Saturday, March 14, 2009

Claus Holst's tasting @ Søllerød Kro

My good friend and colleague, Claus Holst, is a passionate wine lower. His preferences most certainly points in the Burgundy direction, and he calls himself a “Pinot man”. But recently he has also been infected with the Champagne virus. So where else to go – but north of Copenhagen to Søllerød Kro - in order to tango with these two classic regions of France.
I have written these lines before and will gladly write them again – restaurant manager of Søllerød Kro; Jan Restorff has, like no other I know of, a unique talent of nursing and hosting his guests. Jan is multitalented in all thinkable areas of food and wine and he will inspire and infect you with his sparkling personality as soon you sit down in the comfortable and cozy surroundings. For me, an evening at Søllerød Kro, is like coming home.
Jan and his staff, was once rocking and had in my opinion one of their best nights ever.

So….the theme of this tasting was more of less leaked by our host and the wines where not tasted blind. All wines are from memory.

First Champagne in the glass was the 1990 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne from Magnum. Now, magnum and Champagne are a combination like no other. In fact one should only buy Champagne from magnum as they are ALWAYS better. This is no exception. I tasted the regular bottle size of ’90 CDC in may-2008 and this magnum was far better. The nose has a delicate vanilla biscuit note, newly washed sheets, honey and Lilly flowers. The nose was definitely rocking, but I wasn’t blown away – the taste was however majestic; fresh as hell, with a tickly, chalky and vibrant mousse – yummy…good start.

Next wine – the 1988 Krug Clos du Mesnil. It really hurts to write these lines, but the wine was corked – almost unbearable.

Oh well life goes on and plan B was set in motion. Replacement was found – the 1996 Krug Clos du Mesnil. The wine is young – really young. First nose impression is chalk and seawater. Our food was Potato with lumpsucker, roe, cucumber, and cress. Restaurant manager, Jan Restorff quickly improvised by drizzling finely chopped oyster over the dish to match the maritime notes. It worked really great, but the wine was still rather shy. When then decided to rest Champagne some time and continue with the white wines, so – to be continued……

White wines:

2002 Etienne Sauzet Chevalier Montrachet
2000 Jadot “Montrachet”
2000 D'Auvenay Mersault “Narvaux”
2004 Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet

Now apparently, there is a saying among my wine group that I don’t like white Burgundy. That’s not true – I just like Champagne better, he he ;-).

The Sauzet was lovely – had a great delicate toasted note and a tickly personality. My WOTF.
I didn’t fancy the Jadot. Its oxidative style makes it exotic and clumsy, especially on the palate. Lacks freshness and acidity. The 2000 D'Auvenay Mersault “Narvaux” was a panel splitter. Some took notice of a note which reminded them of sulfur. I think we came to the conclusion that it was not sulfur as D'Auvenay is Madame Lalou Bize-Leroy winery, but a biodynamic oak phenomenon (big boys, big conclusions). Anyway, the note didn’t turn me off. The wine was rather tight and linear with a flowery touch which made it like a fresh breeze. The glass evolvement was constantly on the rise and just before I finished my 4 glasses it had almost caught up with Sauzet.
The 2004 Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet seemed to be caught in an awkward phase and never really showed anything but greenish notes.

…..and the 1996 Clos du Mesnil was pulled back on stage. Still tightly packed but slowly toast, flowers and vanilla emerges. The depth is really something else here – deep complex layers with impressive majestic concentration. The acidity is seriously scary – cut with laser precision and it almost hurts when you sink it. You now realize that it’s made to cellar and claim its fame in 15-25 years from now.
Luckily the Champagne party wasn’t over yet. 1990 Dom Perignon Rosé enters – first time I taste the Pinky DP. What a beauty. Stunning perfumes of salty apricot, blood oranges and red berries held in a concentrated and highly complex fruit core. This is exactly the kind of Rosé I favor; where the red perfume is single floral element to the Champagne, but still, you can tell that it is Champagne – not red wine with bubbles - understand? The taste is incredible fresh with a solid structure and concentrating – but yet presented in such an elegant manner. It will certainly last for many years, but pretty hard to resist now.

Now it was time for some red Burgundy.

First two reds where:

2002 Mugnier Musigny “Amoureuses”
2002 Vogue Musigny “Amoureuses”

Both incredible wines, but certainly different. The Mugnier: light in color with the most awesome, fragile and sensible raspberry skin note. Vogue: Still these Amoureuses perfumes, but a meatier wine with a higher intensity. Our Host, which is a far more experienced Burgundy drinker than yours truly, favored the Mugnier for its true nature to the Appellation. Personally I was a little bit split – the sheer magnitude of depth favored the Vogue. But, the highly, almost weightless drinking pleasure of Mugnier certainly took its points. Let’s call it a tie and a luxury problem to choose among such beauties.

Now the next red flight was really interesting, as we had the same duelist in the glasses, but the vintage and appellation was changed. A great study in the art of terroir.

2001 Mugnier, Musigny
2001 Vogue, Musigny

Now I don’t have the exact feel on the vintages in Burgundy, but I think the panel, with the consultancy of Jan Restorff, came to the conclusion that 2001 is a highly underrated vintage. These two wines are still beautiful red berry perfumed, but simply bigger and more complex in style, compared to the Amoureuses. The sweetness is more pronounced with the fruit core being infected with sweet sticky cherry notes, where the Amoureuses has the red berry scents as “outer” perfumes. The 2001 vintage shows this brilliant minerality and the wines subtle concentrated (can you say that?) - Gorgeously fresh and very graceful. The Vogue is once again the most powerful and in this case it gains the trophy as the winner of this glorious flight. This is the essence of red Burgundy and I can certainly understand why so many wines lowers fall fainthearted to the soul of these wines.

The last official red Burgundy flight:

2004 La Tâche, DRC
2001 Cros Parantoux, Meo Camuzet

Think the wines actually split the panel here. Which one was best? Again, change of style with the berry scents now taking form of black cherries and the La Tâche with its more smoky and meaty style. La Tâche had an unbalanced herbal/greenish note, which with time resolved somewhat, but never evaporated completely. Still it’s certainly a decent wine, but not selling at a decent price. Meo, better – but I think we all suffered from hangovers from the previous flight -which was breathtaking.
A blind passenger sneaked onto this flight. I believe it was the 2002 Domaine Serene “Evenstad Reserve” from Oregon, US. Certainly it was beaten, by such classic and complex wines and rather clumsy in comparison. But it should be noted that its cost price is 1/10 of La Tâche

I believe as much as 3 other wines spontaneously entered the program – all red Burgundy. Forgive for not being able to offer you detailed names and descriptions on these wines, but I seem to have reached to my limits. But like my two lovely daughters, which can always eat candy or ice cream when completely full – daddy here can always drink Champagne. And so – a Champagne hits the glasses; the NV "Origine" from Jacques Selosse.”Origine” has now changed its name to “Substance” but it’s basically the same wine. Anyway the disgorgement was from 1999 and the Champagne was beautiful. Surprisingly fresh and a surprise because Substances tends to be somewhat meatier and oxidative from release, so naturally I would have expected to see more of this with bottle age. The Champagne was seriously vinous and had this luxuries feel with seductive evening perfume, quince, honey and even a pure simple flowery note.


Surprice from Søllerød: Tartar – Caviar – pouched egg and herbs.
Potato with lumpsucker, roe, cucumber, and cress
Roasted brill with Jerusalem artichoke, apple, Macadamia nuts, and browned butter
Roasted langoustine with carrot and lemon
Monkfish - celery – mushrooms
Pasta – Parmesan – Truffles
Guinea fowl with roasted duck foie gras and pepper jus

A very memorable evening comes to an ending. We simply skipped Søllerød famous desserts –sometimes less is more – even if I feel some pain in my head today.

Claus, thank you for spoiling us with exceptional wines.

For more information on Søllerød Kro - click here

PS. There a more pictures here They are shot without flash and under very dimmed lightning and while yours truly busy talking with new/old faces and sniffing the wine goodies.


Anonymous said...

Hi Thomas

Great notes and pics as usual.

Mugnier rocks - I love his style. Its like walking on water drinking Mugnier. The elegance in sublime.

Krug CdM 88 - what a bummer, it still hurts.

La Tache - didnt do it for me - my first LT, maybe its the vintage!!!

CP - I guess this wine needs at least 10years in the dark before you even look at the btl. - I was dissapointed.

Overall though a great evening with good friends, great wines and fantastic food. Mr. Restorff really made this a special evening.

The other 3 wines were:

Liger Belair " Aux Reignots" 2006
Roumier "Bonnes Mares" 1998
Bertheau "Amoureuses" 2002



Anonymous said...

I just think it looks totally boring; happy I wasn't there. (!)

Anonymous said...

Hi Thomas

Great report as usual! I feel for Claus with regards to the CdM 88. What a shame. CdC and Dom p rose sounds very nice.

Thomas said...

Thank you guys.

I have been reading my report again. I have to make one thing clear – maybe I didn’t emphasize it probably. But, I simply tried to keep the report from becoming too over “adjective emotional”.

The overall level here are staggering high. When being somewhat harsh on a wine like 2004 La Tâche, it's simply caused by the level of the other wines present (and it’s extremely high price). The older I get – the more I want to drink wines like Red Burgundy – elegant and majestic.

Why do they have to be so bloody expensive??? – damn!!!!.

And yes Mads….boring event….you didn’t miss anything – next time an offer like this comes up – you can have my invitation.


Ahhhh yes… Ps. – glad you liked the pictures – I weren’t too happy with them myself. Within the next month or so – I will hopefully make a giant step into warp speed, when it comes to cameras/lenses. With hard work and gradual learning I really hope to bring the pictures to a higher level.

Anonymous said...

Hi Thomas

As always an intoxicating array of notes and pictures. Absolutely fantastic!! I see that the 90 CdC was served in the Authentis glass. Which champagnes were served in the Juhlin glass? I assume that you of all people would have preferred all of them to be served in Zalto, but I'm just wondering about the reasons for serving the different champagnes in the different glasses...

Thomas said...

Hi Michael,

Thank you.

The corked 1988 Clos du Mesnil and the better performing 1996 Krug Clos du Mesnil was served in the Juhlin glass. Dom Perignon Rosé was served in Spiegelau Authentis glass and the “Origine” from Selosse was Juhlin. So why all this glass confusion? I think it’s rather simple – Richard Juhlin has visited Søllerød Kro a few times and Jan simply liked his glasses so much that he bought some of them…but still I think Søllerød Kro has a lot more Authentis glasses than the more expensive Juhlin glasses.

BTW - This crowd is not Zalto fans, like me – Riedel Junkies ;-).