Nothing Simple About This Wine Dinner


12 Tasters, Five Courses, 13 Wines

Simple Bistro, 619 Mt. Pleasant Rd.

Chef: Matt Cowan


Well, I float in liquid gardens.”

Large group, small pours, plenty to go around. A Tour de France of the mind-altering kind. Champagne, White and Red Burgundy, Bordeaux. A line up to prostrate the palate. Thank you AZ for the invite, the planning and the execution. A formidable feast matched with precision expertise and the company not bad either. Band of Gypsys (Jimi Hendrix) playing over the sound system. Who knew so much unintentional comedy would grace this evening.



Three Colville Bay Oysters, shallot mignonette

Oysters of this calibre are a treat. Shell swelling, sweetmeat, toothsome.

Roederer Champagne 1996

Apples in stereo. Intro succinct as a toasted energy chord, yeast still runs deep. Soul of the bubbles intact, velocity winding down. Tone has seen its evolution. Not quite Madeira but heading down that road. Beauteous bird.  90


Seared Sablefish, spinach, beurre blanc

Teaser, delicious, best crispy Cod crackling 

Vincent Sauvestre Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru 2004

Sadly, surprisingly oxidized. Flavour of fruit long time gone, now generic, walking a flat earth. Mildly redemptive aromatic qualities, most notably and oddly tequila/caramelized agave, pineapple and honey. Burnt banana too.   NR  

Vincent Girardin Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru 2006

Sleeping baby, horse with no name. Soft, floral, feminine, dry, lost in the desert. then the filly awakens. Evocative scents and images emerge as “plants and birds and rocks and things.” Minerality kicks in, moist sea air fills the bowl. Drink up within two to three years.  93 


Roasted Squabsauce chasseur, gnocchi, shiitake

Brilliant dish, earth, mahogany, herb spiked, foul the texture of foie

Château de La Tour Clos de Vougeot 1990

Climbs over the enclosure to dwell in the suburbs of paradisiacal Burgundy. Redolent orchard of plum, coppice of resinous trees. Smokey, nary a sign of champignon. Later stages of ontogeny, post gallic acid but still long as the Saône flows. Choice Côte de Nuits92

Domaine Henri Perrot-Minot Morey-St.-Denis En La Rue De Vergy 1996

The dark knight of the three red Burgundies. Smells like merde at first, a pumpkin left to compost long after the hallow night is done. A few swirls and the funk blows away, leaving behind a smashing MSD. Oracular utterances are in the air now. “Lazer beam of acidity” says AM, “Pinot on a frozen rope” says I.  93

Domaine Joseph Drouhin Clos Vougeot 2002

Concludes the flight of the Conburgs. Ctunning clarity on a new world frame. Oregon of course. AZ notes a “zin, zinging character.” It’s in a sweet, candied Wonka way. “The hard candied shell of the apple” adds the doc. Despite the sacchariferous notes this Vougeot may just be the underappreciated WOTN.  91   

Lamb Saddle, roast root vegetables, brussels sprouts, spiced prune jus

Bison for MJG. Once again, Chef Cowan shows his penchant for rare meat as dentil frieze on a canvas of deep, earthy demi-glace.


Château Cos D’estournel, Saint Estephe 1986

Corked, volatile acidity or disjointed? No clear consensus from the group. Despite the fact that I am not overly TCA sensitive I know it is corked. Muted nose, what the wine might have been masked by the taint.  NR

Château Beychevelle, Saint Julien 1996

Brick red, having entered its later stages of evolution. Luster and loin giving way but sweet fruit hanging on. At this stage a house, not a home. Once mighty, mighty, the ’96 Beychevelle “make a old man wish for younger days.”  90

Château Pichon Baron Longueville, Paulliac 1988

This PBL is throwing rocks tonight. I am dazzled by its youth. Purity, clarity, vitality. Embodies Cclaret’s dictionary entry. Opened in the heart of its window. While ’89 and ’90 continue to hog that era’s spotlight, here lies reason number one to endorse ’88.  The turkey of the triple flight.  95   


Château Léoville-Las Cases, Saint Julien 1996     

Utopian, foxy, rubicund health. Voluptuous tomato, classy and luxurious on every level. Unabashed, showing off unblemished, curvy fruit. Pellucid, transparent, honest. A player, even if the highest caste keeps the dark LLC down. The sixth major94

Château Léoville Barton, Saint Julien 1986

The right honourable LB, consummate professional, trusted friend. Works the room with a politician’s charm, open to debate, unscathed after 25 years in bottle. Cast firm, time honoured through oak, cedar and lead, now showing spice notes in middle age. Stalwart SJ.  92   

Château Monbousquet, St. Émilion 1998

Napa bent with rich cassis and blackberry jam, verging on chewy raisin, resinous Amarone, even Vintage Port liquor. Precious, juiced Bordeaux in a hedonistic state. Pretender or professional? “I was feeling kind of ethereal…had my eye on your imperial.” Not so sure. Tastes great but is it the real deal?  89   

Château Lagrange, Saint Julien 1990

Funky barnyard entry, unfailing after all these years. Dissipates, leaving behind a most noble, prosaic, seasoned specimen. “Pleasant, short, competent, you get what you pay for” is heard from around the table. This was a back-up bottle as understudy to the corked Cos. My take? This ‘Bourgeois’ can saddle up to my picnic bench in a paper cup any day of the week. Thank you for the icing on the cake AZ.  91  


Cheese, benedictin, roasted fig

Good to go!


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