On Thursday night we attended such a dinner at the fine French restaurant La Grande Bouffe in Rozelle. Organised by my husband’s Food and Wine Society, I knew the wine selections were going to be pretty good (the table captain had been in touch with key members of our table in advance of the evening) but, wow, what a wonderful night of wine imbibing!
We started with a bottle of Perrier-Jouet Champagne 1998. Fresh and still fruity with delicate citrus and floral aromas and deliciously fine bubbles, it was the perfect accompaniment to the canapes of natural oysters with a champagne vinaigrette, fish tartare on fine toast and pork roulard with celeraic salsa.
Before the entrees arrived, we moved on to the Domain Christian Moreau Pere et Fils Chablis 1er Cru Vaillon 2006. This wine comes from a very young domain: the Christian Moreau family only reclaimed the grand cru-rich acreage for the family in 2002, and Christian and his winemaker son Fabien have already done a very good job in restoring the Domaine’s reputation as a leading producer in the region.
The 2006 Vaillon Chablis is made from vines planted by Guy Moreau in 1932. It was already excellent but will probably benefit with more cellar age, which will soften the slight steely edge. The stone fruit, apricot in particular, and lime citrus flavours were balanced by lanolin in the finish. It worked well with my twice baked wonderfully light leak and goat cheese souflee and my husband’s deliciously succulent bacon wrapped scallops on braised mushrooms with a mustard jus.
Barossa’s first example of a co-fermented shiraz/viognier, the 2000 Descendant is a single-vineyard shiraz with eight percent viognier. Intense, exotic and inky purple in colour, the delicious berry fruits, licorice and savory aromas of the Descendant emanate from the glass even before swirling! It had a satin-like texture and a wonderfully long finish with the viognier imparting just the right amount of its signature honey-suckle character to balance the pepper notes.
Equally as good was the superb Curly Flat Pinot 2006. Macedon Ranges based Curly Flat makes one of Australia’s finest pinot noirs. In fact the 2006 Curly Flat Pinot Noir was recently deemed the best of 18 world-class pinot noirs served blind to 16 judges at Winewise tasting panel. Pretty impressive given the French wines included some top names such as Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Domaine Armand Rousseau and Domaine A. F. Gros.
Here’s a summary of the panel’s comments, which offer a far better description of the wine than I could provide: “This is a delightfully fragrant pinot noir with red berry/cherry characteristics and a fine, velvety mouthfeel. There’s a briary complexity suggesting a small stems component, and the oak is comfortably absorbed by the intense fruit. A complete wine.” (Curley Flat Vine to Wine Newsletter, October 2010)
By the time the main courses were served we had moved on to Bordeaux. Undoubtedly the highlight of an evening of highlights was the Chateau La Lagune Haute Medoc Grand Cru Classe 1982. I love it when our impressions coincide with the opinion of our top wine critics (no I didn’t peak in advance). Here’s what Robert Parker said of this superb wine: “Unquestionably the greatest La Lagune until the 2005 was conceived, the 1982 exhibits a dense ruby/purple-tinged color along with a big, sweet bouquet of black cherries, licorice, smoky toast, and forest floor, a plush, medium to full-bodied mouthfeel, and sweet tannin. It is close to full maturity, and should keep for another decade.” (Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate # 183, June 2009)
It worked beautifully with my blue eye cod on shrimp scampi and sauteed vegetables. Unfortunately the La Lagune overshadowed a reasonably good bottle of St Emilion Le Preure 1995.
Of course, no evening is complete without a sticky for dessert. The 2006 De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon was the perfect complement for my orange glazed baked peach. Classed as ‘Outstanding’ in Langton’s 2010 Classsification of Australian Wine, the 2006 is rated as one of the best of 24 vintages, and incidentally the vintage former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd presented to the Pope when he visited the Vatican last year. (Apparently the Pope had discovered Noble One on his trip to Australia a couple of years ago.)
Light golden in colour with vibrant aromas of bright candied citrus fruits, apricot and vanilla, the complex palate is crisp and concentrated with layers of delicate fruit flavours complemented by a good balance of acidity and French oak. A marvelously sophisticated yet still youthful wine that I hope to come back to several times over the next decade.