A couple of weeks ago, Tom and I convened for an informal bring-a-bottle (actually bottles) lunch at Andrew Edmunds' eponymous restaurant on Lexington Street. While waiting for our guest, Stephen Browett, of fine wine brokers Farr Vintners, we toyed with a bottle of white Corsican vermentino from Domaine Saparale in the 2008 vintage. This is a blameless drop and makes for a wonderful summer aperitif with its wild herb aromas and a palate of citrus fruit underscored by a nervy minerality. The patron, Mr Edmunds, soon joined us and concurred with this thought, throwing in the observation that 'it gets even more interesting with a couple of years bottle-age'. [The Spectator's resident wine-hound Simon Hoggart has napped this as one of this top 100 wines in his forthcoming book 'Life's Too Short to Drink Bad Wine' - clearly it is an estate to watch.]
Stephen then arrived and, as we perused the menu, team Yapp proffered a chilled red Saint Pourçain 2008, a simple blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay (described in the Sunday Times on June 28th as being 'pale red, fragrant and cool'). Nobody loved or loathed it so we passed swiftly on to a brace of red burgundies (served blind) a fruity Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2007 from Stéphane Brocard and a more meaty Nuits-Saint-Georges 2002 from Domaine Paul Misset. Neither Andrew or Stephen had any difficulty in identifying these as being red burgundy and both were pretty accurate in assessing their age and position in the burgundian appellational hierarchy. By this time our starters had arrived which provided some welcome sustenance. The food chez Edmunds is simple, understated and consistently good - my duck rillettes with cornichons and sourdough toast being no exception.
After a brief absence Mr Browett reappeared baring a brace of decanters. Following some protracted debate we all agreed that both contained quality, left-bank claret of considerable bottle-age. I'll spare you all the adjectives but as we ate our main courses (again good - lamb chops with mash / roast cod with lentils) and these glorious wines unfurled they (and we) became more florid. Duly Stephen revealed them to be Gruaud Larose and Grand Puy Lacoste both in the acclaimed 1982 vintage. Both of these wines are beloved by Robert Parker who rated them respectively as scoring 98 points 'one of the most concentrated Bordeaux's I have ever tasted' and 96 points 'a tour de force'. Unsurprisingly neither is cheap, retailing well into 3 figures, but both were impressive and neither of them is stratosphericly expensive.
Pending the arrival of some splendid Lancashire cheese Mr Edmunds disappeared and then re-emerged with a mischievous grin and yet another decanter. I think we eventually decided that this was probably a Californian Cabernet Sauvignon. What we failed to deduce was that we were tasting (let's face it drinking) the incredibly rare Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon in the 1997 vintage. Mr Parker gives this his maximum score of 100 'It doesn't get any better than 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon. A perfect wine.' and it changes hands at eye-wateringly costly sums. [Fortunately Andrew's bottle was a gift from a grateful client from his print dealership].
Interestingly I don't think any of us rated any of these wines as highly as the world's most influential wine critic although we certainly appreciated them more after we realised what they were and we did have a very jolly lunch.
What do drink after a 'perfect' wine? In my case a large expresso and lots of mineral water. I'm already looking forward to our next wine-tasting lunch and had better start saving for my contribution.