The view from the eleventh floor of one of Birmingham’s new and iconic high rises offered the perfect setting for a great evening of food wine and sleuthing.
Two attractive flutes of palish golden fizz kicked off proceedings. Initially the colour differential was slightly encumbered due to heavy condensation. They were a little over-chilled reflected in the tight nature of the first wine (Dom Perignon 2002). Nosing it, my immediate impression knowing MP’s cellar more than most, was of a youthful, probably neither Chardonnay or Pinot dominated deluxe Cuvee. Linear, focused, honeyed fruit, with a hint of coconut biscuits. The palate showed fine fruit and integrated structure, a slightly gamey edge hinting again to Pinot Noir. Delicacy on the finish. A rounded balanced wine with much more to come. 92/100.
As the haze cleared the slightly fuller colour of the second flute (Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2002) became more apparent, my earlier acknowledgment that these were from the same vintage now seriously in question. The nose also expressed more maturity, more enticing and richer. Dave, RB and Mike immediately picked it out as a favourite. The palate was also impressive with a real vinous quality to the mid-palate, very fine and layered. The finish quite extraordinary as if to underline its dominance here, more grip and length. I should have spotted as did Dek to my right that this was a buttery Chardonnay, but it was anything but singular and pure as infant B de B’s often are. In fact it was slightly more evolved than I would have expected this great wine to be at this stage. 94/100. It is probable that the reductive character of the DP was hiding an equally fine potential, time will tell.
Great honeyed Chardonnay continued with a particularly fine Clavoillons from Domaine Leflaive, giving evolved aromas of tobacco and hazelnut and striking minerality. I found myself drifting towards a powerful Meursault or even a fine Corton Charlemagne, such is the generosity of these great Puligny Montrachets, in such a fine vintage as 2002. The second bottle (Puligny Montrachet Pucelles 2002 Domaine Leflaive) was a bit overdone for me, the oak quite pronounced with toffee and caramel, MP thought it a little premoxed, but this was only slight, enough to just taint the best of this wine. It did calm down sufficiently and was generally enjoyed, in fact there was derision on which was showing best.
The reds were also served blind though I new what to expect having chosen them, a pair of Syrahs/Shirazs from up and down under. The group generally enjoyed the second wine best(Penfolds Grange 1996 96/100) Dave enjoying its seamless richness, Dek was in no doubt which one he would be asking for a top up of…
It was less evolved than the(Hermitage La Chapelle 1997 – 90/100) despite the similar age. In fact this contrast was surprising, the latter now fully evolved with mushroomy overtones and very silky on the palate, with satay and a figgy note. It had a touch of surmaturite. For me it had lost its punch though enjoyable as an old wine. The Aussie was strutting its stuff full of smoky menthol and eucalyptus, still bright purple, retaining some spicy tannin, the fruit cool and fresh. MP deduced its style was certainly not old world and through the process of elimination took a commendable stab at its South Australian origin and its 15 years + bottle age, though it being a Shiraz was not quite so obvious, the 7% or so Cabernet in the blend was a curve ball Shane Warne would have been proud of! This was obviously a very good bottle, and on this performance probably worth it’s now celebrity price tag!