This Friday two wines brought together by nothing more than their being poured during dinner at Number One, an admirable one-star restaurant tucked away in the basement of the Balmoral Hotel in central Edinburgh.
Dining in a large group numbering 13 in total (isn’t there some superstition about 13 diners – reflecting the number at the Last Supper, perhaps?) I chose two wines, one white to match our starter (most chose scallops, although it worked fairly well although not brilliantly with my foie gras) and one red which did very well with our main course, which for most people was lamb.
First off the white, a Vouvray, in particular Huet’s Le Mont Sec 2004. Selecting this from the list the sommelier warned me that I might find it to be quite sweet. “I hope not” I replied, “it is a sec after all”. “Sir, it is certainly sweet” came his reply. What to do? I am geeky enough to know off the top of my head that a sec from Huet would typically carry 3-5 g/l residual sugar, but I decided that disclosing this information would (a) be unhelpful and (b) raise my pomposity-index to an unbearable level. The solution? I asked the sommelier to bring me one bottle, and if it turned out “too sweet” I would drink it anyway – the thought of a demi-sec or sweeter with my foie gras was actually quite tempting – and I would order something else for my companions. If not then we are fine.
He proceeded to bring me a completely different Vouvray (a Champalou demi-sec) from the list. Our wires were clearly crossed, and the issue was soon resolved.
Huet Vouvray Le Mont Sec 2004: A good colour, mildly rich. It opens out nicely on the nose, revealing quite quickly some very minerally, chalky notes which have great appeal. These sit alongside some reserved fruit. On the palate there is a lovely weight and balance, although it does not have the fine definition of a great vintage. Softer than expected, considering its young age, with a lovely evolving character already apparent, this is a wine that is ready for drinking now, although I am sure there is no rush. I last tasted this at the domaine in 2007 – it seems to have come on very nicely since then. Very good. Tasted at Number One (meal not written up). 16.5+/20
Then onto the red. Teyssier is a good value red which I often find myself drinking in restaurants. It seemed to go down pretty well with this crowd too. Nevertheless, because there are at least two estates named Teyssier in Bordeaux (one in St Emilion and another in Montagne St Emilion) I asked the sommelier if it was the Malthus (St Emilion) estate. Unfortunately despite the great wines Malthus turns out, and despite being in charge of the cellar (I would assume!) this sommelier didn’t know the answer. Pulling a bottle quickly answered the question though. By coincidence Jonathon Malthus (who also created Le Dôme) had been in contact only a day or two before….I subsequently emailed him to say I had chosen his 2005 this night, but I omitted any mention of our uncertain sommelier.
Chateau Teyssier (St Emilion) 2005: A deep, rich hue in the glass. The fruit is rather restrained at first, although it is certainly there; not well defined perhaps, a melange of dark forest berries, overlaid with a layer of youthful oak which still needs to be shed to gain maximum enjoyment here I think. On the palate though, there is plenty of promise. Richly textured, weighty, in keeping with the vintage, but carried along by a fine substance and acidity. Rich, somewhat savoury, and firm in the finish, this is a young wine from a very reliable estate which has plenty of promise for the future. Nevertheless, after some time in the glass, I found it worked very well with food. Tasted at Number One (meal not written up). 17+/20