My friend Tomo receives offers from wine sellers many of which are the same ones that I receive. An offer from a Romanée-Conti appeals to me but the price seems to me dissuasive. I would like to buy this bottle for drinking and I suggest Tomo that we buy it for two to share. Tomo had also decided not to follow the offer for himself and I propose the joint acquisition, which is still a madness.
We decide to be crazy. The bottle is delivered by the merchant to the restaurant Garance where we will have dinner, Tomo and me. Tomo offers me to add a Montrachet and I propose to add a white Musigny. The cause is heard and at 6 pm we meet at the restaurant to open the bottles.
The wines are young and the opening does not cause any problem. The perfume of Montrachet Domaine Ramonet 2008 is a bomb of rich fragrances. This wine explodes with generosity. The White Musigny Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé 1990 has a calmer and more intense scent. He promises beautiful things. The Romanée-Conti Domaine Romanée-Conti 1991 has a discreet perfume of a beautiful nobility. The three wines seem consistent with what we can expect. Everything is fine.
Guillaume Muller director of the restaurant offers glasses of Champagne Dhondt-Grellet extra brut non vintage. This champagne is a very happy surprise because it does not have the character sometimes ungrateful champagnes ultra brut. He is very precise and well done.
I meet Alexis Bijaoui, the new chef who replaces Guillaume Iskandar. He is 29 years old and recently worked at Arpège. He is extremely friendly.
We have time to prepare our menu. We will take two common dishes, the first and the third, and we will differ on the choice of the second. My menu will be: Scallops served in shells, black truffle and juniper wood sauce / Pork square, pressed potato, simmered and hazelnut sabayon / smoked duck then lacquered, risotto of turnip golden ball and buckwheat.
Before dinner Tomo wants to taste the two whites and the chef prepares foie gras toasts with excellent toast, gourmet buns and beetroot pies. These small nibbles of aperitif show the beautiful sensitivity of the chef. The Montrachet Domaine Ramonet 2008 is still an olfactory bomb. It is so young that it smells petrol, which will fade with the enlargement of the wine in the glass. On the palate the wine is round, generous, full and rich and has a communicative joie de vivre. It is really a generous Montrachet like certain years of the Montrachet of the Romanée Conti of which it has the power.
The White Musigny Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé 1990 has a racy and deep nose. In the mouth what strikes is that it is incisive and sharp, leaving a very long trace in the mouth. It is deep when the Montrachet is round. They are extremely dissimilar. Because of the age, the Musigny is more gastronomic and interesting, but the Montrachet in his youth is catchy.
Tomo says he has never eaten such good scallops and it is true that they are succulent, almost raw, barely cooked, so that the sweetness of the shell is still present. The agreement with the truffle is relevant and on the shell alone, the Montrachet is perfect. On the shell associated with truffles, Musigny is the most relevant.
The pig and its generous fat are succulent. It is the Musigny that is most relevant and the preparation of the potatoes tastes too strong for wines that require more sweetness. We feast with these two disparate white wines that flourish in glasses, taking more roundness for the Musigny and more mature for the Montrachet.
Tomo is so eager to taste the Romanée Conti that he stamps. So, although our glasses of white are not empty, we go to the discovery of red. The Romanée-Conti Domaine Romanée-Conti 1991 has a clairette color for the top of the bottle, always clearer. The level in the bottle was as high as possible, which weighed in my desire to acquire it. The nose is all in refined suggestion, it’s Aramis, the elegant mousquetaire. On the palate the wine is of a rare distinction. So we listen to it. And it’s a madrigal festival. He tells the map of the Tendre. It is, I think, one of the best of the young wines of the Domaine that I had the chance to drink. The advantage of being only two to drink a bottle is that you can come back to the wine and listen to it to infinity.
The duck has a superb flesh. The sauce is not suitable for wine because it is heavy. It would have taken a blood sauce but it must be said that we had not prepared this dinner at all. On the flesh alone, the Romanée Conti is a romance of love, strumming its subtleties with infinite grace. What happiness!
Salt, the usual marker of the Romanée Conti finding a particular resonance on thin slices of raw turnip, I ask to have a small plate of these raw slices to titillate the red wine, but they bring me slices of turnip and truffles soaked with an oil, which makes the agreement impossible. Too bad, it does not matter.
It remains in the three glasses of what to drink and the experience to which we will work is interesting. A saint-nectaire is a perfect ripening. It is delicious and plays to perfection the role of resetting our palates. It’s incredible. We drink one of the white wines, we eat a little saint-nectaire and the palate is like new and we can switch to red and vice versa. I never imagined such an efficient passage through the cheese box to allow travel between wines.
From this trip it appears that the Musigny is much more complex and deep than the Montrachet when this difference was not so sensitive at the beginning of meal and the second observation is that the Romanée Conti is transcendental compared to the two white wines.
Romanee Conti like this are moments of absolute grace.
The seller of this bottle, which we know well had brought with the bottle a small tiny bottle announced as containing a Moscatel of the 19th century. The liquid we drink is of infinite delicacy. There is greasiness, creaminess, but there is above all a coherence and an accomplishment that only belong to sweet wines of more than a century. It could be from the Porto area, but I would see it from Madeira as well. It was a nice end to a meal that will remain long in our memories as this Romanée Conti was so beautiful.
Guillaume Muller manages his restaurant with pertinence and Alexis shows a great talent in cooking. We cannot blame him for the temporary inadequacies with the wines, because we had not prepared anything and asked.
At 29 Alexis will quickly bring a star to the restaurant Garance. So, let’s buy some crazy wines!