The 215th dinner of wine-dinners is held in the restaurant Michel Rostang. I came here a week ago to bring the dinner wines in order that they rest in the cellar of the restaurant and I met Nicolas Beaumann, the chef of the restaurant, to develop the menu.
At 4:45 pm I arrive in the restaurant to open the wines. Baptiste, sommelier who will soon replace Alain, the faithful and competent sommelier who is going to retire, will attend the opening of wines and do wine service tonight.
Classically there are problems with old corks that resolve in calm and serenity, but I had a great scare. By removing the capsule of Petrus 1967, I notice that the cork had dropped three centimeters, so that the bottom of the stopper reaches the shoulder, under the base of the neck. It is highly probable that by wanting to put the tip of the corkscrew into the cork, I will cause the stopper to fall into the wine, which will force me to decant the bottle, clean it to transfer the wine into the bottle when the cork would have been released.
It is a lesson of zenitude. I spin the tip of my long corkscrew slowly without wanting to break through and after a minute I feel a possible grip. I did not point down but towards the side and I can then push the tip into the cork without this one slipping down. The cork is reassembled whole, avoiding me of the transfers which would have racked the wine.
The most beautiful odors at the opening are those of the Pavie-Decesse 1945 which is the absolute definition of the perfume of a Saint-Emilion, Clos Sainte-Hune 1968 and La Tâche 1958 so Burgundy. All other fragrances are encouraging. I do not detect any problems or faults. So I can go for a walk in a Paris which is smiling as soon as there are beautiful rays of sun.
After the short walk I return to the restaurant to drink a craft beer made in Paris, called « la Parisienne liberée« , made of barley malt Vienna and hops Aramis and which heading 5 °. I ask the director if there is something to eat, and Chef Nicolas who hears my request makes me carry a slice of pie that is to damn and is so good and greedy.
The participants of the dinner, all punctual, are ten of which nine men and a woman who announces that she does not drink but in fact will taste all the wines. Only two or three of them had ever attended one of my dinners at the Guy Savoy restaurant.
We have for ourselves the small room which is close to the kitchen that we see through the wall of glass. We take the aperitif standing, with a Champagne Dom Pérignon 1998 which is solid, serious, classic and mat. It is more and more pleasant with the time that round it.
The menu created by Nicolas Beaumann is: Canapés and amuse-bouche / crab cake and caviar osciètre, consommé / Roasted Saint-pierre and small stewed chanterelles, juice of the edges in the wine of merlot / Heart of veal, veal juice, morels Stuffed and smoked potatoes / Cane «Mieral» with blood, red wine sauce bound with blood and foie gras / Stilton / Pineapple Victoria roasted and light mango foam, shortbread of Bretagne.
The Champagne Taittinger Collection Viera da Silva 1983 in a flashy blue opaque bottle marks a major qualitative leap over the previous champagne. The Dom Pérignon was young, this champagne more amber is mature. It is of extreme length and unimaginable complexity. It is gourmand and of a persistence aromatic particularly asserted. This expressive champagne conquers my guests who are astonished that a champagne of 34 years can have as many qualities. I did not retain the title of the amuse-bouche but it played its part, highlighting the delicious champagne.
The Clos Sainte-Hune Riesling Domaine Trimbach 1968 is a rarity. I thought I never drank it but actually I drank it once four years ago in Austria and the previous one was relatively tired. The latter had a very expressive perfume at the opening. He always has it and what is crazy is that this riesling gives me evocations of red fruits. It’s really crazy. We are no longer in the definition of riesling but the lively and sharp wine is very pleasant to drink, with a very strong personality difficult to define.
On the caviar cake I found that the caviar is not expressive enough, we have at the same time the Corton Charlemagne Domaine Bouchard Père et Fils 1956. This wine is superb. The table will be split in two between those who prefer the Sainte-Hune and those who prefer the Corton-Charlemagne. The initiator of the dinner is in the Alsatian camp and I am in the Burgundy camp. It seems to me that the combination is more on the rich burgundy whose route in the mouth spreads complexities by successive strata. It is very long, a little peppery and the agreement is mainly with the delicious consommé in gelée. That a Corton Charlemagne 1956 is of this lively presence is very surprising. The two racy and different white are both of great pleasure.
The Saint-pierre with small chanterelles is a dish of high quality which creates a chord of first size with the two bordeaux. The Château Pavie-Decesse Saint-Emilion 1945 has a color that surprises everyone, from blood of pigeon. The nose is incredibly deep, rich, and we feel the influence of the exceptional vintage. The wine is perfect, complete, rich in the mouth and the faces of all the guests express their astonishment. How can a 72 year old wine not have an age and a fullness so asserted?
The Pétrus 1967 is an aesthetic refinement. It carries within it the romanticism of his year. It is a great Petrus, in suggestion but also in depth. It is long and precise but my heart capsizes more for the Saint-Emilion than for the Pomerol. The agreement with the fish is relevant for both wines.
The veal at low temperature is ideal for both burgundies. The red Musigny Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé 1979 is a delicate wine. It is young, of a fruit suggested and noble like all the Musigny of this great house. But our loves will concentrate on the wine that is associated with the same dish.
The La Tâche Domaine de la Romanée Conti 1958 had a superb level in the bottle, two centimeters under the cork which is superb, tinted with black on only three millimeters which is insignificant. The nose of this wine is intoxicating and so Burgundy. In the mouth it is the ecstasy because this wine magnifies the aspects so characteristic of the wines of the Domaine, the rose and the salt. The wine is in a state of grace such that it will appear in the votes of all the participants, and seven times in the first place. The agreement with the calf is refined because the dish has the intelligence to behave as a home-made to let the wine shine.
The room manager will prepare for us and serve the duck to the blood (canard au sang), institution of the house. We all get up to see how he presses the carcass to make the sauce and how he slashes the aiguillettes with rare dexterity. The dish is heavy as lead but tasty and the Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée des Célestins Henri Bonneau 1988 is doing very well because it is not crushed by the dish, even if the dish is the dominant male. It is a very beautiful Châteauneuf made by an exceptional winegrower whose memory I revere. But the wine is young in spite of its almost thirty years and retains less our attention.
The Château Caillou Barsac 1934 is of a pretty light color. I love this spontaneous, frank, chewy and cheerful wine. It accompanies the stilton gracefully. Strangely enough I will be the only one to put it among my four favorites.
The Château d’Yquem Sauternes 1916 comes from a bottle that was reconditioned in 1989 in the castle. At the opening, when I smelt the wine, I figured there should not be 100% of 1916 in this bottle. At the time of the tasting on the pineapple dessert, I find that this Yquem has every chance of being of 1916, but with probably a small addition of a young Yquem to make the level. It is nice, little botrytised, which is consistent with a 1916 who would have eaten some of its sugar. It is a pleasant sauternes but it does not have the magic of Yquem as had Yquem 1919 that three guests had tasted during a previous meal.
It is time to vote. We are eleven to vote for the four wines that we preferred among the eleven wines served. As is often the case, the youngest wines have no votes. Nine wines received votes and the Dom Pérignon and the Châteauneuf-du-Pape did not because of their youth. There are only three wines that have been named first, as La Tâche captured the win, with seven first-place votes. La Tâche is included in the eleven votes. The Pavie Decesse and the Petrus each had two first votes.
The vote of the consensus would be: 1 – La Tâche Domaine de la Romanée Conti 1958, 2 – Chateau Pavie-Decesse Saint-Emilion 1945, 3 – Corton Charlemagne Domaine Bouchard Père et Fils 1956, 4 – Pétrus 1967, 5 – Château d’Yquem Sauternes 1916, 6 – Champagne Taittinger Collection Viera da Silva 1983.
My vote is: 1 – La Tâche Domaine de la Romanée Conti 1958, 2 – Chateau Pavie-Decesse Saint-Emilion 1945, 3 – Corton Charlemagne Domaine Bouchard Père et Fils 1956, 4 – Chateau Caillou Barsac 1934.
I had in my musette a Bas Armagnac Domaine Boingnères 1970 bottled in 1989, very expressive and deep alcohol which allowed us to continue to converse together. The food was of a very high standard. The most brilliant dishes to highlight the wines are the saint-pierre for Bordeaux and the calf for the burgundies. I found the caviar too discreet on the cake while the consommé is magic for the whites. And the dessert with the pineapple lacked a little pineapple and especially of chew, because it is a dessert that is nibbled more than is eaten. The service of wine by Baptiste was impeccable. Perfect table service and successful dishes. The atmosphere of the restaurant is friendly and attentive. Everything contributed to make this 215th dinner a warm dinner of great wines.
(the pictures can be seen on the article in French)