What a difference the next day, after the dinner by the house of the rugby player Yvan Roux! After the spontaneous approach of a sportsman an institution comes, used to be at the highest level, “Le Petit Nice” in Marseille.
The sea in Marseille has unbelievable colours. The blue is bluer than anywhere else. It is due to the grey yellow rocks, very arid, which give an impression of an oasis of light. The hotel, directly on the sea, is tied to it by flat rocks where adulators of the sun offer their body as a sacrifice. Some nice women with a body as black as a burnt toast change the position of every piece of their skin to have a perfect sun tan. It seems that there is a competition to get as soon as possible a skin cancer. The small rope which divides their person in two is supposed to represent a code of decency. This convention seems to be highly virtual. The fact that I write those lines means probably that I was not insensible to this show.
Discretely, the maître d’hôtel tells me that knowing that I would come, he had put a Salon bottle at the proper temperature but I tell him : ‘not this day, I am not the one who invites’.
We take an aperitif between the pool and the sea, on the terrace, and I take a glass of Dom Pérignon 1998, which, as yesterday, I find better than the one I drink at home. Probably a better control of temperature than the one I have in a vacation home. We receive extremely complex amuse-bouche which please me as I see an evolution in the art of Gérald Passédat in a more accomplished and mature way. We enjoy them and the Dom Pérignon plays with these various tastes offering varied aspects.
We go in the room of the gastronomic restaurant with a fantastic view on the sea and the islands surrounding Marseille, and it is my daughter who is in charge of ordering the wine as today, the bill will not be for me but to her friends to whom I offered the vacations.
My daughter is not what I would call a wine expert. She has a taste very oriented towards what I perceive as a Parker taste (which does not mean that the one who has a Parker taste is not an expert). She had loved the wine of Thunevin recommended by Robert Parker, and she ordered a Crozes-Hermitage, Clos des Grives Domaine Combier 2003. In another circumstance, I would have criticised a wine where black berries and pepper seem to be the only skeleton. But there, in a happy atmosphere, I found it pleasant even if not revolutionary.
It went very well with nice langoustines swimming in a sophisticated soup and with a pigeon with honey which I found very tasty.
The cook of Gérald Passédat has had a period with an extreme sophistication, sometimes unnecessary for me. So, some extravaganza still remains. But in a whole, I felt very comfortable with this way of cooking.
As the inviting persons were not big fans of wines, we remained with that only bottle, and the staff offered me a Cognac Delamain absolutely delicious, to be sure that I would not collapse from alcoholic starvation.
Nice weather, nice place, nice cooking, this was enough to enjoy a great day.
Next time, I will choose the wine.
The day after, at home, we have a magnificent lamb of Sisteron grilled only on wood with some herbs from the garden. We try three red Bandol.
The Domaine de Souviou 1998 has a real nose of Bandol. There is some discrete pepper and some discrete black berry which indicate a modern wine, but intelligent. The fruit is nice and tasty. I love this wine which shines naturally with the lamb.
The Mas des Baguiers 1989 is more mature, more complex, and shows how Bandol can become sophisticated with age. Which one would I prefer is difficult to say.
The Chateau de Pibarnon red 1990 had been opened the day before, and we had been deceived by a wine which should be a star and was very limited. This day, the race of the wine appears, and in a blind tasting, I would easily say Lafite-Rothschild, as the nobleness is obvious.
With my children we made the comment that the three wines were very different, making very uneasy to say what a Bandol should be.
A Saint-Agur, sort of blue cheese but largely more creamy than a Roquefort, accompanied the rest of a Maury 1928 which is the completely appropriate friend of this cheese.
We finished the reds with some figs taken from the tree.
The vacations come to an end for our children. The time we spent with all of them is precious for our hearts.
Old wines are younger than what is generally considered