Last night was the finale to the 2007 Gourmet calendar our Burgundy Dinner. Ive been anxiously anticipating this event for a while now, and apart from a few traumas with numbers the preparation seemed to go quite smoothly. We ended up with 51 covers last night, which if memory serves me equals our largest gourmet to date the Krug Dinner we did back in 2005. Last night did however set two new records - most numbers of glasses on the table per setting (seven per person) and latest finish (2:30am).
We started the evening with a champagne, after all at £210 per person we couldnt really expect everyone to drink Cremant de Bourgogne!! Keeping with the Burgundian theme however we started with Jacques Selosse Initiale NV. Winemaker Anselme Selosse trained in Burgundy and he has brought the style and techniques of Burgundy to Champagne. A fervent believer in Terrior and practicing Biodynamic agriculture Anselme vinifies each of his grand cru vineyards seperately in small oak barriques. Weekly battonage and malo-lactic fermentation give the wines a richness of character and depth of flavour almost unknown in champagne. These are almost like sparkling Montrachets!! Needless to say the rich style of his wines isnt to everyones palate and some folks found it a challenge - particularly those fans of more pinot dominated champagnes. We got the last 18 bottles of this, and now have to wait until next year for some more!!
The first course wine was a Meursault-Charmes from Domaine Roulot. Now I'll confess that Im not the biggest fan of Meursault. Im not keen on the floral, perfume character that some meursault has. This wine showed huge bottle variation, so much so that we had to do a cheeky little "assemblage" with some of the bottles to try and even it out a little. It was also quite reductive, with a slightly cheesey aroma (they're squeezy, they're cheesey theyre squeezy cheesy peas.)But the decanting seemed to take care of that and the result was quite a nutty style, almost approaching a Puligny style of white. Roulots holdings are at the Puligny end of Meursault so perhaps there is something in that. The wine was paired with an artichoke veloute (aka wine-killer soup) with smoked flaked cod. It actually worked quite well, although the wine wasnt that popular with about 40% of the room.
The intermediate was a paella of rabbit with clams and chorizo and that was paired with Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet "Clavoillons" 2002. OMG a match made in heaven. The puligny was divine - rich buttery nose with a soft vanilla aroma, reminding me of my grannys victoria sponge mix! The feedback was fantastic, it seemed that everyone loved this wine.
Main course was paired with Jean-Jacques Confurons Clos Vougeot 1999. Out of a case of twelve we had one casualty to TCA, the third lost bottle of the night (three more to come!!). This was fabulous - rich in fruit with an understated earthyness, fine tannins and an elegant finish. This wine became the star of the night, everyone raved about it.
The main attraction was served with the cheese course - two different Domaine de la Romanee Conti wines - both from the same vintage. The first was a Romanee-St-Vivant - elegant and feminine in style it was slightly shy to start slowly giving up its fruit to reveal soft graceful berry flavours with none of the earthyness of the more masculine DRC's. The acidity seemed to be sharper and more defined and the tannins were very smooth and understated. The second was a bit more brutish - La Tache - big earthy notes with more defined oak structure to the flavours with the black cherry flavours coming out towards the end, almost like a black forest gateaux. It was a shame that we were only able to serve a mere mouthful as I had six bottles of each wine to pour over 50 people. But the opportunity to taste such wines comes up so infrequently and to be able to taste two different wines side by side is even rarer so I dont think the guests begrudged us the size of the measures.
We had to cheat a bit at the end, as we struggled to source a dessert style wine from Burgundy. I know there are a few late harvest chardonnays, mainly from the Maconnais but I was unable to secure a sample, much less the quantity we desired, and bearing in mind the price of the evening, we felt it might be best to chuck in a cheeky wee Sauternes to finish the night off. Last year we got such a good response to the Chateau Coutet at the Moutnon dinner that I thought, why not get Coutet on again, however this time we went for a younger vintage 2001. H, the pastry chef came up with an excellent Mandarin based dessert which was divine with the wine.
And that was it, the end of 2007 Gourmet calendar. All we had to do was to wash and polish 357 Riedel Cristal glasses, by hand and we could go home. By 2am the final glasses were being polished and re-boxed until next time, and then what had been a long, but very satisfying day had come to an end. The feedback has been great, and now Ive got to come up with an idea to end next years calendar on an even bigger high. Suggestions on a postcard please!!