It has become something of a tradition that a few members of the C&B team have a splendid dinner in St.Emilion courtesy of Mr Magnum and Ian. Last years extravaganza can be found HERE and the previous year, I can assure you, was just as grand. For this years campaign the dates seemed a little trickier but we managed to get one organised and there was no way I would miss it so I went out a day earlier than the rest of the team – April 1st. Thanks must go not only to Colin and Ian but to Mr “Stop at the stop sign” for the lifts to and from the airport.


We were all set before the rest of the guests appeared, a mix of merchants and producers, so started with a bottle of Leroy Bourgogne Aligote 2009. I have never had this wine in any vintage but was very impressed, slightly reduced (I like this character) but more like a good Burgundy than like an Aligote. Good acidity and drinking well now without any of the, sometimes awkward, Aligote feel. Time for one more loosener which was Bourgogne Blanc Cuvee Oglicene 2014 – this is a savvy buy in almost any vintage but combine the skills at Javillier with the 2014 vintage and you have a real winner, fine, focussed and classy.

A pretty glamorous “undercard”

Evening here always starts with very good Champagne and Krug Grand Cuvee En Magnum fits that bill every time. I have no idea of the code etc on this magnum but it was delicious, good focus but lovely depth too.

The format here is always “pairs” and always served “blind”. The first pair were the whites with a superb Terrine de canard et de poivre vert. They turned out to be Chablis Blanchots 2009 from the great estate that is Francois Raveneau Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru 2009 from Domaine Leflaive. The Raveneau was textbook, a little oily, hard crushed stones some good fruit and showing very little age. The link, it was apparent quickly, was the vintage not the producer but the Raveneau had me thinking 2007 or 2010 rather than a more generous and warm vintage like 2009. The First bottle of Bienvenues was superb, a little reduced, rich and full but with real focus, the second bottle much less defined but serve-able, a spare was not drinkable. A great pair overall though.

As the food moved to Poulet au jus de petits pois et d’estragon avec brioche a l’ail we were served the first red pair. No real prizes for deducing that this was red Burgundy and probably from the same vintage rather than the same producer. We were clearly at the top table with these – Grand Cru only. So it proved – Echezeaux Grand Cru 2001 En Magnum from DRC & Bonnes Mares Grand Cru 2001 from de Vogue – being the wines. I was rather smug about getting the producers correct. The Echezeaux was superb, a tiny bit of orange rind, then a little white pepper but above all red fruits and slate…delicious! The Bonnes Mares is a wine I have had a few times now, it is in a lovely place with still quite a primary feel, really lovely darker fruit, more structure, a lovely contrast.

The next pair was always going to be harder to get, because of the wines before it and also because outside of Burgundy things are less (wonderfully) predictable. Both wines were of high quality and suggested a difference that again meant the likely theme was vintage. I was really thrown by the first wine – Ornellaia 2001 – I loved it but wondered if it might be Dominus or somesuch, very good, vibrant with darker fruits and a bit of tobacco and cedar/leather, lovely. The second wine I recognised more accurately by variety but didn’t do any better than that – Brunello di  Montalcino Il Decennale 2001 from Poggo di Sotto. The “Poggo” is a rich wine, with good fruit and a lot about it. I have always been a fan of 2001s (my sons vintage as it goes) from all over Europe (excepting Champagne) and this dinner did nothing but solidify that. The Fromage de pierre was super, and included the biggest bit of Comte ever! The Gateau au fromage blanc au four et fraises marine went well with the Riesling Eiswein Hochheimer Kirchenstuck 1996 from Geheimrat Ashcrott which had a lot of good acidity and a streak of apple/orange through it.

Dow 1963 was a grand finale, ripe and sweet with real opulence. Oh how I love vintage Port. The 1963s, 1966s and 1970s are so gorgeous. Another memorable dinner! The obligatory “Shelfie”, see above, was taken! A very helpful breakfast made the trip back to the airport to meet the team (more about the Bordeaux trip coming soon) all the more bearable.

Until next year (I hope!). THANK YOU CHAPS…