Living it up in Leicestershire

Nine ous sat down in rural Leicestershire for an excellent gastronomic evening, with Michelin Starred Chef Sean Hope of the Olive Branch in Clipsham, drafted in to provide the fare to match no less than fourteen admirable bottles.


Bollinger Grande Annee 2002, which gets better and better, was a perfect aperitif to kick off this warm May evening’s proceedings, and it was not to be outdone by either of the other two fizz samples, Cristal 2004 & Krug 1996. The former was still a little reticent, and the latter rather unexpectedly showing its age.

The White theme continued with three distinctly contrasting styles, which emboldened the chit chat immensely. Zind Humbrecht’s TPG Rangen from the fine 1990 vintage proved to be fine match for the pea & broad bean veloute with white truffle. Finishing just off dry with plenty of nuance. Boillot’s Corton Blanc 2007 edged out the immature and seemingly less distinctive 2009 Hermitage Blanc from JL Chave. The stargazy pie with langoustine playing its part in the Chardonnay strut.

Again Shaun’s food pairing played its part in complementing one wine over the other, in this case the Cabernet Sauvignon of Chateau Leoville Poyferre 2000 which harmonised well with his Chump of Suffolk lamb, leaving the warm 2003 Syrah of Michel Chapoutier’s L’Ermite a little out in the cold. Though that shout was by no means unanimous.

Two fine burgundies needed no complement to define success or failure, the evenings mystery bottle, Roumier’s 1990 Amoureuses was a knock out, and wine of the night, re-imposing the majesty of Pinot Noir in the wake of Rousseau’s 1993 Clos de Beze’s less inspiring performance.

The general vote was that chocolate and coffee were not great exponents of ancient Barsac, but the fifty four year old Climens was nonchalant, in great condition, proving on this occasion that residual sugar can be a finer life support system than alcohol, the Fonseca 1966 more savoury than sweet, in any case a pleasant finale to a wonderful evening.


The Wines

Bollinger 2002 Grande Annee

This is still pale, with a fresh apple & pear, plenty of aromatic evolution on the nose, very balanced on the palate tight and pure fruit real charm well into its prime for me. 93/100 Now – 2020+.

Cristal 2004

Again little evolution cosmetically, the nose is taught, not inexpressive but shy, it’s all citrus and purity, the palate reflects the nose, not yielding, very linear and elegant. It’s admirable but at this point not exciting, needs a bit more patience. 94/100 2018 – 2040.

Krug 1996

Initially worryingly maturity here on the colour and the nose, honeyed orange and slightly maderised, it is an oxidative style but not sure if this isn’t more akin to a 25+ year old wine rather than one of 19. The palate is a little contradictory with gamey notes and intensity, indicative of youth, it’s not loose. It is a food wine very powerful along side the Cristal. I like the finish its growing on me with mushroom & leather, the oak adding an element. A Lovely if rather eccentric wine. I don’t think this is a great bottle, if it had the expected freshness it would merit a much higher score, need to try another bottle. 93/100 Now – 2020.

Tokay Pinot Gris Grand Cru Rangen Zind Humbrecht 1990

Not overly discoloured, a very intense nose, with a dry extract element, citrus and honey and  edge of woodland and mushroom, it has acidity, certainly complex, a touch of dryness on the finish, but certainly with residual sugar, mango hints and spice on the finish, I like this it’s different and stylish, 92/100 Now – 2020+.

Hermitage Blanc J L Chave 2009

Touch more colour than the elder  twinned Corton Blanc. The nose  is minty and herbaceous, little bit of sickly sweet, Creme brûlée crust, the palate is volumous touch of alcohol, spicy. Its unfolding but I’m not totally convinced or familiar with the style, but very young yet. 92/100 2018-2030+.

Corton Charlemagne Henri Boillot 1997

Still pale, this is crystalline tight and tense on the nose with a touch of marine, oyster shell, pure highland water. The palate is pure and fine with subtle minerality, it’s nicely wrapped up and enticing and layered, great with the grilled Langoustine. This is a lovely elegant wine with years ahead. 94/100 Now – 2030+.

Leoville Poyferre 2000

Deep stable robe, showing longevity at 15 years old, nose is really good, lots of menthol, earthy notes with tobacco & sweet black fruit. The palate is soft and silky, lots of supporting acidity, still bright and vivacious, nice austerity too adds lift, it’s almost there for me. Later beginning to unfold, with ripe plummy notes and black raspberry. It is still a little at the end but no doubt a very good and classic St Julien. 94/100 2015-2030+.

Ermitage L’Ermite Chapoutier 2003

This is still vivid and deep in colour. Heat and jam here, it’s got spice and garrigue some farmyard too on the nose, it’s also got cerise, quite a silky palate, generosity. The dimension just struggling a tad against the paired Poyferre 2000. I think this is more youthful still though, it’s got a lot of potential,  opening up with aeration, quite delicious. This is not necessarily a great marry for the lamb and maybe could have shown better with compete cheese or even a dark chocolate dish. A contemplative drop. 93-5/100 2017-2035+

Clos de Beze Armand Rousseau 1993

Quite pale now there is a very slight sediment, and tangerine edge, the nose is immediately farmyard, a quite exciting understated nose with a touch of coconut, the palate is cool fruit, with a citrus expression, peach melba, some silk in the texture but at this level I would have expected more, there is an element of leanness with tobacco, it seems to me to be drying out. With a little more time in the glass it starts to open up and there is subtlety, it is now an elegant wine coming into old age. 91/100 now – 2020.

Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses Georges Roumier 1990

Cool straight from the cellar, the colour is reasonably deep but still evolution here. On the nose there is a hint of rhubarb, the aromas are rich and intense, but the elegance is the undeniable feature, with citrus fruits, not even red, chinese wood spice, perfume, it’s so calm almost haunting. The palate is quite extraordinary, lovely balance, textured bright gamey notes, really quite sensational. The texture is seamless and perfectly weighted, It’s hard to leave it alone. the finish is spiced and beautifully poised a real thrill. It is hard to think of a finer tasted Pinot Noir, it does not get much better than this I am sure. 99/100 now – 2030+.

Climens 1961

Great looking bottle, golden but very bright with an excellent cork and capsule. The nose is a little sedate, but clean and fine, the palate is really good, improving and unravelling it’s layers with time in the glass, with tangerine, lime and honey, turning into a really fine tot, rich and broad, still  quite intense in fact. A lovely glossy mouthfeel but not overly sweet, really nicely balanced with super length. What a wine at 55 brilliant, I do not want to finish this glass. 96/100 now-2025+.

Fonseca 1966

UK bottling, not the best cork, It is quite pale but not particularly aged on the colour. A bit dumb on the nose, spiced with a touch of cinnamon, the palate has the spice too with an additional touch of heat, it is less rich than I would have expected, more like a Dow, and quite savoury. It is not a total disappointment with sechuen on the finish, mint, an interesting drop but I feel a tad underwhelmed is it getting older or is it a slightly below par bottle, my guess is the latter. 92/100 now – 2020.

Overall this was another fantastic night, with delicious food, incredible wine and great company!

AdministratorLiving it up in Leicestershire

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