Mission: To respond thoughtfully and responsibly to my experiences of drinking and dining at restaurants with regard to the quality, service, preparation, presentation and overall experience received thereat. The standpoint is one who respects the crafts of the chef and sommelier and who seeks to understand their choices in the kitchen and cellar and grow in knowledge. In this, I will seek to be fair, reasoned, direct and constructive and aim to keep my ego in check on our mutual journeys through the worlds of food and wine.

Monday, November 28, 2016

IWFS Kuala Lumpur visit to Champagne, Burgundy and Alsace September 2016 - Day Four

Our morning route. Joy.
Tuesday, 27th September 2016

Morning: walk to the vines to see Vendange
Bus to Domaine Leflaive
Lunch: Maison Leflaive
Afternoon: Beaune, Bouchard wine taste
Evening: Domaine Taupenot-Merme
Dinner: Castel de Tres Girard

Woke up around 7am. The room was a bit cool from the aircon and the bathroom floor was positively freezing underfoot. Brrrr….   now I remembered why I do not like winter, nor the prospect of it. Too darn cold for humans. Birds have the right idea - fly south. But at least it was dry with a prospect of sunshine. Always a good sign. Couldn't find the slippers so suffered the morning frostbite on the feet and jumped back into the warmth of the duvet for a quick defrost ahead of the shower, dress and ready for the off. 

As said previously, this was to be an early up and at 'em which would involve a brisk morning walk with Fabrice to the vineyards where the harvest was taking place. Well, brisk in theory and ultimately only for some of us - the rest would take the thing a bit more leisurely in the crisp September morning Burgundy air. 

The gentle rolling slopes of the Cote de Beaune
Following a swift and light breakfast of coffee and croissant, the doughty and devoted pilgrims had all gathered in the chill but still morning air with Fabrice outside the hotel entrance. The less devoted had clearly remained in their warm beds. All seemed in various shades of either wakefulness or hangdog from the previous night, but otherwise in good spirit. The sun had yet to come out to burn off the morning chill which actually made it perfect walking weather. The appointed time came and off we tramped toward the line of vans and cars we could see bisecting the Beaune slope. 

Fabrice Amiot with the Pilgrims

The village of Chassagne-Montrachet
There is something about the slopes of the Cotes de Beaune which is so easy on the eye. Rolling greenery of precious climats sectored off by stone or slate walls into the distance and punctuated by pretty towns and steeples. Somehow ageless and deathless. 

The pickers take a break, the Pilgrims take a photo
The walk was pleasant and easy and all cameras started clicking when our group came upon the first gang of pickers who had decided to take a quick snack and wine break. They were all European, it being apparently the law that French employers like Fabrice cannot hire non EU workers (which will really screw any itinerant Brits looking for work once Brexit kicks in). Seeing all the Malaysians taking the photos of the white folks picking the grapes, it struck me that were this about fifty or sixty years ago the positions would be reversed - would have been white folks taking photos of Malaysians doing the work. Strange how the world turns, eh? Someone remarked that the survivors are always those who best turn with it. Not wrong there.

The Pilgrims Communing with the Grapes. Om.
Walking along the lines of vines, there was a great sense both of nature and cycles and vintage and place and…. a moment. A sense that though the Vendange had been repeated annually for centuries, this was MY moment to be here for this picking and harvest of the 2016 Montrachet grapes. Or what was left of them after the bastard April frost that had apparently killed about 70% of the buds according to some estimates. God and itinerant meteors willing, these fields will still be farmed long after I and my fellow pilgrims are gone. Be that as it may, as said this was a timeless and eternal moment for me. Total location and connection with the place and the time. Om. 

"Ai can sell you zis field, 'ow much you want for paiy?"
After a reasonable lurk around the vines and more photos, we took a leisurely walk back to the hotel to grab a quick shower, pack the bags and check out. The sun was now well up in the cloudless sky and making for another glorious day. Napoleon was very quiet today, sheepishly grabbing the bags and wordlessly loading them into the bus. Probably figured best not to say anything to either person or handphone - his end of the trip tips were in clear jeopardy. There did not seem to be much of a rush today - people seemed easy and free and just chilling in the shade. Beautiful light at this time of the morning, which for some reason I failed to take much advantage of in terms of photos. Must have been the early morning walk - the Brian is not built for such extensive exertions at such unreasonable hours of the day. 

Waiting for the bus at Le Montrachet
For some reason no one made the choice to walk to our next destination, the nearby Domaine Olivier Leflaive. Perhaps it was a fear of getting lost, though the winery was apparently just up and around the corner. The herd instinct mentality can be a powerful force. As often happens, the five minute walk became a twenty minute drive due to one way roads and narrow strips and corners that took some negotiating. We disembarked in front of a restaurant that would prove our lunch venue, where we joined a couple of other tour groups that had assembled to go on the winery tour. 

Outside Le Maison d'Olivier Leflaive with the man himself
Leflaive is booze of legend. Their Pulignys are massive fruit bombs that whack and sing and fill the mouth with amazing tastes. The Leflaives were one of the first wine families to recognise and introduce Biodynamism and rode the wave of first movers as it stormed the world of wine drinking. Lenglui and I got turned on to Leflaive some time back and have supped a number of the Puligny vintages over the years. So where Bollinger was a pilgrimage for the fizz lovers, this was a bit of a pilgrimage for us. It was also a chance to say a quiet prayer for winemaker Anne-Claude Leflaive, who sadly passed in 2015.

Freshly harvested from the vines
At the assembly point, we were met and greeted by a farmer-like country gentleman who turned out to be M. Olivier Leflaive himself and who would personally be conducting this tour of his winery. Wow. Following a few words of welcome, we were told to follow him down the road and round a few turns to get to the winery. Which would indeed turn out to be around the corner from Le Montrachet. Herd instinct. There you go. 

We all stopped outside the winery for a brief intro to Leflaive and its history. Everyone else always seems to be able to politely stand and take all this in. I get very restless and miss much of what gets said. I think I heard something about extensions to the winery sponsored by someone in the USA. Lenglui borrowed my seatstool to rest the legs. Very useful device this - folds up to be a walking stick then folds down to become a stool. Pain to carry around and get through airports, but hugely useful on tours like this. Then we all went inside to look at the steel and pipes and ogle at the vintages in the wine storage area. 

Olivier explaining his wines to the Pilgrims
Lenglui needed the toilet so we went off hunting and thanks to my schooldays French was able to communicate this to an employee who directed us accordingly. Lenglui had also had enough of standing so I left her parked with the stool near the staff entrance and returned back to the group back inside the winery. The tour ended back at the front of the winery where we were introduced to a machine that was making the first press of the 2016 Vendange. M. Olivier grabbed a couple of plastic cups and filled them with the juice so that we all could get a taste of the 2016 direct from the press. It was fantastic - sweet and grapey, like grape juice concentrate but with a hit of apple cider. I brought some of the juice along to where Lenglui was waiting for her to try. She also liked. Real highlight for a Leflaive pilgrim like me - can say I tasted the first press when we get the 2016. Can't wait for the finished wine!

Tasting the first press of the 2016 harvest 
Strolling back to town to lunch was a bit warm in the growing midday sun. As said, the restaurant was the place where we had all earlier assembled. It was located in the town square, where two Cenotaphs stood to honour those of the village who lost their lives in both the World Wars. Lot of character in the place, lot of both Leflaive and Puligny history. There was a cute elderly wooden bespectacled Grandmere with a tray outside to welcome everyone into a smallish place with narrow doors, stuffy rooms and tight seating. Actually make that very tight seating. Getting in and out would be difficult. Lenglui figured a pre lunch bathroom visit would be a good idea which it was - she darn smart like that. 

The walk back to lunch
We scrambled and climbed into our tight seats for lunch and a tasting of some Leflaive lovelies. The restaurant does a food menu for Euro30 but if you tack on a tasting of either 6 or 9 wines to taste then this was either Euro60 (labelled "Emotion") or Euro75 (labelled "Passion") respectively. There were also tastes of the Premier and Grand Cru wines at various prices. I think we had a combo of Emotion plus a couple of the 1er Crus. 

Tightly seated in Le Maison anxiously waiting for the booze...
The nice though marginally effete Frenchie with the bottles and the irritating and somewhat snotty "ai am ze expert 'ere, eef you pleeeze oncle, just dreenk when ai tell you" attitude poured us the first three to be going on with. We started with the 2013 Bourgogne, which was fresh and light and tasting of crisp apple with throat dry sucking acidity. Second was a 2011 Saint Aubin Village which, although a wine that ticked all the boxes didn't really pop the cork in intensity terms. And the third was a 2011 Saint Aubin 1er Cru "Chateniere" which did the same only with more, er, intensity - crisper in the mouth, bigger apples, more power in the mouth and finish and sweeping the throat like a draught of frosty spring water. Lovely drop.

The Chicken - love the plate with all the names of the Burgundy regions
The cheese choux was a bit on the dry flaky side, full of air and salt and sticking to the top of the tonsils like sellotape. The Chicken was pretty good, firm and fair taste whilst the apple and celeriac gave crispy sweet and subtle heat. There were also some brown crispy tobacco looking bits which gave some spice and crunch - not sure what these were. In matching terms, wine 1 felt the better of the three - its large acidity got tamed which let some big fruit bombs come through. Wine 2 gained a degree of class when tasted with the food. Got more complexity and clean sleek throat and finish. Good pairing. Wine 3 must have got seen off as I have no note. 

Yasu and Allie
During lunch, someone of an architectural bent passed observation that the extensions to the Leflaive winery felt a bit "bolt on" rather than having been thought through and better integrated into the existing structures. The resulting building felt a bit "factory" rather than Chateau, which he said kind of turned him away from buying the wines. If no thought goes into integrating things into the building, or visibly preserving the heritage of the winery and its pedigree, what else might follow from this? Becomes a question. Is a profit motive looming larger in the boardroom? Will some of the quality seams start to stretch as this push toward larger volumes takes hold?

Vanessa and Tony
Whilst not entirely sure that the logic follows in all that, it does not seem an unfair observation in its context - here we were sucking on Leflaive's best in a Leflaive restaurant and getting sold on the romance of the Leflaive name. And the cash till kept ringing its roll-out-the-bottle song. To which I contributed by buying a couple of the Pulignys. Because they are lovely wines which friends and family enjoy and would be some of the last to have been made by Anne-Claude. Actually no - my friend Julian pointed out that Olivier Leflaive has his own operation separate from the Domaine and we were sucking his wines and not the usual ones we buy. Bugger. Never mind. Gives a good reason to go back there and do the place I assumed we were doing. Bloody French.

M. Le Snot came back with two Meursaults - a 2012 Village "Vireuils" and a 2010 1er Cru "Boucheres". The Village was limestone fresh on the nose, with oak and butter also to the fore. Heavy mouth texture on this one, and somewhat harsh cheek squeaky citrus acidity. Bit thin on the finish. The 1er Cru was also limestone fresh but richer, rounder, smoother, and leaner though still with large oak and butter. And still with a tear jerking lemon squeak acidity that brought tears to the eyes. I think these boys might dissolve kidney stones. 

The cod was nicely roasted and full of firm fish taste. Potatoes were fine, lightly boiled and crunchy and adding light and milky Creme Fraiche made for three great companions on a plate. And all seasoned lightly though with an added hint of cardomom. I just wish it all could have been hotter. Not sure if this was the style that Chef was seeking to display to us punters, but I would think that Roast Cod requires some warmth. Perhaps the kitchen might have been suffering from lack of staff to get 40 plus dishes out on to the tables. But hey, if you're laying on tours for visiting pilgrims every day and offering food and tastings at your outlet, you need to make sure there's enough staff to get the food out fast and hot. There's a need to maintain the standard here, else the whole brand suffers as a result. Perhaps my architectural friend might already be right.

The Roast Cod with Potatoes and Cream
Anyhow, matching wise, Meursault 1 gained a gut turning acidic belt resulting in a Metallica fierce finish. Yuck. Meursault 2 fared somewhat better, certainly less harsh, but the food seemed to suck most of the character out of the wine and turned it into springwater. Very pleasant springwater, but springwater nonetheless. 

Pannacotta. Very French. Oui.
I think Dear Leader decided we needed some of the top class to try because out came a 2011 Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru. Not sure if he bought by the bottle, but we all got a decent slug of it. Hugely tight nose - I thought I got a hint of kipper but my nose was pretty whacked by this time. Eventually got a bit of raisin and perhaps hazelnut aromas. Tastewise, it was like sucking on a tin of mixed fruit - peaches, cherries, orange, pineapple and all doused in that thick sinful syrup the doctors say is analaptic shock in waiting but which we greedily pour down our throats anyway. Nice and tasty, though not convinced it was enough to shell out Euro100 for a bottle. And having it before the youthful and frisky 2011 Pommard Village rendered the latter tannic and acidic and setting the teeth on enamel stripped edge. The cheese helped the Pommard slightly, though not enough to save it. "Grim and harsh" say my notes. Though the cheeses were excellent. Someone came round to take orders for tea or coffee. Someone responded with a "More wine, please." Don't think we got any - M. Le Snot was charming another group into buying up the souvenir booze. 

Our lunchtime tastings
On the way out, I bought a Leflaive T Shirt and, as said earlier, splurged on two bottles of the 2011 Puligny Montrachet "Les Folatieres" at Euro73 a hit which is still a good whack below what we would pay to get it brought up from Singapore after tax and duty. I recommended it to The Money who strongarmed a more pleasant bottle man (M. Le Not Snot) to give her a glass from which I managed to snag an extra sip whilst she was swooning over it. It is good. Will make sure these survive the trip, unlike that poor Italian that never made it past Paris CDG. Overall, if you're a Leflaive fan, then this pilgrimage is a must. If not, perhaps do lunch at Le Montrachet round the corner for the Michelin stars. And the wider space between the chairs. And the hot food. Though you won't have Grandmere to welcome you. Nor M. Le Snot. Non vraimant.

May with Grandmere Leflaive. And my booze.
Food Menu
Cheese choux pastries

Blanc de Volaille marine au citron, celeri et pomme verte
Marinated chicken breast, celeriac and green apple

Cabillaud, pomme de terre grenaille et raisin blanc, creme a l'echalote
Roasted Cod, grenaille potatoes, white grapes and shallot cream

Trio de Fromage regionaux fines par A Hess
Regional chesses matured by Alain Hess
Panacotta pain d'epices et coulis de cassis
Spice bread Pannacotta with blackcurrant coulis

La Maison d'Olivier Leflaive
10, Place du Monument
21190 Puligny-Montrachet
Tel +33 (0)3 80 21 37 65

Back on the bus for a fifteen minute drive to the Ibis Styles in Beaune to dump the bags for an immediate out and tasting at Bouchard Pere et Fils. Lenglui along with the majority decided against this one, opting instead to walk around the town and have a little looksee around the shops. For those who have not visited, Beaune is hugely pretty and wonderfully walkable. Lots of little shops selling wine and booze paraphernalia, and charming patisseries inviting you to sit for coffee and cake - well worth a couple of hours to meander and shop.

Checking in at Beaune Ibis Styles
There were four of us who set off to the Bouchard winery from the Hotel, and we would be joined by three others who got initially detoured by the craving to spend on necessaries like Truffle Mustard and sunblock. It was becoming quite a hot walk to get there, but thanks to Dear Leader's GPS we managed to navigate a scenic route in the cooling shaded streets of Beaune. We got to Bouchard about ten minutes late but still in time for the tasting. I remembered the building from my last visit on a rainy Sunday in August 2013 - peering through the wrought iron gates in the drizzle to take a photo of a long Town Hall like imposing structure that was saying "non, yoo cannot come in 'ere on a Sundaaaiy - whay are yoo not een church?" In the sunlight and open gates it looked way more friendly and indeed Dear Leader got warmly welcomed by the lovely Mmselle and young Monsieur who would be our guide. We took a  brief five minute look at the treasures underneath the building, and then got straight to the tasting. I think Dear Leader might have mentioned we were a bit time pressured. It is always good when you get an understanding guide, n'est-ce pas?

Maison Bouchard Pere et Fils
Bouchard was founded in 1731 and has a collection of some 150,000 bottles, some of which date back centuries. It was taken over by the Henriot family of Champagne in 1995.  The vineyards of Maison Bouchard Pere et Fils cover around 130 hectares (320 acres), of which 12 hectares produce grand cru wines and 74 hectares grow second-ranking premier crus. Our guide proudly shared that some Maison Bouchard Pere et Fils vintage burgundy were sold at auction in Hong Kong in September 2016, one of which was an 1846 vintage from the Meursault-Charmes region which (in what was described in a report as "enthusiastic bidding") sold way above its estimate of HK$80,000 for HK$134,750 ($17,451). The bottle was described by Christie's as the oldest bottle in the Bouchard cellars, with a pale golden colour and a honeyed character (seemed they opened, tested and recorked the boy).  

I must confess to never having been a great fan of the Bouchard wine style. Perhaps a massive over generalisation, but on the whole I have found them a bit on the meagre and thin side, lacking firm body and bite (though perhaps this is the result of only tasting the introductory levels). I do like a bit of meat and whack in my wine. Of today's tasting, I have nothing in the way of notes other than the names of the wines. It all went by in a blissful sunny bright haze of delightfulness. There truly is nothing like sipping the fruits of a winery's labours in the comfort of a well appointed and comfortable tasting room, with little in the way of apparent parsimony in the offerings. There were some lovelies being poured, though none of which ultimately passed the wallet test. 

Some of our tasting wines
We had a 2011 Gevrey-Chambertin, a 2011 Premier Cru Beaune du Chateau, a 2012 Premier Cru Beaune Clos De La Mousse and a 2011 Vigne De L'Enfant Jesus. The whites were 2013 Saint-Veran, 2011 Premier Cru Meursault le Porusot, and a 2012 Premier Cru Puligny Montrachet "Les Combettes". I found the concept of a wine of the baby Jesus somewhat amusing in a Catholic kind of way (I was apparently baptized one).  It was Holy Water indeed. Not sure whether the Vatican would wholly approve, though presumably such a naming does not cause offence. No fire and brimstone raining on the Bouchard roofs. Yet.

Bouchard Pere et Fils
15, rue du Chateau
21200 Beaune
Tel +33 (0)3 80 24 80 24

Heading back to the hotel we lost one of our number so Dear Leader went back to search for him. Seems he was choosing some Bouchard booze to buy and we forgot about him. Lenglui had a successful shopping trip to the Pharmacy in Beaune, having found a skin creme which cost 60% less than home prices. We lazed for a little while before a shower and dress and down for the bus to Morey St Denis and a winemaker's dinner with Romain Taupenot of Domaine Taupenot Merme. Originally the dinner had been scheduled to take place at the One Star Jardin Remparts, a pretty chateau like 1* star restaurant right in the centre of Beaune and five minutes walkable from the hotel. Dear Leader shared that when Romain saw the menu he took it upon himself to liaise directly with the restaurant Madame to change the menu to better suit his wines. Seems the Madame took some offence at the implication that she could not match her food with the wines. After some back and forth across the email ether, both agreed to disagree and parted the ways. Not sure if she told Romain to go elsewhere, but that is what he did. So it was we loaded onto the bus at 6pm to drive to the place that Romain booked, the Castel de Tres Girard. This was also in spitting distance from Romain's Domaine and allowed us to get a brief tour of the winery before our winemaker's meal with him (can't resist it - Romain's Domaine). Dear Leader says if he ever tries to book the Jardin in the future, he will use a different name. 

Outside Domaine Taupenot
Driving through the single lane roads of the Cotes de Nuits was pleasant, passing road signs of legend and desire. The somewhat fierce setting sun necessitated sunglasses, and the reddening sky indicated that it should be a hot one tomorrow. It took us about an hour to reach the Domaine - as memory serves Napoleon took a wrong one somewhere and we had to re-route. I think he was following a French GPS. But of course.

Domaine Taupenot courtyard and well
Romain was there to greet us as we stepped off the bus into a well appointed property that seemed to loom four storeys high but was only two. About 40 plus in years at a guess, very warm and talkative in a mild manner, he kept us standing in the courtyard while he talked about his winery and the climats. As he was doing, a car pulled up and after an awkward bit of parking a vivacious lady stepped out and conversed quite informally with Romain. Everyone assumed they were married. Bit of a shock when he revealed it was his mum - very sparky and stylo. Lenglui was most impressed.  

Mum also became the cue to head off to the cellar, which we did. I need to add at this point that someone had decided it would be a good idea to fine anyone Euro50 who asked a question of Romain. The aim being to shut certain people up and so get to the dinner and the booze faster. Which actually turned out to be quite rude - there was Romain telling us all about his booze and how he made it and all he was getting from the assembled was stonewall silence.  He was indeed starting to sweat a bit by this impassive bunch of pilgrims. I asked a question to give him some relief and offer a way out, which worked - the tour drew to a fast close after it. Then when someone tried to impose the fine on me I flatly refused. Both the premise and the concept did not reflect the standard I would expect of the IWFS. I feel we should be above such schoolyard nonsense. The Queen would be most unamused.

Winston and The Money
As it was, we got to the booze soon enough. The venue was a short drive to the Castel de Tres Girard, an old style cottage place with a roaring fire in the bar and a large room for the restaurant with open area seating available to visitors. We would all be sat on one long table which, in the low light of the place, seemed to stretch away into the distance.  Whilst the fire and grate looked glorious, one consequence was that the place got a bit stuffy if you were sat near that end of the room (and guess who was so sitting…). Seems a Malaysian chef was operating the place but was away on the night we were there.

At the table at Castel De Tres Girard
Castel De Tres Girard is associated with the Chateaux & Hotels Collection, a "regrouping of hoteliers who didn’t feel comfortable with the merger of Relais de Campagne, Relais Gourmands and Châteaux-Hôtels".  They say the hotel and restaurant are housed in an old 17th century wine press, whilst the restaurant "celebrates inventive gourmet cuisine accompanied by exceptional wines."

Both the hotel and restaurant get pretty good reviews on Tripadvisor, and the mention in the Michelin guide looks and reads positive. The place looks very pretty in sunlight on the website, though not much information on the history of the place - doesn't help that the website is in French. There may have been an English version but it was not immediately apparent. Never mind.

Romain telling us about his wines
We all got seated and the wines started to flow. Number 1 smelt like cow poop but tasted wonderful, like tropical fruits - put me in mind of Cigku, that purple-black rock hard skinned little beast of a fruit we see in Malaysia. But when someone remarked that Wine 2 smelt the same, Dear Leader got suspicious and came for a sniff. He immediately ordered fresh glasses - there was something wrong with the ones we had and suspected the early ones were not fully rinsed of soap. On fresh glasses being brought to the table, I got passed over and notwithstanding asking for a glass ended up having to trudge to the kitchen to get one for myself. Also got one for Lenglui to spare any future blushes. 

I must have been Mister Glass Window Cellophane on this evening, because in addition to getting passed over on glasses, I would get passed over on food - twice. Some cutlery issues in all of this as well. Staff were pleasant enough (all men) but clearly not too attentive. Though it must be hugely difficult to retain decent staff in a village in the middle of France, notwithstanding the beauty of the place. Given the quality of the wines we would drink, I'd work there. Train the buggers up and pay them in wine. Though I might be too drunk to do decent food service. Sommelier - that will work. I can handle a corkscrew.

First dish was the somewhat over-salted egg which had been positively buried in truffles. They had this woody kind of quality about them which was new - a kind of a bark-like texture to them which melded beautifully with the egg and all of it slopped up with the wheaty bread and farmhouse butter. All of this worked well with the Saint Romain Blanc, cutting through to reveal citrus, mango and melon. Nice. Stinky due to the bad glass, but nice.

The 63degree Egg and Truffles
Wine Two (also in stinky glass) was Village Gevrey 2012, apparently a low yield vintage. As said, same stinky cow poop smell but the taste was fantastic. Clean crisp cherry, total terroir, bit of toasty oak, minerality and veering toward complexity (winespeak for "things beyond the vocabulary of the witless writer"). When transferred to a non stinky Burgundy glass, the sucker sang - beautiful nose, wonderful mouth and finish, beautiful wine. 

Snail Ravioli
The Snail Ravioli was a bit odd in texture, but pairing with bacon and some fava beans in a Ragout sauce kind of worked. Never seen snails in ravioli before. I have vague memory of them being somewhat crunchy. Naturally the sauce was amazing with the bread and butter. 

Lobster Curry. Allegedly.
My Lobster Curry seemed to lack any hint of curry, my Lobster was mushy and undercooked and I dam near cracked a tooth on a chunk of shell. Strange looking dish, though the rice tasted okay. Dare I say, it would have benefitted from a splash of chili sauce... no one asked for any.

The Morey Saint Denis was another great wine - full nose, pepper cherry mouth, medium body and a wonderfully long finish. Snagged a couple extra glasses of this one. This felt like the good stuff.

Pilgrims communing with the booze
It was at this point that I seemed to notice a preference for the food on the dishes to be located more on the left side of the plates. Not sure if this was artistically intentional or whether the chef might be left handed, but it did seem a shade OCD. 

Finally a dish to sing about - the Charolais Beef was excellent. Great taste and amazing texture, with such an easy tender bite on it. Equally with the Foie Gras - smoky, gunky and utterly brilliant. So so good. 

Charolais Beef. Yum.
And the 2006 Corton we were supping with it was equally delightful. Rich black forest fruit, berries and an endless finish. This was followed by a 2006 Chambertin made from grapes planted during WWII. Such an elegant wine, terroir nose, sweet fruit, a wonderful finish and absolutely perfect with the Charolais. The restaurant had redeemed itself. Well worth a return for this beef and this booze. 

Cheese Platter
My notes were suffering in the face of all this wonderful booze and the generous toppings we seemed to be getting. Lots of drunken swear words in my notes extolling the wonders of all the wines. And most of it for the 2006 Chambertin - four repeated praises with different coarse and colourful words that do not bear repeating here. It must have been very, very good. Got a later note which says "Leave it in the glass and - wow. Nose gains intensity, all green fields and forest and herbs - thyme and oregano." 

My note on the 2002 Mazoyeres has it as "powerful and intense, with firm acidity and tannins, youthful, colour of a two year old wine, nice length. Tremendous balance across fruit, alcohol, tannins and acidity. Silky powerful - total race horse wanting to get out of the starting gate." The good stuff clearly brings out the lyrical in me. Oui.

Yin-How with (L to R) David, Romain and mystery wine winner Dr Rajan
So… for me the service was pretty grim - missing my cutlery on the table, missing my pourings and glasses, missing my food - twice. The staff were clearly stressed in having a table of 22 to serve all at once and keep the other punters in the restaurant happy. Notwithstanding the wonderful wines and generous pourings I can't quite forgive the restaurant for the first two rounds of dirty glasses some of us received. This completely messed up my sniffing of the wines, thereby killing one of the main elements of the evening. Not sure if others had this, but I certainly felt I got the short end on this presentation by the restaurant. 

Outside of this it was a wonderfully enjoyable evening. Romain was in great form talking about his great tasting wines, and I got him to do a sell job to a neighbouring table that had bought his wine from the restaurant's wine list. One of the diners saw my medallion and asked if I knew anything about the Taupenot-Merme they had on the table. I said not really, but said that the chap who made it was on our table and maybe I could persuade him to speak about it. Which he did. Always good to make connections with the punters, eh? Maybe he can give me a job. I can handle a corkscrew. 

The Domaine Taupenot Merme wines
The Castel de Tres Girard would not get a Michelin vote from me on this performance. Though I would go back, if only to buy some of Romain's wines and drink them there with him and Lenglui and the excellent Charolais beef - and relive a wonderful memory. Maybe next time we'll persuade him to bring his mum.

Everyone drunkenly dozed on the bus back. Can't remember much. Perhaps there was some brief attempt at singing. No memory. Fell into the Ibis bed, slept like a pig.

Ai laike zis waine! Ooo la la!
Castel de Tres Girard Restaurant Hotel Menu

63o Eggs, Button Mushrooms, Sesame, Burgundy Truffle
Saint Romain Blanc 2013

Snail Raviolis, Onion, Bacon, Red Wine sauce
Gevrey Chambertin 2012

Malaysian Lobster Curry, Black Fried Rice
Morey St Denis 1er Cru "La Riotte" 2012

Charolais Beef Filet, Pan Seared Foie Gras, Seasonal Vegetables
Corton Rognet 2006 and Charmes Chambertin 2006

Cheese from our Region
Mazoyeres Chambertin 2002 and mystery wine

Michel Cluizel dark Chocolate, Red Pepper and Raspberry


Castel de Tres Girard Restaurant Hotel
7, rue de Tres Girard
21220 Morey-Saint-Denis
Tel +33 3 80 34 33 09

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