24 Jan 2008

Insense Incensed

LIBERTY ARE a supercharged independent supplier. Their recent tasting took place at Lords. The normal draw of lunch failed to immediately distract the few hundred attendees, busy sampling upstairs, I think partly because of the quality of the range and the stellar cast turned out to present and taste them. This allowed me a window view from which to enjoy gracefully cooked, in parts still confidently pink duck with almost snappingly crisp vegetables followed by an English cheese board served at the perfect, cool-to-tepid temperature.
The most enthralling white, Paul Jaboulet Aine's '06 Crozes-Hermitage Mule Blanche. It stunned me. Marsanne/Rousanne, two grapes that sound as exciting as an old, stable-bound mule, coalesced within this alert, dry pineapple segment bitter wine, balanced with yoghurt and a halva harmony. The '05 Hermitage Blanc Le Chevalier de Stérimberg was similar, but too buffed by contrast, and not yet ready.
Clos Jordanne's '04 Single Vineyard, from Canada, belied its big brand owners, being bright and decadent, with dried cranberry paste on the palate.
Mas La Mola's '05 La Vella Vinyeta Priorat, from Catalunya's black licorella soil sewn vines, presented by a curiously intense chap, who it turned out was Zuma's sommelier, Alessandrio Marchesan, presented one of the purest renditions of this bottled definition of elegance.
A dilemma for restaurateurs and organisers of tastings. What do you do if someone arrives sporting perfume so pungent, it physically attacks others? That was the scenario yesterday, celebrating my birthday at one of my favourite restaurant havens, Babylon Gardens. An adjacent diner wore in fact the same olfactory brand of tasteless odour which I fought through at a Lafite Rothschild tasting a couple of years ago. A straining, heartless, confected, drench-applied tumult...