A long, Sunday afternoon: eight folks, five courses and three wines, oh plus a naked! bottle of Port. A fine sybaritic fayre, and a dollop of fun in trying to solve the mystery of the naked bottle.
An array of amuse bouche: eggplant dip with country bread; crispy tomato (with dill) toast Michel Guerard and cheese tartlets with a sweet confit were simply divine, an unexpectedly perfect set of combinations, and polished off with a welcoming sparkling Saumur. Bouvet’s bouquet of floral and blends of red apple fruits bestowed a delightful rustic appeal. The bubbles were maw-tickling and powerful; acacia, honeysuckle, red apples and spices long and elegant on the palate.
Chicken bouillon with lime coriander and mint, was accomplished and augmented the subtle mint aromas of the Forster Ungeheuer, Riesling trocken (2009). Ripe stone fruits, mineral overtones and lingering herbs; textured, balanced with a fine blade of piercing acidity, this is an impressive little wine and tangoed agreeably with the bouillon. Continuing on with chartreuse of asparagus tips, asparagus flan and fried julienne vegetables with asparagus cream sauce and the Riesling continued to fare well.
I selected Jean Luc Colombo Cornas La Louvre (2001) for the main dish of eggplant and lamb cake with a garlic jus, salad with walnuts, crisp celery and artichokes. Ripe, black fruits, firm, audacious and well integrated, resolved tannins, plenteous on the palate, bold and textural, coating the palate with the quintessential peppery syrah which lingered for some time.
Finishing off with some unctuous and serious dollops of desserts: apple, apple and apple sorbet and banana and chocolate mousse cake, Gran Marnier ice cream in a hazelnut cornet and fresh fruit. Regrettably, big Claude managed to knock-over my only single bottle of Sauterne ’01, so we skipped to the cheeses and supped our mystery, naked Port.
The bottle shape gave us little by way of help, and the only way to find out was simply to open it. Two attempts at extracting the cork, and darn, it split right across the third digit of the Vintage, eek was it a 1930 or 1950. The anticipation: hours ensued and, a washed cork, we finally figured it out - Taylor’s Vintage 1950. Tawny in appearance and wow, what a spectacularly fresh wine: almost Christmas pudding like on the nose, orange rind and juicy, and with a fantastic, acidity, lingering acidity.