Well, it’s one thing to be invited to share some 100 point wines for a friend’s birthday, but quite another when said friend not only provides the 100 pointers, but cooks a Michelin star quality meal to go with them.
That two of the 100 point wines come from Argentina – a Malbec and a Chardonnay – was going to make for some educational tasting and dining. And the other 100 point wine? Well, if we could go higher we would.
But such are the privations a small group of diners must endure here in Penang. Let’s get to it!
Food – appetiser
Pheasant and cognac pâté on toasted sourdough with walnuts and cranberries
Bellota jamón iberico and fresh fig on toasted ciabatta with black olives.
1. Champagne Frederick Savart L’ouverture. 1er Cru 100% Pinot Noir.
At least managed to provide the starter for the night. This has become our favourite Champagne, and this just the Savart 1er Cru entry point! How can it possibly be 100% Pinot Noir. Concentrated, velvety, racy, sleek, superb balance, fragrant, great depth and length.
2. 2008 Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne. 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay. 100 points from several judges.
The Savart was our favourite until we met this wine. We all expected this to blow away the Savart, but it surprised us all. This is simply a masterclass in restraint complemented by complexity, intensity and taste sensations that flow endlessly across the palate. Ethereal, elegant, delicate, complex were just some initial comments. It’s still a baby at 13 and could have been bottled yesterday. The finish is complex, harmonious and lingers long. It will live for decades.
Great food choice, lovely flavours but never overtaking the Champagne. Nothing will overtake the Cristal 2008.
Food – entree
Pan seared cod topped with a brunoise of vegetables, olives, capers and saffron, dressed with a sweet and sour spiced sauce and fresh basil oil.
2018 Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyards White Bones Chardonnay, Argentina. 100 pts James Suckling, 97 pts Robert Parker.
Produced at 5,000 ft elevation, soil composed of chalky limestone and also animal bones. We had some struggles coming to terms with this wine. We noted some unusual aniseed notes, salt, chalk, floral and a really fine backbone of acid. Comments of energetic, vibrant, fine with a long finish. Then someone mentioned Montrachet, and the penny dropped. James Suckling describes it as Argentina’s answer to Montrachet, with honeysuckle, salt, chalk and dried apples. It was clear most of us had not tasted a wine like this for some time, but we did agree with some of the expert comments. I must say I was getting pretty comfortable with it by the time the second bottle disappeared.
The cod was a brilliant dish with remarkable flavours – the dish of the night for me. A perfect match for the Chardonnay once we started to get a handle on it.
Food – main
Prime rib of beef cooked for 10 hours sous-vide then finished on the barbecue, served with roast potatoes with garlic, thyme and rosemary, and a baby spinach, rocket and Parmesan salad. A chimichurri sauce and red wine jus to go with the Angus beef – an essential accompaniment to an Argentine wine paring.
1. 2018 Catena Zapata Malbec Argentino. 14.0% from vineyards at 3,000 ft. 97 pts James Suckling.
This was universally applauded by all present. It was so full and rounded, mouth filling with fabulous soft tannins. Rich and rewarding, opulent with smooth velvet flavours of ripe dark fruit, and a lovely savoury edge to it all. So soft and round, you could call it a drink-now style, but we know these wines will age superbly. A lovely long finish that contains both savoury and mineral notes.
2. 2016 Zuccardi Finca Piedra Infinita Malbec. 14.5% from vineyards around 3,600 ft. 100 pts Robert Parker.
Impenetrably dark deep red colour. Aromas of spice, plums, chocolate and vanilla. This wine was more challenging than the previous, but all the elements are there; dark fruit, chalky acidity, fine but persistent tannins, and a stupendously long finish. Full bodied and rich, each mouthful bringing another player to the front line. RP describes it as having ‘power and elegance, energy and finesse’; I’ll go along with that. Pretty sure this will go on to be one of the great Malbecs. I can see the RP 100 pts, but such is the mind-spinning potential for this wine that in 5–10 years it will surely cry out for 100+++. And I’m angling to be there to find out.
These Malbecs and the Angus sliced rib with chimichurri sauce and red wine jus were like the happy wedding couple walking down the isle, only possibly more perfectly matched. The Malbecs were all decanted minimum three hours before serving.
3. 2016 Paul Jaboulet Crozes Hermitage Domaine de Thalabert. 13%
This wine we brought along just as a backup, but there was no stopping us so we drank it also. Medium bodied only so it was light compared to the Malbecs. Intense but restrained, with blackberry, cherry, tannins and acid well integrated. A long and lingering finish make it a really lovely Rhone wine.
Food – dessert
Chocolate (birthday) cake, fresh figs sprinkled with Hawaiian sea salt and balsamic vinegar, and blueberries.
1. 1966 Dupuy Tentation Cognac. 41.2%
The birth year of our host. Founded by the Dupuy family in 1852. The colour is deep amber, and the taste is remarkable (from memory). Powerful, smooth and bright, in absolutely superb condition. A piece of Cognac history.
2. Lagavulin Double Matured Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky.
I did not get to try this peaty number but here are some producer comments. “Each Distillers Edition expression undergoes a second (or ‘double’) maturation in casks that have previously held a fortified wine. A really distinctive and distinguished dram, full of peat. The Pedro Ximinez sherry wood naturally has a big say.”