The 208th wine-dinners dinner is held at 67 Pall Mall Club in London. I arrive at the club at 4 pm to open the bottles in the room which will serve for this meal. The corks show less resistance than at the 207th dinner and if the perfume of Clos Vougeot 1967 is not very precise, I do not feel any real fear. The scents of the Fargues 1967 are of extreme generosity and those of the Doisy 1921 are of extraordinary nobility. Everything seems to present itself under pleasant auspices so I have time to chat with members of the club that I know.
Julian who will participate in dinner tonight offers me to share a glass of Chateau Lynch-Bages 1985 which is in a beautiful phase of serenity and accomplishment. Alexander with whom I had lunch last Saturday around two Moët, a 1911 and a 1971, offers me a glass of Champagne Perrier Jouët Belle Epoque 2007 still very young to be truly appreciated. In this club everyone discusses with everyone by exchanging wines.
Unlike the previous dinner there will only be men. We are eleven, two of whom I had met here three days ago. The participation is essentially British, a Finn attending his second consecutive dinner and a Texan American coming for the first time. Four guests have already attended one or more dinners and six are new.
We take the aperitif standing with a Champagne Perrier Jouët Réserve Cuvée rosé 1961. It has almost no bubble but the sparkling is intact. Its color is beautiful, discreetly amber with fine gold more than pink. It is a champagne of strong personality, intense, rich and percussive. It is necessary to become familiar with the champagnes evolved but the guests, all lovers of wines, lend themselves willingly. I am very favorably impressed by this beautiful champagne of a great year.
The menu, designed in collaboration with chef Marcus Verberne, is: quail eggs / champagne and truffle risotto / wild mushroom tarts / poached lobster in a vol-au-vent, lobster bisque / roast fillet of Galician beef, mashed apple, cassis brown sugar, lemon juice / stilton / crème brûlée almond, caramelised pink grapefruit / orange cake with pistachios.
The service of the dishes was particularly slow at the beginning with no-show difficult to understand (I was told the next day that there was a dinner of 60 people in another room) and it was when we enjoyed three burgundies associated with the superb meat of Galicia that we were served too quickly the stilton and the Fargues, which upset me.
The Champagne Mumm Cuvée René Lalou 1973 presents itself in a bottle that I continue to find so beautiful. The champagne is in major contrast with the previous one. He is romantic, aerial and fluid while Perrier Jouët is powerful and assertive. It has chalky oyster shell accents. The Mumm will be disadvantaged by too salty risotto. This undoubtedly explains why this wine is one of the two wines of the meal without any vote.
On the wonderful mushroom tart, we have two white wines from two very different regions. The Château Haut Brion white 1996 is young, powerful, conquering, with a trace in the mouth very heavy. He is noble but suffers from the association with the Burgundy.
Beside him, the Bâtard Montrachet Domaine Ramonet 1992 has an absolutely enchanting fragrance, beautifully enhanced by a Zalto glass that expresses the perfume of wine in an ideal way. At the club bar, before lunch, I had a drink with the representative for the United Kingdom of these glasses that equip the club, which are of an incredible lightness and a great help for the wines. The Bâtard is a marvel, absolute white wine in a great year. Its nose smells oil like a wine of the year and it is opulent, fat, buttered. Happiness. I should have asked for a specific dish for Haut-Brion which suffers from the comparison with Burgundy, and a less suitable glass. The Ramonet transports me and moves me because it is in a state of absolute perfection, especially by its perfume. The agreement with the mushrooms is perhaps the biggest of the meal.
The lobster dish is a marvel. He will agree with the two Bordeaux in a miraculous way. Like two skaters on an ice track, the two wines will play who will be first, one passing the other, then the next. The Château Margaux 1959 has the feminine character of a Margaux. It is all in grace. Beside him, the Château Lagaffelière Naudes 1929 is more warrior, more in the truffle. The colors of the two wines, very black, are almost identical. Everyone is amazed that the 87-year-old wine is so alive. The Margaux 1959 is not the biggest of those I have drunk in spite of fulgurances of grandeur. After the chase-cross of preferences my heart or my reason will put me in the camp of Saint-Emilion obviously richer and impressive.
In my dinners there are often bottles of security, in case… For this dinner I decided to include them also the meat dish will be accompanied by three burgundies. The first two will be served together and the third one staggered. The Clos Vougeot Charles Noellat 1967 had at the opening a perfume much more sympathetic than that of the same wine its younger, the Clos Vougeot Charles Noellat 1969. Both wines have tastes very close, a great subtlety and a velvet pleasant. One feels the talent of the great winemaker Charles Noellat. These two wines are moving and subtle and I have a preference for 1967.
Everybody is silent, the time stops when the Chambertin Edouard Jantot 1961 is served. He takes us by surprise. We were expecting a third burgundy and here we are facing a divine apparition. This wine has everything for him. A mesmerizing attack, an incredible presence, a gustatory richness, a plenitude that are spectacular. I feel really taken by surprise because I was expecting a good wine but not a spectacular wine. This wine will have seven first votes which is extremely rare. He transports us.
So I am furious when Caroline, our very nice sommelier, asks me to taste the Château de Fargues 1967 before serving it to the other guests. I am delighted with an exceptional burgundy and I am asked to accelerate while at the beginning of the meal we find the service of an extreme slowness. Very kindly Caroline let us enjoy the chambertin as it suited.
My British guests have difficulty understanding that a Frenchman can consider an English cheese as the best partner of a sauternes. It is true that for me the stilton is by far the ideal companion of a sauternes. The Château de Fargues 1967 is of a glorious gold. Its perfume is a promise of lust. He is rich, full of joy, and the agreement is superb.
At the opening I had been struck by the nobility of the perfume of Château Doisy Barsac 1921. It is served now and the feeling I have is that which appears when I am in front of a totally perfect wine. It is impossible to imagine that this wine could be anything other than the ultimate perfection. And I am physically bewitched by this wine to the point that I lock myself in my bubble to enjoy each drop of this incredible nectar. Its color is very dark, it evokes delicate orange zest, and it envelops me. We will only be three to vote for this miraculous perfection and it is a shame, because we had the chance to meet a perfect wine, to meet perfection.
I added at the end of the meal a Champagne Dom Pérignon 1973 which finds its place to bring us back into the world of humans. This 1973 is very percussive, combining romanticism and personality. It is a Dom Pérignon of very high class who finds in this end of meal an ideal place. And I love the original disgorgements of this wonderful champagne.
There are obviously three wines that stand out, the Bâtard, the Chambertin and the Doisy, but the votes will, as often, be very different. We are eleven to vote for the 4 wines that we prefer. Ten wines out of twelve of the meal will have votes which is a very good score for all the wines, the only ones without vote being the Mumm 1973 because often the wines of the beginning are forgotten and the Clos Vougeot 1969 to which the 1967 was preferred.
Unlike other meals the wine vote preferred by the diners is very concentrated between only three wines, the Chambertin 1961 named seven times first which is rare, the Doisy 1921 three times and the Perrier Jouët 1961 once.
The compilation of the votes gives: 1 – Chambertin Edouard Jantot 1961, 2 – Château Doisy Barsac 1921, 3 – Bâtard Montrachet Domaine Ramonet 1992, 4 – Champagne Perrier Jouët 1961, 5 – Château Lagaffelière Naudes 1929, 6 – Château Haut Brion blanc 1996.
My vote is: 1 – Château Doisy Barsac 1921, 2 – Chambertin Edouard Jantot 1961, 3 – Bâtard Montrachet Domaine Ramonet 1992, 4 – Chateau Lagaffelière Naudes 1929.
The cuisine was once again delicious with two dishes that created exceptional combinations, the mushroom tart with the Bâtard Montrachet and the lobster with the two Bordeaux. As for the previous dinner, the desserts would gain to be more accurate. The service is attentive and motivated. Some details are still to be worked out. Everything will make me want to recreate such dinners in this friendly club.
(pictures of this dinner can be seen on the same article in French version) (see just above)