When we begin to celebrate New Year’s Eve, it is impossible to forget that our friend has brought to us a mountain of caviar Royal Beluga. So, we drink the last drops of the magnum of Salon 1995 of yesterday, which has lost its bubbles but remains a solid vinous wine. It is to prepare our mouth. We eat the caviar by the spoon, as it is not necessary to add anything to this royal caviar very tasty, and with a salt which is magnificently balanced. The champagne Salon 1969 shows immediately that we climb many stairs when compared to the Salon 1995. It is very intense, expressive, with a trace of toast, and shows how Salon takes advantage of age.
My wife stops our orgy of caviar by taking the box, and she prepares raw scallops with caviar that we eat with a Château Haut-Brion white 1966. For the ones who love to judge the intrinsic value of a wine, I will say that it is absolutely impossible to judge this 1966 which has captured and adopted the taste of the dish. And it has, like a boa, particularly swallowed the sweetness of the raw scallops, which gives a fantastic combination. The HB white would have a completely different taste on another course. But there, it is absolutely perfect, intense, with a long trace in mouth.
A very big roast hind is cooked without anything except its blood. The blood is separately cooked with slices of black truffles, and mashed potatoes prepared “à la” Joël Robuchon are just there to soften the palate. On that, we begin with a Chambertin Grand Cru Armand Rousseau 1999. This wine whose nose is intense, whose colour is black appears a little roasted, with notes of coffee. It is a genuine Chambertin of the greatest definition. I adore it in its purity.
A second service of roast hind accompanies a Ermitage Chave cuvée Cathelin 1998. This wine has more power, and is naturally gifted for life. The image which comes to me in such cases is Frank Sinatra, a man who sang with a natural voice, positioned with no effort. Chave is like Sinatra. I have thought of discussions about giving notations or appreciations on wines. It would be nonsense to prefer the Chambertin to the Ermitage or to prefer the Ermitage to the Chambertin, as they represent two very different forms of red wines which perform ideally in their region. Why should I prefer one if I adore the two ?
As I had drunk up to now none of these two wines, I wanted to offer them to a friend that I like, and I was happy to discover them in their youth, knowing that they will open magnificently in the future.
The dessert is presented in two plates. One with mangoes in slices just fried, and one with parts of pink grapefruits, just fried too. This very simple dessert is designed to let shine a Chateau d’Yquem 1948. The bottle has a high fill, and to my pleasure, I see by opening that it is an original fill, which gives always better wines. The nose of the wine is purely pink grapefruit. The colour is a magnificent gold, like caramel. And in mouth, needless to say that it is the absolute perfection. For the ones who like notations, this wine deserves the three digits figure. It is the perfectly mature Yquem, which has a botrytis of an incomparable precision. Absolutely incredible.
I remembered then that I wanted to try one day some kumquats with Yquem. I went to the garden and I picked some. The combination is to die for. The ranking of the combinations with Yquem was in this order : kumquat (mainly the skin, which is softer), pink grapefruit and mango.
When I vote, I vote for pleasure and not for the intrinsic value of a wine. Tonight, the pleasure was : Yquem 1948, Haut-Brion white 1966, Ermitage Chave Cathelin 1998, Chambertin GC A. Rousseau 1999 and Salon 1969. If the Salon is not ranked higher it is due to the fact that I find Salon 1969 to be a warrior. And Salon 69 would be more adapted to a gastronomic fight. A Dom Pérignon, more romantic, would have been more adapted to the caviar. The Salon would have been more adapted to a meat.
The best combinations have been HB white 66 with the scallops, then the truffle sauce with the Cathelin 98, and then the kumquat’s skin with Yquem 1948.
I had chosen every wine to please my friend and my family. I was happy with this choice, which ended well a year and began well the new one.
It is certainly the promise that 2007 will be a rare year.
Old wines are younger than what is generally considered