but very pure, very “pinot” with a dash of Asian spice, it was Echezeaux Grand Cru 2005, Domaine de la Romanee-Conti. The first 2005 from “the” Domaine that I have had in some time, in no way a waste to drink now. Great to have this blind and to love it so much, it just begged to be drunk (and to blow my own trumpet I “got it” as a DRC). The glass on the right remained more brooding, spicier more “stemmy” – it was Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses 2005 from de Vogue. It is very classy but somehow more reserved, thicker, more dense. I was reminded of the 2007 fairly recently. It’s a cracking wine, just be patient.

Then as we devoured our Coq au Vin with parsnip mash it was time for the same treatment but with two blind Red Bordeaux – Tertre Roteboeuf 2003 Mouton Rothschild 2003 – were the very generous bottles. There is no way I would have picked these as 2003. I cant remember what I guessed but I was wrong. The serving temperature was spot on (14-15degrees I am guessing) and they had both received 3 hours or so in a decanter. Neither showed any stewed or raisined character that one fears from 2003, in fact quite the opposite. I am usually quite good at spotting a Mitjavile wines as there is often a degraded fruit and slightly mocha note but this 2003 has shed the mocha, if it was there at all. Poised and with a good energy it was just very complete. The Mouton was a tad larger and more structured but in no way was this undesirable, in fact it was exactly as you’d want and expect of a Pauillac, if a little more “lifted” (a good thing). It is drinking very well now but I have no doubt that both these wines will be splendid in a decade and beyond. 2003 Bordeaux is an interesting (so often a negative word but not here) vintage – but good cellaring and slightly cool serving will see these wines surprise and excite for some time.

We crossed over to cheese with the end of the reds and then two different vintages of Graacher Himmelreich Auslese Goldcap from JJ.Prum the 2003 and 2009Goldcap is always a step on “normal” Auslese and these were just that, showing their adaptability by going with cheese and pudding equally well. The 2003 shows no signs of a hot year but is totally resolved and nicely mellow with a slightly waxy, generous palate. The 2009 which we had second, as the last wine, still has a lively hint of spritz and a razor sharp initial palate before mellowing in the mouth, I would envisage that the 2009 will take 10+ years to be the mellow wine that the 2003 is now.

And that was the end of a splendid evening…Bravo and thank you!