Mark's Duck House, Arlington, VA - Dim Sum with Burgundy Producers

Among the white wines there were no real surprises. It was another great showing for Kistler's 1998 Chardonnay Cuvée Cathleen, a powerful, yet concentrated, structured, super-intense offering with abundant quantities of ripe fruit. Once again Monsieur Thevenet proves what great Mâconnais wines he makes in a non-oaked, traditional style revealing ripe fruit with a touch of botrytis. The 1997 Domaine Bongran is a juicy offering with enough minerality to add complexity. The sleeper of this tasting was the 1990 Burn Gewurztraminer Clos St.-Imer. I prefer to drink most Gewurztraminers within their first decade of life, but this wine is still going strong. It was a perfect match with the exquisite Dim Sum dumplings at Mark's Duck House.

From my perspective, 1999 is the best red Burgundy vintage since 1990. They possess gorgeous fruit, good acidity, and vivid Pinot aromatics, all of which were evident in the mini-series of the 1999s listed above. They are all brilliant wines. The Dugat 1999 Charmes-Chambertin may eventually be a perfect wine. Neither the 1999 nor 1992 Beaux Frères were embarrassed by these wines, but I can't comment any further. The full-bodied, rich, complex 1996 Marcassin Pinot Noir was also outstanding. Most of us were perplexed by the 1996 Kistler Pinot Noir Cuvée Catherine from the Sonoma Coast. It was the most extracted and richest of these Pinots, but was significantly backward and tannic. I am optimistic that it will come around, but it is another beast, even beside some of the big boys from the New World. One of the finest Pinots being produced in California (also from the Sonoma Coast) is Martinelli's Blue Slide. The exquisite 1999 Blue Slide possesses a Richebourg-like perfume of black raspberries infused with flowers. Opulent and layered, it should be drunk during its first decade of life. The fully mature 1996 Martinelli Pinot Noir Reserve is similar to a Pommard premier cru. It offers notes of ripe apple skin, spice, and black cherries in a full-bodied, earthy, chewy style.

We finished with three spectacular Barolos, the two 1997s and 1998 Monfortino. I was surprised by how well the 1997s were performing, and I'm always amazed by how well these wines work with Chinese cuisine. Is it the soy sauce, x.o. sauce, or something else that makes Nebbiolo blend so nicely with Chinese food, even though almost everything we had was seafood? The contrast in styles between the barrique aged Corino and Parusso, and the traditional Monfortino seemed less noticeable since the Nebbiolo fruit character came through on all three wines.

Another glorious lunch at Mark's Duck House, which serves up the country's greatest Dim Sum dumplings, particularly lobster, scallop, and shrimp.

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