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Happy New Year!!

January 3, 2010

My New Year started off with quite a bang, but also hit a bit of a tragic note, literally. For the second year in a row on New Year’s Day, we met at Kome (again!!) for a LONG SLOW lunch in the kaiseki style that began at 1.00PM, ending only at 6.30PM as the sun was setting and the dinner patrons were arriving, far exceeding last year’s event (which had ended by 4.50PM). Lawrence had set us up in a long row with our WAGs and we settled down to enjoy the afternoon, starting off with a Billecart-Salmon NV Brut Reserve (courtesy K), served from a 3L double-magnum. This was dull golden in color with a solid body of cutting acidity and yeasty undertones, very dry on the finish, serving its purpose well.

The 2004 Mischief & Mayhem Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru “Les Referts” that followed was light golden, with a nose dominated by far too much citrus and lime, the acidity cutting through sharply. It was noticeably hollow on mid-palate, only gaining some fullness towards the finish. Although it took on some caramel note with time, becoming more even, it didn’t really carry much complexity nor depth. The overall character was similar to another “Les Referts” (2006 JM Boillot) that I had last month: a sharp predominance of citrus, promising on the nose but somewhat of a letdown on the palate. In contrast. the 2004 Joseph Drouhin Puligny-Montrachet (courtesy PS), a tad lighter in color, was a better wine with a lovely floral nose, revealing a good balance between fruit and minerality, with flavours of melons and pineapple. Well balanced, not at all heavy, maintaining its delicate poise throughout. This is a classic instance where a village wine from a good producer can easily outshine a premier cru from lesser hands.

Thrown into the fray was, once again, the ubiquitous 2004 The Moorooduc chardonnay (that’s what happens when everyone buys the same thing to slosh around), a product of Victoria, Australia. Surprisingly though, it held up well against the French competition, slightly fuller than the Joseph Drouhin, very even and well balanced, very pleasing without trying too hard. Probably my best experience with this chardonnay.

But the afternoon’s choice of white belonged to the 2003 Marc Morey & Fils Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru “Virondot” (courtesy Damien). Even lighter in color than the Drouhin, almost pale, but possessing the best bouquet. Bigger, fuller, yet floral and delicate, generous on the palate, revealing good depth and concentration, with great minerality. Has a sense of place…the terroir is communicating with you, not the winemaker. And that’s what a good wine is all about. Excellent.

At long last, we moved on to the reds, beginning again with a Mischief & Mayhem, the 2003 Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru, darker red than usual for a pinot, with hues of red fruits, cherries and red currants, showing good concentration and grip, smooth and even on the palate, but not terribly complex, lacking in real richness and depth. Very agreeable, neverthless. In fact, drinking very well on its own, a bargain Chambertin grand cru, its deficiencies only shown up when compared to the 2002 Domaine des Lambrays Clos des Lambrays Grand Cru (courtesy K), served from magnum, that was drunk alongside. This is the real deal – a touch lighter but truer in color, exuding a classic nose of lifted cherries and raspberries, revealing great depth and concentration, very importantly with that crucial “fat” in the middle adding that extra ounce of richness and complexity that’s to be found only in great burgundies. Very classy, as always with Clos des Lambrays, never ever disappoints. Keeps drawing you to it, getting better and better with each sip. I could just keep drinking this happily. Great stuff.

At 4.30PM, we relocated to the counter to enjoy Lawrence’s selection of delectable sushi, polishing them off with a magnum of 1999 Ch La Mission Haut Brion that I’d sourced from Bob Rees of WEA. The wine displayed an evolving red that gave off earthy notes, blueberries, dark chocolate, and smoke with aromas of charred leaves (from K, I agree!), revealing excellent concentration and depth without any hint of wood, just developing its secondary flavours of cedar and gravel (here resembling the graphite of St Julien) with the right degree of intensity, possessing a  slightly rustic feel compared to the polished effort of its sister estate Haut Brion across the road, but entirely consistent with its traditional Graves character, providing a wonderful sense of place. With time, it became totally seamless and harmonious, soft and very inviting. I was surprised that this magnum bottling wasn’t at all tough or disjointed, given that large formats usually evolve slower. Who’d have guessed a ’99?? A wonderful wine, reinforcing my soft spot for the wines of Pessac-Leognan.

So what was so tragic about the above? Well, I discovered the next day that I’d accidentally discarded my little red leather-bound notebook containing almost all of 2009’s tasting notes  into my condo’s trash. It was gone by the time I realised what I’d done. Boomz…that’s it. At least I had the good sense to blog everything online. Now I’ll need another notebook:)

I must thank K for organising the event, and to all concerned for their generosity in contributing the wines, and to Lawrence and the Kome staff for the great effort.

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