Last week I enjoyed a nice Japanese lunch with Mr Martin and Mr Goode where we put the world to right and I drank tea – funny old world. Then the dastardly Mr Martin encouraged me to buy a bottle of 1991 Chambolle-Musigny – that was corked – bugger!
So, 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. . . . . . .
I’m not able to add much at the moment as I’m deep into travelling in Asia visiting customers. Staying at a cool place though – les suites taipei – here until Sunday morning then off to Shanghai. Might get chance to checkout the winelist tonight. So far a mixture of Japanese, Euro-Japanese and Dim-Sum cuisine – nice city too.
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!!!
I’m sat in the departure lounge of Basel airport – without my passport (don’t ask) but it looks like the Brits will still let me in – be a shame if not, I’ve 10 bottles of Griotte-Chambertin for a tasting for up to 40 people at wine-pages.com’s SuperBOWL 2003 event in Glasgow – I suppose I could drink it the cell if they don’t le me in!
Yesterday I was very lucky to share a lunch with the team of Le Serbet at their office in Beaune – a super lunch it was too, cooked by Russell’s own fair hands with a spectacular ‘goute de bouchon tappanade’. It’s a fab cosmopolitan atmosphere with the conversation a mélange of English and French about this grower and that bottle; wines from Champagne, Alsace, Provence and the Rhône; Dominique Lafon drops in to chew the cud, eat his sandwich and share in a coffee – what a cool place!
Many thanks to Russell and Becky, I wasn’t planning another trip before January, but . . . .
So it’s 7:15pm on the 24th September, looking west past the cross on the corner of Romanée Saint-Vivant the sun is already gone. You need something against the chill – it’s about 12°C with a sneaky breeze.
Despite all the vineyards around being harvested many days ago, there are so many grapes in the DRC vineyards that are still hanging – but they are for the birds!
The grapes appear more homogenous than 12 days ago when still there were many green bunches. I’m sure there could be a decent cuvée made from this lot, but these days your not allowed to pick your own – though the grapes from Romanée-Conti did tast rather nice!
Speaking with Etienne de Montille yesterday (who spoke with Aubert de Villaine on Saturday) DRC left something like 20% of the fruit on the vine after taking only that which was perfectly ripe. Doing a quick calculation based on the size of La Tâche, a rough €500 estimate per bottle and an even rougher 35hl/ha average yield, that’s close to 1 million Euro left on the vines – now that’s what you call commitment to quality! Also gives a hint to why it costs what it does.