Another dinner, another restaurant, another host, same idea: great wines, great food pairings, relaxed conversation, this was the turn of the Burgundians to show off what they can do.
We were joined on a rather wet and wild evening by Gilles de Courcel from Domaine Chanson, his shipper Mentzendorff and keen Burgundy customers to celebrate how far Chanson have come since the Bollinger buy-out in 1999.
Rather than the usual pre-dinner mingle with a glass of champagne, our customers were directed to their tables in Cigalon, Chancery Lane – a lovely combination of purple central booths and long tables running down either side of the restaurant - to tuck into Provencal nibbles including tapenade with fresh bread and sardines on toast. All this was washed down with the almighty 2002 Bollinger Grande Annee. A mushroom nose opened onto a full yet fresh palate which, although delicious, will develop so well in cellar.
With introductory speeches complete, we launched into the first flight of the evening along side King Scallops, Aspargus and Poutargue. The first two wines had many similarities:
2008 Corton Vergennes
Very full oaky nose opens onto a very rich palate. There is so much buttery richness and depth here but also really pleasant contrast with the sharp citrus fruit notes that come through. It is full and creamy and there is almost a bit of white pepper too that draws out the length.
2008 Beaune Clos des Mouches Blanc
The nose and palate are similar to the Corton Vergennes but toned down, just more subtlety over all. This lacks the citrus bite, leaning more to oak and butter, but with a bit of time in the glass the wine bulks up and develops clearer freshness.
However the 2008 Puligny Montrachet Les Folatieres was an entirely different wine to the others in this flight, with rich citrus being dominant in the nose but no lack of fresh bread and butter too. The palate is almost pear drop citrusy but the full body pulls it back from being too sharp and the balance is beautiful ending this wine on a very happy note.
Another brief speech on the next vintage up and we approached our Stuffed Rabbit Leg and Gnocchi with another mini horizontal:
2005 Beaune Clos des Feves.
The fruit (plums and cherry) on the nose is rich and full but not jammy. There is also developing notes underneath of minerals and the lovely acidity leaves you with such a clean, fresh palate that it seems almost a shame to drink such a young wine with so much obviously still to give.
And 2005 Beaune Clos des Mouches
The red and black berries here are more subtle but the palate leaps out with loaded redcurrants and very powerful acidity. It retains this freshness in the glass even as more developed notes, quite savoury meaty characters, start to develop.
Of course the star of the night, as expected, was the 1955 Beaune Clos des Mouches. Savoury, meaty notes become underplayed by such a gentle touch on the bouquet. It is not lacking in complexity but it is more of a memory of a smell than jumping ouit the glass. There is almost a rotten fruit, slightly mushroom quality too. The palate still retains amazing freshness and some spice too, so complex, extraordinary wine. It had all but disappeared by the time the cheese was in front of us, leaving a sea of empty glasses and satisfied smiles.
It would be a tough act to follow however as the final course of Bay Leaf Crème Brulee was marched from the kitchen there were perfectly sized pours of Delamain Pale & Dry XO to accompany it, and what a job it did. A very pleasant surprise, this did not burn but caressed the taste buds leaving a warm, slightly smoky note that was then washed down with the final coffee and petit fours before we headed back into the night, fortunately umbrellas not necessary.
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