259th dinner in Restaurant Pagessamedi, 5 février 2022

At 4:10 p.m. at the Pages restaurant, the opening of the wines for the 259th dinner begins. The ambient atmospheric conditions will make certain corks difficult to extract, including that of the Vega Sicilia Unico 1960 which will fall into the liquid and force the wine to be decanted to remove the cork and put the wine back in its bottle. It is no longer slow oxygenation but oxygenation at a forced rate. The Lynch Bages 1924 has a beautiful, engaging fragrance, which will no longer be the case when served. Volnay 1937 also has a beautiful fragrance. The decanted and then re-bottled Vega Sicilia is reassuring and the Royal Kebir 1947 has a marked coffee nose and shows great promise.

In the program that I had proposed, the star was to be a Romanée Conti 1965. If there is a wine that should have no inventory error in my cellar, it is Romanée Conti. However, while preparing the wines for dinner, I did not find the Romanée Conti 1965. Unthinkable! I then decided to put in a Romanée Conti 1962, from a year with a better reputation than 1965, and so that no one would express regret, I added a bottle of La Tâche 1965. Now is the time to open these two wines from Romanée Conti. La Tâche 1965 has a nose of earth and dust so intense that I have the greatest doubts about its future performance.

The Romanée Conti 1962 has no capsule but wax, largely cracked. The cork is black and the flavor is worse than that of La Tâche, with sour and vinegary notes. AIE Aie Aie ! I wanted to please and that may not be the case. The Yquem 1948 and the Chypre 1870 have noses of a perfection unattainable by other wines.

At 6 p.m. I open the magnum of Dom Pérignon 1993 and at 6:45 p.m. I open the Pommery 1973 which offers me an incredible surprise. I pull the cork which jumps out of my hands and falls more than four meters further from the table where I operate. How is it possible that an almost 50-year-old champagne is so explosive? I cannot believe it.

Definitely the openings were marked by surprises in all directions and the table service will offer us others.

The guests are all on time at 8 p.m. We are ten including three women. There are two new participants from Dubai for this dinner.

The menu prepared by chef Ken and his team is: parmesan cabbage / scallops in two ways / lobster with red wine bisque sauce / pigeon, black garlic gnocchi, salmis sauce / grilled wagyu / poached foie gras / stilton / exotic tart / financial.

Champagne Pommery Brut 1973 is exceptional. It combines a beautiful maturity with a crazy youth because its bubble is active as announced by the explosion of the cork. In my opinion, this is the very definition of beautiful mature champagne.

Champagne Dom Pérignon P2 magnum 1993 pleases my neighbor very much, who adores its youth, whereas I personally find it very difficult to like it. It is strongly dosed and seems to me too rejuvenated compared to the original 1993. The scallops are presented first raw then just pan-fried. I prefer the champagne over the seared shells while other diners prefer it over the raw shell.

I like to make unlikely combinations such as putting a Bordeaux and a Burgundy together on lobster. The noses of both wines have cork sketches. Château Lynch Bages 1924, whose fragrance I liked when it opened, now has a cork nose that will not disappear.

The Volnay Santenots Joseph Drouhin 1937, on the contrary, very quickly loses the tiny trace of cork and shows an extreme charm, voluptuous and all in suggestion. This delicate and subtle wine is beautifully young. I am happy that it had several votes when the number of great wines is important.

On the pigeon, we taste a Spanish wine and an Algerian wine. Both are flawless and generous. The Vega-Sicilia Unico 1960 is splendid and of very young fruit, with an extreme freshness in the finish.

The Royal Kebir Frédéric Lung red Algeria 1947 is very exotic compared to the Vega. It is much more enigmatic and shows a rare breadth. It is a splendid wine, probably the most robust of the Algerian wines that I have had the chance to drink. Both wines go well with the perfectly cooked pigeon.

The originality of this dinner is that we programmed the rich wines of Spain and Algeria before the wines of Romanée Conti, while the reverse order would have been more logical. So that our palates are ready to welcome Burgundy wines, I asked Matthieu, the excellent sommelier, to keep some Dom Pérignon 1993 which is served with a brioche. So we’re ready for what’s next.

I took so many precautions to prevent any unpleasant surprises that no one believes that La Tâche Domaine de la Romanée Conti 1965 could have been dusty when opened, because it presents itself with a salty scent so representative of the wines of the Romanée Conti and Romanée Conti itself. The wine is sublime, as if the faults of six hours ago had not existed. This 1965 is more typical Romanée Conti than La Tâche as it is delicate. It is a superb and long wine. The association with wagyu has something unnatural because the fat in the meat is very strong. But in fact the agreement is found judiciously.

Romanée Conti Domaine de la Romanée Conti 1962 will not have the chance of La Tâche. It no longer has vinegary notes, it is coherent, but it lacks emotion. She’ll still get two votes, but I consider her an extinct wine. Poached foie gras is one of my coquetries to accompany a Romanée Conti (a guest created a word for my coquetries; he calls them audouzades). Tonight the poached foie gras is a little too discreet and lacks the vibrancy to wake up the 1962.

Château d’Yquem 1948 has a glorious golden color. The wine is superbly serene. The Yquems, when they are big, are very big. The stilton from the Barthélémy house is exactly what is needed, refined but not too much. Yuki‘s mango pie is of a rare lightness. And Yquem is grandiose in both chords.

Yuki’s Financier is ideal for the 1870 Cyprus Wine, sweet on the attack and dry on the finish. This 152-year-old wine has a freshness that time does not moderate.

It’s time to vote for our five favorite wines out of the ten of the meal. La Tâche 1965 is the clear winner with five first places. I am very happy that the 1973 Pommery got two first places because generally at the end of the meal we forget to vote for the wines at the start of the meal. The Château d’Yquem 1948 also has two first places and the Royal Kebir 1947 has one.

The overall vote is: 1 – La Tâche Domaine de la Romanée Conti 1965, 2 – Royal Kebir Frédéric Lung red Algeria 1947, 3 – Château d’Yquem 1948, 4 – Champagne Pommery brut 1973, 5 – Cyprus wine 1870, 6 – Volnay Santenots Joseph Drouhin 1937.

My vote is: 1 – La Tâche Domaine de la Romanée Conti 1965, 2 – Royal Kebir Frédéric Lung red Algeria 1947, 3 – Vega-Sicilia Unico Vino Fino 1960, 4 – Château d’Yquem 1948, 5 – Cyprus wine 1870.

The kitchen of the Pages restaurant is refined and it is exactly what is needed for old wines. The cooking is divine, like that of the lobster and that of the pigeon. The service is competent and attentive. Unfortunately, we will no longer find Lumi who will fly towards new adventures. She had a significant part in the success of the thirteen dinners that I had the pleasure of organizing in this restaurant which is so attentive to the needs of the wines. Lumi will be replaced by Antoine, whom I have known in other places.

The wine service by Matthieu was of great relevance.

The Romanée Conti 1962 which took the place of a 1965 was not there. La Tâche 1965 satisfied us. The charming guests, from all walks of life, brought their smiles to make this meal one of the nicest I have organized.