Our tasting group now has a new annual event, the Christmas BYO dinner. Last year it was Bistro l'Entrepont and the year before it was Les Infidèles, so when La Colombe (wisely) rejected us, Yoyo happily took us in. The only theme this year was NOT EXTREME - bring anything you want, but not the stupid-priced stuff we had last year.
Yoyo was an incredible BYO so I will start with the food. Serving up a diverse menu of French comfort food, the menu had unusual creations and well-loved classics, with the most diverse set of appys and entrees I have yet seen at a Montreal BYO. Slightly larger than the city's other BYOs, it was probably a bit less romantic, but more appropriate for our large-ish group. The only criticisms I can think of are that it was a bit out of the way and the freakish heating system rapidly alternated between Havana and Baffin Island, but that's nitpicking.
I took advantage of the unusual menu to try some things you don't get every day - a blood sausage appetizer and a "sweetbread" stuffed with sweet goat cheese for the main course. Both were impeccably prepared, and tasty enough to convert the vast majority of you who just vomited under their computer desks.
Of course there was wine involved. Enjoyed, but not intensely scrutinized, here are some notes:
2001 Chateau Lagrezette Cuvee Dame Honneur: My contribution had beautiful violet aromas were framed by leather. tobacco, earthy wet stones, pencil shaving, minerals and and copious dark fruit - very intriguing, and the favourite of a few diners. A bruiser on the palate, with tough tannins and a bit hot, but with nice leathery fruit. A wine to sip and ponder, it only started to open up late in the eveing. Needs time. cork, 15% alcohol
2002 d'Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz: Pramod's Dead Arm showed big jammy cherries and fresh wild berries, later some mint, pepper and flinty notes, it continued to evolve right up to the last drop. Despite its youth it tasted more delicate, yet powerful at the same time. Very tannic, but with juicy fresh fruit and good acidity. It softened over the evening, but I just don't think this is ready yet. Sock it away. cork. 14.5% alcohol
2003 d'Arenberg Ironstone Pressings: I generally think of d'Arenberg as more old world style than other Aussie makers, but it is really specific bottlings that seem that way - the Ironstone Pressings is one of them. Cam's wine was Rhone-like: meaty, earthy and cedary up front, with some vegetal, black cherry, and a touch minty. Velvety tannins, I found it more interesting than The Dead Arm, but perhaps a big more rough around the edges on the palate. Fine now, but should improve over time. Probably the wallflower of the evening - nobody's favourite, but enjoyable for all. cork. 15% alcohol
2000 Marchesi di Gresy Martinenga Barbaresco: A beautiful nose of berries, licorice and undergrowth, and even more amazing on the palate - crisp strawberry fruit, silky tannins and very nice length - this was the most elegant and drinkable of the evening, and probably tied with the Burgundy below for the crowd favourite. cork. 13.5% alcohol
2004 Ghislaine Barthod Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Cras: Peanuts? Yes, peanuts on the nose - almost peanut butter - never had that before. Also, truffles, tea and cocoa, pepper, cedar, rose, and minerals. Smooth and elegant, light to medium bodied, with dusty tannin and a short finish, but very well balanced and drinking well today. Overall it started odd, but flowered throughout the evening (and everyone noticed). Drinking well now. cork. 13% alcohol
This was a very diverse set of wines and all were excellent. Hard to call a favourite, but I think the Burgundy and the Barbaresco both crowd favourites (interesting that these were the subtle, lowest alcohol, wines). I liked the Burgundy with my blood sausage, while the Barbaresco (my favourite of the evening) paired best with my sweetbread.
When in Montreal you definitely need to check out Yoyo with a Gresy Barbaresco - highly recommended.