Alexander is Dutch, lives in London and works for a French group interested in wines, spirits and alcohols and which is not LVMH. He had attended one of my dinners in London. He has a bottle of Moët 1911 with a low level and believes that it is with me that he would like to drink it. He is a member of the 67 Pall Mall club so this is where we meet for lunch.
He brought his bottle and I realized that it was a Champagne Moët & Chandon Dry Imperial 1911, the concept of « Dry » being that of a sweet champagne, to the American taste, that is to say with a rather strong dosage. Alexander asks a sommelier to open the bottle, but the bottle returns sheepishly, having broken the twisted metal of the ear of the muselet. He turns to me asking for help. I can open the muselet and the cork comes effortlessly because it is so stunted that it did not touch the neck for a long time in its lower part. No pschitt of course but fortunately no metallic smell. The wine in the glass has a little gray but enough golden yellow so that hopes are allowed. In the mouth, it is no longer a champagne but a wine, with a strong acidity that lets fear that it only grows. I fear that this acidic wine will become unpleasant. What is surprising is that this « dry » champagne does not have the slightest hint of sweetness. It is dry, irretrievably dry. We order solid foods to mask acidity, a risotto with autumn truffle and a monkfish pavé.
Next to us three young men share a magnum of Champagne Dom Ruinart 1996. One of them turns to me and says: « you probably do not remember me but we shared a Cheval Blanc 1947 and a Hermitage La Chapelle 1961 « . I remember this extraordinary meal in the restaurant Michel Rostang and a little less of him. He proposes us to taste his champagne which I find lacking a little body, but what is striking is that the Ruinart sharply lower the acidity of 1911 Moët. It is not for me to share with these three gentlemen the bottle that is my friend’s, so it is time that I open my contribution, which is a Champagne Moët & Chandon Brut Impérial 1971 which I had put in fresh yesterday in the club. What is unbelievable and fascinating is that the colors of the two Moët are the same. If there are fifty shades of gray they exist for both, the 1971 being obviously younger. The nose is very close and in the mouth we feel that both have the same DNA. The acidity is the same, that of the 1911 having softened and that of the 1971 being in trace, and the taste in the mouth proceeds from the same roots. It is truly stunning also I have brought to the neighboring table a glass of each wine so that these three amateurs discover to what extent the 1911 and the 1971 are the same. I am subdued and during this time, the 1911 becomes more and more pleasant.
Arrive on our table two glasses of Dominus Napa Valley Moueix 1994 coming from the three amateurs. The wine is very earthy made of truffle and charcoal, heavy but with enough elegance. We chat with our neighbors, I make the promotion of the dinner I will do in three days and immediately Patrick, Erik and Craig decide to register. Our insatiable neighbors order a magnum of Hermitage Chave red 2004 and share their wine with us. This Hermitage is an absolute splendor, with a temperament, a personality and a vibration which place it a hundred stairs above the Dominus. We are in front of a very large wine. In order not to be outdone, I offer them Moët 1971 which is absolutely grand, rare subtlety, and which continues to highlight the 1911.
Our tables get closer and we continue to chat between wine lovers. This is how a club should function. The two stars of this brief meal are the Chave 2004 and the Moët 1971, but the biggest and spectacular surprise is the incredible continuity between the Moët 1911 and the Moët 1971. One could not believe that there is a constancy of taste so marked with sixty years of distance, as if the vines, the soil, grapes and vinification had been worked the same, commanded by immortal winegrowers.
Impromptu as this meal are intense moments of communion that sun all my life as an amateur.
(see pictures in the same article published in French)