1 – Lunch in my cellar with Krug people
The president of the Krug champagne house, Marguerite Henriquez, sends me a message telling me that she wishes to offer a gift to her oenology team. His idea would be a cellar visit with « special » tasting. The use of the word « special » opens the door to all the follies, so, without hesitation, I say yes. The idea that comes to me then is to treat this visit with the spirit of my dinners with a particularity: in my dinners, the bottles that I choose are among the most beautiful and the most healthy of my cellar. I try to exclude the risk. As there will be oenologists to whom I want to show « my world » of wine, I will be able to choose bottles at risk, since I have the opportunity to open others when I’m in my cellar.
What excites me also is to be able to show that bottles that almost all sommeliers would discard and refuse to serve possess unexpected charms. The chance smiles on the daring and also adds two good news: Olivier Krug will be visiting, and it is Arnaud Lallement, the three-star chef of the Assiette Champenoise, who will provide picnic meal in my cellar.
I want to make a program of madness and this is the unique opportunity to fill a gap. I have drunk all the vintages since 1885 until 2017 except one, the vintage 1902. The opportunity is beautiful to make this series continuous.
The eight executives of the Krug house arrive early with the very chic wicker baskets of a competition picnic. The tour begins with a presentation of my vision of wine and what I want them to discover in a wine world that is not their usual world. I announce that there will undoubtedly be tasting of possible dead wines, but that this must be part of the course. After the cellar visit, which allows us to check that I have cellared some Krug (phew), everyone settles at the table. The dishes are spread out like a feast, diced ham, smoked salmon, foie gras, pâté croute pie, cheeses including camembert and epoisses, apple pie.
We start with a Champagne Krug Private Cuvée from the 50s / 60s which has lost 20% of its volume. The choice of such a bottle is voluntary. The color is amber with a little gray. There are two levels in this wine. On the attack, we feel bitterness that signs the age, but from the middle of the mouth, it is as if the sun rose, the wine is round, happy, with a smiling fruit. Its final is unquenchable. And what is exciting is that very quickly it no longer has any defect.
I announce that the first two whites could be to throw, because at the opening of the wines at 9 o’clock, they were not encouraging. The Meursault Patriarche 1942 at very low level and dark color is the ideal candidate for the sink. At the opening anyone would have rejected and I expected the worst. What a surprise to see that it is round, balanced, discreet no doubt, but very endearing. It is even drinkable and the most surprising is that it is consistent. The slow oxygenation has done its work.
The Meursault-Perrieres Mrs. Lochardet 1929 to the lighter color and the higher level has more presence and depth. It is more strict with a nice acidity, which makes it possible to hesitate between 1942 and 1929, between roundness and righteousness. The two possible candidates for the sink have shown tastes that interest oenologists.
The Meursault Goutte d’Or the grand son of Henri de l’Euthe 1945 is very beautiful and juicy, with great consistency. He has a beautiful fruit. It looks like he’s thirty, it would not shock anyone. There are beautiful rays of sun in this wine.
For foie gras, I want to present now a wine planned later, Château Grillet 1982 which, like the Coulée de Serrant, is one of the five great whites for Curnonsky. The level is perfect, the color is clear and immediately, we are in front of a well built wine, solid, square. He is quite esoteric because we know he is great, but we would like to know why. Because he is a colossus who does not want to show his emotions. We love him because he is rich and square but not because we are moved.
Chablis J. Faiveley 1926 creates a shock for everyone. How is it possible that a wine of 1926 that is 92 years old can have the crazy youth of a wine of twenty years? In addition, it is fresh, light, primesautier, ready to all the follies. So, it’s a real shock. With this wine we enter ‘my’ world of wine, ‘my’, not because it belongs to me, but because I live there.
For Bordeaux, I did not play the ease. Château Durfort-Vivens 1916 had surprised me by its nose of raspberry and currants at the opening, just like the Beychevelle 1916 of the Academy of ancient wines. It still has those intonations of raspberry and currant, which could be a marker of 1916. The wine has a nice acidity, and a nice strength. It’s a great wine like the 1895 Durfort I had drunk at Bern’s Steak House in Tampa.
Château Latour 1902 is the first wine I drink of 1902 that allows me to have a chain without discontinuity from 1885 to 2017, to which is added fifty older vintages, but with breaks in this older chain. The nose was engaging. When I serve, oh surprise, the wine is depigmented. The first contact is quite watery. But, it is the magic of the wine, the Latour assembles, is structured. It is not really typical Latour, but we feel its nobility. It’s with my son that I’ll see how the bottom of the over-pigmented wine behaves.
For Burgundy I wanted to make an association without competition of two wines of the same climate. The Romanée Saint-Vivant Les Quatre Journaux 1929 at the very beautiful level is a beautiful and opulent wine, serene, solid, built with a lot of charm. It is an exceptional wine of seduction. Its parcel of Saint-Vivant is next to Romanée Conti.
The Romanée Saint-Vivant Domaine Romanée Conti 1983 is from a weak vintage. Also its thundering scent is a big surprise. The nose is captivating and in the mouth the signature of Domaine, rose and salt is a force that I did not suspect of this wine drunk several times. This wine is brilliant.
For lack of Comté, it is with the epoisses that we drink the Château Chalon Jean Bourdy 1945. What strikes is that it is all in equilibrium. The nut is discreet, the wine is dosed and accomplished. It is easy to understand because everything in it is measured and elegant.
I had planned to finish with a Yquem 1970 but the atmosphere is so nice that I say to myself: let’s be crazy and go back a century. I will look for (and it is the advantage to have a meal in my cellar) a 1870 Cyprus Wine. This wine is the Arabian Nights. It explodes with pepper and liquorice but it is especially a perfect wine. While it is supposed to be soft it is dry and while it is supposed to be heavy, it is airy. Its aromatic persistence is infinite. He will have a banana republic vote.
We are voting for our five favorite among twelve wines. We are nine to vote. Ten out of twelve wines receive a vote. The two excluded are the Krug of the beginning but I think it was out of politeness that my guests did not vote for the wine of their house, and the Meursault 1929 yet appreciable. There are only three wines named first because Cyprus has cannibalized six first votes, the wine of Romanée Conti has two first votes and the Meursault 1945 has a vote of first.
The ranking of the consensus would be: 1 – Wine of Cyprus 1870, 2 – Romanée Saint-Vivant Domaine de la Romanée Conti 1983, 3 – Romanée Saint-Vivant Les Quatre Journaux 1929, 4 – Chablis J. Faiveley 1926, 5 – Meursault Goutte d’Or the grandsons of Henry of Euthe 1945, 6 – Château Latour 1902.
My classification: 1 – 1870 Cyprus Wine, 2 – Romanée Saint – Vivant Domaine de la Romanee Conti 1983, 3 – Romanée Saint – Vivant Les Quatre Journaux 1929, 4 – Chablis J. Faiveley 1926, 5 – Château Grillet 1982.
I greatly appreciated the listening attitude of my guests. They entered a world they practice little or not and have discovered that the life of a wine has no limit. The atmosphere of dinette to the good franquette, but franquette three stars anyway, allowed exciting conversations. I was delighted to receive those who make a champagne that I love. This form of meal where we give to bottles at risk the possibility of expressing themselves pleases me a lot. Thank you Maggie for allowing this moment of sharing and warm friendship.
2 – the wines, the day after, with my son
The day after the reception of Krug executives for a picnic in my cellar, I drank with my son, who was not expecting it, the remains of the wines of the lunch, plus two wines that remained from dinner in Yquem, that I absolutely wanted him to discover. My wife has planned scallops with thin slices of fried black radish, a veal cooked at low temperature with a truffle purée, cheeses and meringue hemispheres sprinkled with chocolate chips that once evoked frizzy heads.
Champagne Krug Private Cuvée 50/60 was finished yesterday, which proves that we liked it. The Meursault Patriarche 1942 still has a gray amber color. Immediately I feel that he is clearly better than yesterday, broad and happy, with good fruit. What a surprise when we know that this wine would have been ignored by amateurs who would not have known that it was necessary to wait.
The Meursault-Perrieres Mrs. Lochardet 1929 is also wider than the day before but it still kept its strict character. Yesterday we could hesitate between 1942 and 1929 but today doubt is no longer allowed, the 1942 is much more generous than the 1929 yet a great year.
I serve the Meursault Goutte d’Or the grand sons of Henri de l’Euthe 1945 and I see the face of my son who is transformed. He is as if paralyzed. He tells me he never drank that. He finds this wine absolutely perfect. I agree with his analysis even if I do not have such a strong emotion. The wine is now imperial, powerful, broad and opulent. It is properly named because every drop of this wine is gold. This wine is just happiness with a rare depth. Here are three wines that are better than yesterday.
The Château Grillet 1982 is wider than yesterday, solidly camped. He gives more emotion, but still remains on his reserve. Solid, he is brilliant, without delivering yet what time will give him one day.
Chablis J. Faiveley 1926 is a surprise as big as yesterday. He is of a youth that cannot be imagined. Like father such sons, because yesterday I told my guests that if it was said that this is a 1988 wine nobody would contradict and here is my son who says: we would give him twenty years. This wine is an enigma, fluid, delicate, crazy youth. He is at the same level as yesterday, crazy charm.
The Château Durfort-Vivens 1916 has lost some of its red fruits, even if you feel them, and it has become stricter with a small hollow in the middle of the mouth. I cannot say that the night has improved it.
The reaction of my son on the Meursault 1945, I will have with the Château Latour 1902. First of all I expected that the depigmentation of the beginning of bottle would give for what remains a black wine loaded with all the pigments, but this is not the case. It is only at lees level that the liquid will be black. But I am absolutely overwhelmed by this wine that has become a monster of charm and delicacy. Yesterday, I was looking for his soul Latour and today I have in front of me one of the greatest Latour I had the chance to drink, all lace and suggestion. I enjoy this moment and my son is more reserved on this wine. So we had our moments of grace on two different wines. This Latour is clearly above yesterday.
The Romanée Saint-Vivant Les Quatre Journaux 1929 is a racy wine, noble and powerful. He is a lord. He is exactly in line with what he said yesterday. It is a grand and flourishing wine. What a shame that there was so little left, but all the better for my guests yesterday.
The Romanée Saint-Vivant Domain Romanée Conti 1983 is significantly less brilliant than yesterday. It was pink and salt. It is still salt, but has lost the flower for a rather roasted taste. He lost his freshness and got a little stuck. He is good of course but does not have the spark of genius that I had perceived yesterday.
We do not drink Château Chalon Jean Bourdy 1945 that we keep for a future meal, because I wish we would now taste three exceptional liquoreux.
There remains a small part of the 1891 Chateau d’Yquem from the dinner at Yquem. One can feel a tiny trace of evaporation that has extinguished some fires, but this Yquem is still splendid, with evocations of orange zest extremely delicate. He is always so well structured. My wife drinks what makes me happy. We turn the page of a historic wine of the most beautiful nobility.
The following exercise excites me to the highest point. Because it is very rare that I put together so old muscatés sweet wines. I put one at the end of the meal and I do not remember to have put two.
The 1870 Cyprus Wine is lively, very dry, with a very nice little bitterness and its markers are pepper and licorice.
The 1872 Malaga I had included in the dinner at Yquem is a little rounder and fat. It has more sun and its markers are coffee and cocoa. So here are two wines that I have each ranked first in the meal where he was who are face to face. They are very different and I must say that, as for my son, the Malaga is my favorite because it has more joy of life and depth. Both wines are marvels, with endless aromatic persistence, and deserve the first places they had in my votes, in the two meals where they were placed, in final bouquet.
This second tour of the wines of the day before leads me to questions. I opened the wines yesterday at 9 o’clock and they may not have had enough time to assemble. They were served and stirred, moved in my car in the cave-house route, and a majority of them are better today than yesterday. Does this mean that I should have opened them the day before? Or would a carafe after slow oxygenation have brought them to the state they had today? This is a subject that I will have to dig. In addition, the youngest wine, 1983 Romanée Conti is the only one that has regressed frankly when he was brilliant yesterday. Does this extra day only benefit old wines? In addition, it was the wines that had the lowest levels in the bottle that benefited the most from additional oxygenation.
These are some questions that I will have to solve. Because it is fascinating to see how much the elected representatives of the day of my son and me, Meusault 1945 and Latour 1902 have progressed, beyond all expectations.
Wine is a mystery and I’m never at the end of its surprises.
(see pictures of this lunch two articles below)