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Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf du pape 2009 and 1995

January 28, 2013 12 comments

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I had dinner on FRI evening with friends at Veranda Casa Frumoasa and had the chance to enjoy this young Chateauneuf du pape. The location looks elegant and service is sharp. The food was all right, but beef could be better considering the prices, the wine list is rather good but I believe it loses points (and business for sure) by not having any Romanian wines listed. For a FRI evening the location was rather empty as, excluding our table, there were only 2 persons present at another table. And that’s how it remained for the entire evening.

We had several dishes for dinner but the one that stood out and made an impression was goose liver on waffle with red currant and two types of sauces. The goose liver on waffle was an unexpected but sensational combination that can be rated as a 10.

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With food we had the young 2009 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf du pape that already has the attributes to become a great wine with more aging. I am a big fan of this wine from this reliable producer that makes excellent wines every vintage. It is one of the few sure things in Chateauneuf du pape.

2009 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf du pape

The wine was decanted for about 20 minutes and then poured in larger volume in our glasses were we left it to aerate more for another 30 minutes. The color is deep red garnet. The nose is developed, not very expressive at the moment, but it scores big on the palate. Full bodied, well structured and so smooth and silky for such a young Chateauneuf du pape, good balance between power and elegance, fresh, with superb red and black fruits flavors on the palate, Indian spices, roasted herbs and a discreet touch of bacon. Long finish, smooth, fresh and, believe or not, overall such an elegant wine. This wine has typically 14% alcohol, but this one bears the mark of the ripe 2009 vintage, showing 14.5% alcohol, pure flavors and perfectly ripe tannins. It has a great aging potential and it can last 15-20 years easily. (92-93/100)

Just before last Christmas I had an older version of this wine that did not make it on the blog until now. It is a 1995 Vieux Telegraphe, a wine I know and I had also about 2 years ago. I believe the 1995 Vieux Telegraphe has the power to convert people into wine lovers.

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1995 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf du pape

Plenty of sediment in this wine. I uncorked it and left it to aerate in the bottle for almost 2 hours, taking small sips at various time intervals.

The color is a saturated ruby red with no signs of aging. The nose is well developed, youthful and maturing, showing great complexity and serious depth. The aromatic profile is still dominated by primary aromas of red fruits in different stages of ripeness and red fruits preserves that have superb purity, Indian spices and, the only signs of a certain early maturity, a leathery aroma. In the mouth this wine is a symphony: smooth and silky, perfectly blended tannins, fresh ripe red fruits: red currants, raspberries, strawberries, spices, a bit of game, and each of this aroma comes in front of the stage in phases just like the acts and actors of a play as the wine aerates. There is a sense of absolute balance, with all components in the right places. Long finish, smooth and in the perfect drinking window. There is no problem holding it further, but if you are looking for the perfect drink at a very affordable price, this is your wine. (95/100)

Categories: France, Rhone Tags: , ,

Wine-dinner with Billecart-Salmon

December 11, 2012 3 comments

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I attended a wine-dinner with Billecart-Salmon Champagne last week at La Bonne Bouche restaurant in the Old Center organized by Vinimondo (the importer). Mr Denis Roland-Billecart was present in Bucharest and presented four wines that are included in Vinimondo’s portfolio of imports. The event brought together about 10-12 people only and it was a lovely dinner filled with plenty of interesting information about the history and the wines made by Billecart-Salmon, but also fun and good joy.

Billecart-Salmon is a Negociant-Manipulant (meaning merchant-distributor), still family owned. They purchase the bulk of the grapes they need from dozens of growers. They typically blend wines from different vintages, and vineyards, to produce house style wines that consumers can be confident will be virtually the same each year. They also own a few Pinot Noir vineyards.

Billecart-Salmon produces around 2 Millions bottles each year and 25% is sold on the domestic market in France. The rest goes out for export. According to Mr Roland-Billecart the Champagne consumption on the global level dipped 25-30% in 2008, but grew back about 40% the following year and has been on a positive trend ever since.

We had a 6 course menu prepared by an Italian chef that has a 2 star Michelin restaurant in Italy and is temporarily cooking at La Bonne Bouche. So, if you want to enjoy some interesting food you might want to have lunch or dinner at La Bonne Bouche as soon as possible, as it is not clear how long this Italian chef will cook there.

The menu consisted of: octopus with green asparagus, potatoes and balsamic reduction / tartar of tuna, salmon and seabass / risotto with seafood /  grilled tuna in white sauce / cold lobster salad / dessert: creme brulee, tiramisu and mousse de chocolat.

We started with Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve, the NV Champagne that represents the house style. Medium color, citrus fruit and autolysis on the nose, yeasty, with citrus fruit, pear and minerals on the palate; medium body, low dosage, medium plus long finish, refreshing acidity. A very nice Champagne, balanced and rewarding. One of my favorites for the evening. (90-91/100)

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Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose is a Champagne designed for gastronomy. Light pink colored with good effervescence and tiny bubbles. This seems fuller in the mouth and tannins mark their presence. The nose shows yeast, roses, cherry, strawberry and raspberry jam but without the sweetness. Elegant and creamy on the palate, with long finish. This sparkling wine needs food. (91-92/100)

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Billecart-Salmon Brut Sous Bois is fermented and aged 100% in 2-3 years old barrels. This is a massive Champagne. Medium yellow colored, it shows spicy oak on the nose, with roasted almonds and sweet yellow apple. Mouth filling, luscious flavors on the palate, showing tannins, bold, with firm structure. Long finish, spicy and ripe yellow fruit. A totally different style, opulent and restless at this present stage. (90/100)

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Billecart-Salmon Vintage 2004 is elegant and shows great tension on the palate. It has great potential to develop and has reserves of flavors, with sharp acidity, a strong mineral backbone and enough tension to make you imagine a constricted spring when you sip it. Long finish, fresh citrus fruit. 2004 was a great vintage in Champagne. My absolute favorite for the evening. (92-93/100)

It was a very enjoyable 4 hours dinner and the Champagne is great.

A memorable tasting with a very special Wine Club

November 6, 2012 4 comments

Last night I was invited, as a guest, to attend a wine dinner organized by a special Wine Club that will remain undisclosed at this moment. The session was dedicated to Italian wines. I had no idea what will be served, but the surprise was overwhelming. The dinner took place in a prime restaurant and the food was fantastic: veal carapaccio, spaghetti pomodoro basilico, grilled Black Angus entrecote and a very special dessert: truffle, white chocolate and truffle ice cream served with a very special wine: Chateau d’Yquem 1981.

We were six people so there was plenty of wine to taste and drink for each of us. We started with a very young Barbaresco.

2007 La Spinetta Barbaresco Vigneto Bordini

This is an extremely young wine but it is so approachable. Dark red garnet color. A youthful and developing nose, intense, refined, showing beautiful aromas of flowers: dried rose petals and violets, tar, ripe black cherry and raspberry, cocoa, with hints of spices: anise and cloves. This is super concentrated on the palate, balanced and well structured, bone dry tannins and as much as a Barbaresco is known to be hard to enjoy when young, this wine drinks very well already. Long finish, with a velvety feel. Youthful but so good. (91-92/100)

One of the participants at the dinner used to work for about 7 years in Toscana at Poggio di Sotto during the summer vacation, so not only did he make a contribution with the next wine, but he also explained the story of this interesting winery. Poggio di Sotto is fairly small in Montalcino with only 12 ha of vines, making around 30.000 bottles of Brunello and Rosso din Montalcino every year. The wine-making process is traditional, with long maceration, extensive maturation in large 30 hl Slavonian oak barrels – for each wine there is an additional one year of aging in the barrel aside from the minimum imposed by the Regulators. Poggio di Sotto was recently sold to a large Italian wine company that has properties all over Italy, but wanted to own a premium, cult-like winery.

2005 Poggio di Sotto Brunello di Montalcino

Medium red garnet color. Complex, deep, profound, refined, showing fine spices, cocoa powder, leather, red fruits preserves and a citrus fruit freshness on the nose. Silky mouth-feel, amazing structure and balance, ripe tannins, extremely fresh with a feather like texture, long finish, fresh all along the way. Exquisite, long black cherry aftertaste. So young but so open and such a pleasure to drink it. (93-94/100)

Next wine comes from a legendary traditional producer. I guess anybody that inquired at a certain moment about Brunello di Montalcino knows this producer as being a pioneer of quality driven wines.

1971 Biondi Santi Brunello di Montalcino

Good fill level. The bottle was uncorked and left to slowly breath for about 3 hours. Red ruby color with a brick rim, a bit cloudy as it comes in contact with air. A maturing bouquet, with initial volatile acids that blew off after another 20 minutes in the glass, still showing discreet red fruit preserves, autumn forest floor, tobacco, balsamic notes, saline, leather and black olives. Medium bodied, initially looking like fading away but with more aeration in the glass opening up more and more. Mature, fresh, mint and black olives on the palate, acidity keeps everything in place and, as it aerates, it shows discreet tannins. Medium finish, fresh and earthy. (88-89/100)

After this line up of amazing wines I found out that dessert will be paired with 1981 Chateau d’Yquem. Life can be full of good surprises sometimes.

1981 Chateau d’Yquem Sauternes

This came from a small 0.375 cl bottle and was open for more than 8 hours but that did not alter the quality of this amazing wine. Deep gold-amber color. A complex bouquet, very intense, combining aromas of mandarins, botrytis, apricots, white pepper and brown sugar. Medium bodied, it has a wonderful balance, elegant, delicious flavors of dried apricots and sweet lemons and amazingly lively on the palate. Long spicy-cardamon finish, with pleasant bitter-sweet orange peel flavor. (93-94/100)

It was a wonderful wine dinner.

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