[No photos – to protect the innocent!]
I was in London last Friday and it didn’t start all that well; a planned lunch with Neal Martin (he of the dark-side) and Linden Wilkie (The Fine Wine Experience) went awol – Neal (suffering jet-lag) and Linden (just suffering) both assumed the other had told me the venue, I just assumed that their joint suffering meant that lunch would be a solo affair. While checking out new running shoes at the Nike Shop and checking email at the Apple Shop I was in contact with one of the guys at Berry Bros & Rudd about collecting some wines from my storage account. The conversation basically went – “so you’re in London today” – “yes” – “we’re having lunch with some nice bottles, do you want to come?” – “hmm, I think I can make that!” So there I was in the amusing situation of having to ‘buy a bottle’ to bring to BB&R for lunch!
Only as I was about to make my entrance at BB&R did I finally get a call from the dynamic (suffering) duo – we got together for about 10 minutes, but clearly: they needed food, didn’t have an invite from BB&R and also didn’t have the pre-requisite for attempting to gate-crash – a bottle each. We quickly dismissed the short-term option of turning up with bottles of Justerini, Fortnum & Mason and Waitrose ‘own-label’ Pauillacs and the duo set off for the nearest Japanese restaurant, alternately cursing me, BB&R and each-other – or not! It was anyway good to see them.
Having decided against a bottle of Fortnum & Mason ‘own label’ Bordeaux I had instead plumped for a 2005 single vineyard Au Bon Climat, Pinot Noir. To be honest I forget the name of the vineyard, but I do remember the ‘statement’ bottle that probably still weighed 1 kilo after being drained! (Amusing story on heavy bottles later) Aromatically, it was very nice indeed, though I found the silky but dense palate missing the energy of the burgundies on the table – even the 2003! – a little more acidity might have done the trick, but fortunately it was very tasty none-the-less. Lucky too – it was imported by Morris & Verdin – so if we hadn’t liked it, we would have been able to blame Jasper!
Not knowing what to expect, and dressed in ‘civvies’, I found the tables in the cellars of St.James immaculately presented and set for a rather grander lunch than I had expected, likewise a large collection of (mainly) men in suits who had also brought bottles along. Apparently this is a dinner that BB&R have been running for a while – a mini Paulée – where a mix of customers and staff bring bottles of their own for testing. The ‘suit’ sat next to me was initially coy about revealing that he was a banker from XXX, but we got on like a house on fire – he even recounted to me the PR disaster overseen by senior management, paraphrasing: ‘everyone knew we had an awful year so no-one expected a bonus – all of a sudden it is announced that everyone will get their bonus – clearly a surprise but welcome none-the-less by those who had made all their targets. Of-course outrage poured forth in the media, the end result being bonuses (which nobody expected) were publicly canceled. Pretty-much annoying everyone in the whole country!’ Hmm, I guess that’s why they are ‘senior’ management.
The food was top-notch, if a little cool (temperature-wise) but that was probably due to me talking and sniffing too much. The first glass was a corked Meursault and the next 3 all had a little musty note to start with, so I was beginning to suspect dirty glasses – though I’d be surprised at this address – anyway the rest were okay. I had to leave before the cheese course and presumably missed the pre-war Musigny’s etc., but here are the only 3 notes in my book:
1996 Chandon des Brailles, Corton Bressandes
The nose initially has a musty background though that aspect slowly fades to primary and nicely transparent red fruit, slowly it deepens and has a more obvious cherry aspect – very young aromatics though. Fresh, slightly forward acidity. Smooth, yet still with an undercurrent of velvety tannin. Nicely intense and even mineral fruit that slowly fades in the finish. Relatively open yet obviously painfully young – probably at least 5 years away from even some secondary development – very nice wine.
Rebuy – Yes
1996 Jean Grivot, Nuits St.Georges 1er Les Boudots
I havented tasted one for a while, but I have a quite a few Grivot Nuits from this vintage – the Roncières in particular has been very nice. My first Grivot Boudots from ’96: A little darker in colour than the Corton. The darker fruit also shows a hint of mustiness and is also a little more muscular. The delivery on the palate is similar to the Corton, intense, some tannin though the fruit is darker and a shade metallic tasting. Almost good, and of-course very young.
Rebuy – Maybe
2003 Jean Grivot, Vosne-Romanée
Frankly, I’ve no experience of recent Grivots, so this will be interesting: Deep colour. Dense but not at all clunky red fruit – a little tight but nothing ungainly – slowly building some higher tones, rounding out to be quite lithe and not a bit jammy – a good 2003 nose. Mouth-filling though also a little mouth-puckering from the tannin, yet the acidity is not bad. Just a little mouth-watering which combined with the tannin that clings to your gums makes this quite long – incredibly young though. Not a bit of roasted fruit and showing enough energy on the palate. Clearly this needs lots of cellar time but it’s a very successful wine for the vintage – well done Etienne!
Rebuy – Yes
PS – I forgot the story about the BB&R ‘executive’ who after a tasting, slapped a cork in one of the remaining heavy bottles to enjoy at leisure, at home – only to pull the cork at home and find said heavy ‘statement’ bottle was completely empty! Of-course I’m sober darling was probably the basis of the next hour’s conversation…