Saturday, October 3, 2009

Bent's tasting @ Søllerød Kro

Another Søllerød Kro wine tasting report - can we take any more? Yes we can!!!!.

I can once again repeat myself, when it comes to Søllerød Kro brilliant cuisine and restaurant manager Jan Repstorff unique talent for nursing his guest. Jan you rock!!!!

The line-up was sent to us before the tasting so no blind tasting....well almost... Jan teased a couple of times with some blind entries.

I didn't write any notes, so everything is from memory.....writing notes, taking pictures and making conversation....forget it.

Taking pictures @ Søllerød Kro without any flash with this soft dimmed light is a nightmare. My camera can handle pretty high ISO numbers, but the soft dimmed yellow light is killing the details. So I have only uploaded a few.

Let's begin:

Welcome with snacks

1985 Krug Collection

I actually didn't have that high expectations towards this Champagne, as some critics think that Krug didn't manage to get their 1985 Vintage totally perfect. The Champagne is indeed charming and very open to drink. Classic, deep nutty flavors (primarily walnuts), honey and even a bit of lemon peel as the perfect balance component. Problem here is - that it's just too pretty / innocent and the Krug-nerve and majestic feeling is missing. For sure - we are talking really great stuff here, but when in the Krug category and this price level - I am expected to have my dancing shoes on. This was not the case. A Champagne for laid back drinking and very approachable at this stage.

Søllerød's classic Caviar dish with king crab

1996 Cristal

1996 Clos des Goisses

A step up in quality compared to Krug....(rarely happens does it?)....anyway, these 2 Champagnes are incredible tasty and both have that 1996 vitality. Compared with my recent tasting experience with these two, I would have expected the Cristal to be the more nuanced and elegant bottle and the Clos des Goisses to be the more muscular Champagne with signs of oxidation and dark bread. This was however not the case - well some of it wasn't. Cristal was the more light weighted of the two and in general has a broader flowery spectrum to offer. The Clos de Goisses was indeed tighter and showed very little sings of oxidation, compared to my previous bottle. It's almost about to burst out of the glass with a forceful concentration and a most impressive structure on the tongue. The taste is seriously long and really impressive overload of fruit, stunning balance and firm vibrant '96-acidity. For sure the notes are somewhat darker pitched than Cristal - but not as much as one should think. Both bottles showed themselves young with healthy fruit and firm acidity. They should age really well.

Scallops, Jerusalem artichoke, pear and hazelnuts

1982 Cristal

1982 Billecart-Salmon Blanc de Blancs

I have to mention the food here, as it was an incredible match to these two Champagnes - simply perfection.

1982 Cristal is to die for and a bottle in perfect shape. The evolved sweetness goes right into the sweet scallops and the hazelnuts, takes it even to higher ground. Richard Juhlin takes notice of its fairly high dosage, which I can confirm - but with this food it's just pure magic. This exotic and incredible sexy Champagne constantly evolved and put on complex layers in the glass with vanilla, fudge, apricot, truffles and even some chocolate aromas.

Billecart-Salmon is also pretty good - if to state it mildly ;-). Its' not as deep exotic as Cristal - but still it's has some overripe notes of peach and vanilla, but the difference is a really tallness of acidity and in general a better sparkle from the glass. If to say who's best?? - Cristal certainly benefits from this awesome food match and deeper layers - but this Champagne is not far behind.

Turbot with celery, lemon and browned butter

1995 Krug Clos du Mesnil

1990 Billecart-Salon Grande Cuvée

The hardest part of this flight was the shift from the former flight. The 82' Champagnes were so expressive and it was like they still lured in my nostrils, when having the first sniff with the next two.

Clos du Mesnil is very hard to approach. I found it shy and really a crime to open it at this stage. 1995 should on paper be a more open vintage and surely you can sense apple sensations and some nutty flavors, but it never really did anything than give hints more than a great tasting experience. It should be noted, that the last drops showed gradual improvement and my judgment could very well have been different if I had the chance to follow it over an entire evening.

My fellow tasters found the 1990 Billecart-Salom Grande Cuvée really awesome. I have to say that it didn't do that much to me. It's classic Champagne in the sense of flowers, citrus, vanilla and as our host pointed out, even gooseberries. But I found it lacked in definition - or was it the 82' flight the real reason why this just slipped into the land of indifference?

Time for reds:

It's always difficult to turn from Champagne to reds. I actually find it much harder than just turning from white to reds....hmmmm. Anyway - when the reds are Pinot Noir and especially from Burgundy the shift seems more subtle for the sensitive taste buds.

Mushrooms, stock and brioche - awesome food...once again.

1999 Grivot Richebourg

1996 Grivot Richebourg

1996 Clos du Tart

I think I was the only one at the table cheering for the 1999 Richebourg from Grivot. But as it evolves in the glass it simply fell apart and I had to realize that my first impression was not right. I simply fell in love with a distinctive sweetness, which after 10-15 minutes takes a bizarre shape of varnish and overall alcoholic notes. Taste is a fraction better - so maybe it's all about cellaring. But at the moment it's weird and disappointing.

1996 Richebourg is fairly rustic - but together with the food it gives meaning as the dried fruit and forest notes was a really nice match. However - it still leans to the rustic side on the palate and I missed some fruit and especially that charming expressive Pinot Noir appeal if to win my heart. But as said - worked with the food.

1996 Clos du Tart was a panel splitter. Some took notice of notes of tomato - personally I couldn't recognize this. But I can agree that it's once again a rather rustic wine. It's not so much dried fruit's as with Grivot - but more notes of soya and smoke. But I liked this one best, as you had some of the lovely raspberry notes, even if they are far from perfection. The taste is also superior to the other wines in the flight, with far better concentration and balance.

A blind wine was served and generously donated by Jan Repstorff:

2006 Sylvia Cathiard Vosne Romanée

Opened without decanting it oozed of medicine and gauze bandage, but slowly it found itself in better harmony. A real red berry perfume comes from the glass - tight as hell, almost like red paint from a new car. So why the hell did we guess 1999, 2000 and 2002, when all the components were so tight?? Well the wine is indeed interesting and a fresh breeze to this flight, which certainly had its ups and downs.

Thymus,onions and gravy.

2002 A. Gros Richebourg

2002 DRC Grand Echezeaux

I don't think I have ever had a 2002 red Burgundy that I didn't like. The vintage has a very distinctive profile with the most sensual red berry perfume, which I tend to find pretty tasty. This flight didn't disappoint me, even if these wines were rather different. Normally I tend to find the wines from DRC meatier - but given the different appellation here - this was actually different. DRC has more of these red berries, where the Richebourg has more fleshy notes to offer. DRC also has a great coolness, with higher levels of minerals, which brings the linearity forward and makes it stand taller in the glass. The Richebourg has darker berries of cherries and seems in comparison a bit more backward. I preferred the DRC - simply because the drinking pleasure and clarity was higher - but both wines were great.

Fallow with truffle and chestnut

1982 Cheval Blanc

1982 Pichon Lalande Comtesse

I will start by praising these wines for their stunning level of freshness at the age of 27 years - simply incredible. One could ask the question if these wines will ever die.

They are certainly different, both in quality and profile. The 1982 Cheval Blanc has a great inner coolness, which has to come from the Cabernet Franc. It runs through the wine like a cool river and gives linearity and nerve. However - the wine is struggling to present clarity, which a dark fruit pattern with mainly plum is ruining. It's a solid good wine, with impressive powers at this age, but never did it impress me.

I have had the pleasure to taste the 1982 Pichon Lalande Comtesse 3 times now. It's a seriously nice wine and this bottle was singing. It's a far better wine than Cheval Blanc in my opinion with the most sensual smell of sweet tobacco and cedar wood. The complexity and sensual healing it offer to its audience is something else. Having said that, I never really feel moved by the wines from Bordeaux - they are almost too technical perfect with very little of that magic dust, which makes me jump up and down. But from an objective scope it's a stunning wine.

Selection of Cheeses.

1998 Les Cailloux Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Centenaire

2000 Domaine de la Vieille Julienne Chateauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes Les Cailoux

15 years ago my wine club always ended with the most concentrated wines, as we didn't want to kill off the elegant wines this late, as the taste buds reach their limit. Today we work with the similar schematics, even if we have discarded the most extreme blockbuster wines. Most of the time this form works. But in this line-up it was like the gap from the elegant wines, we had already had, was too big for the next two wines. My judgment is certainly biased by this.

It's rare that I will actually write a tasting note, where the wines were barely drinkable. But these two wines were utterly revolting (sorry for the language). Maybe they are made to show their greatness in 25 years time, but my God they where like floating lava. I can't even give you a detailed tasting note, as I only had one sip of each. Nor can I tell one from another - as they both were terrible. They are seriously alcoholic, massive overripe blackberries / blackcurrant, vinegar, peppery, totally out of balance and without any drinking pleasure whatsoever. With my limited ability to master the English language, I can't find any appropriate label other than, "yikes"!!!!!

I think restaurant manager Jan Repstorff was aware that some of us were about to die at the table and like an angle sent from heaven he brought us a glass of chilled and very drinkable white wine. The wine in hand was the 2004 Domaine Leflaive Puligny Montrachet les Combottes. Light weighted stuff with adorable smell of popcorn, flowers and pear. Maybe not so deep layered in complexity, but certainly with great purity and drinking pleasure. My kind of wine and I was alive again.

Apples, salted caramel and cranberries.

1998 Billecart-Salmon Cuveé Elizabeth Rosé.

Fourth time I taste this and I am not particular impressed with it. For sure it has the elegant side of Billecart-Salmon, but it's just too Rosé pretty with sweet apricot and raspberry skin. It feels way too sweet on the palate, and the acidity is not perfect either, which is making it a bit too flabby for my palate. I have this bottle in my cellar and will try to give it some more time, even if I doubt it will ever become great

Bent if you are reading this - thank you for spoiling us.

Is it my turn next time - or Svenne?


Anonymous said...

Please tell Bent lovely greetings from Berlin when you see him next time. I will never forget his contribution to our tasting 2 years ago. ;-)

Take care,

Thomas said...

Hi Martin,

I will...I will never forget that happening either.