The genesis of this dinner is quite original. The day a dinner was held at the Hotel de Crillon, I received an email proposing me to buy a Richebourg Domaine de la Romanée Conti Vigne Original French not reconstituted 1942. I already drank these prephylloxeric Richebourgs with exceptional qualities on the vintages 1930, 1935 and 1943 and perhaps others for which I might not have paid attention to this specificity marked on the label. The proposed price takes into account the rarity of this wine.
The atmosphere of the dinner being particularly friendly, I propose to my guests that we buy together this wine. I would then embroider the program of a dinner around this wine. Eight of the eleven guests agree to be co-owners. I build a wine list by choosing a theme to accompany the wine of 1942, which will be: the five great whites of Curnonsky, the « prince of gastronomes ». The idea pleases my guests, and we will meet this evening at the restaurant Pages.
By construction, there should be no newbies in this meal but the wife of a guest gave her seat to her young son who is a great lover of wine. As he understands quickly, the instructions on board will be given very quickly.
When I bought the Richebourg, I received photos on the e-mail. When my supplier delivered the bottle, the pale pink color slightly purplish would have led me not to buy it but there, I had no choice, I could not withdraw because dinner was already on track. So I planned safely another Richebourg 1942 from my cellar, but not from prephylloxeric vines. History will show that I did not need it.
At 16:30 I go to the restaurant Pages to open the wines. Curiously, almost all white wines have black dusts exuding on the top of the cork. Is it chance or weather-related, I do not know. The cork of the Coulée de Serrant 1976 is magnificent. Other plugs break but do not pose any particular problem. The Coulée de Serrant has a frank and engaging fragrance. That of Château Grillet 1982 is nonexistent, as the wine seems closed. That of Montrachet 1992 is brilliant. The uncertainty could be that of the two wines of 1942. Which perfumes will they offer? The nose of Château Margaux 1942 I like a lot. The wine is likely to be brilliant. The perfume of Richebourg 1942 is promising. Phew! It is very characteristic of the estate’s wines, with a small salty background.
My fears no longer exist because the Château Chalon 1976 is triumphant. The perfume of 1941 Yquem is by far the most beautiful, glorious as the gold of her dress. Lumi knows I like having a beer after the opening session, especially when, as tonight, the opening suggests that there will be no problem. The beer arrives without my asking. It’s high class.
Matthew the excellent sommelier opens the champagnes an hour before the arrival of the guests. They are all on time, it’s a dream. We are eight, including two women.
The aperitif is taken with the Champagne Pierre Péters Réserve Oubliée Blanc de Blancs without year. I do not remember very well the vintages that make up this champagne but I think there are some of them aged up to 1937. Champagne shows that it has some old champagnes in it but it is still a young maturity. Of the three amuse-bouches only one makes it vibrate, the one which contains eggs of salmon with the strong taste which excites the Peters. The others are too neutral for the champagne to be of a certain laziness.
The menu created for this dinner by Chef Teshi and Ken and Yuki and the team: Appetizers / Saffron Risotto with Cockles and Parsley / Caramelized Cod, « umami » sauce with Haddock Broth / Carré de Veau du Perche, Sauce with creamed champagne, glazed turnips / Vendée pigeon, salmis sauce, parsnip / Poached foie gras / Stuffed morels with duck leg confit, beef jus / Comté 15 months / White vanilla cake with white chocolate, pink grapefruit and mango.
Champagne Jacques Selosse Substance disgorged 07/13 shows a certain qualitative leap and an exemplary liveliness. What fascinates me is its endless finale where frolic beautiful pink fruit. It is racy, lively, and the delicious cockles are a treat on this champagne.
The cod will be accompanied by two of the five Curnonsky wines. The Clos de la Coulée de Serrant A. Joly 1976 leads us on infrequent tracks. It is well structured and makes us find flavors of the Loire, with extreme finesse. We are in a range of unusual but exciting tastes.
The Château Grillet 1982 has a slightly corky nose, but everything disappears in the mouth when the wine is associated with the dish. The haddock broth makes it interesting and the faults do not reappear until the dish is gone. It does not bring enough emotion and it’s a shame because this wine that is the only one in his appellation that bears his name is a curiosity.
My guests are surprised that I chose a calf low temperature to accompany the Montrachet Robert Gibourg 1992 and they are even more surprised when they note that the agreement is exceptional, the most beautiful meal agreement. Montrachet, third wine of Curnonsky, is of a rare accuracy. It does not have the power of some montrachets and it fits to him divinely well because it is impregnating, without forcing. This wine is the ideal white, fleshy and expressive.
The pigeon is a marvel, cooked divinely. How is it possible that a Château Margaux 1942 has the same wonderful richness as a Margaux of a very big year. In blind tasting, no one would ever think of 1942. The wine is noble, with proud carriage and broad shoulders. It has an intense taste of truffle of an exceptional Bordeaux. I am so enthusiastic about his unexpected performance that I will put it first in my vote, despite the love I have for the next wine.
Ken, the chef who works alongside Teshi, had planned to serve poached foie gras along with morels. I wanted to have only the liver for the Richebourg Domaine de la Romanée Conti Vigne Original French not reconstituted 1942. The first glass that is served to me shows a pale pink color that would discourage any amateur who does not know the colors of the Domaine’s wines. At the first sip, I know that we will drink an exceptional wine that has the soul of the wines of the Domaine of Romanée Conti. What a charm, what a courteous speech! I swoon so much I’m happy that this wine that I may have discarded, wrongly, is also attractive with its message where salt is a strong marker. The agreement with the foie gras is superb but the champagne sauce Pommery 1953 is a bit strong for the wine. What a pleasure to drink such a refined wine that smiles at the audacious ones that we were to form a consortium to acquire it.
This is the Château Chalon Tissot 1976, the fourth of Curnonsky wines, which will inherit powerful and filled morels that would not have agreed to the Burgundy wine because of their power, but marry to delight with the powerful and harmonious wine of the Jura. He finds a better flight, because it is his ideal partner, with the Comté of fifteen months of ripening. It is a classic accord, probably one of the most beautiful of the gastronomy.
The fifth and last wine of Curnonsky is the 1941 Chateau d’Yquem with a diabolically sensual scent and the color of a glorious gold. I recently loved a very nice dessert made by the talented Yuki pastry chef of the restaurant, but the chocolate dessert does not vibrate the Yquem. Pink grapefruit is more relevant but it is mostly the mango that best suits this powerful Yquem, much more than I imagined, and greedy, rich in golden fruit.
We chatted about Curnonsky’s ranking of the world’s five greatest white wines, which he established in the 1930s. If we were to do it today, it is likely that Coulée de Serrant and Château Grillet would not be included. I would suggest the Clos Sainte Hune of Trimbach and the White Hermitage of Chave as possible candidates to appear in this elite.
We are eight to vote for the five favorite of the nine wines. Three wines stand out, the Montrachet which like the Richebourg has three first votes and the Margaux who has two first votes.
The consensus ranking is: 1 – Richebourg Domaine de la Romanée Conti Vigne Original French unreconstituted 1942, 2 – Montrachet Robert Gibourg 1992, 3 – Château Margaux 1942, 4 – Château d’Yquem 1941, 5 – Champagne Jacques Selosse Substance disgorged 07 / 13, 6 – Château Grillet 1982.
My classification is: 1 – Château Margaux 1942, 2 – Richebourg Domaine de la Romanée Conti Vine Original French unreconstituted 1942, 3 – Montrachet Robert Gibourg 1992, 4 – Champagne Jacques Selosse Substance disgorged 07/13.
The dishes were more successful one than the others and the most beautiful chords are those which were created with the three winning wines, the veal with the montrachet, the pigeon with the Margaux and the foie gras poached with the Richebourg.
The atmosphere was smiling, because of our complicity and the guests are waiting for one thing is that I offer them new purchases for new adventures. I have heard that they would be happy if I propose a dinner with a Romanée Conti.
Matthew’s service was perfect. The kitchen has done an exceptional job of finding the best food and wine pairings. Making a dinner at Pages restaurant with such a motivated team is a privilege and a real pleasure.
(see pictures of this dinner in the article in French)