Place: Tutto Bello restaurant, Taipei, Taiwan

Menu

Roasted King Prawn with thyme in a light pesto sauce, Endive and Oak leaf salad tossed with Tuscany olive and balsamico reduction

Home Made Fresh Ribbon Pasta with duck confit and liver sauce, roasted smoked quail leg on the top.

Grilled U.S.D.A Prime Ribeye steak in a Floretine way, accompanied with delicate potato puree flavoured with black truffle.

Fresh Pear cooked in rum and vanilla syrup, gratinated with Marsala wine flavoured Zabaione and decorated with finely chopped almond.

Wine

Champagne Henriot cuvee Enchanteleurs Magnum

2000 Umbria Cervaro della Sala (Antinori Family)
1999 Kistler Chardonnay Vine Hill Road Vineyard

1997 Toscana Tignanello
1997 Oakville, Robert Mondavi

1997 Lazio Montiano, Falesco
1997 Insignia, Joseph Phelps

1997 Bolgheri Ornellaia
1997 Montelena

1997 Toscana Solaia
1997 Viader
1990 Clos Haut Peyraguey, SauternesTo wine producers in California and Italy, 1997 was the year they all being waiting for in a really long time. In Tuscany region many wine producers called 1997 the best vintage ever. Equally in California many wine producers harvested grapes at optimal ripeness and produced some amazing wines. Six years later how these wines have evolved and how they are compared with each other generated our interest, thus with generosity from one collector who gave up his precious collection and supplied us with all these great wine for a once in a life-time wine-dining experience.

Tutto Bello restaurant is certainly one of the best Western cuisine restaurants in Taipei and has many discerning diners as its loyal customers. Elegantly decorated and impeccable services, it provides its customer with memorable culinary experience. Although renowned for its Italian styled cuisine, the chef is very creative in incorporating many locally fresh produce into the menu.

Smooth in texture yet complex, Champagne Henriot Cuvee did an amazing job in giving us a refreshing feeling in our month. This champagne had the taste of brioche and nuts on the palate and a hint of spiciness (maybe ginger) on the edge of the tongue for add-on kick in the mouth. Freshly baked baguettes, which were served after the champagne, were on two different spreads, warm mushroom and its famous tomato salsa. The warm mushroom topping filled the mouth with delicious mushroom taste and fresh made salsa filled the mouth with fresh tomato taste. Pre-meal exercise for palate I guess! Soon after 2000 Cervaro della Sala and Kisler Chardonnay were poured into separate Montrachet glass for the first taste-off. 2000 Cervaro had a very distinct tropical fruit aroma and followed through to the palate clearly. Unlike most Californian Chardonnay, Kisler was rather reserve on the nose initially, but one could easily detect clear minerality in the wine. It reminded me of a well-made Burgundy White. Prawn salad was served to accompany these two white wines. Not often we see an Endive and Oak leaf salad in Asian restaurant but this well-made salad had a very different taste to usual salad. The specially mixed salad dressing matched well with the salad and the prawn was grilled to perfection and very tasty. Kistler Chardonnay then opened up with complex aroma of butter, nuts and mineral and fruits and people who had not finished up the glass by now enjoyed the evolution. It was not the first time I had Cervaro, but this wine matched better with Japanese styled seafood rather than the prawn salad. Kistler on the other hand was a better match with this dish.

After a small relaxing break two reds were served, 1997 Tignanello and 1997 Robert Mondavi Oakville. This distinctive Tuscan styled Tignanello had noticeable black fruit aroma but was less forthcoming than Robert Mondavi Oakville, which on the other hand also had concentrated black currant aroma but with more pronounced vanillin aroma. Pasta was then served with a nicely roasted quail leg on top to accompany these two wines. The pasta sauce was very rich and matched well with thick Ribbon Tagliatelle cooked al dente, The quail-leg was also very well prepared and tender. Personally I felt 1997 Tignanello was a better match with food than 1997 Robert Mondavi Oakville. The spicy taste of new oak might have overpowered the delicate taste of food and left bitter aftertaste in the month.

Then 1997 Montiano and 1997 Insignia came onto the table. Very "pronounced" in acidity, 1997 Montiano was fabulous. It had the aroma of plum and smoke and although to some people this wine was slightly too acidic but I found it to be totally irresistible. The deeply coloured 1997 Insignia was equally rich in aroma and tastes. As a non-beef eater I chose roasted Spring chicken instead as my main dish. The Roasted Spring Chicken was very tender and juicy yet the exterior was very crisp. Luxury as it may be, we had black truffle potato puree as our side dish. This unexpected twist elevated our joy for food by another notch!

Four remaining wines were then served on individual request. Slightly intoxicated, I could still remember vividly of their taste. Amongst all Viader was the most elegant one. Rich in black currant and mineral scent it certainly harmonized in the month and lingered on for a while. Ornellaia and Solaia on the hand were heavier on the palate and richer in taste, but by no means over expressive. Montelena was extremely rich in taste and aroma and very enjoyable on its own. All these wines have plenty of time to develop but they are now impressive already. Maybe some of them are too heavy to accompany food at this stage, but certainly more suitable to appreciate them on their own.

After a series of rich concentrated reds, it was the stage for dessert and "stickies" . This beautiful amber-coloured 1990 Clos haut Peryraguey was darker than I expected, but the aroma was very concentrated with honey and apricot yet it had the acidity to balance the sweetness in wine. The freshly cooked pear was very well prepared and the rum and vanilla syrup enhanced the taste and not overpowered it. It matched well with the Sauternes and brought our palate to life.

As was said earlier on most wines selected this dinner were rated very highly in 2000 and three year down the line they were as impressive as they were few years ago. If we were lucky to drink these wines again in ten years time I am sure they will be as impressive as now. In this taste off most reds were Cabernet or Merlot based reds, yet these wines were very distinctive in character and style.

It isn't often that we have the opportunity to taste so many great wines at once. And as one of the guest said in the dinner, this dinner was "Awesome". I agreed totally.
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