Miguel A's dinner at La Cuisine Française last night, 30th September 2009, was in belated celebration of his birthday. We were 4 couples, 8 persons in all. I think it was the first time for all of us in the group to try this restaurant. It is always good to discover new places to eat, plus it is very near my office.
We were the last to arrive, around ½-hour late, so the guys were already halfway through appetizers (assorted pâtés, pork rillettes, salmon mousse) and a bottle of:
2001 Château Lascombes - the Stockbroker's bottle, from an 1855 second growth in Margaux, the older vintages of which I used to buy regularly for the house. This was the first vintage of the new owners I got to try. Moderate new oak laces extracted black cherry, plum, crème de cassis, concentrated blackberry, sweetish pipe tobacco, hints of gravel and dark minerals. The fruit has a slight tinge of a preserved character. Readily more modern and stylish than the older vintages I used to drink, but it is a good wine for sure.
After a few sniffs and a couple of analytical sips, I decided to have this wine with my main course. In the meantime, as a belated bubbly toast to Miguel's birthday, I had opened and poured...
Champagne Tattinger Brut Prestige Rosé NV - My bottle, I like rosé bubblies for birthday toasts (I also always wear a red shirt to birthday dinners to wish the celebrant good luck), and this had a deeper blush than many locally available NV bubbly rosés. Bright cherry and raspberry dominate with a pronounced pinot noir character. Minor notes of red currants, bright acidity, yeasty and bready nuances mid-mouth and to the back. Enthusiastic effervescence. Nothing really deep here (it is a NV after all), but very lively and enjoyable. The wine unwinds/uncoils and its fruit gains weight and roundness with a little time in the glass. Barbara appeared to like it a lot.
There was a mature top growth Bordeaux on the table, so I drank it alone to give it my full attention and respect.
1978 Château Cheval Blanc - Miguel's bottle, a gift from his father for his birthday dinner (what a nice gift indeed!). Alluring, lightly truffled, perfumed bouquet of dark violets, ripe and earthy black cherry, plum, black currants, cassis, discreet mocha; mere hints of truffle, leather, cedar and red spice. Good complexity, excellent balance. Halfway between medium and full body, elegant, patrician, fully mature. Many thanks, Miguel, for sharing this with us.
I took a quick smoke after and re-entered as I saw the main courses being served. I had the Carré d'Agneau Provençal.
As earlier mentioned, I paired this mainly with the 2001 Lascombes, but I made sure, as well, to also have with it some of the...
1994 Château La Mission Haut Brion - Doc's bottle, one I tried with him before over dinner at my favorite Je Suis Gourmand almost 1-½ years ago, on the 12th April 2008. My notes then are as follows:
...darkly reflective deep ruby-red, the Doc asked me to guess what it was. I sniffed deeply in the decanter and in glass: mildly truffled, touches of dried herbs and sweet cedar to its dark cherry/raspberry-laced cassis and dark fruit. Before I could hazard a guess, he showed me the bottle. That was when I decided on a crispy goose leg confit for my main course. In the mouth, the wine had an elegantly lithe, silken medium-body that mirrored its nose with subtle "tarry" undertones and perfect acidity which lent it precise balance. The finish had adequate length.
I thought it was elegant, the fruit was clean, pure and honest, not over-ripe/sweet/pruney or obvious like many these days. I know it sounds trite, but this was truly classic Bordeaux - properly reserved, yet not at all stingy with its charms. Along with Angelus, this is one of the best '94s from Bordeaux I have ever had.
Color me surprised, after reviewing the above old notes, this wine hasn't seemed to have changed - and that's a good thing. It's probably on its plateau. Not as sweetly perfumed in bouquet as the '94 Haut Brion, but excellent as well. Very harmonious, very nice.
Desserts were very good and well-recommended:
Tarte aux Pommes Normande with Almonds and Crème Anglaise (like a deconstructed tarte Tatin, really, because of the baked apples' consistency, but not baked upside down and the pastry is phyllo). With this, I brought and opened an old reliable/favorite:
2006 Domaine Bott-Geyl Gewürztraminer "Les Éléments" - My bottle. A rose petal infused, lychee flavored (typical of gewürztraminer) wine - quite ripe but dry (noted by Miguel). Though neither a vendanges tardives (late harvest) or sélection de grains nobles (botrytised), it is actually off dry and very nice with desserts involving baked apples. It also pairs well with terrine of foie gras de canard.
There is an intriguing slight "oiliness" in the mid-palate mouth-feel and there now seems to be a touch of orange rind in the finish. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the bottle, but since I've written about this wine so many times, there is probably no more need of a photo thereof.
Tarte aux Pécan, a.k.a., Pecan Pie. This was from the take-out pastry display case in the front of the restaurant. I had this with my double espresso.
Thanks again, Miguel, and belated happy birthday anew. I wish you many, many more to come.