Wednesday, June 6, 2012

E Guigal Wine Dinner, Il Cielo @ the Hilton

Having subscribed to Grand Vin's newsletter, word came to me that E Guigal's team viz Marcel Guigal, his wife and son Phillippe Guigal were coming to Singapore. Hence I signed up along with G for this dinner with the hope of tasting the incredible wines of E Guigal. As you know, E Guigal is probably the most famous maker of Cote Rotie wines, and his La Mouline, La Landonne and La Turque single vineyard wines, referred to sometimes as the "La Las", are internationally renowned - Guigal has received more 100 point ratings by Robert Parker than any other single wine producer. Parker noted that in the past 26 years of visiting wineries, he had never seen a producer "so fanatical about quality as Marcel Guigal". (source - wikipedia). Hence, from this you'd already know that Guigal wines are of an extremely high reputation - were we to be disappointed, or did the wines at the dinner live up to its esteemed name?

First up was the Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2010 served as an aperitif. This was refreshing with enough acidity - and a pretty young wine. Nothing too complex, just eminently drinkable. We downed quite a bit of this whilst waiting for the other guests to arrive, in the hope of better things to come.

A photo of the menu is on your left - it explains the tasting notes of the wines, which really helps to focus one's mind to identify the taste flavours. That's the reason why wines or coffee always seems to taste more complex once they are accompanied by tasting notes - it enables the brain to "focus" on the flavours.

Next up was the amuse bouche, paired with the Condrieu La Doriane 2010. This is entirely 100% viognier, and it was quite an awesome wine - lots of white fruits, and with sparkling zippy acidity in the mouthfeel. The amuse bouche was a bit of foie gras on some potato-like puree - it was rather strange, admittedly - still the La Doriane was great. I bought one of the last remaining bottles actually. Oops. 

Next up was the marinated and smoked lamb loin, wine jelly with lemon scented Creme Fraiche, Shiso, paired with the Guigal Saint-Joseph "Vignes de l'Hospice' 2009". Now this was an amazing wine and was one of my favourites of the night. It had an intensely powerful, rich nose, coupled with alot of black fruits, and was brooding and elegant at the same time with a hint of sweetness. Amazing wine. And it went so well with the smoked lamb loin as the flavours blended together perfectly. (8.5/10)

We then moved to the Cote Roties - first up was the Chateau d'Ampuis 2007 - this had the usual Cote Rotie flavours of alot of bacon fat and liquorice - however it wasn't as elegant as the La Las that came afterward - a little tannic and requiring much more aging to bring out its true potential. It was paired with a tagliolini Bosco Italian Sausage Porcini and Truffle - somewhat like eating Mee Pok really. At least there was a nice hint of truffle oil which made things interesting - still a nice light dish with loads of porky goodness, you know - and the pasta was cooked to perfection which is extremely important. (7.5/10)

Next up was Wagyu cooked three ways, braised, grilled, and slow-cooked. The grilled wagyu was alright - the usual pinkish wagyu but nothing to shout about really. I really liked the braised rendition since it was cooked for a long time such that the fats had began to melt into a gelatinous consistency similar to tau yew bak. Very rich. 

And of course, I have to talk about the wines. the La Mouline and the La Turque, both 2006. The La Mouline was very feminine - the usual bacon fat from a Cote Rotie but far more elegant and smooth, good mouthfeel, and quite light on the palate. The La Turque was far more powerful and tannic, with a mouthfeel that coated the back of one's tongue. Nice but I think they need to be aged far far longer to bring out the best in these wines - right now they are far too young. But at least I had the chance to try a La La! (8/10)

The wines - served side by side for comparison's sake.

The cheese platter came next, and I just love cheeses. They are just so amazing, especially the fact that there are so many different varieties of cheeses made in France and also because these cheeses have complexity of flavour that can only come about via the way it is made viz fermentation, moulds, etc. I really enjoyed the blue cheese (as always) - very subtle and flavourful with loads of umami; as well as the one in the middle of the picture - I think that's a Tommie de Savoie - which is a cheese I particularly love for its nutty complex flavour. Great selection. (8.5/10).

The cheese was paired with a Ermitage Ex-Voto Rouge 2006 which was nice - very powerful and rich and went well with the cheese; alot of dark fruits with good balance.

We finished up with a coffee cream dessert as a nice sweet end to a great meal. It was fun meeting new people at our table, who were all very sociable and were presumably very well-accustomed to such events. We had a great time and we'd definitely be going for more of these events in the future. If only they didn't cost S$255 per person though!!