reporters: Tom Cannavan, with tasting notes by Ray Abercromby (RA), Andrew Stevenson (AS) and Nick Alabaster (NA). Photos courtesy of Phil Wilkins and David Smith.
The evening dinner was an informal affair; the emphasis firmly on good food, great wine, and convivial conversation. The menu for the dinner was:
Chicken supreme with mushroom stuffing, caramelised onion and a cep sauce
Potato, onion and goat's cheese frittata with a rocket and parmesan salad
A selection of Scottish and French cheeses
White chocolate and raspberry mousse with a mint syrup
Speeches and formalities were kept to a minimum, and in fact the evening set of a hectic pace, with conversation flowing and dozens of "illicit" bottles appearing from brown paper bags, concealing some marvellous wines. The only interruptions to the flow of the evening were a charity raffle, and the results of that afternoons "mystery wine competition" - see below.
Canard-Duchene Cuvée Charles VII Champagne Blanc de Noirs
Unexceptional nose. Nice and toasty. big mousse in mouth (AS). Tight, complex, youthful nose. Palate somewhat austere with plenty of acid dominating the finish; but being a Pinot, this perhaps will blossom with more time (NA).
1997 St Aubin, Jadot
Yellow. Elegant nose with buttery hints. Smooth creamy taste, with long length and delicate balance. Not huge, but warm and approachable. Very good/excellent (RA). Nice gentle Chardonnay nose with oak. Pleasant fresh attack, fills quickly and big. Nice elegance. VG finish with great length (AS). Lovely mealy, complex nose; buttery; perfect maturity and lovely balance and zip. Even when Burgundy is basic, it can be a pretty faultless drink when it gets it right (NA).
1999 Lowe Family Chardonnay (Hunter Valley, Mudgee and Orange)
V fresh Chard nose. V clean fresh attack.. Fills nicely with really buttery rich characteristics. Grows and grows in the mouth. Finishes v well with a touch of v nice acidity. In my books a better wine than the Jadot St Aubin, though somewhat lacking the latter's elegance. Nicely balanced. Excellent length (AS).
Uiterwyk Top of the Hill Pinotage 1997
VG nose. Attractive on attack - pleasant with lots of fruit, but quickly develops a dominating, rather savage bitterness. Not for me (AS). Certainly more developed than the 2000 bottle at the seminar, starting to show that complex stinky edge on the nose. Plalate seems a bit harsh though although thereís good fruit, somewhat bitter acidic finish (NA).
1997 Riesling Vendage Tardive, Rolly Gassman
Elegant, sweet, lime on the nose and citrus flavours. Good acid permeating throughout. Fresh and lively. Very Good / Excellent (RA). Characteristically Alsatian Riesling nose. Rather fine with a nice acid. Wouldn't have guessed it was VT (AS). if I'd not known though.
And of course, being a bunch of wine nuts, no one could resist smuggling in some extra special bottles, despite a surfeit of wines on every table!
1983 Maximin Grünhauser Auslese, Aptsberg
Intense honey, lime, petrol and steely hints on the nose. Sweet honey with fresh acid, long length, with oily feel. Wonderful. Excellent/outstanding (RA). Wonderful, off-dry Riesling which is still a teenager going on 20. Wonderful balance and freshness; classic Riesling (NA).
1997 Gevrey Chambertin Coeur du Roy, Dugat-Py
Strawberry fruit with smoky overtones. Initial impression was that of huge spice and body, warm and approachable, elegant acid, and a light touch of balancing tannin. Very long length. Wow! Excellent (RA). Lovely earthy nose. Rather big. Doesn't quite have the elegance I'd expect (AS). Big punchy nose, a modern styled pinot but still showing true earthy complexity to the lovely vibrant fruit. The palate is huge but itís intense and authentic; lovely balance, drinking well but could go on for many more years (NA).
1991 Echezeaux, Rouget
Huge intense farmyard perfume, with real hint of concentration and power behind the initial nose. Velvety spice and strawberry fruit, with fantastic length. The perfume assails the senses. This is what burgundy is all about. Outstanding (RA). Gorgeous nose - essence of pinot noir. Lovely attack. Soft PN fruit. Wonderful Clean and still relatively fresh. VG depth and excellent finish. Quite magnificent (AS). Soaring, somewhat high-toned nose; sweet fruit but a lot of oak still in evidence giving even more lift. Lotís of power as expected from a Grand Cru, but itís almost itís undoing as thereís a hot, spirity side to this wine (Susan was very much put off by it). No sure this wine had the complexity I would have hoped for, but delivers in most other departments (NA).
1996 Amarone Tenuta Sant' Antonio Campo dei Gigli
Bitter cherry nose, deep Strong biting spice with bitter finish. Long length. Excellent (RA).
1985 Banyuls, Cuvee Gaby Vial
Porty sherry nose, black cocoa/chocolate, smooth and perfumed, hiding the alcohol well. Never thought I would like this but I do. Very Good / Excellent (RA). Nice, slightly brickish red. Nose is a bit spirity with a touch of cocoa. V attractive Banyuls with fair bit of elegance. VG (AS).
Die Krans 1997 Vintage Reserve "Port" - South Africa
Quite young looking. Rather spirity nose, with touch of spice. Very impressive (ok, no reason to sound quite so suprised ...). Bit fruity mouthful. Much more approachable than a vintage port with similar age (AS).
|During the course of the evening a raffle was held to raise money for Wine Relief. Wine Relief is an official partner to Comic Relief, a charity supported by the UK wine community, which raises funds to fight poverty and famine in the UK and Africa. A cheque for almost £200 is on its way there.
The photo right shows the lucky winner, Susan Pickles, being presented with some extremely fine Champagne, courtesy of Champagne Raymond Boulard.
The loudest cheer of the night went to the runner-up in the raffle, a bottle of fine Champagne going to Isabelle Alabster, who promised - after some persuasion - to share it with her dad, Nick (pictured right)
The keenly anticipated result of the afternoon's "mystery wine" competition was also announced. During the afternoon the superBOWLers had the chance to taste an unknown red wine and guess its identity and price. The one who came closest would scoop the prize. The wine turned out to be a Carmenère from Errazuriz in Chile, vintage 2001, alcohol 13.5% and costing £5.99 (Errazuriz donated by Hatch-Mansfield).
I am delighted to say the lucky winner of the competition was Ali Downes (pictured celebrating right), who guessed grape, country, vintage and price correctly. The reason I was particularly delighted is that Ali is my caretaker for wine-pages when I am travelling, and he and his wife Ruth did a sterling job working throughout the afternoon. However, the cries of "fix" reverberating around the room were totally uncalled for :-)
All in all the superBOWL was an absolutely fantastic day. As one superBOWLer wrote to me afterwards: "by far and away the best tasting I have had the privilege of attending. The location, the wines, but above all else, the people and the atmosphere they helped to create, made the day special. Where do you start with the wines, and the generosity of those who brought them? The legacy is that many of us have met for the first time, and spin-offs are inevitable. Friendships are being formed, and tastes and preconceptions changed. Thanks again. It wasn't a wine-tasting, it was a wine celebration".
I couldn't agree more - a fantastic day whichever way you look at it.