Got a text message from JM. He had missed his connecting flight in Hong Kong. Had to fly through Rome and then onto Paris. But he was determined to make it to lunch at the Tour d’Argent. Who wouldn’t be?
20 hours later we are here.
Abnormally beautiful warm weather in Paris for early November and the high up view over the Seine and Notre Dame never ceases to stun.
But we are here for the wines. Laurent, the sommelier greets us with a shake of the hand. He knows we are scholars of the mysteries of wine and we are here to learn and experience true pleasure.
PV who usually studies the biblical wine list knows what he wants. A Chablis. Pour changer un peu. Je pars souvent en Cote d’Or, la je me laisse seduire par un chablis. One in particular captures his eye- a Verget 1997 Valmur.
Will it still be fresh? I ask. I thought a lot of 1997 might not hold up because of the warm vintage. I haven’t tasted it in some time admits Laurent, but I bet it is holding up just fine.
JM arrives. He looks remarkably fresh for someone who had just flown for so long.
Laurent brings the Verget. It is perfect. No angular edges of youth. It has confidence to be itself. A round yet bright and energetic 17 year old wine. Notes of lemon still present. Butter still fresh. White pepper. Long in the mouth. PV notes a tiny bit of drying out but Only a perfectionist would even notice.
We ask Laurent to take it out of the ice, which he does immediately, such a beauty need not suffer too much cool temperatures. It would mask its complexity. But perfection goes down too quickly, we need another white.
But what can be served after such a wine?
PV gives Laurent a mission (and a free hand) to choose the next wine. A Chablis. Similar price range. Similar smooth style (not too hard or wooded). Laurent accepts the challenge with a twinkle in his eye. This is when he gets to play. It’s the mark of an old school sommelier- there to serve, guide, suggest, and most importantly understand the tastes of the client, not impose his own taste (or ego). And he comes off brilliantly.
He serves it blind. It is part of his fun. We go along with the game.
The color is very young. Nose is a little waxy. But also honeyed. Is it younger than the 1997? It seems so, maybe a little fresher. Also with a fairly round mouth, but still with Chablis stoniness defining the mid palate.
He reveals the label: a 1992 Drouhin Vaudesirs. Made from parcel belonging to Drouhin. Wow! A wine that was born with such presumably high yields to age so gracefully….
Chapeaux! And the textures of the two wines are similar enough such that there is no clash to go between the two.
JM smiles. It was worth running from the airport.