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Copyright © Ric Einstein 2009
The Third Annual 2004 Club Dinner - "The Disaster"
© Adair Durie
The third Club dinner of 2004 was held on Saturday, 7th August 2004. Unfortunately, this Club dinner will be remembered as “The Disaster”. I suspect the cool temperature of the dining room and the serving temperature of the wines played a significant part in the poor showing of some very "big" labels. Fortunately, the evening was “saved” by some less renowned wines.
Attendees were: Attila, David "The Grave Robber" Pearson, David Lole, TORB, Laszlo and Stephan. The evening was hosted by Attila this time.
Like all Club dinners, wines were served blind with spot-on and discussion ensuing before trivia and options are given until the wine’s identity is known.
1998 YALUMBA D Cuvée
Unfortunately the attendee who was to bring Champagne cancelled at the last minute, and due to terrible Saturday afternoon traffic on the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the recalcitrant behaviour of 4-month old babies strapped into car seats of very slow moving cars, this wine ended up being matched to Attila’s famous Tamari Almonds.
This wine showed none of the depth or aged and barrel characters of previous bottles, although Attila said it gained enough depth by the morning to enjoy with breakfast. This wine was poor value at $30. Rated Recommended as expectation were probably always too high for this wine, this wine was a disappointment on any and all levels and was a horrific start to the evening.
At least Attila’s Tamari Almonds were consumed in their entirety.
TORB: It was nice of Adair to bring this wine but the bastard that didn’t front should have at least had the decency to send along their contribution and not make us suffer through this plonk. It did not pass my lips.
1987 SEPPELT Great Western Vineyard Show Sparkling Shiraz
Ric commented that "Sparkling Shiraz does not get better than this" and it was agreed by all.
The colour was still bright red with dark red tinges. No brown but getting “c-through”. Beautifully aromatic and deep nose with a huge base of cassis (DavidL noted DMS) and dark cherry fruit, with mulberry, liquorice, chocolate, raspberry, vanilla and only a hint of earthiness adding to the experience. The wine was extraordinarily dominated by fresh fruit and not aged characters. The palate was exceptional: balanced, long, complex and delicate. The wine was light in weight but deep in flavour and power. The small and persistent bead added to the balance, the “dance over the tongue” enjoyment and the softness of the wine, as did the fine tannins which were one with the wine. Some of my ideas of what Sparkling Shiraz can and should be were changed by this wine. Rated Outstanding/Ultimate, the evening had finally begun.
Attila’s note - Vigorous and tiny bubbles in the best Champagne tradition. Powerful Shiraz aromatics on the nose, black cherry, mulberries, liquorice. Seamless and extremely concentrated palate packed with rich fruit flavours. Beautiful balance and serious underlying POWER. At 17 years of age it's nowhere near full maturity. Needs another 4-6 years to fully blossom but will last well beyond that. Amazing gamey flavours, very dark and rich. A joy to drink and savour. In a way it can compete with any product from Champagne. Superb and superior. It cost AU $60 today but it is a bargain, it doesn't matter which way you look at it. A stunning and superb Australian classic that worth it's weight in gold.
TORB: It was interesting to have to fight off all the other guests to get a second glass of this wine. It was the first bottle emptied and went down a treat. My wine of the night.
Attila’s Transylvanian vegetable soup was served next specifically to accompany the following wine. This was a simple, enjoyable dish that would have scared off any cold or flu that might have been coming my way.
2003 KREINBACHER BIRTOKSomlói Furmint/Hárslevelu – Somlo, Hungary
Bright light straw. Some aromatics but dominated by banana, cream and vanilla from absolutely superb oak, and a mineral/earth streak throughout the wine. Ric also found liquorice and kerosene. Smooth palate with a hint of glycerine. Great power. Some finesse. No holes. Fine and long acid totally integrated with the wine. Great length. It reminded me of very high quality Burgundy. The wine had hardly changed after 36 hours. RatedExcellent, I felt that the absolutely gorgeous banana and superb oak flavours were over dominant at this time but, if this wine ages and it seems to have the ability to do so, I believe this rating will significantly improve.
1994 TRIMBACH Cuvee Frederic-Emile Riesling - Alsace
This wine was the first of the big name disappointments. Sweet florals, honey, pineapple and a hint of mango on the nose. More lime is revealed as the wine breathes and warms up, particularly on the middle and back palate. Despite excellent complexity, the great amount of acidity in the wine did not provide any highlight to the flavours and structure. In fact the wine was broad and disjoined. The cork was in great condition but the wine seemed a bit oxidised. I keep tasting this bottle over the next 36 hours looking for some hint of greatness but it was never found. Rated Recommended/Highly Recommended, this was a nice mid-week wine.
Attila next served his Garlic prawns with yeast-free sourdough baguette to accompany his next wine. I thorough enjoyed this disk, not only due to the quality of the accompanying wine, but the sweetness and plumpness of the prawns.
TORB: These garlic prawns were seriously good and made sure that any Transylvanian vampires would be kept at bay and hanging around Attila you can never be too careful.
1998 GYÖRGYKOVÁCS IMRE Somló Tramini (Gewürtztraminer) – Somlo, Hungary (500mL)
Light straw. Apple custard, lychees, and sweet spices on a bone dry and long palate. This wine absolutely blew me away. It is the only Gewürtztraminer I have truly enjoyed. Do they grow Sauvignon Blanc in Somló?
The wine exploded on the palate. The palate was broad and had no glycerine feel. A mineral and sweet earth streak added immensely to the wine. The acidity was as powerful as the fruit and totally integrated creating a very long finish. The wine hardly changed over the next 36 hours and will benefit from a couple of decades in the cellar. Rated Outstanding/Ultimate, this wine will only get better and was my wine of the night.
2001 KOVÁCS ISTVÁN Transylvanian Rosé NO* 7 – somewhere in Hungary
Isabella was the dominant grape variety in this wine, supported by a few others. Pink in colour. One of the evening’s attendees commented that the wine smelt like cocaine. I can not confirm or deny this but thought the wine smelt like a combination of bubblegum and slightly used dishwater. I suspect that it should have been drunk in 2001. Not many tasted the wine. I did and can advise that the dishwater aspect was as prominent on the palate as it was on the nose.
David Lole commented about this wine: “I am really glad I came all the way from Canberra for that.”
TORB: One sniff and I said “what is this crap, its seriously defective.” I don’t know about the cocaine comment, but Attila must have been smoking dope when he decided to inflict this wine upon us.
We quickly moved to the next wine and Attila’s American Pioneer Four Bean Stew. Although not everyone’s favourite, I had numerous bowls of this stew without any ill effects.
TORB: I loved the bean stew too. As for “not having any ill effects,” my dogs refused to share the car with me the next day.
1993 DOMAINE DE LA POUSSE D'OR "Clos De La Bousse D'Or" Volnay 1er Cru Monopole
Red starting to brown. Sweet, sweet sappy fruit with cherries, plums, and a little earth. A touch of New World sweetness to the wine. Good length. Fine powdery tannins with slight gravel. A pleasure to drink and probably needed more attention to be truly appreciated. Rated Highly Recommended/Excellent, it needed a bit more intensity and complexity to make a greater presence on the evening.
TORB: This wine was drinkable but nothing special.
2002 HERZOG Pinot Noir - Marlborough, New Zealand
Light bright cherry red colour, quite translucent. Very sappy strawberry and cherry fruit with plums and a hint of spice and minerality on a smooth, full, fresh and seriously “sexy” palate. Deep and bright. Nothing heavy. DavidP commented that it “smells like Burgundy, tastes like Burgundy…” as it did but there was a hint of smooth ripe fruit that hinted to some that this may be New World. Only one or two Australian Pinot Noir could match the quality of this wine. Rated Excellent, bottle age will be of benefit.
The wine was brought to this Club dinner as, per a recent Huon Hooke article, this is the only New World Pinot Noir that Andrew Jefford believes is worth drinking.
TORB: If this is the only New World Pinot that is worth drinking, the new world is in trouble and explains why I feel the “holy grail” Pinot chase is not worth the reward, especially so when you have friends that will do all the hard work and all you have to do is drink the occasional “theoretical” great one.
2000 PRAHOVA VALLEY Reserve Pinot Noir- Dealu Mare Region, Romania
Ripe fruit then greenness. Good complexity but totally unenjoyable. Not rated and not enjoyed.
TORB: Another one of Attila’s smoking dope efforts in an endeavour to educate us in the finer arts of vinous matter of a Hungarian nature. The matter was calling this unripe, green stuff wine in the first place.
1986 Jean Louis Chave Hermitage
Starting to brown. Sweet honey, developed red berry jam, cedar, peppermint, chocolate and coffee but a bit oxidised and slightly disjointed. Big on the front but thin on the back with acid showing. Not rated.
TORB: Four letter words!
1971 LOUIS JADET Gevrey-Chambertin
Quite a gorgeous combination of flavours: Sweet earth, leather, aged red fruits and toffee. However, the palate was thin and drying. It would have been a much more enjoyable wine 10 years ago yet fun now as a curio. Unlike the 1971 DOMAIN CLAIR-DAÜ Cazetiers Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru presented at the last Club dinner, I could not forgive the disjoined structure of this wine. Not rated.
TORB: The wine was well past it – please pass the next bottle, I want a drink! All this c-though which I have abstained from drinking, followed by some ordinary Pinot and some very suspect Hungarian concoctions thrown in and I was thirsty!!
Attila served red fish with mashed potatoes and French mustard sauce. Although this did not really meld with any of the wines, it was a lovely dish.
TORB: At least I am not going hungry. The fish was excellent and the mustard sauce, although much stronger than the fish made the dish.
2001 HIGHBANK Cabernet Sauvignon Blend
Dark in colour, this wine was served a bit early in the scheme of the evening but its quality shone brightly. Immense power without over-ripeness. Deep dark cherries, cassis, chocolate, plums, great French oak, some green bean, hints of mint and spice, a little earth and cigar. Powerful slightly chalky tannins totally immersed in the wine’s deep fruit. Despite its size, the wine is balanced, harmonious and maintains elegance… absolutely gorgeous. This wine leaves Katnook, Majella, Wynns, Punter’s Corner, Parker Estate, etc. in its wake. My only reservation is whether this wine is too good now to possibly get better with age. Amazingly, the label states 13% alcohol. Rated Outstanding/Ultimate, young Coonawarra Cabernet does not get better than this!
TORB: Good and bad here, this is meant to be a dinner with a heap of great older wines. Older it is not, this wine was a complete ring in, but in its favour, at last we had a good wine that was eminently drinkable. It reminded me a lot of the Bowen 1998 Ampelon and was certainly in that style of wine. I am a much harder marker and rated it as Excellent. Like Adair, I am also concerned about its ability to age but it is most enjoyable now.
2000 WENINGER Veratina Cuvée - Mittelburgenland region, Austria
Sweet deep black and red fruit combined with large amounts of high quality oak. An unusual cheesiness is in the wine. Definitely a high quality wine but too oak dominant for my palate. I am sure others would rate this wine higher. Rated Highly Recommended/Excellent.
TORB: This was wine number 13 and although I had been spitting 12 of them, I don’t remember much about it.
1988 CHATEAU HAUT BRION 1er Grand Cru – Graves
Very bright deep red in colour, much was expected of this wine but become another big label disappointment. After 2 hours in a decanter, this wine was very complex, as hoped, but too much tannin and green bean made the wine disjointed. Interestingly, when I arrived home, I had another glass of this wine with my “raw milk” firm Reblochon cheese and this seemed to soak up these tannins and make for a much more enjoyable wine.
After 24 hours, the greenness of the wine was gone and the tannins had opened phenomenally: soft, chalky, a hint of suppleness and in totally harmony with the wine. The greatness that I hoped became present but the fruit was starting to die: cedar and tobacco on dried plum. This was an ordinary 1st Growth with hints of greatness. Rated Highly Recommended/Excellent.
TORB: Adair was devastated by this wines poor showing at the dinner. It was green and exhibited unripe characters. I didn’t spit the first sip, but it didn’t warrant a second swallow. By now, there were all sorts of moans and groans, fourteen bottles and only two good ones.
1983 MOSS WOOD Cabernet Sauvignon
Another big label disappointment. Coffee, prune and too herbal. Lovely delicate structure though. After 24 hours, the fruit had opened more with a savoury sweet quality that took over the herbaceousness to create an enjoyable wine but nothing great. Rated Highly Recommended.
TORB: This bottle had David muttering and cursing as he hoped it would save the night. It also exhibited unripe herbaceous characters.
1985 CHATEAU PICHON LONGUEVILLE COMTESSE DE LALANDE 2nd Growth – Pauillac
This wine showed well but not as expected. Powerful structure and good fruit in true Pauillac mould that easily gave away the wine’s region. Tobacco and herbs were prominent but not dominant. Good length. Everything seemed to be in the wine but the combination of its parts did not create anything special on the whole. However, the wine will get better in time but I doubt this bottle would have ever been great. Rated Highly Recommended/Excellent.
2000 TALISMAN ESTATE Saperavi
– Georgia (ex-USSR State,
not the US State)
Sweet fruit that was very reminiscent of quality
Barossa Shiraz but the wine also had an impressive minerality. Enjoyable full
and smooth mouthfeel but again this wine had too much oak. Rated Recommended/Highly
TORB: Another bloody comedian bringing a
ring in. I don’t mind oak but this was not well balanced or very enjoyable.
1999 NOON Reserve Shiraz –
Menthol and mint on a large ripe fruit and oak base
of some but not huge depth. To its credit, despite its 15.3% alcohol, the fruit
is not over-ripe, although the oak a little too dominating. The tannins and
acid are well integrated and the mouthfeel is enjoyable. This is a lovely $25
wine and I rate it Highly Recommended.
I looked up the Langton’s website and found that the
wine sells for $100+. Actually, the last person to buy this wine paid $137.34.
My mouth dropped in disbelief after which I giggled to myself at peoples’, dare
I say, stupidity.
TORB: These comedians are getting worse
and worse but at least this wine is well and truly drinkable, not great and
normally it would stick out like a pig at a Kosher wedding at one of these club
dinners, but there was nothing Kosher about tonight’s line up. The next bottle
was bottle number 20!
2000 WENINGER Soproni Merlot Spern Steiner
Sorry, I could not be bothered writing notes about
this wine. Big and oaky without any interesting features. Probably a 91/100
It seems that these newer countries to the
international red wine trade are trying to gain their reputation the “big and oaky”
TORB: Enough said!
1911 BERENGARIA Genuine Old Commandaria - Berengaria, Cyprus
Despite Attila’s assurance, there is still a segment
of my mind that can’t believe that this wine is 93 years old. Indeed the wine
was gorgeous. The palate was long and absolutely seamless. The harmony between
fruit, sweetness and acid was perfect. Nothing cloying. However, the flavours
were so fresh, too fresh, I did not feel that much secondary characters had
developed. In fact, this wine needed more age as the wine’s lack of flavour
complexity was its only weakness, but it showed no signed that it would not do
so in the next 93 years. A pleasure to drink, rated Outstanding.
TORB: Sensational wine but like Adair I
wonder about the age of the wine. Possibly it has much 93 year old material in
it but it is hard to believe it is all that material. Attila insisted on
serving this prior to the Port and because it was way bigger than the Port, it overshadowed
1983 TAYLOR'S Vintage Port
Sweet fruit that was very reminiscent of quality Barossa Shiraz but the wine also had an impressive minerality. Enjoyable full and smooth mouthfeel but again this wine had too much oak. Rated Recommended/Highly Recommended.
TORB: Another bloody comedian bringing a ring in. I don’t mind oak but this was not well balanced or very enjoyable.
1999 NOON Reserve Shiraz – Langhorne Creek
Menthol and mint on a large ripe fruit and oak base of some but not huge depth. To its credit, despite its 15.3% alcohol, the fruit is not over-ripe, although the oak a little too dominating. The tannins and acid are well integrated and the mouthfeel is enjoyable. This is a lovely $25 wine and I rate it Highly Recommended.
I looked up the Langton’s website and found that the wine sells for $100+. Actually, the last person to buy this wine paid $137.34. My mouth dropped in disbelief after which I giggled to myself at peoples’, dare I say, stupidity.
TORB: These comedians are getting worse and worse but at least this wine is well and truly drinkable, not great and normally it would stick out like a pig at a Kosher wedding at one of these club dinners, but there was nothing Kosher about tonight’s line up. The next bottle was bottle number 20!
2000 WENINGER Soproni Merlot Spern Steiner Vineyard, Sopron region, Hungary
Sorry, I could not be bothered writing notes about this wine. Big and oaky without any interesting features. Probably a 91/100 Parker pointer!
It seems that these newer countries to the international red wine trade are trying to gain their reputation the “big and oaky” way!
TORB: Enough said!
1911 BERENGARIA Genuine Old Commandaria - Berengaria, Cyprus
Despite Attila’s assurance, there is still a segment of my mind that can’t believe that this wine is 93 years old. Indeed the wine was gorgeous. The palate was long and absolutely seamless. The harmony between fruit, sweetness and acid was perfect. Nothing cloying. However, the flavours were so fresh, too fresh, I did not feel that much secondary characters had developed. In fact, this wine needed more age as the wine’s lack of flavour complexity was its only weakness, but it showed no signed that it would not do so in the next 93 years. A pleasure to drink, rated Outstanding.
TORB: Sensational wine but like Adair I wonder about the age of the wine. Possibly it has much 93 year old material in it but it is hard to believe it is all that material. Attila insisted on serving this prior to the Port and because it was way bigger than the Port, it overshadowed it.
1983 TAYLOR'S Vintage Port
This wine continued my struggle with Vintage Port. There were some powerful and intense berry flavours within the wine but I could not get past the dominating spirit. I felt that the spirit and the wine were very fresh and clean but totally unenjoyable. Not rated as I simply do not understand the wine.
TORB: Now it was my turn to start swearing. I have had this wine a number of times previously and this bottle was, how shall I put this, “bloody ordinary.”
In a fashion that befits the nickname Ric uses for Attila, Attila served Atlantic salmon cutlets with risotto at 1am to conclude the evening. The skins on the cutlets were cooked beautifully crisps and provided a lovely contrast to what I originally thought was overcooked rice. I even had another serving due to others not daring to eat such a dish at this time of the evening. Even more unusual was the fact that the absolutely extraordinary cheese platter was never officially served. Luckily I still had room to savour some of these delights as well.
TORB: I call him “The Mad Hungarian” – who else would serve fish at 1am.
So, in the end, it was a 1987 Australian sparkling red, a 1998 Hungarian dry white, a 2001 Coonawarra Cabernet and a 1911 wine from Cyprus that allowed us to leave the evening feeling as if we had great wines as well as great company:
TORB: When the invites went out for this dinner, I had some correspondence with Attila about how it was as important to be with people whose company you enjoy as it is to drink great wine, as the sum of the whole is greater than the individual components. This event proved it, as although the wines did not show as well as expected, the food was excellent and the company outstanding. Thanks to Attila for being such a terrific host.
Note: The ultimate in wine geek-ness, “listening to the wine.”
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Copyright © Adair Durie and Ric Einstein