Château d’Yquem Winemaker’s Dinner

On 24 August I was lucky enough to be invited to be one of 16 lucky wine enthusiasts to attend the Château d’Yquem Winemaker’s Dinner with Jean-Philippe Lemoine. Five wines with matching dishes from the talented Ben Battersby were served at the True South Dining Room (The Rees Hotel in Queenstown NZ).

Perrier Jouet Grand Brut Champagne n/v

We were busy meeting the other guests so no notes – it was as good as it always is.

Aperitif: Truffle popcorn and fresh Clevedon oysters.

Château d’Yquem ‘Y’ Sauvignon/Semillon Bordeaux Blanc 2016

Light green gold. Lemon leaps out of the glass, pineapple, white peach, lychee, dried grass. Intense backbone, lovely ripe peach, nectarine, herbal grass, florals, fresh. Very long. 75% Sauvignon blanc 25% Semillon. Top wine. An inspired match with the food. 19/20. 96/100.

Ceviche: Scallop / coconut curry marinade / poppadoms / gooseberry puree / toasted almonds / tatsoi / cucumber / radish / coriander / puffed wild rice.

Château d’Yquem Sauternes 2016

Bright gold. Sweet peach, summer hay, pineapple, white florals, coconut, honey nectar. Sweet but clean; peach, almonds, sweet straw, hint of fresh herbs, salt, dates, honeyed nuts. Lingers in the mouth for 10+ minutes. Very good now and will be even better with time in the bottle. For most, this was the wine of the evening. Tasted from bottle prior to general release (in September 2018). Very good match with the food. 19+/20. 97/100.

Monkfish: Wrapped in prosciutto / tangelo and caper butter sauce / crispy prosciutto / burnt tangelo / fennel, pinenut and kale salad.

Château d’Yquem Sauternes 2011

Straw gold. Quite grassy, hint of petroleum, deep florals, caramel, peach, not much complexity on the nose. Palate is clean and linear, bitter citrus marmalade, stone fruit, roasted pecans. Mid length, orange peel character lingers. Very good food/wine match. 18/20. 93/100.

Fake Foie Gras: Duck liver parfait / brioche / orange and caramelised onion marmalade / dried fig / honey roast rosemary walnuts / raw celeriac.

Château d’Yquem Sauternes 2003

Amber gold. Autumn orchard fruit, stone fruit jam, beeswax honey nose. Palate is rich: caramel, dark honey, citrus, ripe peach, fig, very nutty, a bit cloying and fudgy; a bit oxidative – to me like the bad old days of high dosage Bollinger. Mid long, sugar obvious, sherryish (Ch. d’Yquem’s Jean-Philippe Lemoine says it is caramelised sugar rather than oxidised). A good food/wine match, with the food making the wine better. 17/20. 89/100.

Venison: Slow cooked venison topside / acidulated chocolate / quince / blue cheese pearl barley / puffed barley / watercress.

Chateau d’Yquem Sauternes 1997

Amber, the colour of Oloroso sherry. Nose of rich bitter orange marmalade, old-fashioned dried Turkish apricots, figs, dried peach, toasty sugared roasted nuts. Palate has big bitter citrus marmalade, toasted honey almonds, white flower perfume, currants, lovely acid spine for this all to hang off bringing balance to the sweetness (120g/l). Good length with lingering grassy hay and nice bitter orange peel. Worked well with the food, but the black pepper polarised the group with many finding it harsh on the back palate (I was in that group). 18.5+/20. 95/100.

Cheese: Goats’ cheese ice cream / smoked pineapple upside down cake/poached rhubarb/black pepper pineapple glass/pineapple coulis.

Chef: Ben Batterbury

Huge kudos to Ben, who created these ambitious dishes to match the wines without the benefit of trying them first. He gave credit to Google for helping with the wine flavours, but I suspect his experience and palate had much much more to do with the success of the evening.


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