I was invited to a funny tasting tonight. We had no idea what wines would be served: all would be served fully blind. All turned out to be 1997, and minus the starter Bordeaux:
Pongnian-Tourey Bl de Bl 1997 (Marne)
A very nice Champ: Oaky, rather evolved, little mushroomy, ripe apple. The palate was fruity, but with fine if a little soft acidity. My guess, maybe 80% chard, 20% pinot. Seemed evolved and from a warm year and a bit oaky, so maybe 1990 or 1989 from an oaker like Selosse? In spite of my aversion for oak, I liked it very much. Oops (= recurring phrase this evening!). Price: 15 euros. Buy by the case, in other words.
Pichon Comtesse 1997
Oak, cassis and leaves - lovely scent, though needs a little more age for the oakiness to settle. The palate had plentiful cassis and herbs, seemingly rather Cab F dominated (always good!!!), but with fine fruit and a little too obvious oak but that was seemingly integrating well. Very good. I was destracted by one taster into thinking this was St.-Emilion. i.e. oops.
Clerc Milon 1997
A bit of cherry, leafy - rather nice. The palate wasn't however: massive extraction, full bodied, thick, with the acids showing only on the aftetaste - the mid-palate was devoid of freshness and lift. Decent, I suppose if you're not into acids. My guess: left-bank 1995. i.e. Oops.
La Mission Haut Brion 1997
My favourite of the night: leafy, savoury, cassis - as classic Bx as can be. The palate had fine fruit but was a savory not a fruit dominant wine, and it had fine acidity. The most immense aftertaste which opened like the cliché of the peacock's tail! Lovely. My guess: again ooops. I was once again misled by the other taster into thinking of this as St-Emilion. Grrrr!
Chateau Montrose 1997
Bottle stink which never really cleared up. Sweaty, dark toned fruit, rather plummy. The palate was sweet, had fine acidity on the aftertaste but the mid-palate was quite monolithic and dull. Ok, I suppose. My guess: Pomerol due to the plumminess on the nose, i.e. Oops once again.
Then we went to dinner, where we had some fantastic wines:
Billecart-Salmon Cuvée Elisabeth Salmon 1997
Alonside the PJ Rosé 1982, one of the best rosés I've tasted: very pale in colour, almost not a rosé in fact. The nose had lovely fresh, if a bit toasted fruit, with a hint of figs and quite a bit of flowers. The palate had fantastic acids, and was more mineral that usual with Champs. Lovely.
Viognier de Campuget Cuvée Prestige 2004 (Costières de Nîmes)
Never really been a fan of the grape but this made me understand why some people love it! The nose was exotic and floral and sweet but with enough savoury notes to be balanced. The palate, though by no means acidic, was savoury thanks to the wonderful minerality which balanced the sweet fruit and made it seem fully dry (not something I really have associated with the pathetic Viogniers which have been available here...). Very good. Besides, it was a wonder with Vitello Tonnato in the Demo resaurant in Helsinki!
Aldo Conterno Il Favot 2001
A rather spoofulated nose of oak/spice. The palate was very easy and evolved for a Nebbiolo, with lots of sweet fruit - lovely stuff if you like the style (which I don't). Superb match for the duck of the Demo resaurant. Though not a wine to my taste, I'll have to acknowledge that the sommelier really knows his stuff and understands what wines go with which foods.
Cazes Rivesaltes 1995
From Grenache. Nice toffee nose with hints of orange - good substitute (and very similar to) tawny port. The palate was very sweet, but with good balancing acidity. Nice.
Maculan Dindarello 2005
Sweet passion fruit on both nose and palate. Nuff said. I liked it as it had nice acidity.
Plageoles Muscadelle Doux 2004 (Gaillac)
Lovely fresh, if dirt-like nose (oxymoron perhaps, but I see no other way of describing it!). Nice acidic and fresh, yet again dusty palate. I liked it very much!
Arretxea Hegoxuri 2004
From the (gros or petit?) Manseng grape. This kicked ass and rocked! (Though no one else liked it...) The nose was pleasantly grassy and immensely mineral with quite a bit of greenish fruit underneath. The palate apparently has a touch of RS but that is nowhere evident: tart, screeching acids (wheeheee!!!), no fruit to speak of, and fantastic minerals! Oh my God, how I loved this stuff! Drier than the Sahara, perhaps, but still IMO balanced and lovely. I must say that though they people I was dining with like "challenging" wines, even they were put off by this, so I suppose this isn't for everyone. But can I say it often enough - this rocks!