A friend of my son wished to share a precious bottle with me. We fix a date. While choosing a bottle to share with him, I find that two bottles is a little short, so I organise a table for five, which allows me to broaden the experience. And, inviting friends, it allows me to include risky bottles that I would never open with unknown persons.
I reserve a table by restaurant Laurent, and having brought my bottles the day before, they are opened at ten am, to be sufficiently oxygenated for the lunch.
We begin with a half bottle of Chassagne-Montrachet red Charles Viénot 1947. The nose is extremely Burgundy like, male, animal. One could have two approaches towards this wine. Either, being stopped by the acidity, one declares that the wine is past its normal life, and one ignores it. Or, accepting an acidity which will disappear in the glass, one has a virile Burgudy, rather bitter but extremely exciting.
On a foie gras absolutely delicious, the Corton Jacques Bouchard 1957 surprises me by its unexpected mad youth. And with a paradox, as 1947 is a great year and 1957 a weak year, it is the 1947 which plays the role of “faire-valoir” for the 1957.
The friend of my son is a wine merchant who lives in Bordeaux. He is completely puzzled with this Corton as he is unable to find any method of analysis, as no standard can be used to analyse this wine. He is astonished by the youth of the wine. I am astonished that a 1957 can reach such a level, as the wine is charming, and of a great density, nearly the one of a 1959.
The pork’s feet by Laurent are a dish that should never be forgotten. It is a dish that could accept any wine and would make them shine.
The Corton du Roy Faiveley has no more a year label, so I announce 1947 as I remember which years I could have bought. The nose is outstanding. In mouth it so incredibly charming, round powerful, seducing, comfortable that I say : it is surely 1929. All my friends look at me with a smile saying : you are the only one who could make a controversy with yourself, as we have no idea. The charm of this wine makes very credible that it could be 1929. But I keep the idea that it is 1947. It is a splendid wine, generous, spontaneous, easy going. There are still red fruits in this wine with a remarkable length.
The wine that the friend of my son had brought is La Romanée, Chateau de Vosne-Romanée 1966. The colour is troubled and it could be the trip from Bordeaux. The nose is a little acidic. In mouth, it is rather nice, but playing only on one foot. As the wine had been brought just for the lunch, it is clear that some hours of oxygen would have changed its presentation. We see through the lines what it could have been.
I have taken a big risk, and I knew it, by bringing more risky bottles.
The half bottle of Pontet Canet 1924 is dead, desperately dead, with no possibility for a come back. On the contrary, the half bottle of Gruaud-Larose 1922, even if it is obviously a wine after its normal life pushed us to drink it all. It was wounded, but still alive and letting our imagination play. We drank it on a delicious Saint-Nectaire.
To forget these two wines, a Chateau Salins, Rions, Premières Côtes de Bordeaux 1941 seduces the entire table on a peaches soufflé. The colour is of a generous gold, the nose is discrete, but elegant, making think of quince. In mouth it is delicately sweet, with peaches, white fruits and soft citrus fruits. The length is normal for what it is, but the pleasure is immense.
It is clear that I love to find such unknown wines which can shine. And I know that such a search is only possible in France, where such items are still available.
The star is the Corton du Roy Faiveley 1947 (supposed), and then I would put together the 1957 Corton and the Salins 1941.
This smiling lunch with friends absolutely open minded concerning old wines gave me the idea to make now and then such lunches, with some risky bottles among secure bottles. I will think of it.