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03/05/2013

An Evening of Firsts

by Aaron Turner (Private Sales)

An evening of great wine and great companyI knew that joining Bordeaux Index was going to mean I could tick a few bottles off my ‘wines to try before I die’ list – a promise made to me by Mr. Boom – but my experiences to date have been far beyond my expectations: 10 years on tastings, winemaker dinners, countless ‘Smash & Bash’ events, the Bordeaux En Primeur trip…at every event I have experienced wines that I had only read about in the past – it only reminds me how lucky we are to work in this business.

Despite all the excitement surrounding these events, they are primarily focussed on tasting wines. The most enjoyable thing is sitting down with a few friends and cracking open a bottle or two to enjoy together…and last night we did just that in true BI style.

Thirst-quenching pint down, we kicked off the evening with a bottle of Krug Grande Cuvee (disgorged in 2008 and lovingly stored since then) which was rich and concentrated with brioche, baked apple and stone fruit; a truly unique champagne that kept me grinning up until the very last sip (and the sneaky top-up).

Starters of blue cheese, chicory and walnut salad arrived alongside a bottle of Condrieu Chailles de L’Enfer 2010 by Georges Vernay. Attention to detail and no shortcuts regarding quality make Georges Vernay’s wines some of the best in the appellation, characterised by their rich style and balancing minerality. This bottle exhibited an intense nose of lychees, white flowers and a subtle nuttiness, but it was the distinctively fat yet perfectly balanced palate that made this so unique and utterly gorgeous – no wonder Lord Parker gave it 94 points!

Duck Confit with Lyonnaise potatoes and thyme jus called for some reds, and boy did Gary (MD) answer: Rousseau Clos St Jacques 2004 and DRC Vosne Romanee 1er Cru 1999. For the next 30 minutes I was rendered practically speechless. The Rousseau was my first taste of real Burgundy: refined yet complex with soft ripe fruit and that incredible smoky bacon fat character I’ve read so much about. The DRC was darker and more intense with concentrated Morello cherry, spice, a subtle hint of chocolate and the most exceptional length. Contrary to what I said about sharing a bottle with friends, these two made me collapse into my own little world for a few minutes. Bliss.

We rounded off the evening with a bottle of Vin de Constance 2005 which is arguably South Africa’s greatest export (at least in a vinous sense) which showed dried apricots, honey and a hint of vanilla. Lusciously sweet with a cleansing acidity…the perfect match for the crème brulee and a delicious way to finish up.

All in all, an amazing evening in the company of fellow wine-loving friends with a collection of first time vinous experiences that truly blew me away. A colleague summed it all up perfectly this morning when he walked in to the office and looked at my still-stunned face: “Who's the girl?! Ronnie fell in love last night!!”