Saturday, March 14, 2009

All the Nines: Ninety Nine and others

One evening in February we invited four friends, all wine lovers, to a dinner with the theme of drinking wines from vintages ending in 'nine'. Guests were invited, and we arranged between us what wines we would bring from our cellars - as you can imagine with older vintages more reds were available so we had to plan the meal accordingly.

The line up of some of the wines looked pretty impressive!

We started with Champagne Bernard Brémont 1999 Grand Cru Ambonnay
Fine gentle mousse with delicious mouth filling blackberry note, dry with sustaining acidity.

Before we tucked into our meal we tasted the reds, from all over the world.

Jean Leon Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserva 1999 Pago Jean Leon, Spain
Lovely bright red with warm, ripe, attractive red fruits balanced with gentle tannins.

Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet/Shiraz 1989 South Australia
Mid red in colour with a little browning at the rim with meaty, fruity notes. A mature wine though still with some life in it - well balanced with a long finish.

Trinity Hill Trinity 1999 Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Russet in colour showing some browning on the edge it was drying and only showing a little fruit.

The oldest red was a magnum of Burgundy which I bought in the early 1970s from Serena Sutcliffe MW when she was working with a small wine importer.

Chassagne Premier Cru Morgeots, Prosper Maufoux 1969 Burgundy, France
There was a slight ullage, to mid neck. Browny red the nose was slightly farmyardy with a hint of fruit. On the palate it was full-bodied and robust, seeming very typical of the ‘big’ style of Burgundies commonly produced in that era.

With our first course of smoked salmon on blinis we drank another Grand Cru, this time from Alsace.
Pinot Gris, Grand Cru Spiegel, Domaines Schlumberger 1999 Alsace, France
Deep yellow colour – honeycomb and musky floral notes on the nose, which continued on the palate; medium dry with gently acidity completed by a long finish.

The main course was a simple game casserole – simple because it didn’t taste too gamey – just the dish to enjoy with the reds. Delightfully we didn’t all agree on which wine was the best match with the Penfolds Bin 389 and the Jean Leon Cabernet Sauvignon vying for top position.

We’d brought back from France a couple of cheeses: Tommette, made just down the road from us in Haute Savoie, and Comté, from the Jura where the unique Vin Jaune is made.

Arbois Vin Jaune, Jaques Puffeney 1999 Jura, France
Golden yellow with a concentrated bouquet of wet walnuts, spices (fenugreek). Deep rich flavours on the palate with fantastic balancing acidity. It matched the Comte splendidly

We completed the dinner with a special treat from 1939!

Massandra Gurzuf Rose Muscat 1939 Crimea
Bronze gold with faintest hint of pink, the nose was a complex mix of acacia honey, warm toffee and attar of roses. Still fresh it was unctuously sweet, tempered by bright acidity with all the flavours on the nose continuing in the mouth. Wow!

Wink has written a blog recounting the history of this ‘wine of the Tsars’, why and how she bought it.

We all enjoyed a very convivial evening with lots of conversation and discussion, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to share all these wines in such great company.

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