Mark's Duck House

This was another extravagant bash and free-for-all at Mark’s Duck House, and there were a number of wines that I didn’t even get a chance to taste, but I was very pleased with those that are mentioned above.

I suppose it is the pork fat that the classic dim sum restaurants use to mesh all the different kinds of dim sum together – in this case, shrimp, scallop, crab, lobster, as well as the assortment of pot stickers and other goodies. The white wines all seemed to show very well, including the wonderfully floral , perfumed, almost tropical 2007 Baumard Savennières Trie Spéciale, the youthful honeysuckle and mineral-laced 2005 Mount Eden Chardonnay, the brilliant, stainless steel-fermented and aged 2009 Brewer Clifton Chardonnay Huber, and the very strong effort in a so-so vintage, the 2008 Jadot Chassagne-Montrachet Morgeot.

The reds ranged from Rhônes (which always go best, along with old-style Barolo and Barbaresco, with dim sum) to a handful of Bordeaux. The magnum of 1990 La Conseillantewas à point, meaning it was fully mature, exquisitely perfumed, and a gorgeous example of a 20-year-old Pomerol that has hit all cylinders. The 1982 Sociando-Mallet displayed loads of herbs, underbrush, and a boatload of tannin. It was very concentrated and dense, but seemed rustic compared to the La Conseillante. As expected, the Châteauneuf du Papes were beautiful. The 1995 Rayas is one of the all-time great wines from this estate, and is still a youthful wine at age 15. Fully mature, but with plenty of life ahead of it, is the sumptuous, animal, earthy, probably brett-infested, but stunningly concentrated, intellectually challenging and complex 1989 Domaine de Pégaü Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée Reservée. Another Châteauneuf du Pape, although obviously much younger, was the inky ruby/purple colored 2007 Ferrand. This wine possesses loads of incense, licorice, camphor, seaweed and black fruits, and is not for everybody. And I must not forget the 1990 La Mission Haut-Brion, another example of a fully mature wine from this vintage, which is at a magical place today. As for the Northern Rhônes, the 1980 Guigal Côte Rôtie La Landonne exhibits the genius of Guigal in what he was able to achieve with a very young vineyard in a challenging vintage. Fully mature but with at least a decade of life left, this is an amazing effort, with notes of Peking duck, smoked game, balsamic notes and charcuterie, as well as plenty of black fruit and earth. Guigal’s 1985 Côte Rôtie La Mouline can be perfect, but this bottle seemed slightly more evolved. (It came from my cellar, so make what you want of that.) With exotic lychee, plum, fig, violet and black currant fruit, and a hint of kirsch, this wine is supple, round, and more evolved than I remember. It is a very pretty wine that needs to be drunk up, if this bottle is typical of its evolution.

I scored it a perfect 100, it was the Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Year, and there is no doubt that Justin Smith’s 2007 Saxum James Berry Vineyard is one of those prodigious wines that is not only a rarity but one of the all-time great Syrah-based wines ever made in California. It is a very special wine and an absolute hedonistic and intellectual turn-on. Drink it over the next 10-15 years.

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