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A light lunch with Harry Gill


Once a year to banish the February blues a dozen of us are blessed with a superlative invite to join Harry and Ivana at the Arches Wine Bar in Fairhazel Gardens, NW6, and yesterday was it. The brief is to bring a good bottle or two all of which are served “blind” alongside some treasures from Harry’s cellar. With all the negativity out there I was looking forward to it even more than ever and it excelled.

Pol Roger White Foil to excite the palate, then below stairs around 2.30 to begin the serious business of lunch. A brace of Dr Loosen’s exceptional Rieslings, Erdener Pralat Auslese 2002, lime fresh and perfect, then his Sonnehuhr Spatlese 1993 which was correctly guessed by Lyndon, v impressive!

Puligny 1er Cru Perrieres, Carillon 1996 showing v well, good acidity, and time ahead, a great compliment to the scallops. A quick slug of Corton Charlemagne Bonneau du Martray 2003 and time for the reds.

Richebourg DRC 1994 opened the batting and set the pace, some browning, sweet pinot nose lightish but good. NSG 1er Cru Boudots Mongeard Mugneret 1995 which I thought was Central Otago Pinot – oops, then into Corton Bonneau du Martray 2001 which I have never drunk before, not bad. Charmes Chambertin Dujac 1989 – delicious right up my street, sweet black fruit, lovely balance, thanks Sam.

Crozes Jaboulet 1990 then into Dominus 1994, a 99 Parker pointer, smoky rich plum, nice texture.

Trotanoy 1971 was bloody good, silky tannins just beginning to need drinking up I thought, but almost correctly nailed. Giscours 1970 then Grand Puy Lacoste 1964 the year of my birth, very fresh just like me, bright colour nice concentration and had great level into the neck.

Perfectly cooked beef with plenty of potatoes introduced the next treat, Gruaud Larose 1945 some cedar but lovely colour and no sign of its 64 years. Pichon Baron 1989 some stoniness, roasted meat on nose. Mouton 1953 totally shagged sadly, orange in colour and fruit long gone, Clos Rene 1998 v good.

Then my favourite of the day, Ch Margaux 1982 tasting like a baby, rich, plush, hugely concentrated and with 30+ years ahead easy. Would love to fill my cellar with this wine ! Next Ch Clinet 1990, animal, meaty and v good. Gruaud Larose 1997 tasting v impressive, drinking now. Lynch Bages 1989 graphite, sweetness lovely length really fine, nailed that one.

A little CNDP Dom Julienne 2004, never had before v rich prune plenty of glycerol. Hard to tell what time it was but bread and butter pudding appeared when most people would have been starting supper!

Two Yquems, 1990 and 1960, the latter browny orange but still plenty of mandarin fruit. To finish a glass of 1945 Quinta da Noval, v dark orange, smelt of marmalade but lovely sweetness on palate. Then it was time to head home.

Harry you are a legend !