Embarrassingly it is a long long time since I have ventured to our second city. Birmingham is a quick dash from Euston and judging by the way we were looked after, at Adams Restaurant, well worth venturing more often. The occasion was, as the title suggests, for Mr P’s 50th, a wine lover and enthusiast with classical as well as adventurous tastes. We had a great format and a cracking line up of wines, several of which I had not had since release or for some considerable time.
We started with two Champagnes. Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2002 first. There is a little dash of coffee bean and some soft yellow fruits, a little saline edge in the background which I love. A really balanced wine and as good as you expect from this most reliable (meant positively) of Champagnes. Louis Roederer Cristal 2004 followed on. I have had a few chats with people whose opinion of Champagne I respect and they all say don’t dismiss Cristal. This had a more muted nose but more depth and weight to the palate, less obviously balanced right now. I think it just needs a bit more time.
We then moved to a pair of whites – Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2009 from Bonneau du Martray and Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru 2009 from Olivier Leflaive. They made a good balance. I think you would have them at least 7 or 8 years apart. The Bonneau is focussed and refined, generous enough but not too opulent it has a real moreish-ness to the palate a classy wine that is, to my taste, near its long plateau of readiness. The Batard had bigger shoulders, more maturity and less focus, more butter and a little more bread too, not oxidised but a shade advanced than what you’d expect. Both went well with the monkfish.
We were now onto the “meat” of the evening with six of the Domaine de la Romanee-Conti 2009s over the span of the nest three courses (Quail, Lamb, Venison). I have not had these all together since they were released:
Corton Grand Cru 2009,Domaine de la Romanee-Conti – This was the first vintage of DRC Corton. Lovely crisp almost red fruited nose which was a surprise. With more air the fruit gets darker. Good depth on the palate and a tangerine element to the nose. The palate is more Corton in depth than the nose. Nicely done.
Echezeaux Grand Cru 2009,Domaine de la Romanee-Conti – A nicely focused and slightly “stemmy” nose. Quite a bold palate with good fruit saturation. This is a very impressive, and as a result has less usual Echezeaux early appeal. A sleeper.
Grands Echezeaux Grand Cru 2009,Domaine de la Romanee-Conti – Far more resinous and more concentrated, this is profound, quite closed but might impressive for the texture and class. It opened out with more air and showed a nice herbal side. Very proper this.
A change of course now and on to:
Romanee-Saint-Vivant Grand Cru 2009,Domaine de la Romanee-Conti – Absolutely stunning on the nose, so fine, so balanced. A little kick of spice that lifts the balanced red and black fruits. Very complete, a joy. Another illustration of why I love this wine so much.
Richebourg Grand Cru 2009,Domaine de la Romanee-Conti – More broad, more serious (may be), more dense for sure. This shows the difference between RSV and Rich as clearly as I can remember. It has a drier side, more heft, like a very fine Clos Vougeot. A bit of a bully but then you want status from Richebourg. Uncompromising. V.fine!
La Tache Grand Cru 2009,Domaine de la Romanee-Conti – My note starts – “smashing”, not a word I use much these days. This has the class of the RSV, red fruits and tangerine, then a moreish and tangible structure. Both power and energy which can be a tricky combo to pull off. It is long and lives up to its reputation. Superb.
The La Tache was actually paired with Petrus 1998 which had a truffle, mushroom, densely fruited nose. Quite an inky concentrated palate. Very grand but so very different to the “Pinots” that has gone before. Exotic, heady and very rich but with a savoury side. Almost begging for more time. Fascinating to have alongside the DRCs but possibly a little unfair on it.
We had one more wine to come and it was Yquem 1988 – if my memory serves me right, and it might not, we had it from two different halves. I had had it again recently from a bottle. These two halves varied a tad. I like the 1988 for its maturity and slightly drier (all relative of course) side. A vinous and rich wine.
Now you can see why I should get to Birmingham more. It was a splendid and most generous evening – thank you Mr P and thanks all those that were there for their excellent company.