By billn on January 10, 2004 #degustation

arnoux suchotsThe Devonshire Arms.

That Sunday lunch was going to be a real treat was instantly confirmed as I tucked into the amuse bouche; a tiny Shepherds Pie!

Of course the 2000+ bin wine selection – a ‘tome’ roughly as thick as a breeze block – had already whetted the appetite and I chose a half bottle of 1999 Saint Aubin to be followed by the 1988 Vosne-Romanée 1er Suchots from Robert Arnoux.

The 3 course menu (plus an intermediate veloute of white beans) had plenty of choice and came in at quite a reasonable £27.50 – reasonable for a place with a Michelin star anyway!

I had dourade followed by venison and a vanilla-thing desert – very nice.

The wine was pretty good, but not up to the standard of the (Robert Arnoux) domaine’s current reputation.

Definitely worth a trip

best wine of 2003…

By billn on December 22, 2003 #annual laurels

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti
La Tâche

I suppose February was a little early for an entry in this page, but then again it’s not every day that you get to taste La Tâche. Even from such a young vintage as 2000, there is something quite special about this precocious wine. This was tasted along with the other reds from the domaine in 2000, courtesy of Corney and Barrow> in the UK. La Tâche and Romanée-Conti were head and shoulders above the other wines, which I would ‘merely’ class as excellent, but these two were very special. Apparently La Tâche is usually the most ‘showy’ of the wines when young, and that was certainly the case for this tasting, hence, it’s inclusion ahead of the Romanée-Conti.

The Grand Cru
In the very heart of Vosne-Romanée lies this special piece of ground. La Tâche is a ‘Monopole’ vineyard of the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti; that is to say that they own the vineyard in its entireity, so you won’t find any other producers of this wine. As vineyards go at this rareified level, it’s actually quite a large size, covering 6.06 hectares, or 14.4 acres. From the 46 year-old vines, the domiane had a relatively high yield of 32.65 hectolitres per hectare in 2000, producing a little over 2,000 cases. If the vineyard of Romanée-Conti did not exist, this would be the finest Burgundy in the world.

The Wine
Deep cherry red colour. The nose is at first disappointingly understated and faintly spicy, but with swirling; first red cherry, then black cherry, then blackcurrant, then kirsch, hints of vanilla, then orange – something new every sniff – then the nose goes deeper, showing a little plum and coffee – frankly stunning, who needs to drink this wine? A fat, sappy palate with very concentrated fruit, tannins that are more silk than velvet and a multitude of flavours playing over your tongue – fantastic texture. The maximum interest for me right now is the aromatics, but this is exceptional wine by any measure.


By billn on October 25, 2003 #travel

dragonsSo, a two week blast through a few bits of ‘Greater China’. I started in Taipei (Taiwan), which has a lovely easygoing feeling about it and lots of Japanese influence if the number of restaurants is anything to go by. Many goods are more expensive than Europe, though not outrageously so if compared to most Asian ‘capitol’ cities. A place I really enjoyed visiting. I think it’s next month that Taipei 101 is officially opened and will take over as the world’s tallest building, even pre 9-11 this project was in doubt as the skyscraper was on the flight-path to the city airport and is located close to a fault line – also I was told it required an additional 60m erection on the roof to take the ‘tallest’ title. If these giant erections are the sign of vigorous economies then the next stop-off of Shanghai is an eye-opener in terms of the massive apartment blocks, offices and factories which are springing up everywhere; if the traffic allows(!) you can travel for an hour in almost any direction but will still be surrounded by giant construction works, civil, commercial or domestic – frankly it’s amazing – and business profits in China are up by almost 50% so far this year when compared to last! Next, and last hotel stop is Guangzhou in southern China. Also a place which has seen rampant development in the last 10 years, smaller and perhaps better planned than Shanghai, a place that even I might consider driving in! Apart from the occasional snake there’s nothing too much in Shanghai cuisine to frighten the ‘western’ traveller, southern Cantonese cuisine can offer a few more challenges though. Despite demonstrating that I was prepared to try just about anything my local team acted as ‘filters’ only telling me afterwards that they’d decided not to order the ducks’ tongues or ‘spare bits’ plus a few I won’t mention! On Thursday I took a fast train from Guangzhou to Shenzhen, which is close to Hong-Kong. Shenzhen is just one more in a long list of very modern Chinese cities – I particularly enjoyed the view from the train window, as for about 1½ hours new China blended into old, then back to new. A memorable night playing dice with the locals in an upmarket bar before 20 hours, 3 flights, 2 taxis and my own bed. . . . . . .

Dinner in Glasgow

By billn on October 11, 2003 #degustation#travel

Well, not only did they let me into the UK, they even let me into Scotland too. Seems there’s also a chance for me to go home on Sunday – so that was nice! Last night there was a trace of indulgement – 1* Michelin Restaurant – Braidwoods – just beautifully cooked food with lovely flavours. Oh and did I forget to mention: ’91 Ravennau Chablis, Haut-Brion Blanc et rouge, ’91 de Vogüé Musigny, ’90 DRC Richebourg, ’61 Montrose, ’82 Pichon, ’86 Hill of Grace, ’83 Yquem – and others. Today and I’ll try and reduce my intake – yeah right!!!

Burgundy Report

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