The 223rd wine-dinners dinner is held at the restaurant Le Laurent. It was decided in record time, a faithful of my dinners telling me that a Boston American wanted to celebrate with his associates and his councils the realization of a contract which I did not ask me say more. The wines were delivered a week ago.
When I arrive at 5 pm to open the wines, Ghislain, the sommelier-chef of the restaurant, has already arranged the bottles of dinner on a table in the order of service so that I can take the traditional photo. I really appreciate this initiative. On a nearby table everything I could need is in place. I open the bottles in the order of service and I do not have the memory of having opened so many bottles without one of them causing me problems of unfriendly odors. Today all perfumes are perfect. Will they hold, we’ll see. The Pomerol Caillou 1953 has a divine perfume of Pomerol, much richer than that of the Pétrus 1966. I swoon feeling the odor message of the Domaine Echézeaux Romanée Conti 1981 which is so characteristic of the Domaine. The 1961 Yquem seems much drier than the more botrytised Climens 1943. Now comes the opening of the last wine, not registered in the program, which I added as a gift. It is a Rota 1858, only mentions on the label written by hand. There is very little information on the web about this Andalusian wine and as the glass is opaque I do not know what type of wine it is, red, white or sweet. The cork is very strongly glued to the glass and crumbles easily. I have to curette at the beginning to be able to lift the perfect cork. I make Ghislain smell and ahead of me he says that this nose is the same as that of my 1845 Cyprus wines. These fragrances are those of a perfume, haunting, bewitching, made of pepper, licorice, spices, zest of infinite richness. And I cannot help feeling immense joy. In the cave of Ali Baba that I acquired, the Rota 1858 were unknown as were unknown bottles without labels. Knowing that this Rota 1858 is at the level of wine dearest to my heart, Cyprus 1845, can only make me happy.
We are thirteen, including three women. As the organizer of this dinner is American, the dinner is held in English, too, as almost all the guests are unknown to me and speak English, I do not know what is the proportion of Americans and French. I suppose it’s half and half.
In the entrance lounge which has the shape of a rotunda we drink the Champagne Salon Magnum 1997 on beautiful cheese gougères. This champagne is at once the ideal son-in-law, because he is insolent of charm, like George Clooney at the age of twenty, and at the same time Macronian in the sense of « and at the same time », because it combines ease of reading and complexity and it combines a vinous character with a great romanticism. He has everything for him and is at more than twenty years old in a moment of fullness.
We sit down to table. The menu prepared by Alain Pégouret is: Sea spider in its jelly juices, cream of fennel / Morels and peas wracked, juices barely creamed, garlic of the bears (ail des ours) / Piece of beef served in aiguillettes, puffed apples / Lamb of milk (agneau de lait) marinated herbs cooked in field dress, crispy of safflings and artichokes, fondue of heart of romaine / sweetbreads, black olives / Stilton / Marvelous with mango / Palm trees « Laurent ».
Champagne Ruinart Père & Fils 1955 is the only wine I tasted before the meal because pouring a glass is against the integrity of the method of slow oxygenation, which is all the more effective when we no longer touch the bottle that has just been opened. The champagne had conquered me but I had measured how much this champagne can be difficult to understand for those who are not used to old champagnes. To my surprise, all the guests enjoyed this bubble-free champagne but sparkling well present, with autumn tastes but sunny. Very rich and long in the mouth it is softened by the spider crab and shows a confusing charm. It is a very beautiful champagne generous, precise and chiselled.
Morels accompany two wines. Château Laville Haut-Brion Graves 1982 is an irresistibly young light yellow, and it is a characteristic of this wine at all ages. It is complex, playing on its ideal acidity and a beautiful character of Graves and what strikes is its full width. He is a triumphant warrior. Beside him the Kebir-Rosé Etablissements Frédéric Lung Alger # 1947 in the color of a pink tea is unknown to all but two guests who have already participated in one of my dinners at George V where I had served it. It is surprising because we have no reference. Ghislain at the opening had felt the datte in his perfume. I also feel sketches of coffee and it seems to me more in a line of white wine than rosé wine. It could be a rich and noble white Rhône. Everyone is captivated by this wine. The harmony of morels is also interesting with each wine. The Laville widens and the Kebir becomes deeper.
On the piece of beef with heavy sauce there are three bordeaux of the right bank. The Chateau Ausone 1964 is exceptional of refinement. I waited for a solid Ausone and I drink a noble and gallant Ausone, an Aramis, an Alfred de Vigny. It is a very big refined Ausone. Château Le Caillou Pomerol 1953 is the absolute definition of perfect Pomerol, even more than its more capped neighbor. He is rich, exudes the truffle, and shows an unsuspected energy. The 1966 Petrus is all about subtlety. Much less triumphant than the Caillou, he is like the Japanese calligrapher who will only be understood by initiates. His message is subtle, balanced, refined and apparently the whole table understands it. Caillou reacts well on the heavy sauce.
The Echézeaux Domaine de la Romanée Conti 1981 has the characteristics I like, the rose and salt. I love it because it is all in suggestion. It is not a powerful wine, it is a wine that suggests notes of great intelligence. Beside him, on the suckling lamb, Château Corton Grancey Louis Latour 1964 is of an incredible serenity. It’s the perfect Burgundy wine. I drank several times this 1964 and I never met him as fulfilled and balanced. The votes will devote his brilliant performance. I ate the meat on the Corton and the salad of a beautiful bitterness on the Echézeaux because this Roman salad has exacerbated the bitterness of the 1981 in an alliance of total beauty.
The Hermitage La Chapelle Paul Jaboulet Aîné 1962 is an absolute balance. It is fine, refined, very Burgundian without giving up its Rhone origins. I’m in love with this wine so easy to read, like the 1997 Salon, but revealing beautiful complexities. The agreement with sweetbreads is divine.
The two sauternes will be served on two courses, stilton first and then mango dessert. The Château d’Yquem 1961 is noble and ate some of its sugar. He thus plays on his finesse and the saline stilton showcases it much more than the Château Climens Haut-Barsac 1943 with the golden mahogany robe and the blooming botrytis. While intrinsically the Climens is wider and more joyful than the Yquem it is the latter who will collect votes while the Climens will be unfairly forgotten.
Now comes in her beautiful opaque bottle with very deep bottom Rota Spanish wine 1858. The color is complex with very dark tones but also light yellow tones as a mixture unreal. The nose is incredibly invasive and in the mouth it is melted lead of happiness. There is an intense pepper, licorice, orange zest suggested. Many spices are added but it is especially its aromatic persistence which is infinite. It is a cousin of taste with Cyprus 1845, absolutely divine wine.
It is time to vote and it is difficult because I think that with so much perfection if I redo my vote in one hour I could vote differently. We vote for our five favorites. Out of 13 wines, 12 had at least one vote. Six wines had the honor of being named first. The Hermitage La Chapelle had 4 votes of first, the Corton Grancey 3 votes of first, the Echézeaux and the Rota 1858 had 2 votes of first, the Laville and the Pétrus had one vote of first.
The ranking of the consensus would be: 1 – Château Corton Grancey Louis Latour 1964, 2 – Echézeaux Domaine of Romanée Conti 1981, 3 – Hermitage La Chapelle Paul Jaboulet Senior 1962, 4 – Château d’Yquem 1961, 5 – Pétrus 1966, 6 – Château Laville Haut-Brion Graves 1982.
My classification is: 1 – Rota wine from Spain 1858, 2 – Château Corton Grancey Louis Latour 1964, 3 – Château Laville Haut-Brion Graves 1982, 4 – Echézeaux Domaine de la Romanée Conti 1981, 5 – Château Ausone 1964.
When I asked the guests what was the agreement that excited them most, what was my joy to see that all the dishes were cited as being the best food and wine pairing for at least one of them. My best would be sweetbread with 1962 La Chapelle. Congratulations to chef Alain Pégouret for creating so legible dishes that they have stuck to wines. The service was perfect, Aurélien who did the service of the wines was very attentive and succeeded perfectly. Were we in a flower day or a fruit day or another day for all the wines to be presented in the most accomplished form they could have, I do not know, but this dinner was a complete success.
(pictures are on the article in French, see below)