Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Porcellian

Last night's whole roast pig--a lechon to be exact--bacchanal was in the true spirit of that most venerable final's motto Dum vivimus vivamus--While we live, let us live.

Laurent Perrier's multivintage (1996, 1997, 1999) flagship Grand Siecle Champagne. LP's response to Krug's Grand Cuvee. About 50-50 Pinot Noir-Chardonnay from a complicated blend of many grands crus vineyards, aged at least seven years. Since being launched in 1959 there have only been three winemakers. This release shows stunning freshness and depth of flavors, a clear statement that Champagne is a most versatile drink with any food.

Wow! I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw this Swan Oyster Depot seafood cocktail of crab claws and smoked salmon. What a treat from Steve and Tania! Perfect with the Champagnes.

1996 Ployez-Jacquemart Liese d'Harbonville, the flagship Champagne of the house. Mostly Chardonnay the rest Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, vinified and aged in barriques. Less than 500 cases are made. Tightly wound, this was obviously still too young, but it's bone-dry precision, razor sharp flavors, herbal fragrance, and pure energy were nothing short of electric.

With three different Champagnes being passed around, we demolished the plates of fried rolls--Chinese and Filipino styles--without effort.

Ah, Jacques Selosse. We drank the VO cuvee, according to the Dennis a non-dosé, and it almost feels like that, except for a surprising core of sweet fruit blending deliciously, as well as mitigating the oxidative notes. What a ravishing Champ the more I sipped it. Effortless to appreciate. The finish is long and very lovely. Selosse could be quite controversial and be often the subject of much geeky Champagne debate, until everyone starts sipping, then there is silence.

I had the honor of being served first so I didn't hesitate to fill my plate with the crisp, succulent lechon and other goodies such as pancit, fresh lumpia, and the avocado/mango/arugula salad. Amazing how everything came together. And here we go with the Pinot Noir part of the evening!

The 1990 Domaine Robert Groffier Chambertin Clos de Beze comes from a tiny parcel less than acre in size. Even in riper years like 1990, it is always a more elegant, structured, high acid style of Chambertin that makes it such a very long aging wine. This vintage is still an infant, but I enjoyed its rose petal, cherry perfume, its brilliant, energetic fruit that kept unfurling.

An immortal 1990 was the Domaine Faiveley Corton Clos de Corton from magnum. The nearly 3-hectare parcel at the top of hill of Corton is a Faiveley monopole and has been a family possession well before the appellation system was created in 1930. A muscular wine of depth and power that's even more pronounced in this 1990 vintage. Decanted, it was definitely drinkable but still hiding in its shell. Like the Groffier Beze another infant. Why do we keep opening infants?! We should drink a 1928 Vosne-Romanee Les Gaudichots, instead, next time. Or so I dream.

Well, finally, the third Red Burgundy was a bit more mature. Apparently Maison Coron Pere et Fils still exists, but this negociant perhaps is more well known to Burgundy collectors for various Burgundies they produced from exalted vineyards during the 1930s through the 1960s. Their 1957 Musigny from a pristine bottle was still youthful, quite dark in color with hardly any sign of bricking and flavors that were fully intact. A difficult growing season, Henri Jayer's notes on the vintage said: "The acidity was high with very little substance. Thin and lacking good texture, these wines did not capture the attention for very long." Clearly, the 1957 Musigny was chaptalized, as I expect every wine in this vintage must've been, and it's evident on the nose and palate. Though the nose lacked the Musigny intensity, the wine was savory and imbued with the bright energy of Chambolle.

Steve, happy and satisfied with the food and wines, as his three ancestors in the background gazed at the goings on approvingly.

While at the other end of the table Tania has broken into an infomercial demo of her latest gadget, enthralling the girls who totally ignored the magnum of Faiveley in front of them.

Cupcake time! Tania made them and they were so irresistible, many times more satisfying than store bought versions.

By this time I wished I had a second stomach. But. Can't. Resist. Dessert. And. 1958. Port.

It's only appropriate that Vintage Port was very good in 1958. Port was my Damascene wine moment, it made me consider wine seriously for the first time. I think I was 18.  I've never had Tuke Holdsworth before and, apparently, the company had centuries of history in Oporto. This was again pristine and drinking very good--typical 1958, on the lighter side, almost like a Vintage Tawny, but darker in color, of course. Its fruitiness was lovely, the freshness--a hallmark of the year--was perfect.

The banana turon, a popular Filipino snack, is a native, peasant take on the Spanish turron, which is totally different and was a favorite imported treat of well-to-do families in Old Manila. The banana turon mimicks the Spanish turron's sweet filling and, instead of being covered by a thin layer of wafer, is wrapped in rice paper. I love banana turon and so I asked my brother to pick up some from a Filipino restaurant.

And so here is the lineup of wines we drained during the evening. I almost forgot to mention, Sandy brought a magnificent bottle of 1986 Chateau Rausan-Segla, Margaux, a very good year in Bordeaux's left bank. The nose was a bit subdued, but this was very classic Margaux, soft and velvety, with a sweet, fleshy fruit.

Evenings and celebrations like this night remind me with each bite, with each sip, and with every laughter that the world is fleeting. It's best to make the most out of life.

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