Thursday, June 29, 2006


Last night our managing director was entertaining a business partner in the restaurant. That means that I get to dust off some rather special bottles to impress our guests and show off a little bit. Now usually what I would do is spend a little while down in the cellar poking around to come up with a few ideas to show. Often I wont have an idea of what they are eating until they have chosen the menu, so I like to have a few options available so that when they chose their meals I am somewhat prepared.

I always chose a nice champagne to start off with. As we are aiming to impress a bit, I chose a prestige cuvee, the Clos de Goisses from Philipponnat, 1990. Clos de Goisses was the first single vineyard champagne and remains one of the most elusive and exclusive champagnes on the market. The vineyard is on the south facing slopes on the banks of the river on the outskirts of Mareuil-sur-Ay. Dominated by Pinot Noir this wine was disgorged in April 2000, meaning it spend about 9 years on the lees, giving it rich autolytic flavours. A wine that truly benefits from a decent bit of bottle aging.

Now the starters are usually always fishy in character so here I steered towards a New Zealand Savvy, this one came from Central Otago from a winery called Mount Difficulty. Central Otago is the most southerly commercial winegrowing region in the world. Located in the centre of the South Island it enjoys a continental climate, so the longer ripening season allows the grapes to reach superb levels of ripeness. The region is especially suited to Pinot Noir, but Sauvignon, Pinot Gris and some riesling is also produced here. The wine has a vibrant nose of tropical fruits typical of a Kiwi savvy, but with undertones of green peppers, gooseberries and other herbaceous characteristics. Fantastic wine!!

For the main course, as the meals chosen were Squab and Ellel Chicken I opted for a burgundy with a bit of bottle age on it, a 1988 Vosne Romanee "Aux Reas" from Anne Gros. As I pulled the cork on it, my nose was assaulted by the pungent aroma of TCA. The cork was humming!! Now Ive had bottles where the cork reeked of TCA, but the wine has been clear and untainted, and vice versa. So with some trepidation I poured a small sample into a glass and swirled and sniffed. Damn! It was foul. So I turn to my backup bottle and peel the foil, insert my screwpull and extract the cork. It wasnt as strong, but this cork reeked too. Bottle number two also proved to be corked, but not to the same extent, and given five minutes to breathe off, could almost have passed as servable. But I dont like to serve sub-standard wine, so I re-cork it, and consign it to the kitchen where it will end up in the stock. Im gutted. I was really looking forward to trying the wine and that was my last two bottles. Plan A exhausted I have to fall back on plan b, a slightly hazy bottle of Meo-Cazumet Nuits St Georges 1er Cru "aux Mergers" 1996. A much younger wine and a fine suspension of sediment, that my less than gentle journey from the cellar had disturbed. But wow, amazingly vibrant fruit flavours, with an earthy afterpunch. It took a little while to really settle down, and unfortunately there was a fine suspension of sediment making the wine slightly cloudy and opaque, but personally I dont mind that. Meo-Cazumet bottles their wines unfiltered and unfined, so I suppose a small amount of suspended sediment is inevitable.

So at the end of the day, the meal was enjoyed, the wines went down a treat, but Im still gutted about the Vosne-Romanee. Damn that TCA.

1 comment:

JoAnna said...

Hi, I've just discovered your blog, and I'm enjoying it very much!

I'm doing a bit of research for a pairing/tasting dinner, and i've been poring over your champagne entries (poring/ pun intended!)

I live in Los Angeles and while my clients are 'comfortable' they still sometimes cringe at the pricetags on the wines i suggest, so i'm digging around the Internet trying to find some champagnes and dessert-worthy wines that won't make them freak out too badly.

I haven't even talked menu with them yet, the dinner's about a month away, so i can make the menu fit around the wines... SO rare for me to do!

So...What's TCA?