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A couple of months ago I was made aware of a seemingly little-known wine secret; top-class Bordeaux from some of the region’s premier estates sold at a fraction of their regular price. How does this work? The top estates are concerned, not encouraged, when they have a bumper crop as this means that they will have a glut of supply which will then (through simple supply-demand economics) bring down the prices. As a result, when they have an excess of production they release a proportion of their wine under a different label to those in the know.

InstagramCapture_6e149b17-7bd2-4359-8c67-e65baf8b19c7_jpgI obtained two bottles from a website – a 2011 pertaining to be from “the finest producer in Saint-Émilion” and a 2010 from “the top producer of Sauternes”. Reading between the lines I believe that these were a 2011 Cheval Blanc and a 2010 Château d’Yquem. Now I have no frame of reference in terms of drinking these wines, particularly given that they routinely cost several hundreds of pounds a bottle; however, I was keen to give these little treasures a test-drive and see if I would be prepared to pay the big bucks for them. Now, I am aware that one would never normally want to open these kinds of wines so young and that to drink them at such a young age could be reasonably classed as infanticide, but my flat does not have the ideal conditions to store wine so I figured the best thing to do would be to drink these wines young.

With this in mind I headed to Hawksmoor in London’s Spittalfields with my wife and some friends for two main reasons. On a Monday they have an excellent offer that allows you to bring your own bottles of wine for a very modest corkage fee of £5/bottle. Furthermore, if you are going to drink a robust and youthful Bordeaux then you are going to need some steak and where better to go then the restaurant that does the best steak in London?

InstagramCapture_34443815-17f2-4957-8ce5-dbf2e5e46f8c_jpgWhat of the food then? To go with the Cheval Blanc we ordered a 900g Bone-In Prime Rib and a 900g Porterhouse. That’s right, 1.8kg of beefy goodness. We took the waitresses’ recommendation and had them cooked medium-rare to medium (normally I am a rare-man) on the charcoal grills so that they had a nice colour to them with the fat nicely rendered. When we carved the meats they were deliciously, vibrantly pink in the middle and were beautifully succulent. This restaurant really is a paean to the majestic cow.

The Cheval Blanc was dense and deep to look at. On the nose I got fruits of the forest (black/red), there was evidence of power but it seemed slightly withheld. We had this wine decanted as soon as we arrived and started drinking it about 45 minutes in. In truth I felt that it really opened up after about an hour and a half through a combination of decanter and glass. On tasting it was smooth and fruity, there was a hint of tannins but they were surprisingly subtle. The wine was certainly insistent and had a thrust of power to it, but it lacked nuance or depth for me; probably because we were drinking it so young, it needs time to allow it to express itself a little more. Overall: 8.5/10

Herr Teufelskreis_20140714_20_50_16_Pro__highresGiven that we’d brought a dessert wine we needed to have a pudding. What a shame. I opted for a white chocolate cheesecake with strawberries, which was glorious. Other selections at the table included a Peanut Butter Shortbread and a Salted Caramel Ice Cream and a Sticky Toffee Pudding. A truly decadent start to a week on a Monday evening!

The Yquem had a slightly reserved nose, perfumed with peach and apricot as well as having floral notes of lavender and honeysuckle. It really came alive, however, on the mouth; it was exceedingly fresh, not at all unctuous and sugarey. There was a burst of acidity on it that gave it body. On tasting there were honeyed flavours, floral flavor, fruity flavours and perfumed flavours; deliciously complex. It had an exceedingly long and pervasive finish. Absolutely stunning; probably the greatest dessert wine that I have ever tried. 9.5/10.

There we have it, a truly great wine experience. I will certainly be keeping my eyes open for future deals on de-classified Bordeaux, it seems like an excellent way to try wines that would normally (for me) be just that bit too expensive to warrant spending all that money on.

5 thoughts on “De-classified Bordeaux and the best Steak in London

  1. This very well may be the first and last time I can appreciate the word “infanticide” being used. Impressed! As a person who loves dessert wines, I’m a tiny bit jealous I read this post without any. However, I can raise a beer and toast to you, and your writing style. Santé!

  2. Pingback: A review of 2014 | timmilford

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