273rd wine-dinner at the Maison Rostang restaurantvendredi, 3 mars 2023

The 273rd wine-dinner is held at the Maison Rostang restaurant. This dinner is no coincidence. During a recent dinner, due to a misunderstanding of the order of the wines, a wine was served for the fish which concerned the meats upsetting the rest of the services. There was no extreme gravity and no one complained, but it was a shame. So I suggested to the participants that we all meet at a future dinner.

I was very surprised that it was so easy to find a date that suited everyone when there were Spaniards, Swiss and English at our table. Tonight we are together again, forming a very warm group.

I started opening the wines at 3:45 p.m. and the ease with which the corks came seems to me to be linked to atmospheric situations because more and more I notice that the corks of the wines of a meal often have similar behaviors without we achieve absolute uniformity.

The flavors of the wines all seemed to me encouraging, even superb. The perfume of Rayne Vigneau 1929 is an olfactory bomb, as well as that of Madeira 1860 and the most subtle of the perfumes are those of Pétrus 1975 and Echézeaux 1958. Haut-Brion blanc 1955 and Côtes du Jura 1911 have perfumes very elegant. I don’t think I’ve ever been so serene after an opening session where the twelve wines presented themselves as well as one could expect.

A very big surprise is that the Dom Pérignon 1964 cork came out with an almost powerful pschitt which I did not expect.

Friends having arrived early, I had a very pleasant Champagne Gosset blanc de blancs served, to wait for the other guests.

Everyone is on time and for once I don’t need to explain the philosophy of these meals and the best way to enjoy them. An eleventh participant having joined our group, I shortened the instructions for him.

Champagne Pol Roger Cuvée Winston Churchill 2002 is highlighted by the Gosset which preceded. This champagne combines a strong bubble, a sign of youth with a beautiful maturity already noticeable. It is rich, long, gourmet. It belongs to the champagne aristocracy. The small appetizers show the dexterity of the chef.

The menu created by chef Nicolas Beaumann is: appetizers from Maison Rostang / langoustines poached in a consommé, smoked with marjoram then roasted, cockles in broth and passion fruit and head juice / Saint- Jacques in millefeuille of smoked truffle, velvet of roasted Jerusalem artichokes, barberry / fillet of red mullet, juice like a stew of the seas bound with its liver / supreme of Bresse poultry in black coat, whole roasted celery with hazelnuts and black sesame / Roasted pigeon supreme, candied artichokes in walnut water, pigeon juice / 24-month-old Comté cheese / Stilton / Mango tatin / the financier from Maison Rostang.

From the first sip I feel that Champagne Dom Pérignon 1964 is in a state of absolute perfection. This champagne is square, solid, tall and imposing. It is at the top of what it can give, wide, complex and full of charm. I have a love for the 60s decade of Dom Pérignon. The two favorites are the charming 1966 and the solid 1964.

The first two courses will accompany the 1964 champagne and the two whites. Château Haut Brion Blanc 1955 has a pretty, very light color for its age. The wine is graceful, fluid and of infinite length. This is one of the greatest Haut-Brion whites I have had the chance to drink, perhaps just behind the mythical 1947. It is very gourmet and goes well with poached langoustines.

The Corton Charlemagne Domaine Bonneau du Martray 1979 is an invader. It’s Schwarzenegger as a cyborg. It is conquering, powerful and it is the only one of the three wines that supports and confronts the smoked truffle millefeuille. A Corton Charlemagne at the top of its game.

At this stage, the guests are overwhelmed by the perfection of these three wines and the relevance of the pairings. I feel stunned by this extraordinary start so the question is: can the sequel be at this level?

The answer will come from Pétrus Pomerol 1975 which is crazy young, a heavy chew with black truffle grains and a rare length. It is racy and the red mullet highlights it. Red mullet with Pétrus is one of my coquetries. Since I present it in my dinners, it is always with red mullet. None of the guests imagined that such an agreement could exist. The perfection of the start of the meal continues.

The poultry is accompanied by two wines. Echézeaux Domaine de la Romanée Conti 1958 has a bewitching fragrance where refined salt is the marker of a dazzling wine. The message of the wine is of total complexity and leads us into absolute bliss. What charm, what velvet, what subtlety, what nobility.

My guests are on cloud nine and they tend to overlook the Charmes-Chambertin Domaine Armand Rousseau 1964 and I disagree. Because we are facing two expressions of Burgundy. The 1958 has airy nobility while the 1964 is more peasant with a square and earthy taste. And I find that the solidity of this 1964 is very close to the solidity of Dom Pérignon. We feel they are cousins in the same vintage. The poultry is exceptionally tender.

The 1929 Domaine Unknown Musigny has a very young blood red color and a discreet fragrance. In the mouth it is coherent, solid like a 1929 and pleasant with the pigeon, perhaps not enough blood. I told my friends that I had drunk this wine at the Académie des Vins Anciens with Aubert de Villaine who did not like it because he found it hermitaged. I understand the repulsion of a winemaker who seeks authenticity, but at the time I liked this pleasant wine. I find the same impression of a gourmet wine that we do not see too much boosted by the addition of richer wine. It provides pleasure.

The Côtes du Jura white Maison Bourdy 1911 is in a very old bottle whose neck is so conical that the bottom of the cork has dimensions of less than half of the top of the cork. The yellow wax had taken great effort to remove. The wine is fluid and long. It does not have the power of a yellow wine but has a subtle grace that makes it extremely charming. He is 111 years old but does not have the slightest sign of age.

I wanted to combine two Sauternes of very similar ages because they are diametrically opposed. Château d’Yquem 1918 has a light orange pink color while Château de Rayne Vigneau Sauternes 1929 has a dark color like dark chocolate.

Yquem is resolutely dry, with no apparent trace of botrytis. It is long and charming, of infinite complexity and finds in the Stilton an ideal partner. I love this 1918.

Rayne Vigneau with a fragrance to die for is incredibly strong. Its botrytis is at its peak and it is the Sauternes we dream of, so generous is it. An immense wine highlighted by the mango tatin.

The dinner having lasted long hours, I asked for a vote before the Madeira Cruz 1860 was served. It has an imposing alcoholic strength and a complexity that I love. There are spices and citrus fruits that change every moment. It is a great Madeira that you would never say is 160 years old, but it is its age because the bottle is authentic. The financier is ideal for taming his passion.

We vote while we drink Madeira out of the competition. Four wines monopolized the votes: the Echézeaux had ten votes, including six first votes. The Corton Charlemagne had nine votes including four first, the Pétrus had eleven votes including one first and the Dom Pérignon had ten votes without a first vote.

The overall vote is: 1 – Echézeaux Domaine de la Romanée Conti 1958, 2 – Corton Charlemagne Domaine Bonneau du Martray 1979, 3 – Pétrus Pomerol 1975, 4 – Champagne Dom Pérignon 1964, 5 – Château de Rayne-Vigneau Sauternes 1929, 6 – Château d’Yquem 1918.

My vote is: 1 – Echézeaux Domaine de la Romanée Conti 1958, 2 – Pétrus Pomerol 1975, 3 – Château de Rayne-Vigneau Sauternes 1929, 4 – Champagne Dom Pérignon 1964, 5 – Château d’Yquem 1918.

I don’t think I’ve ever had such a perfect dinner. There have been dinners with rarer or more capped wines, but never a program where each of the twelve wines is at a stage of absolute perfection. My guests agreed and it will no doubt give us the desire to start again.

The kitchen was of absolute relevance. Chef Nicolas Beaumann was not there, which I did not know, but his assistant Pauline Nicolas, absolutely charming and smiling, succeeded in all the dishes and all the cooking. The cooking of the red mullet was ideal. The best match for me is red mullet and Pétrus, then scallops with Corton Charlemagne.

Jérémy Magnon has done high-level, relevant and attentive sommelier work that deserves compliments.

Stéphane Manigold, the owner of the restaurant, came to chat with us at the end of the meal. He continues to develop his group in the restaurant business. He saw how enthusiastic my guests and friends were.

Meals like this are timeless memories.