Burghound Gala  - Wine Suggestions

With our Allen Meadows Gala Dinner taking place next Saturday night (23rd April), the buzz in the office at The Fine Wine Experience this week has been...
 
What to open??!!
 

The style of this dinner is to celebrate Burgundy by sharing Burgundy wines with friends over a looong dinner. Lots of wines, lots of friends. Popular wine choices fall into two (overlapping) categories: Large format bottles that can be served in small portions to a very large number of people. Here is the chance to meet a lot of people, friends, new acquaintances, and share. 3 litre and above is the way to go here. Peak drinking fine Burgundies that are irresistibly in their apogee. Rarities in particular go down well, whether from gilded addresses or not.

Roulot - Meursault King of Lieux Dits

 

Jean-Marc Roulot is one of the greatest white winemakers in the world today. The astonishing thing is that he has achieved this recognition, little by little over the years, without any grands crus, and only three 1er crus. As great as his 1er crus are – and they are truly great – I have always thought of him as “King of the Lieux Dits”. He has enormous passion for the individual personality of these village-level parcels. It is through these – perhaps even more than the 1er crus – that I have come to appreciate the breadth Meursault has to offer.

Extensive Perrot-Minot offer - intense yet charming wines from exceptionally old vines

 

Christophe Perrot-Minot’s wines could be described as something of a Burgundy Ultra – indeed, this is used on some cuvées to denote tiny yields from exceptionally old vines. ‘Vieilles Vignes’ just doesn’t do it justice. Everything is done meticulously, with rigorous sorting to ensure cuvées in great health.

The style is modern – de-stemmed, cold pre-soaking – but since about ten years ago the wines have lightened to a delightfully transparent expression. Gentler pumping over has largely replaced punching down, and new oak has been paired back to 25% for village, 40% for 1er Cru and 50% for grand cru. The incredible low-yield fruit, and the lighter touch make these very special indeed. Tiny quantities made.

Claude Dugat new arrivals  - with limited quantity

 

The small-scale family domaine of Claude Dugat is something very special. A meticulous vigernon, Claude is happiest when out in his vineyards with his beloved horse Jonquille.

 

The extraordinary fruit he is able to yield is carefully sorted and de-stemmed. Winemaking follows a modern approach with a high proportion of new oak in the grand crus. Here, like at Leroy, it works. The wines has amazing fragrance, rich, but balanced fruit and a supple texture. There is a juicy, sumptuous dark fruit intensity to his wines.

Rene Engel - as rare as it gets

 

The word “rare” is used quite often by wine merchants on email offers, including yours truly, but this is as rare as it gets because the Domaine no longer exist.

 

Domaine Rene Engel was one of the leading estates in Vosne Romanee until the tragic death of Philippe Engel in 2005. The wines are often delicate and transparent, with great focus and concentration, and there is generally light extraction and only a moderate amount of new oak used (rarely more than 50%, not until later years did he switch to 100% for the Grand Crus). There are 3 Grand Crus: Clos Vougeot (situated at the favourable top portion of the Clos with 85+ year old vines – some consider this his top wine), Grands Echezeaux and Echezeaux.
 

Domaine Leflaive - Sheer quality at every level

Anne-Claude Leflaive (1956-2015) was one of Burgundy’s greatest vignerons, known for her tireless, uncompromising perfectionism. She joined her father Vincent in 1990, and following his death in 1993, and Olivier’s departure in 1994 she assumed full responsibility. Already an estate with a high reputation, Anne-Claude shifted the estate to biodynamic viticulture, improving vineyard health and reducing yields.

 

The style? I would sum it up as ‘luxuriant elegance’. The depth and definition is always there, but with a softer, more caressing texture than, say Coche-Dury, or d’Auvenay. The wines are distinctive, but the signature stamp offers a stylishly gentle impression on the nose and palate.

Please find below an impeccably-sourced selection of ready-to-drink first growth Bordeaux. 

 

Some of my personal favourite current-drinking wines are in this delectable selection, e.g. -
1998 Ch. Lafite-Rothschild — the top Medoc, now drinking well.
1970 Ch. Latour — contender for wine of the vintage, it was typically slow to evolve and is now in its apogee.
1982 Ch. Latour — one of the greatest Bordeaux of the 20th century, still on the early side of its drinking window. Can be an exciting wine.
1996 Ch. Margaux — I think this vintage more than any other captures that beautiful violetty Margaux stylishness.
1985 Ch. Haut-Brion — the charm of 1985 is best captured at Haut-Brion where the mellow fruit is matched by earthy minerality. Wonderful elegance.
1979 Ch. Petrus — an underdog year, but at a Petrus BYO dinner I once hosted this was actually my favourite wine. Elegant, fragrant.
1989 Ch. Petrus — a wine of the ages. One of the deepest, most potent years here. Immense depth.

A great selection here too for those born in 1975 or 1976.

Note too that this selection includes plenty of magnums (in mature years the “magnum factor” plays a role in the wine’s performance), including some quite rare magnums of 1994 Ch. Haut-Brion BLANC. Delicious.

Everything here is landed in our Hong Kong professional storage facility and ready for immediate delivery.

Large format bottles are hugely fun. Their very excess adds dimension to whatever special occasion is being celebrated.

A 3-litre is no excess at all. For a group of 4 to 8 people, it simply becomes the main bottle for a dinner. An extra special one.

In the picture below you see an 18-litre bottle of 2003 Chateau Cos d’Estournel. With a bit of help from the crew, we got this decanted into a dozen decanters, and it served about 150 people. A glass each — everyone sharing from the same bottle. That’s special. (Oh, and the ’03 is drinking really well right now).

 

But even though these large formats are ‘special occasion’ bottles, why wait for a special occasion? Do you remember the movieSideways? Miles is saving up his bottle of 1961 Chateau Cheval Blanc for a special occasion. Maya chastises him, saying “anytime you open a bottle of Cheval Blanc is a special occasion."

Vega Sicilia Unico has long been referred to as Spain’s “first growth”. This Ribera del Duero red is based on Tempranillo, blended with the support of Bordeaux varietals. It like, it needs long ageing to really shine.

The offer below represents some leading vintages for current drinking. Note the rare chance to obtain magnums (1990), or an OWC of 12 of the 1990 or 1981. For 1968, 1983, 1990 and 1994 the bottles are available individually.

Château Petrus sits on a particularly special terroir. On a visit in 2010, it had been raining for the previous couple of days. Elisabeth Jaubert, ‘Ambassadrice’ at the estate picked up a clump of the iron-rich clay to demonstrate its special properties. The vineyard drains, but in drought conditions it can hold sufficient moisture. (In the picture on the right you see a map of soil types – the soil below Petrus pretty much corresponds to the blue circle to the right).

 

I’m always impressed by the palate expression of Petrus, which somehow manages to show enormous depth and concentration, a glycerin-laden mouthfeel, plenty of tannin, but also a lovely flow across the palate. There’s intensity and richness, but Petrus never feels heavy, nor over-extracted.

The talent in the soil has been translated well by a continuity of management by the Moueix family, and winemaking by Jean-Claude Berrouet, who made each vintage from 1964 to 2007. (And if you need proof that his deft touch at Petrus is really only about the vineyard, he also made the exceptionally good 1982 and 1983 vintages at Château Lafleur).

Château Petrus needs time in the cellar to show its fragrance and complexity. In our offer below, that boring bit called ‘waiting’ has been done for you. Simply buy, open, drink (note too that these are mostly magnums, so if you need help finishing one off just let me know). The magnums are especially good for acquiring birth year wines too.

The absolute ultimate way to start a dinner with a special group, or offer the ultimate at a Burgundy ‘paulee’ is to pick one of these super-rare, super-coveted 3/6-litre spectaculars below. All of them are ready to serve and to drink, and in tiptop condition.

 

1983 Domaine de la Romanee Conti - Montrachet Grand Cru (BH 91)
1 Double-Magnum (3L) available @ HKD 152,000

 

1988 Domaine de la Romanee Conti - Montrachet Grand Cru 
1 Imperial (6L) available @ HKD 350,000

 

Enter to read the full offer with photos...

Freshly landed in Hong Kong, we are pleased to offer this selection of ready to drink Burgundy grand crus from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.

Note the 1978 Montrachet – perhaps the vintage for this vineyard from DRC. A legendary wine. Is the 1996 the legend-in-waiting? This is still so youthful but shows amazing richness, freshness, poise, and balance.

1976 was a successful vintage at DRC for reds, which now fully mature, have a lovely spice and sous bois quality to them.

1969 Grands Échézeaux is a personal favourite. Lovely minerality, fruit and acidity.
 

A rare chance to acquire an original wooden case of the 1993 Richebourg, a fine vintage, drinking now but still with all its drinking years ahead of it.

Finally two original assortment cases from top years – 1995 and 2001. Keep, or broach!

The cellaring and waiting has all been done for you.

Selbach-Oster Trockenbeerenauslese - a rare Mosel treat

 

We have secured a small parcel of extraordinary nectar from a leading producer in the Mosel, Germany. Trockenbeerenauslese (“TBA”), or “selected fully shrivelled nearly dry late harvest individual berries”(!) is the rarest, most intense treat in the Mosel Riesling hierarchy. The berries are almost completely shrivelled dry by a combination of botrytis (a sort of beneficial mould that develops naturally on some grapes), and drying from sun and wind evaporation. Frustratingly tiny amounts of grape juice nectar are extracted from these berries after long gentle pressing, and often a grower's reward for a great deal of effort is just 100 to 300 litres or so of wine. That’s it.

 

It’s little wonder that leading specialist Egon Muller’s auction TBA sold last year in Trier for 12,000 Euros per bottle!

 

In Zelting, in the Middle Mosel, there is a producer we like very much who also makes a tiny quantity of TBA in years that can offer it. Kat Lee and I visited Selbach-Oster in September, and were treated to a half bottle over dinner. It was exquisite. The wine is intense, complex, incredibly long on the finish, but amazingly, it also somehow feels light. The fruit intensity is so well balanced with fresh zingy acidity, and the aromas and flavours are fresh. It exhilarates rather than tires the palate. This is also assisted by low alcohol - only around 7%! It is a unique quality of great TBA from the Mosel, and in our view Selbach-Oster is a master of the style.

We are delighted to present The Fine Wine Experience 2014 Burgundy offer.In 2015 our team made two visits to taste 2014s from barrel.

 

The season had an early start but a mixed summer that delayed development. Fortunately a fine September meant Indian Summer conditions at harvest.

 

Compared to the ‘13s, that we liked very much, the ‘14s seemed more immediately charming, rounder, fruity in style, yet still showing great delineation between individual terroir, good freshness and balance. These are going to give great pleasure to a broad audience, and at an earlier stage in the cellar than the ‘13s. Just what everyone needs!

"Vintage Pairs" Blind Tasting Round 6

4th May 2016

 

Date: 4th May 2016 (Wednesday)
Time: Tasting starts at 6:45 PM (prompt start!), finished by 8PM
Venue: The Fine Wine Experience Store
Ticket: HKD1,200 per seat, offered first-come, first-served, available now.