Les 110 de Taillevent is the brasserie wing of the famed Restaurant Taillevent, once known for their cellars, which I am not sure still exist in their traditional form. (Am I mistaken, did they sell their older holdings at some point?) In any event, they still trade on their vinuous reputation and the concept of Les 110 de Taillevent is to offer more than 100 wines by the glass, some of a caliber usually not found in this format. (On their website they take this conceit one more step: every dish on the menu is paired with four wines at different price points. The menu offered at the restaurant is not so organized.)
I sat alone at the bar on a Sunday night. It’s a pretty, though anonymous space, and could be any high-end hotel’s bar/restaurant. It was relatively crowded. The bartender/somm was young, and a good egg, as witnessed by the first note.
Jacques Selosses NV Brut Blanc de Blanc Initiale; I hadn’t seen this on the menu and had originally ordered a Bruno Paillard 1er Rose Champagne. The latter I found undistinguished and I swapped it for this, my first Selosse. The wine was notable for its minerality, dryness (the dosage must be low?), and its multidimensionality; the flavors—lemon, slate—come at you from many directions; almost cubist. A wine to be drunk slowly, to gather all its nuances, a real delight.
Domaine E. Sauzet Puligny-Montrachet 1er Les Perrieres 2006. This was one of my two WOTN’s. It was a beautifully balanced, profound wine, with great intensity and length. I got something like apricots and even marzipan on the nose, as well as in the mouth. The finish went on and on. Probably at just the right stage for drinking.
This is in contrast to the next white, the biggest disappointment of the evening, which I assume was just not in its zone: Domaine Leflaive Batard-Montrachet 2007. Les110 de Taillevent sells all its wines by the glass in 7cl and 14 cl sizes. All the ones I drank and offer notes on here were the former size, except for the Sauzet, of which I took a refill. Even in the demi-verre, however, the Leflaive was 40E, and for whatever reason, it was just not its night. It seemed muted both in the nose and in the glass, and was marked mainly by some lemon curd and a pronounced streak of acidity in the finish—a great disappointment.
Two red burgs followed. The first was the 2007 Volnay Santenots from Lafon. This was quite good, with the sort of velvety mouthfeel and dark red fruit one expects of Volnay, but finally it was not exceptional. The other burgundy, an area in which Les 110 de Taillevent appears weakest, was the 2002 Mortet Gevrey Chambertin. This was the one wine with which I had some issue, as I detected some brett, in addition to which the first sips were somewhat thick and syrupy. (I’ve had other Mortet, G-C Mes Cing Villages, from this epoch, which I have enjoyed.) The bartender/somm did not get the Brett, which in trace amounts I myself don’t mind, but I did not press the point, owing to what had transpired earlier in the realm of Bordeaux.
Earlier, when another couple had ordered glasses and the bartender opened a new bottle of the 2004 Haut Brion, the fellow had been kind enough to pour me a taste. It was an electric sip of wine, with graphite, dark fruit, very minerally, with an open-knit texture that seemed to me to need more time to come together. Accordingly, I did not order any on my own tab and instead went for the 2004 Forts de Latour. This was my other candidate for WOTN. I do not drink much first growth Bordeaux, nor even, these days, the second wines. The Forts struck me as absolutely classic: bold, big flavors (blackberry, some cedar, and something redder near the finish, great refined tannins), amazingly well balanced, both square- and broad-shouldered, with a very long finish. It just screamed beautiful bordeaux, as far as I was concerned.
I had an eaten (portions) of two main courses—a nice cod with leeks, and some roast veal on the bone—so I did not have any dessert. Instead I had a dessert wine: a 2005 Arbois Vin de Paille, I believe by Tissot. It was a reminiscent of a good vinsanto, nutty and a bit dense, syrupy, and a fine way to end a very pleasant evening.