The Parisian hotel George V organises for the third or fourth time a dinner whose main point is the presentation of a book by its writer. But as Eric Beaumard, one of the greatest sommelier who exists, and director of the three stars “Le Cinq”, loves wine, the presentation of a book is associated to the presentation of a wine. I register, more for food and wine than for the book.
The place is always so nice, wrapping me with an impression of luxury. Someone gives me a glass of Pol Roger 1998. It is a pure Chardonnay with a very white robe. The bubble is very small, active, and the managing director of Pol Roger, Patrick Noyelle, whom I know, shows me how fat the liquid is, as it has tears along the glass. The nose is nice but discrete. In mouth, it is the exact definition of pure Chardonnay champagne. As I adore Salon, I am happy. I like that it is not very dosé, and I think while drinking, that 1998 appears to be a nice year for champagne. As some waiters propose very different amuse-bouche that we eat while standing, it is possible to see how this champagne is flexible. There is a sign that is very conclusive : I have asked for a refill a significant number of time. This champagne has a taste of : “once more”. With pieces of crabs, it is a delight.
We go to our table, and I see that many people attending the event are more interested in literature than in wines. So, I tell them : please, take enough attention to see how the champagne will improve when associated to the oyster. The people at my table look at me as if I were an aboriginal hunter wanting to catch an antelope on Fifth Avenue. And they are completely astonished to discover how great the champagne can be with this combination. Now, they look at me as if I were a civilised person, confessing that they had never cared for such a subject. Eric explains why he has put green tea with the oyster, due to the taste of burnt herb in the champagne. And I had a sensation that many people have had while listening to such competent persons : the only fact that he says that makes that I taste really the burnt herb. In mouth I had also the impression of a jam of roses, which is another interesting aspect.
The Pol Roger Vintage 1998 includes Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. And it changes many things. The colour is also very pale, and the bubble is heavier. The nose is spectacular. Very dense, and with a high personality. In mouth, the champagne is heavy, intense, as liquid lead. I see white flowers, toasted bread, but as being heavy and not light. With a langoustine treated with a sugared sauce, the champagne goes in one direction that is not mine. With the cabbage, it is much better as the vegetable makes the champagne appear more civilised. Eric explained why he had asked some honey in the sauce made with vinegar. I am sure that this champagne is ready for many other combinations, as it is purely champagne for gastronomy.
When the Pol Roger Cuvée Winston Churchill 1996 is served, I have still in mind the heavy 1998. So, the WC appears more airy, light, and discrete. But when I get used to this champagne, it is a pure wonder. The WC is so complex, with a race and a length which are imposing. It is noble. Patrick Noyelle explains why it has been possible that the name of Pol Roger be associated to the name of Winston Churchill. He did not say what is the composition of the champagne, which, as the power of the engine of a Rolls Royce (some years ago), has to be kept secret. Eric has explained all the delicate combinations of the sauce with the sea-bass. But I preferred the pure meat of the fish on this immense champagne, to preserve its purity.
I am more and more against the association of rosé champagne with a raspberry tart, as it happens every time, and it is mainly based on the colours. I would like more provocative combinations for such soft champagnes. The Pol Roger rosé 1999 does not impress me that much, and that becomes clear when I do the trip in the opposite order : the WC Cuvée kills the rosé by its class.
Despite these small remarks, the work of the chef, the imagination of Eric Beaumard are spectacular. I have been well inspired to let think that I could be interested by literature, as I have been able to drink some very great champagnes, presented in the best possible way.