I interact quite often with wine lovers who express themselves on Instagram. One day one of them living in Singapore told me that he was coming to France with friends, invited to events in Champagne. He would like me to organize a meal for five people and point out wine trails that he would like to explore. Among my suggestions, he chose Lafite 1961, Chevalier Montrachet Domaine Leflaive 1992 and a Richebourg Domaine de la Romanée Conti 1970.
During another discussion he said he had been disappointed by a Dom Pérignon 1952 and I told him that if he came to see me, I would make him drink a 1952 which I considered excellent. Gang tells me that he and his friends will bring a Cristal Roederer 1988 and a magnum of Krug Grande Cuvée with a cream label, which is more than thirty years old.
The scene is set and I suggest that we meet at the Pages restaurant.
I now need to find my wines in the cellar. The Champagne Dom Pérignon 1952 has a beautiful presentation and through the glass I sense a beautiful champagne. The Chevalier Montrachet Domaine Leflaive 1992 comes directly from the Domaine, but when I shared this wine a few years ago, brought by Anne-Claude Leflaive, it had shown at the tasting TCA (trichhloroanisole), which is characterized by a taste of cap. This pushes me to add wines to my program.
I have four Château Lafite-Rothschild 1961, one of which in my main cellar has a low level (even though it says high level in my inventory). I look for the other three in another cellar, but I can’t find them. I decided to add a Château Ausone 1929 which seems to me to have a good presentation.
Furthermore, I chose one of the three Richebourg Domaine de la Romanée Conti 1970 that I own. It will be the one with the best level. It has no label but is clearly identified by the very explicit cap.
For good measure, I added a 1972 La Tâche, low grade but good looking.
I had to provide four wines. There will be six, to cover any eventuality.
On the appointed day, I arrive shortly before 10:30 a.m. at the Pages restaurant to open my wines. I ask Chef Ken what dishes are planned and we start sketching out the menu. Two of my guests arrive to attend the opening of the wines. By a pleasant coincidence I manage to remove all the corks whole, which greatly impresses them.
The nose of the Lafite 1961 is a little weak but gives great hope. That of Ausone 1929 is frankly closed. The nose of the 1992 Chevalier Montrachet looks glorious. The scent of La Tâche 1972 is not very engaging and many wine lovers would put it aside. On the contrary, that of Richebourg 1970 looks brilliant.
A few changes are being made with Chef Ken to take odors into account. We have an hour and a half left before the other guests arrive. According to tradition we will have a beer at 116, the neighboring restaurant while nibbling on edamame. Everything is ready for what will be the 277th of my meals.
The other guests arrive at 12:30 p.m. Among them a woman from London, who is a big influencer in the wine world and reminds me that we met at a dinner I organized at the 67 Pall Mall club in London.
I asked Chef Ken, given the abundance of champagne, to prepare raw fish and Wagyu carpaccio. We start with a Champagne Cristal Roederer 1988 which made a nice spritz at the opening. The color is light for a champagne of this age. Instantly, I am struck by the brilliance of this infinitely complex champagne. What happiness. What delights me is that this champagne is anything but conventional. He explores flavors off the beaten track. He calls out and I really like it.
The wines that make up Champagne Krug Grande Cuvée crème magnum label are around forty years old. This is the second contribution of my new friends after the Cristal Roederer. It’s a magnificent champagne but I also know it by heart, it transports me less than the Cristal Roederer. But its grandeur will mark the meal.
I asked Pierre-Alexandre to serve at the same time the Chevalier-Montrachet Domaine Leflaive 1992 from an exceptional year. Instantly, the first sip is like fireworks. My mouth explodes with happiness because the wine is full, complete, accomplished, coherent, perfect. It brings a rare joy of living. And it is wise to drink it at the same time as champagnes because the pleasures are added.
For the Wagyu, I serve Champagne Dom Pérignon 1952. I am faced with pure perfection and I would be ready to lock myself in a bubble of happiness, as with the few wines which have paralyzed me like the Hermitage La Chapelle 1961 or Montrachet Bouchard 1865. Because I am facing a perfect wine. And the delicious herbs that accompany Wagyu give a masterful excitement to this ideal champagne.
The lobster is accompanied by the brilliant Chevalier Montrachet.
For fish, we have the two Bordeaux. Château Lafite-Rothschild 1961, which had a low level, has been reconstituted and no fault can be found. It has a very rich truffle taste and is a great Bordeaux, just like my friends wanted.
I had high expectations from the Château Ausone 1929, which had a very beautiful appearance, but if it has the breadth of the 1929 wines, I found it less energetic than I hoped.
The two Romanée Conti wines appear on delicious veal. The Richebourg Domaine de la Romanée Conti 1970, with its beautiful level and beautiful color, is in full possession of its means. It is rich, full, broad and solid but it also has a delicate charm. It drinks well, with a nice length finish.
La Tâche Domaine de la Romanée Conti 1972 does not have a perfect color and it is not at the level it should be, but it is in the spirit of Romanée Conti and I think that if I were drinking this wine with Aubert de Villaine , we would find the graceful subtleties of Romanée Conti behind the veil which stifles its qualities. A Saint-Nectaire excites La Tâche in a good way.
The pastry chef has made a delicate dessert with a nutty flavor that allows the Krug Grande Cuvée to remind us how refined it is.
We vote. Six of us chose our five favorites from eight wines. Three wines will have first votes, the Dom Pérignon 1952 has three first votes, the Chevalier Montrachet 1992 has two and the Krug Grande Cuvée has one.
The consensus vote is: 1 – Chevalier Montrachet Domaine Leflaive 1992, 2 – Dom Pérignon 1952, 3 – Krug Grande Cuvée magnum cream label, 4 – Richebourg Domaone de la Romanée Conti 1970, 5 – Château Lafite-Rothschild 1961.
My vote is: 1 – Dom Pérignon 1952, 2 – Chevalier Montrachet Domaine Leflaive 1992, 3 – Cristal Roederer 1988, 4 – Richebourg DRC 1970, 5 – Château Lafite-Rothschild 1961.
The atmosphere at this meal was exceptional. Even though we are from very different parts of the world, we chatted as if we had been friends forever. The cuisine was perfect and the service excellent, Naoko, wife of chef Teshi, the owner of the restaurant, brought her smile and her attention to perfection. Pierre-Alexandre did a perfect wine service. The entire kitchen team prepared dishes with great precision. It is therefore without hesitation that I class this dinner as the 277th, a great moment of sharing.