A remarkable evening of wine, with Burgundy, the Wachau, the northern Rhone, Champagne and Sherry

Had a fabulous dinner last night at Francis and Bronwen Percival’s pad in Borough Market with a group of wine nuts, including a Burgundy-resident Californian winemaker. Some lovely bottles came out, and Francis and Bronwen’s cooking was on top form.

We started with some cheese, of course: Stawley, Kirkham’s Lancashire and Citeaux (a washed-rind cow’s milk cheese made by monks in Burgundy). This was served with Francis’ stunning sourdough loaf, which was close to perfect. Starter was also a triumph: raviolo of blood sausage with foie gras, and this was followed by immaculately cooked rack of lamb with samphire and jersey royals.

The wines showed unusually well. It is just such a treat to go from peak to peak like this, and then to finish on a high.

Champagne Pascale Doquet Le Mesnil Grand Cru 1996
Taut, focused, structured and complex with amazing precision, and notes of citrus and toast, with some nut and herb complexity. There’s a bit of crisp apple character, too. Really intense and structured, this is fabulous. 95/100 (£37.50 henrygeorgewines.com, but alas it’s out of stock, I just checked!)

Champagne Eric Rodez Ambonnay Grand Cru NV
The base for this wine is 2002, but Rodez likes to use lots of reserve wines, and this includes wines back to 1992. Distinctive, rich and powerful with notes of apples and nuts, as well as a faint cidery character in the background. Toasty, powerful, rich and lively, this is a remarkable Champagne in the Selosse mould. 93/100

Domaine Dujac Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Gruenchers 1998 Burgundy, France
Super-elegant, warm, rich and pure with silky black cherry fruit and a mineral undercurrent. There are some warm spicy notes here. It’s ripe, full and seductive, yet really elegant, and it is drinking perfectly now. 95/100

Nikolaihof Grüner Veltliner Vinothek 1993 Wachau, Austria
This is a late release that was aged for 15 years in large old oak. It’s beautifully expressive and amazingly fresh with lovely crystalline pear, citrus and melon fruit, as well as a hint of wax. Dry, fine and expressive with some notes of apricot and spice on the finish. 94/100

Snowden Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2007 Napa Valley, California
From the hills just above Rutherford at 800 ft elevation, on soils of decomposing volcanic ash. This I ripe, sweet and lush with seductive, pure blackcurrant and blackberry fruit. Supple, lush and smooth, it’s so easy to like, but it avoids jamminess, keeping good definition, and has lovely smooth-grained tannins, suggesting some ageing potential. 93/100

Dard et Ribo Hermitage 2009 Northern Rhône, France
Ripe, pure and sweetly fruited, this is a fabulous expression of Hermitage. It has floral black cherry and blackberry fruit, with some spicy, peppery complexity and lovely density in the mouth. The lushness and purity of the fruit covers over some fine spicy, grippy notes that suggest there may have been some stems in the ferment. A lovely expressive wine. 95/100

Clape Cornas 2006 Northern Rhône, France
Seductive, ripe and smooth, but quite savoury at the same time. There’s a mineral, almost salty edge to the peppery black cherry fruit. Deliciously ripe and smooth. 94/100

Equipo Navazos La Bota de Amontillado 31, Jerez, Spain
A thrilling example of Amontillado: nutty, salty and intense with fresh tangy flavours and incredible complexity in the mouth. We finished the bottle. 96/100

Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

2 comments to A remarkable evening of wine, with Burgundy, the Wachau, the northern Rhone, Champagne and Sherry

  • Alex lake

    Nice! I should serve cheese as a starter more often. I remember having cheese as a starter at Canteen once, and thinking what a great choice it was, resolving to do it again…

    …and not.

    Lovely wines, too ;-)

  • keith prothero

    Would have thought the Cornas was far too young. have a case of the 99 which I intend to keep for another 5 years at least.

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