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A Dinner at Karel 5* With Very Previous Wines – Stefan’s Gourmand Weblog


This was a really particular wine dinner at Restaurant Karel 5 in Utrecht, organized by Fred Nijhuis. Fred is a wine author who focuses on Italy and was the information for the wine journeys to Lombardia and Piemonte. For this wine dinner he chosen 23 bottles of previous and really previous vintages, starting from 1995 to way back to 1957! (And a Marsala from a solera system that began in 1840 and thus is a combination from all vintages from 1840.) There have been 12 of us, so we might every attempt half a glass of every bottle. Fred calls these dinners Ouwe meuk of oude meesters, which could be translated to one thing like “Previous items of shit, or previous masterpieces”. It is because a lot of these bottles could also be well past their prime (and thus an previous piece of shit), however some could develop into a masterpiece that also stands in spite of everything these years. The picture reveals that it isn’t all the time straightforward to take away the cork from such previous bottles in a single piece.

Karel 5 by chef Chef Leon Mazairac not too long ago received a Michelin star, and for meals we had the common 5 course tasting menu of the restaurant, with one further dish from the à la carte menu to pair with one of many flights of wines. So the meals you see on this weblog is what additionally, you will get for those who go to the restaurant (till the menu adjustments, clearly), however the wines are ‘convey your personal’.

Fred had organized the wines into 8 flights of three wines, however we began with a Lessini Durello DOC metodo classico, a glowing wine made with a second fermentation within the bottle from Veneto in Italy from the native grape selection Durella, aged for over 5 years on the lees. This was not an previous wine. You may belief Fred to give you one thing attention-grabbing, and this definitely match the invoice as I had by no means tasted this selection earlier than. The wine was fairly recent with a powerful minerality.

This was served with puff pastry stuffed with herbed butter, adopted by a sequence of amuses bouches.

Foie gras with mint and chermoula, scrumptious.

Chilly smoked sirloin tartare with jerky and pasilla.

Inexperienced peas, veal tongue, and trout roe.

Subsequent was “Bouquet Leon Mazairac”, the signature dish of the chef, which consists of a salad of 18 totally different greens, every cooked individually to excellent doneness, and served on a cauliflower mousse. Very good.

The primary flight of wines consisted of two Rieslings from the Rheingau in Germany by Kloster Eberbach. A 1988 Rauenthaler Gehrn, and a 1991 Hattenheimer Manberg. There was additionally alleged to be a 3rd wine, however as a result of a mistake there have been two bottles of the identical wine. The 1991 was herbaceous, however alive and balanced. The 1988 was a bit extra subdued.

The primary course of the tasting menu was veal tartare with home made seabass bottarga, lemon, asparagus, and kimchi.

The second course was a langoustine (scampi) in an herb sauce. This labored very properly with the 1988 Riesling, that improved considerably with this dish. The 1991 Riesling didn’t work as properly, as a result of the acidity of the dish and the wine strengthened one another a bit an excessive amount of.

The subsequent flight of wines was:

  • 1991 white Chateau Musar from Lebanon, 66% Obaideh (suspected to be an area clone of Chardonnay) and 33% Merwah (suspected to be an area clone Sémillon), aged 9 months in French oak
  • 1995 Vin Jaune d’Arbois by Jacques Tissot
  • 1995 Vin Jaune Côtes du Jura by Bruno Robelin

The Musar was complicated with mineral notes and nonetheless had numerous physique and marked acidity. The Tissot was a typical Vin Jaune and didn’t appear aged in any respect, very highly effective. (I’m personally not an enormous fan of Vin Jaune as a result of it jogs my memory an excessive amount of of denatured alcohol/methylated spirits.) The Robelin was softer. Vin Jaune is made within the Jura and France from Savagnin grapes and is made in a trend just like Fino sherry. Vin Jaune can age very properly.

To pair with these wines a dish from the à la carte menu was served: poached sole with shrimp, mashed potatoes, and a vin jaune sauce. The dish had a really elegant taste and the Musar and Tissot overpowered it (the pairing improved by sprinkling some salt on the dish). The Robelin opened up with the dish and have become a pleasant pairing.

The subsequent flight of wines was served with out meals:

  • 1995 Yngram by Hofstatter, a mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Syrah from Alto Adige
  • 1994 Sella Bramaterra by Villa del Bosco, a Bramaterra DOC from Piemonte that could be a mix of 70% Nebbiolo, 20% Croatina, and 10% Vespolina, aged 28 months in Slavonian oak
  • 1991 Castello dei Rampolla by Sammarco, a ‘Tremendous Tuscan’ from 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Sangiovese

The Yngram was over the hill with a brown shade, vegetal aromas, acid and no tannins left. The Bramaterra nonetheless had fairly some tannins and a sweetish aroma. The Rampolla was like an aged Bordeaux (which is smart from the grape varieties used) with nonetheless notable however softened tannins.

For the next flight we went to Spain:

  • 1994 Rioja Reserva by CVNE, 85% Tempranillo, 5% Garnacha, 5% Graciano, 5% Carignan, aged in oak for 18 months
  • 1985 Viña Tondonia Rioja Reserva by R. Lopez Heredia, Tempranillo, Grenache, Carignan, Graciano
  • 6 año Viña Tondonia Rioja Reserva by R. Lopez Heredia, classic unknown however aged for six years, and it have to be bottled previous to 1981 (and thus be from 1974 or earlier than) as from 1981 it was not allowed to bottle Rioja with out placing the classic within the bottle.

Tortellini stuffed with “Blaarkop” cheese and spinach, served in a broth from caramelized greens with morels. The CVNE had excessive acidity, however got here out higher with the tortellini. The 1985 Tondonia grew to become astringent with the dish and in addition had excessive acidity. The 6 año had extra physique and tannins, but additionally grew to become astringent with the dish. A dish with meat would have labored higher I feel.

The subsequent flight took us to the Langhe in Piemonte, Italy (all 100% Nebbiolo):

  • 1978 Pio Cesare Barbaresco
  • 1978 Pio Cesare Barolo
  • 1978 Fontanafredda Barolo

The Barbaresco didn’t have a lot aroma, however nonetheless had some physique and velvety tannins. The Pio Cesare Barolohad a variety of shade, aromas of chocolate, current however velvety tannins, and clear acidity. The Fontanafredda had vegetal aromas and excessive acidity.

We continued with Valtellina in Lombardia, Italy (all 100% Nebbiolo):

  • 1973 Valtellina Sfursat by Nino Negri: brown shade however some tannins and sweetness left
  • 1969 Valtellina Sassella by Nino Negri: brick shade, tannins and construction nonetheless there
  • 1964 Fracia by Nino Negri: brick shade, tannins and construction nonetheless there however no aroma left

The primary course consisted of two components. The primary half grilled lamb with soy, sesame seed, and Dutch wasabi.

The second half was polenta with sweetbreads and miso. I’m not normally a fan of sweetbreads, however this was a really good dish.

This was paired very properly with a flight of Gattinara (100% Nebbiolo, referred to as Spanna there) from Alto Piemonte:

  • 1961 Gattinara by Borgomanero
  • 1958 Gattinara by Borgomanero
  • 1957 Gattinara by Luigi Rizzo

It was exceptional that the oldest ‘common’ wines of the night have been additionally the nicest. I believe Fred could have performed this on goal, as a result of he mentions usually that Alto Piemonte is just not getting the popularity it ought to. The 1961 was pink with a lightweight rim, recent, elegant, and understated however scrumptious. The 1958 was a lighter shade with mineral aromas, elegant, and scrumptious. The 1957 had some vegetal aromas however was smooth, elegant, and scrumptious. All wines paired properly with each the lamb and even the sweetbreads.

We completed the meal with some cheese.

The cheese was accompanied by Marsala, fortified wine from Sicily:

  • Pellegrino Marsala Vergine Soleras Riserva
  • Intorcia Marsala Vergine Soleras Vecchia Riserva
  • Florio, Avvertenza, Soleras 1840

All three are produced with a solera system, which signifies that wines from all vintages from the beginning of the solera system are blended. Yearly new wine is added to the system, and a number of the mix of all earlier vintages is taken out. The Florio began in 1840, which implies there’s a small proportion of each classic from 1840 till it was bottled!

The primary two have been “vergine” and thus extra dry than the later. They have been fairly acidic and the Intorcia was additionally a bit too alcoholic. The Florio had a terrific steadiness and was sweeter with extra physique. It was scrumptious and a terrific match with the cheeses.

Previous wines are what you possibly can name an acquired style. It’s a style which I’ve not (but) acquired, and I don’t have a properly developed vocabulary for describing the aromas and flavors. As anticipated there have been fairly some “previous items of shit”, however there have been undoubtedly additionally some masterpieces. The one (half) glasses that I completed have been the three Gattinaras and the Florio Marsala. It was an incredible expertise to get pleasure from wines from 1957-1961 and thus over 60 years previous! It was additionally very attention-grabbing to style all the opposite wines. The meals at Karel 5 is definitely well worth the Michelin star, so altogether this was a terrific night and possibly not the final wine dinner organized by Fred I’ll be becoming a member of (or my final dinner at Karel 5).

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