Some events and actions often come up and surprise you. In ways you don't expect. All the research, forethought and planning makes no difference. So it was with an organised get together with O&E. Firstly, Big John said he was in town, so he was invited for a drink. We were going to have the Pet Pals call in anyway, but the addition of Big John added to the occasion more than expected. There were connections all round. Quite a pleasant surprise.
On arrival, we got stuck into a comparison of two bubbles. The Deutz Marlborough Cuvee 'Blanc de Blancs' 2006 and hot off the press 'Prestige' 2005. It was a comparison between the sheer elegance of the former and the sheer class and depth of the latter. The Blanc de Blanc is a multi-gold and trophy winner. But it was surpassed by the Prestige wine. A nice little surprise from this comparison.
Then on to the new Church Road 'Tom' Chardonnay 2006. Nothing to compare with directly; only our past experiences and records. It compared well. Everyone, all Chardonnay lovers, thought it deep and rich, yet not overbearing in any way. It's a wine that goes straight to the top of the class.
Then two 2007 Central Otago Pinot Noirs. The Pet Pals' Wooing Tree was everything a Central Otago Pinot Noir should bee. Purple red, forceful dark cherries, real sweetness of fruit. Everything in front of you. Then the Peregrine 'Pinnacle', at four times the price and more. Savoury, earthy and dusty. Tight and taut, and promising to deliver in the future, Huge in extract. Not exactly pleasant now, but an admirable Richebourg style that will live a decade. Surprisingly, the Wooing Tree was by far the more enjoyable....now.
Then Big John's quirky indigenous red, a Quinta dos Mattos Douro Tinta Franca Reserva 2003. Nice table wine at 13.5% alc (yeah, right), black and liquoricy in smell and taste. Sweetly ripe, with tannin hit on attack, fading to fruitiness on the rest of the palate. Big John wanted to compare it with developments in The Bay, where the variety might do well. This was a pleasant surprise to us all.
Finishing this initial foray with comparing 1983 and 1982 Chx Chasse Spleen from Moulis in the Medoc. Cru Bourgeois, but showing typical vintage characters each. The 1983 somewhat leafy and acidic, the 1982 richer and riper, with texture and body in comparison. No surprise really, considering the reputation of the 1982s. Both a little old-fashioned, and interest-only now. But not gone.
Then O&E, SWMBO and me (that rhymes) 'ambled' down to the eatery, to continue the planned part of the evening. On arrival and moving to entree, two Italian whites. A 2005 Pra Soave 'Monte Grande', soft, sweetly nutty and a gentle start, followed by a 2007 Bruno Giacosa Arneis Roero, lovely freshness and crisp mineral/stonefruits to match our entrees. Comparing NE and NW Italian whites is not something we do often. 'Bless you', eatery owner for these. These were a pleasant surprise.
Then onto the main course in wine as well as food. 1983 and 1982 Chx Gruaud-Larose St Julien 2nd growths. Similar to the Chasse-Spleen in vintage characters, but up a notch in fruit retention and drinking character, as they should have been. The '82 was a Parker rave-wine at the time. Both had waves of funky brett coming and going, as they breathed in the glasses. In the end, the freshness and liveliness of the more elegant '83 won out. The '82 was bigger in all ways, and the loser here. A surprising comparison.
Finishing up the night was the 2001 von Kesselstatt Piesporter Goldtropfchen Auslese. Didn't need any comparison, as at this stage, comparisons would be invidious. Top notch year, with some bottle age now. Petrolly nose interlaced with honey. Gorgeous palate with lovely acidity. Flashes of custard and creaming soda in the palate. Luscious, yet a wine that would be an ideal aperitif.....maybe we could start all over again?