To go to Hotel des Roches in Aiguebelle (Le Lavandou) for the fourth time in a month could appear as an obsession. I think it is. I wanted that my friend who cooks so well makes a try with the cook of Mathias Dandine, a chef that I like. It was an occasion to invite my children too. So we go.
The man who is the “chasseur”, taking the cars of the customers can be congratulated to be really constant : he is absolutely inappropriate for the place and remains so. He told me that there was no more place to park my car. This time, my eyes where sufficient to make him take my key with the face of a man wearing on his shoulders the pain of the world. Just after having this bad welcome, entering the place is entering a Paradise. The moon was full and appeared, pink as a lobster. And it lit the sea with traces of silver of the best effect.
As soon as we were at our table, I took a champagne Moët & Chandon 1999 for whom I remembered that the taste was very nicely typed. And this example, once again, pleased me. Some smoky aspects are given by the liquor of assemblage. It went with a nice cream of ‘fenouil’ very proper.
A toast with summer truffle was an appeal for a Krug Grande Cuvée, but I was immediately disappointed by this champagne which appeared limited. It was of course very nice, but absolutely not what a Krug should be. Some years more would help it to be a Krug again, but I am not even sure that it would be the case. The assemblage is certainly not proper, and it shows by contrast that the assemblage of the Moët 1999 is successful.
The second dish before the menu was a ‘brandade de morue’ with summer truffles, that I found not virile enough. I would like it less softened than this one. The bread and truffle is a pure delight.
Mathias Dandine considers me probably as an Arab Prince as he had designed the menu with a beginning with halves of big lobsters for all of us, and the ‘maitre d’hotel’ came with a big tray on which a huge mountain of salt was to be seen. A huge fish was lying within the salt, and we were asked : would it please you, it weighs 3.5 kilos. This is the sort of question that has only one answer. To say 'no' when such a fish, already prepared, is presented, and when my children are hungry, would be impossible. So we took this monster fish, a ‘loup’.
We began with a Batard-Montrachet Domaine Leflaive 2002 which is a white wine of the greatest interest for me. It is evidently powerful, but with the greatest intelligence. And the meat of the lobster was absolutely perfect. And we needed such a profound taste of the lobster to make a possible match with the Batard of a great expression. This was delightful.
For the fish, I had immediately thought of Vieux Chateau Certan 1990, and this Pomerol, so adapted to white fish, performed at a level which is incredible. And the match was a pure gastronomic pleasure. I found the VCC of a great subtlety, playing with suggestions of the best refinement.
I asked to have more ‘girolles’ mushrooms, and I ordered a Romanée Saint-Vivant Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 1997. The wine showed a perfection which seduced all the table. The charm of this great wine is immense. And it is interesting to see that to be from 1997 was not a disadvantage for the wine. Its elegance was expressed naturally.
We had a ton of various desserts or post-desserts, and a Comtes de Champagne Taittinger 1997 was drunk very easily, showing even more the bad performance of the Krug.
The wine which I preferred tonight has been the Vieux Chateau Certan 1990 as it appeared at its best. I would consider equally at the second place the Batard Leflaive 02 and the RSV DRC 97 which had a particular charm.
The combination VCC and fish was highly emotional. Nice tastes of food and nice wines. It was a very pleasant dinner.
Old wines are younger than what is generally considered