We were delighted when our old friend Clive Greenhalgh the genial patron of the Ambassador restaurant invited us for his 'Magnum Monday' in an effort to inject some cheer into this miserable winter. The remit was simple - rock up at the restaurant with a decent magnum (each) and enjoy a delicious set menu with fellow wine lovers/bores. What we didn't know was that 15 other people would be attending which did mean an awful lot of wines to taste and drink.
We kicked off with some Champagne 'Le Mesnil' Grand Cru 'Réserve Sélection', actually we kicked off with beers then Champagne. This was clearly quite serious stuff but quite heavy to drink comme aperitif although the preceding lager probably hadn't done it any favours. After a few informal introductions and a bit of wine trade banter we then sat round a large square table and passed lots of big bottles to and fro debating their various merits.
The white wines, which surprisingly accounted for almost half the total, accompanied a Clam and Cockle Velouté (no potatoes deployed so not a chowder). The shellfish came from Colchester and were tasty and plentiful. Highlights here included a Petaluma 'Hanlin Hill' Riesling 2005 (courtesy of Gus Evans the landlord of the Butchers Hook in Fulham Broadway) which was mid-weight with classic limey tastes and good minerally undertones and a zesty 'Loimer' Grüner Veltliner 2006. Both got along famously with the bivalves and were a pleasant alternative to a proliferation of white Burgundy all of which was pretty good but none of which was great.
Our main course was an impressive chunk of braised Galloway beef (which was the size of an anvil) served with root vegetables. The red wines were as diverse as the whites with a surprising dearth of Claret (excepting a lone Pomerol) and a few real oddities. Here the tasting notes start to get rather confused but the Ridge Vineyards 1999 Geyserville Zinfandel was memorable as was the same vintage of Le Vieux Donjon Châteauneuf du Pape in which we have a vested interest. I think we had some cheese at some point and possibly some coffee. There was bold talk of regular reunions. All in all a very entertaining evening that made for a rather less enjoyable morning. I think the wines might have faired better if there were fewer of them and of us and we would definitely have benefited from some feminine input - it was rather a blokey affair.
We did glean the priceless information (from his brothers) that our host was a star contender on Junior Masterchef. Now that is footage that we'd pay some serious money for...
Champagne 'Le Mesnil' Grand Cru - Réserve Sélection NV
Langelois Spiegel 'Loimer' Grüner Veltliner 2006
Petaluma 'Hanlin Hill' Riesling 2005
Soave Pieropau 2006
Château Simone Palette 2003
Domaine de la Bongran 'Quintaine' Viré Clessé 2002
Domaine Robert Denogent - Macon-Solutré 'Clos des Bertillonnes' 2005
Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru 'Les Caillerets' Domaine Marc Colin et Fils 2001
Savigny Les Beaune 1er Cru Aux Gravains - Domaine Pavelot 2002
Pomerol Château Combaude Guillot 1995
Domaine de Trévallon 1995
Podere il Bosco - Syrah de Manzane Toscana 1997
Châteauneuf du Pape: Le Vieux Donjon 1999
Casa Lopostelle 'Cuvée Alexandre' Apalta Vineyard Merlot 2005
Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Napa 2004
Ridge Vineyards Geyserville Zinfandel 1999
Côtes de Saint Mont 'Collection Plaimont' Producteurs Plaimont