So, first things first – this was all pulled together by the splendid Jordi and there were five of us, one of whom will become obvious when I say that the best report of this (and far more in depth) comes on Vinous – Vinous table – The Ledbury. When The Ledbury went into “early retirement / retirement / a coma” early in lockdown it seemed like it might be the end of an era. Fortunately not. Neal’s article covers this aspect much better.

What this was about – back in early January – was just five people some wonderful food and great bottles.

The menu –

Amuse-bouches – including Iberico ham, cured trout and crackers)

Portland crab with swede, buttermilk and apple marigold

24-hour Poole Bay grey mullet with radish, dashi and smoked cream

Jersey beef veal sweetbread with parsnip cream, black garlic and black truffle

Wild sea bass, Chinese artichoke, trout roe and finger lime

Mushrooms from the cabinet (eryngii, hen of the woods, oyster & shiitake – see pic) with potato, yeast & rosemary

6-year-old Jersey beef with Roscoff onion, kombu and caramelized cep cream

Sauternes custard, hoshigaki and bee pollen

Bergamot meringue with pear, sour cream and Douglas Fir

Millefeuille, salted milk and Yorkshire rhubarb ice cream, stem ginger and matcha tea

The wines – the vast majority of which were served “briefly blind”.

Salon 2004 – Incredibly young and focused, laser like, both this and its younger sibling Delamotte 2004 seem to be very much for the long haul. If you were drinking it now I think I’d decant.

Puligny-Montrachet Clavoillon 1er Cru 1999, Domaine Leflaive – I’ve been very fortunate down the years to have a number of the Leflaive 99s and they have been, over the last decade and more, a total joy. A vintage more famed for reds and following two tricky white vintages in ’97 & ’98 they, for me at least, are a reference point of modern white Burgundy. Rich yet, honed then are delicious and just on the right side of hedonistic. This comes from a time when Clavoillon was a bit of an under-performer. The vintage wins though. Super.

Puligny-Montrachet Pucelles 1er Cru 1959, Domaine Leflaive – This was tasteable and drinkable but had gone to the “darkside” – it didn’t get worse or better – it had a sort of stable instability. If this was ever spotted blind it would only have been a guess or possibly a deduction given the organiser’s love of these sorts of bottles.

Richebourg Grand Cru 1991, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti – My notes start “supreme”, there is a real drive here which at 32 years of age is quite something. Depth and persistence, plenty of Richebourg character, darker fruits and a dash of ferrousity. At what will be a long peak.

Richebourg Grand Cru 1981, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti – I can’t remember ever having many 1981 red burgs. This was soft and easy to love, tender might be the word. But then below this tenderness is a certain substance and a depth of dark fruit – quite something. To quote Aubert de Villaine “vintages are not good or bad but easy of difficult” (1981 gets filled firmly under the latter definition)

La Tache Grand Cru 1971, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti – There was a score to be settled here – Mr Martin never having had this wine (from his birth year) when it performed as advertised. Well that score was settled – this was stunning. I am not sure I believe in perfection in wine but there can be times when you drink a wine (not sure it can happen when you just taste) and you wonder what would I tweak if this were possible? A bit more fruit? A dash of acidity? A little lift? – well here I wouldn’t change a thing, long, with depth and elegance at the same time.

Poujeaux 1959 – The aforementioned Mr Martin loves to bring bottles like these. They do a number of things – bring us back to reality, tell a story, show what Bordeaux can do. Well this did just those things. It totally belied its age but not to the extent that it was just impressive for how it had survived. It was joyous and intriguing with richness.

Vosne-Romanée Les Grands Suchots 2018, Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux – One of the most talked about producers in Burgundy these last 5 years and for all sorts of reasons – massive viticultural (& latterly vinification) changes amongst them. This was rich and bold yet defined, there is oodles of fruit and good balance, it is an infant compared to all the other wines, but a confident one at that. Impressive.

Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese A.P. #12, 2008 Joh. Jos. Prüm – A half bottle from the list, my love of the Mosel is not well hidden and this is one of the most famous vineyards and producers. The 2008 vintage is a mid ranking one and often that actually works best as the Auslese richness is kept in check, this was moreish and lovely.

As a first dinner of 2023 this was setting an already high standard! Thank you all and especially Jordi!

Long live The Ledbury!