TNs: Another Meal with Bob Hughes

Notes from another meal with Bob (and friends) at Talula’s Kitchen Table:

NV Chartogne-Taillet Heurtebise
Pears, apples, soft yellow fruit, mild spice, hints of brioche, vibrant, bright, persistent, fine mousse. Another excellent showing. My current favorite go-to bubbles.

1999 Trimbach Cuvee Frederic Emile Riesling
The lightest colored of the three Rieslings served in a flight. Mild petrol, umami nose with traces of reduction that quickly disappeared. Medium weight with appealing mineral driven acidity (bone dry) and fine balance. This has a few years to go. Charming subtlety.

2001 Trimbach Cuvee Frederic Emile Riesling
Mild petrol again, just beneath my low threshold. Appreciably more gold in color than the 1999. There’s similar minerality combined with a bit more integrated peach and mild spice. There’s more depth, intensity and length…almost a bit loud comparatively. Fine showing.

2001 JJ Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spatlese Riesling
Slightly reduced to start, again with mild low level petrol. Pleasingly mild sweetness offset effortlessly by appealing acidity. A blend of integrated white/yellow peaches. More minerals. Lots of charm with a long finish. No rush to open.

The Champagne and Riesling worked extremely well with some initial nibbles and the first two courses. Cod with cabbage was a natural fit. If it wasn’t for my petrol aversion, I’d buy lots more Riesling…which overperform in their food versatility

2007 Hospices de Beaune Bouchard Volnay Santenots Gauvain
Light, supple and surprisingly red fruit driven. Nicely floral with traces of smoked meat. Clean, good acidity and a bit simple at this point. Good length. It needs 5+ more years.

1998 Rene Rostaing Cote Rotie La Landonne
Smoky bacon fat, very mild herbs with super tight dark fruit. Decanting couldn’t open it up in time for the meal. Maybe if decanted the day before? 2 days? Very pleasing aromatics but structurally, the massive potential wasn’t ready to budge. Excellent acidity, medium-full body and muscle flexing tannins. Dense, rich and concentrated without being heavy. Maybe a trace of warmth at the back. Needs atleast 5 - 10 years before a revisit.

2001 Produttori Rabaja Barbaresco
The Rostaing was tight. Make it 2 for 2. Appealing cherry fruit that quickly goes secondary with classic tar and roses…excellent acidity, but the show ends early as the tannins bring down the curtain. 10 more years please. Again, excellent potential. This is going to be a winner, with enough patience.

1990 Clerico Ciabot Mentin Ginestra Barolo
Bob Hughes delivered on his threat to broaden my experiences with Modernist Baroli (Barolos, whatever). This wine is all about the interplay of the oak and fruit. The wood signature is everywhere but never offensive. No vanilla or new oak nonsense, aged wood that’s completely incorporated within the aged red/dark fruit. Good acidity and smooth throughout. I can see the appeal, but really wish it was more about the fruit, with tannins softened instead of painted over. It pushes the boundary of how much wood (fortunately aged and not overtly new) the fruit can withstand. It carries it off better than expected. Bob, can we skip the rest of the Modernists?

NV Artur de Barros & Sousa, Vinho Da Madeira Canteiro Dolce Extra Reserva
Wow. Rich dark caramel and molasses with tremendous depth and a wonderful balance of sweetness and acidity. Somehow fresh and aged simultaneously. Impressive length. From one of the Hughes’ trips to Madeira. Blended from wines of unknown age, possibly as old as the 1930s. This was delicious and received votes all around for WOTN, full well realizing the dessert wine ban. Terrific treat. 18% abv and carrying it off with amazing charm.

Talula’s totally stepped it up for this meal. Some of the best courses to date.


Yeah, I’ve said it before, but Talula’s (and specifically the Chef’s Table) has become my favorite BYOB for wine dinners. The table itself fits up to 8 comfortably, and because it’s square as opposed to rectangular, conversation is naturally enhanced (although folks dining with me might not consider enhanced conversation a benefit [stirthepothal.gif] ).

On this visit, I think the kitchen really outdid itself - that cold smoked foie gras was incredible, as was the butternut squash & ricotta ravioli with veal cheek ragu.

Re: the wines, I’m not sure I can add much to Rich’s stellar notes - we poured the three riesling side-by-side for the first two courses, and just comparing them was cool. I really liked the '01 Prum, but all three wines had their merits.

The reds were all too young, the Burg being the most accessible of the group. Rich is an oak-a-phobe of the highest order, so I brought the Clerico specifically for him. I think his note is pretty spot on - '90 was a rich, warm vintage that provided the winemakers with some excellent raw materials, and while the oak has in fact integrated, the fact that you even notice it at all after 20+ years is indicative of a heavy hand in that regard. My back-up was a '90 Altare Arborina, and I think I will check that out in the near future as well just to see where it is at. Interestingly enough, I opened a '90 CMG a few months back, and it didn’t show the oak as much, so maybe some bottle variation here as well.

I really liked the potential of the '98 Rostaing as well - very tight, but a lot of upside in 5-10 more years, IMO. I have a couple bottles of the '01 in the cellar, but after this showing, no need to go near a bottle for a while.

Bob, sometimes Talula’s really dials in that prix-fixe menu over the course of several weeks. When it’s on, it’s seriously on. Lara has really stepped up too on the server/hostess side…wheeling around the table with 3 bottles at a time, pouring out flights and getting all the glasses and wines right for each diner…while discussing the next wine flight and keeping an eye on a dozen small details. I still laugh at her comment after complementing her on her skill: “This isn’t my first rodeo”.

Was the Clerico some sort of oak desensitization strategy? Nice enough for what it is. Can I sign up for a different program?

Hope you have more of that Madeira. Scrumptious.


Sounds like a great night of wine and food. Would have loved to have tried that Rostaing and Madeira. Rich I agree with you about petrol and riesling, though I have started dipping my toes in the water. Thanks for posting your notes guys.

Unfortunately, Artur de Barros & Sousa has just been bought out. The two brothers running the company are in their 70’s with no heirs. Fortunately they were bought out by D’Oliverias.

That doesn’t surprise me, Eric - I have a picture of myself with the older brother holding a glass of Madeira from my last trip to the island a few years back, and I would have guessed him to be in his 70’s then.

Right next door, so a pretty “convenient” acquisition for D’Olvieiras. I think Barros was the last bottler doing a Bastardo, which always appealed to me from the scarcity factor perspective. I still have one or two left from an earlier trip.

Terrantez is making a comeback on the Island, and some are even starting to plant Bastardo again. Hopefully in a few years we’ll see it again.

A coda…found the last glass of the 1999 Trimbach F-E in the back of the fridge last night almost three weeks after this dinner with the cork simply stuffed back in. Delicious and better than the night of the dinner. These babies go for a long time so be patient out there!