When the news of the end – for now – of Zucca came out there was quick booking made by fellow Zucca addict – Mr Rafferty for the last but one night, the last night would have been too much.

So nine of us including Mrs Duvault-Blochet joined together for a dinner. The theme being the last bottle from a case, any case. When I say bottle in true style most people brought a magnum or two bottles. This was a very relaxed evening with much opinion expressed and piss-taking. New friends made. We ate from the “normal” menu and rattled off the classics:

Zucca Friti
Carpaccio of Sea Bass
Burrata with Cavalo Nero
Beef Carpaccio
Vitello Tonnato
Squid Bruscetta
Taglierini, Pork & Fennel Ragu

Grilled Octopus
Veal Chop

Chocolate SemiFreddo

We hadn’t managed to co-ordinate anyone doing some fizz so we started with a couple of bottles of the fresh but just a shade toasty Satin La Montina Franciacorta. I really ought to get to know what’s what with Franciacorta, beyond Ferrari and Ca’del Bosco I am just not that knowledgeable.

Then time for some white and we started with “Jazz Hand’s” magnum – Meursault Les Grands Charrons 2009 from Boisson-Vadot. I’ve been lucky enough to drink a decent amount of Boisson-Vadot but never have I had it from magnum before. This had all the smokey, slight reduction you expect of this producer and the richness you expect of 2009, a really decadent start to proceedings. Alongside this was Hattenheimer Pfaffenberg Jubilee Spatlese 2008 from Schloss Schonborn from bottle. This wine was served in the same room at Mrs D-B’s 40th so it seem appropriate to have it again. Lovely Rhine richness with the middle ground of Spatlese, a wine to just enjoy, no pretence.

And on to the reds! Tignanello 1986 was a really easy wine to quaff, not to say it was not more serious but it had slightly lost a sense of place. It wasn’t showing the Sangiovese acidity and it’s kind owner was a little disappointed as it was from “his” vintage (youngster!). I liked it just think that 5 years ago it would have had that bit more personality. 

It’s partner was my offering, Cascina Francia Barbera 2008 from Giacomo Conterno, my thinking being that it is a producer I love and we (C&B) even did a dinner here with Roberto. On the other hand none of the Conterno wines are what could be remotely called mature so this seemed a good compromise. It drank well, still good rich dark cherry fruit but with that cool saline edge you always get from the site, wonderfully food friendly as ever. That was my last mag but I do still have a bottle somewhere.

The next flight was unplanned but set itself up as a great pairing. Two of the top names from respective banks in Bordeaux. Both top estates. VCC (Vieux Chateau Certan) 1998
and Palmer 1998 . Having them then served blind I was delighted to get them the right way round. Anyone in the trade who says they aren’t relieved to get this right especially after 10+ years in bottle is probably lying. The VCC had real poise and such balance, really lovely, young yes but not infanticide at all. If you have a case of this (in bottles) then don’t be afraid to have a bottle of two now, you’ll be missing out otherwise. The Palmer actually tasted to be a little more mature, a little more developed (2nd base may be), not quite the layers of the VCC but splendid.

The next two bottles, from Mr Rafferty were a treat – Rauzan Segla 1947 a BBR bottling – was exuberantly sweet and reminded me of some of the 1955’s I have been lucky enough to have had. A lovely bottle and so fitting to have something this old and special on a night like this. Hermitage 1994 from Chave has no right to be anything like as soft and lovely and just downright delicious as it is. The vintage is not great but then how many times do us wine lovers have to be told “producer, producer, producer”.

One special glass got passed back to us in the Pdr from the main restaurant and it was the really rather lovely Sori San Lorenzo 1990 from Gaja a real treat from Mr Bowker.

Hattenheimer Pfaffenberg Spatlese 1989 from Schloss Schonborn (another coincidence to have this) finished us off for the evening in some style, oily and menthol fresh with good acidity. Is it wrong to say that I think people were concentrating more on the puddings by then.

It was great that Sam (Harris) managed to pop in and join us for a glass here and there.

The end had come – I’ve loved Zucca and shared so many wonderful times there…I am sure it’ll be back. Thanks to all those who have brought bottles and served them, cooked and given great service I am not singling anyone out as it was a team effort…onwards!