As I think I’ve commented before one of the main reasons I write this blog is that I want to remember the finer details (and wines) from some of the great meals, tastings and smokes that I have the great privilege to go get involved in…it is not meant as a ground for showing off or gloating…anyway on with a “wonder meal”… 

When away in Wales on holiday, see last post, a text came through from a friend and customer that suggested I might need to be “available” for lunch the following week…after a couple of emails I was. This man doesn’t come to London for no good reason. Now I’d stop reading now if you are a vegetarian…the Luncheon was to be at Ramsay’s Royal Hospital Road, scene of one of the best lunches of all time but that is on a previous blog, the theme was to be Beef and more specifically the 6 year old Henry that you can see in the picture of the menu. Clare Smyth, Head chef and a dam good one, said she had never seen beef like it. I can safely say having eaten it that the three of us Lunching all agreed it was the best beef we had eaten. It came in many guises but all where stunning. You can see the main course in the picture below.

Now on to the wines. To kick off we had Henriot 1988 Champagne, not a house I am that experienced with. Some 1988’s are quite atypical as there is a roundness and oxidative opulence about several efforts from 1988. I thought this was a very good one, with a backbone of Chardonnay it had some richness but there was poise and freshness in equal measure, a great start. Up next with possibly the finest Steak Tartare I have ever had, it is easy to talk about balance in wines well this had balance in food, we had Grands Echezeaux 1991, Domaine de la Romanee Conti this was at a simply brilliant stage in it’s evolution and perfect now. It had pure fruit but that wonderful “I’m developing” feel about it too. The various facets of the wine just all worked together, we got through it quickly it was just so delicious. Confirms what a lot of people say about the 1991’s being both brilliant as a vintage and great from now onwards, a rare treat and certainly the best Grands Echezeaux I have had. After the Tartare we went to a dish that was visually stunning but also a marvel, Lobster and marinated Rib “kebabs”, this was about the only chance we were going to get to have the one contribution I made on the wine front Bourgogne Blanc 2005, De Vogue (all the other wines were down to generosity of my host), now on the face of it having a Bourgogne Blanc seems hideously out of place amongst the other wines but de Vogues’ one is actually Musigny Blanc Grand Cru it is just that they declassify it to Bourgogne Blanc as they have replanted it in the mid 90’s, the 1993 was the last vintage under the Musigny name. The wine was showing well, tropical, expressive and high-toned it worked well though in truth was not at the wonderful maturity of the others.

Up next was the main course I mentioned above. With it we had two wines – Barbaresco 1978 Gaja & Petrus 1990 from magnum – both worked wonderfully with the beef. The Gaja was still of full colour and had, as expected, a slight Bovril note on the nose with good fruit under it, the wine really opened up in glass and the acidic, tannic bite (a good thing) it initially showed did mellow. Now onto the big boy – Petrus 1990 – it was a beauty. The colour was still full, a tiny bit of evolution, very bright colour. As you would expect it had a beautifully rounded expressive Pomerol nose and palate, there was that tell-tale Petrus depth too. There was very gentle development over the course of the magnum, it had such balance and grace that it was almost  possible to forget it was Petrus. I just enjoyed it for being a great wine. Clearly it has a way to go but it is not too early to be drinking it all, great length, a very rare treat.
Of course now it was time for some Port!! I had mentioned earlier in the meal while Jan (brilliant Sommelier) was serving us that I had never actually seen Port tongs used so when we got a chance to visit the kitchen, and chat to Clare, what should be in the “fire hole” but the Tongs. The Croft 1963 was impeccably breeched and drank wonderfully. Whenever I have good vintage Port I wonder why I don’t drink it more. this had elegance and lots of fruit, at it’s peak but going on for ages I imagine. Seems such a shame that not long after the time this Port was made Croft as a house seemed to lose it’s way a bit.

The biggest “odds-on shot” of the day was that there would be some top Sauternes. My host is probably one of the most experienced drinkers of these wonderful wines (like Port why I don’t drink & buy them more I don’t know). The first Sauternes was a wine that featured high on my “must drink” list as it was Yquem from my birth year – 1975 (and yes for those who know me I’ve had a hard life!!). This wine possibly more that any I can remember had an amazing combination of rich intensity, and I mean serious only-like-Yquem richness, but also fruit freshness. The colour (often misleading in wine and certainly Sauternes) was pale for it’s age. With the Tarte Tatin it was sublime. I just kept having to re-taste it to think that it was as good and as rich as it was, staggering really. The second bottle of Sauternes was Suduiraut 1967 a different and more evolved style, I really enjoyed it. Next to the Yquem you could see a lowering of intensity but again it matched the Tarte Tatin very well. Where the Yquem will quite literally go on for ever the Suduiraut is, I feel from this bottle, at stage where it will start in the next few years to taste more and more mature, suits some people but not all.

As the first dinners for the evening arrived there was just time for a lovely glass of Jacquesson 2002 before jumping in a cab. A quite stunning lunch…as has become a bit of a phrase…”The legend lives on”….brilliant.