TN: Nancy's bday with Chave, Vallana, Drouhin, Mt Eden, Haut-Bailly, etc
Thursday Dave drove me up to Mark and Nancys in Briarcliff, where Betsy was awaiting. We were delighted to be there for Nancys birthday party. The catering crew were hard at work on dinner. As people gathered, there were passed caviar canapes with Champagne
1985 Alain Robert €śLe Mesnil€ť Champagne
This tasted older than "85 and initially I really wasnt too fond. But as I retasted it really grew on me (and a taste at end of evening was still enjoyable. Mousse is fading, but still an acid core. Mature flavors of pears, walnuts, and toasted bread. Some smoke with time. B+/B
2006 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne
Theres been some debate about this, but I liked a lot. There was an initial strange aroma of swimming pool, but it faded quickly, leaving a classic young Comtes to my taste. A-
Then to the dining table, which had been moved to the living room to take advantage of a lovely Christmas tree.
First course was an incredible lobster consomme with lobster and shaved truffle, followed by some rich lightly smoked sable with caviar and a roasted baby carrot.. For those we stayed with the Champagnes, and also tried a white
2011 Mount Eden Chardonnay (magnum)
Beautiful rich pear and lemon fruit, clearly some new oak but totally integrated, long and delicious. B+/A-
Next up was duck breast with confit stuffed cabbage and allspice/star anise pickled cherries
2008 Ch. Haut Bailly (magnum)
I loved this recently from 750, but even with decanting it was pretty tight here. Still, you can sense the power and the refinement. This mag was B for drinking this night, but would love to own.
Then homemade Pasta with egg/butter sauce and shaved truffles with (what was to be) a trio of "58 Alto Piemontes
1958 Vallana Spanna Traversagna
My favorite of the two served, this actually did taste like (mostly) Spanna/Nebbiolo. Roses, tar, and dried cherry, acid and even still some tannin, perfumed and tasty. A-/B+
1958 Vallana Spanna Cantina del Camino
This was a nice red fruited mature wine, but a bit indistinct next to the Traversagna. Red fruits and nutskin. B/B+
1958 Vallana Spanna Traversagna Riserva (not served)
I was decanting the wines, and though this had been standing up for 3 weeks it was murky as the first ounce was poured (other 2 were crystal clear). I summoned Mark, who sniffed, we agreed it smelled like 60 year old sweaty sandals. Plenty of other wines!
Sousvide lamb chops with a honey-pistachio crust on pureed carrots with a truffled sauce
1983 Chave Hermitage (Yapp UK source, magnum)
While Ive really loved good bottles of this before, this was amazing. Stunning mature yet lively Syraf- dark fruit accented with meat and smoke notes. WOTN on a great night. A-/A
Cheese (aged cheddar, epoisses, & aged Gouda, shaved truffles, with pear/fig and persimmon compotes and Rockland raisin toast
1979 Drouhin Chambertin Clos de Beze
I liked this more than Mark. Its age is showing, certainly time to drink up, but I find plenty of enjoy. Strawberry and cherry, lots of earthy mushroom notes, finish might be getting a little clipped but I think this is a nice old Burg (though Id have guessed mature Volnay or Chambolle not Gevrey much less Beze. B+
Buttermilk and lemon thyme Panna Cotta with raspberries and shaved truffles
There was a Montaudon Champagne going around, but I retasted the "85 Robert instead.
Just a classic night, food was off the charts, great company, we were so happy to be there to celebrate Nancy. And I was glad Betsy was there to drive me home. Thanks to Mark and Nancy, Charlie the chef and his crew, Stuart the truffle hound, and a convivial group.
Grade disclaimer: I'm a very easy grader, basically A is an excellent wine, B a good wine, C drinkable. Anything below C means I wouldn't drink at a party where it was only choice.Furthermore, I offer no promises of objectivity, accuracy, and certainly not of consistency.