During the lunch that I was able to organize at the Plénitude restaurant in Cheval Blanc Paris, three days before the official opening of the restaurant, which was the 253rd of my meals, two Belgian participants, delighted with this meal, asked me to organize a dinner for themselves and some of their friends. We will therefore be seven for the 256th dinner at the Pages restaurant.
I show up shortly after 4 p.m. at the restaurant to open my wines. Matthieu, the excellent sommelier stayed by my side during this operation and it is pleasant for me to be able to discuss and smell the wines while sharing our impressions. There weren’t too many difficulties, but as often old bottles have a neck that is not cylindrical. If it is pinched, it is impossible to pull the cork out without it tearing into many pieces. This was the case for Haut-Bages Libéral 1928, the fragrance of which seduced me with its extreme complexity, almost as beautiful as the fragrance of Latour 1928. The fragrance of Romanée Conti 1967 is strictly what one would expect, with evocations of salt and rose. The most powerful nose is that of Meursault 1990. The Yquem 1906 has a stopper that was changed in the 1960s. The scent of this wine is quite discreet but very smooth.
Opening the bottles on the counter that separates the room from the kitchen, I see the cooks at work and I see Alice marinating mackerel fillets in two kinds of oils. And I feel like trying to combine a little mackerel with the Yquem 1906. Only a few drops will be taken. I am experimenting with Chef Ken and Alice at the same time, and it matches well with raw mackerel with dried traces of oil.
According to tradition when the opening ceremony is over, I go to Bistro 116 to drink a Japanese beer and munch on edamame, while the restaurant staff have their dinner.
At 6.30 p.m. I open the Krug Private Cuvée and I also open the Heidsieck 1907 champagne. It takes at least ten minutes and I see that the muselet is recent. I was told that the original cork had been preserved. It seems plausible to me, the stopper being a very beautiful cork.
The Belgian group of guests is punctual. There will be seven men with no parity and the funny thing is that a close table will be four women, as if gender separation is the rule tonight.
The menu designed by the Pages restaurant and its chef Ken is: parmesan gougères / pan-fried scallops / turbot, pointed cabbage, umami sauce, pork belly / pigeon salmis sauce, grilled Taglioni / Joshu-Wagyu / poached foie gras / stilton / exotic mango and passion fruit tart.
The Champagne Krug Private Cuvée years 60-70 has an active bubble which is a nice surprise. Its color is clear. It is very lively, noble and precise, and the gougères pleasantly calm its energy. I like its breadth and freshness.
Matthieu will serve two of the three whites on the Saint-Jacques and the three on the turbot. The Clos de la Coulée de Serrant Mme A. Joly Savennières 1962 has a slightly corked nose with no real influence on the taste and this corky nose will disappear when we taste the fish. It is a rich wine of the finest decade for this wine classified by Curnonsky among the five greatest white wines of France. He would have been appreciated if he was alone but there is competition.
The Hermitage Chante Alouette Chapoutier white 1955 is very amber. The nose is very subtle and on the palate the wine is rich and opulent with great personality. He is greedy and charming, very distinctive. The Saint-Jacques are hearty and beautifully cooked. A delight.
The Meursault J.F. Coche Dury 1990 has by far the most beautiful scent of all the wines of the meal, or at least the most overwhelming. The wine is tall, maybe a bit monolithic but straight and rich. The flesh of the turbot is divine and the sauce is perhaps a little too strong even if it is refined.
The pigeon, pure wonder, welcomes two exceptional wines. My guests are amazed at the youthful colors of the two 1928 wines. The Château Haut Bages Liberal Pauillac 1928 is a huge surprise because its fragrance is noble and refined and on the palate it is of rare mastery. If it weren’t for the other Pauillac, we’d make it a star.
But there is the 1928 Château Latour Pauillac which is a perfect wine. Can’t imagine it could be better. He has everything going for him, nobility, seduction, velvety, energy. This wine is a marvel. One thing that made me extremely happy was that one of the guests who had come to lunch at the Samaritaine was tearful, he was so moved by the perfection of the Latour. If we used Robert Parker’s hundred point scoring and gave 100 points to a 2009 Latour, we would have to give 500 points to a 1928 Latour of this impossible quality. The agreement with the pigeon, on the blood, is an incomparable happiness.
My neighbor who went to Kobe in Japan tells me that the Wagyu we eat is so much better than anything he has eaten there. It is true that this flesh is pure candy. And the Chambertin Louis Latour 1961, very representative of its appellation, rich, round, balanced, happy, is the ideal partner for meat. This solid and stable wine is a rock, a standard of Chambertin.
When I had built my wine program, the Champagne Heidsieck Monopole (American Taste) 1907 found in the Baltic Sea was to be served just after the Krug and when we decided to put the Romanée Conti with the poached foie gras, I I imagined that the very sweet champagne would go well with foie gras. And so this dish welcomes both wines. But by tasting the champagne which has much less dosage than the previous 1907s that I drank, it seemed to me that the champagne could be detrimental to the Romanée Conti so I decided that the champagne would be drunk after the foie gras, on an emergency Saint-Nectaire.
On poached foie gras, the Romanée Conti Domaine de la Romanée Conti 1967 creates a beautiful accord. Its nose is archetypal, pink and salt and in the mouth we have the beautiful classicism of Romanée Conti in a subtle and discreet version. I’m so happy. She is a beautiful Romanée Conti who is not thunderous. Its length is refined.
The 1907 Heidsieck Monopole (American Taste) Champagne found in the Baltic Sea has a color which might be off-putting as it is a bit gray and the last glasses have a bit of deposit. There is still bubble which is amazing and the champagne has a great energy and a dosage that does not really « taste American ». What is immediately striking is its complexity. We travel into the subtle unknown. Like the average of the table, I give it second place in the classification of wines, because its enigmatic character is fascinating. He is unlike anything known, but he has charm and conviction.
Château d’Yquem 1906 has a beautiful amber color. Its scent is not thunderous but has all the complexity of a great Yquem. The accord with stilton is natural. Yuki, the young pastry chef, has made a delicious pie where the mango is refreshed with a passion fruit juice, which excites Yquem well. I told Ken that if we make this dish again we would have to remove the passion fruit kernels and just keep the juice.
My new friends are won over by Pages’ cuisine, which means that each dish goes straight to the essentials, without fuss, with quality products and exemplary cooking.
We are going to vote for our five favorite wines and what is quite astonishing is that five wines will be named first while there are only seven of us to vote. I personally put Romanée Conti first in my vote because I am a lover of this wine, but if I want to be objective it is Latour 1928 which is the greatest wine of this meal, because this wine is perfect .
All the wines were of interest, even the Coulée de Serrant, the only wine that did not receive a vote, because of its cork nose which subsequently disappeared.
The overall vote is: 1 – Château Latour Pauillac 1928, 2 – Champagne Heidsieck Monopole (American Taste) 1907 found in the Baltic Sea, 3 – Chambertin Louis Latour 1961, 4 – Hermitage Chante Alouette Chapoutier blanc 1955, 5 – Romanée Conti Domaine de la Romanée Conti 1967, 6 – Meursault JF Coche Dury 1990.
My vote is: 1 – Romanée Conti Domaine de la Romanée Conti 1967, 2 – Champagne Heidsieck Monopole (American Taste) 1907 found in the Baltic Sea, 3 – Château Latour Pauillac 1928, 4 – Champagne Krug Private Cuvée years 60-70, 5 – Château Haut Bages Liberal Pauillac 1928.
The atmosphere with real wine lovers was extremely nice. It is highly likely that we will meet again. And undoubtedly at the Pages restaurant, which offers high-quality cuisine perfectly suited to the wines.