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 7, 2016

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

First view of Bollinger
Monday, 26th September 2016

This was a well early start, with all of us checked out and on the bus by 8.30am for a morning drive and visit to Maison Bollinger en route to lunch at Chablis. Wasn't able to eat much for breakfast this morning - still hugely full from the day and night before - so it was just the Cafe 21 instant coffee in the room and downstairs to pack a cheese and meat sandwich in the dining room for the bus. With an upcoming breakfast of bubbles, it would definitely be important to eat something to line the stomach ahead of it. The Gastric Blues are easy to get but they ain't no fun on a moving bus. 

With the luggage all wheeled out and loaded, we were indeed off pretty much on schedule - the fear of fines seemed to be doing its job. One was never quite sure who was taking the notes on the miscreants - I suspected it was The Money. The members seemed pretty chipper and chirpy this morning. Brilliant bright sunshine can do that to people. I put on my sunglasses and tried to nap.

Maison Bollinger
Rolling up and down past and through the Champagne and Chablis countryside in late September sunglass bright sunshine made for some pretty vistas. Cresting one hill, we got one brilliant view of mists in the valleys that raised lots of "waaaaahhs" by the members and a general scrabbling to get photos. I missed it, but it sure was pretty. Like one of those Chinese paintings of distant hills poking up out of the mists. Very atmospheric.

Ms Moneypenny explains the plantings
We turned off the main road and another couple of turn offs got us on to madness one lane tracks and almost impossible corners to negotiate. Fair play to Napoleon the driver (my name for him), he got around them like a pro. Though we had to reverse back up a hill to park up when it was discovered that we were in danger of passing the winery. There would have been a wringing of hands and a strangling of Napoleonic necks should that have happened. Two of our members were positively salivating as they entered this particular Shrine to the Grape - the Bolly is their far and away tipple of choice. Total pilgrimage. Half surprised they didn't take off their shoes and prostrate themselves at the gate. 

There were two sides to the winery - the business end where the booze was made and the Chateau side where the booze was sold. The business end would prove more rustic and functional, with Farmhand and Factory types milling around and looking busy. The Chateau side was where the tasting would take place and was more regal and imposing. 

Stoned at Bollinger
Parking up outside the Bollinger winery, we got met and greeted by a most elegant French lady hostess who promptly took us to a smallish walled in one hectare patch where some of the Bolly grapes got grown. She was decked out in a Gabardine style raincoat and looked for all the world like she came straight from a James Bond movie - all femme fatale who would take no lip from 007 and who seriously knew her booze. I have a vivid imagination on occasion. The vines in this patch were unusually not in any pattern and growing a bit haphazardly compared to the neat rows we normally see elsewhere. There was a reason for this which eludes me at the moment. There was a big tombstone marking the patch as "Bollinger" but no other real indication that this was where the nectar was grown. Everyone seemed well happy just to be here in the sunshine and among grapes that go to make perhaps THE most iconic of champagnes. It certainly felt like a moment.

There was then a trip down to the cellar and the cooper's woodshed and a testing area. Some of the harvest was already in and they were testing for something and making serious notes about it. I think they were testing the weight of the juice and using some bits and pieces of laboratory stuff I vaguely remember from Chemistry classes at school. I was more interested in looking for photo opps - I really should pay more attention.

After a tour of the downstairs where the good stuff was stored, we congregated in a driveway outside the cooper's shed whilst the toilets got found and used before getting ushered off to our liquid breakfast in the Maison. This was where the Maison Bollinger started showing its greatness. Through the wrought iron gates into the totally grand (I think Georgian) chateau style courtyard. There is an amazing sense of primus inter pares - first among equals - about this place compared to Pommery and Ruinart. They just know that there is champagne and there is champagne and there is Bollinger, and they don't have to do anything to reinforce it.  The place just oozes and exudes class. Totally glad we did this place. 

The Pilgrims commune with the Vines whilst Ms Moneypenny talks to James through the MI6 earpiece
Having been suitably awed by the entrance, we got whisked through the door and into the tasting rooms, where the fizz had been prepared and the glassware set out on tables. We just needed to grab chairs and park ourselves and wait for the fizz. In theory - some couldn't wait and started pouring for everyone. I think it might have been one of our Bolly Pilgrims - I saw the tongue was hanging out in dehydration and possibly in the grip of the rapture. I found the toilet and hung up the coat and walking stick. 

David advising members to not leave anything in the tasting bottles because it is bad manners in France to do so
There were about 9 bottles in total for the 22 of us. Part of me was hoping for a fusillade salute of all the corks popping boom at the same time. Not to be - Ms Moneypenny had already opened some of them and did the traditional and professional "whisper" opening with the rest, and quite expertly so. 

Looking around the room, there was a lot of homage to James Bond. There were visuals of JB in Casino Royale and traditional From Russia With Love poses (there was one other for Bond and Bond Girl - possibly Skyfall or Spectre) and Members had fun poking their heads through the cut out holes and, er, Bonding with Bond as photos got taken.  I found myself being about six inches too short for the hole so my doubling chin was hanging off the edge. Not my best photo. Perhaps better as a Bond villain - M'sieur le Boozy Petomane - mai thunderbutt flatulence is lethal. Oui. 

Bollinger NV, Rose and La Grande Annee 2005. Breakfast of Champions. Oui.

We were tasting three Bollys - the Non Vintage, the Rose and the La Grande Annee 2005. The NV had a yeast nose with a bit of musty farmyard stink. Granny Smith apples in the mouth, slightly sour though brilliantly crisp. Great balance, fine bead, good scouring grip on the throat. The Rose had the same yeasty nose, though no farmyard. Light cherries in the mouth, good acidic spritz on the cheeks, less grip and a cleaner finish than the NV. Perfect for breakfast on the Corn Flakes. 

The 2005 was "The Great Year", hence the name. Far less yeast and way more biscuit on the nose, lovely bead. A hugely clean and lean drop of fizz, with citrus taste, some sweet grape with notes of almond and a fast racy finish like Lewis Hamilton at Silverstone. 

Breakfast is served
All three would clearly serve for different purposes - the NV was a chugger with friends, the 2005 needed food whilst the Rose was just delightful. I looked over at the Pilgrims and saw communion, engagement and contentedness - total Nirvana. I found a general clean-ness about the Bolly champagnes, a lessened sense of acidity and somewhat lighter balance than (for example) the Pommerys and Ruinarts, and less of a whack in the chest than many others. Slight differentiation in character perhaps - not bad, just different, and more in line with my preferences. Though quaffing the fizz still made me trumpet and thunder like a moose on the rut. Good thing the toilets were soundproof…

Datin gets cunningly distracted to let Dato' get another slug of the booze. Tony watches with hope for similar
All of the Bond paraphernalia led naturally to the question as to whether our hostess knew who the next Bond was going to be. Ms Moneypenny answered no. But felt for sure he (not she?) would still drink the Bolly - clearly a great relationship had been built up over the years and long it looked like continuing. One of our Pilgrims shared that the Bolly was his favourite and he had been drinking it for more than twenty years - the estimate was that he must have drunk about ten thousand bottles in that time. Another Pilgrim thought she might be catching up with this - she confessed to consuming a case a month by her reckoning. Whether such confessions were made in the hope of more holy liquid getting poured was not clear - in any case, it was unsuccessful. 

Chablis town
We said fond farewells to Ms Moneypenny and Maison Bollinger, and with various and many invites for her to come to Kuala Lumpur. And to bring James and a few bottles with her. Following a general bathroom visit, we were back on the bus and off to our lunch in Chablis. The ride would turn out to be quite a long one, and requiring a stop at some small cafe cum newspaper shop in the middle of nowhere which added about thirty minutes to the journey. 22 people with one single toilet at a minute a head - the math is pretty clear. Napoleon seemed to be happy with the break, spending most of the time talking to someone on his handphone. Some people wanted to sit down and try the food but got verbally smacked as incurring more delay. We picked up some snacks which got shared around the members as we drove off. 

We got to Chablis and found that a short walk along pedestrianised streets was necessary. I had never realised that there was an actual town with the name Chablis - I had always thought of it as an area. It felt a bit quiet and sleepy, though a fair bit of traffic seemed to zip along the main road through the town. The bus rolled up on the cobble pavement at a street just off the main and off we trundled.  

Thought this was the restaurant entrance...

We got to the restaurant just before 2pm and they graciously extended their lunch hours to accommodate us.  Our venue was named Au Fil du Zinc which Dear Leader had billed as "The most exciting restaurant in Chablis with whispers of a probable elevation to 1* soon with a highly regarded Japanese chef. An impressive wine list."  Au Fil Du Zinc is operated by Japanese chef Ryo Nagahama (ex sous chef Joël Robuchon l'Atelier in Taipei), spouse and pastry chef Vanessa Chang and Fabien Espana (7 year manager of Soufflot in Irancy). It does have a mention in the online Michelin guide which says it offers a neo-bistro reinvention of French Cuisine based on fresh (and seasonal) products in a cosy and friendly atmosphere. 

I remember a nice light and refreshingly airy ambience at lunchtime, with lots of natural light and fresh air breezing through the place. There was a small waterfall bubbling and rushing outside and underneath this renovated old mill which clearly helped bring the good "chi" into the place. Very pleasant. 

Another long table had been stretched out to accommodate us and down we sat to nibble on some pretty ordinary cheese bread and good clean water. Must say the French know how to do their bottled water - lots of brand choices and there do seem to be some slight minerality differences across them. Which got me wondering if there are water connoisseurs as there are wine connoisseurs. Champagne for breakfast can make you think these things.

According to the menu, the starter croquette was comprised of mushroom and Pig Feet - if this was indeed what we had. For me it felt like a tasty potato croquette speared with a, er, small spear to trawl the thing through some wasabi dip. Following this first dish was (apparently) some pan fried Bachalau (salt fish) paired with some lemon jelly and a cheesy cream mousse. My notes say the combo was excellent, with the deep salt fish and lemon cutting the airy whisk and milk of the cream - lot of texture and rasp versus whisk going on here. Great mouthfeels, cold creamy cheeks and salty citrus tongue.

Au Fil Du Zinc interior - light and airy
This was being paired with a Bereche et Fils Champagne, name of "Rive Gauche" from the Meunier district. I got a lovely oatmeal biscuit on the nose with sharpish apples in the mouth. Full firm finish that thudded as it hit bottom. Less refined than our breakfast tipple, but loads of character. Perhaps a shade heavy in weight for a starter fizz, but no one was complaining.  I stole Lenglui's speared croquette to taste with the fizz. It was perfect - light food and heavier weight biscuit fizz. Om….

Cold Corn Soup and Cromesqui de Foie Gras
Second wine was a 2010 Chablis Grand Cru from Domaine Francois Raveneau. This one seemed a bit familiar and Dear Leader shared that indeed we had drunk the 2009 during our lunch at Le Parc Les Crayeres the previous day. This one felt very nice and with a lot going on - melons, mango, lemon honey citrus, rich in the mouth, prickly cheeks and an endless finish. 

We were having this with a cold corn soup into which a "Cromesqui de Foie Gras" had been parked. Seems a Cromesqui is a little chunk of Foie Gras in a breadcrumb or other crunchy wrap (another croquette!) and heated so that the Foie Gras gets slightly melted. Kind of like Foie Gras Tonkatsu, I guess. The soup is creamy, milky and sweet, though I could not get much in the way of Foie Gras - lots of crunch and season and breadcrumb, but felt the FG was MIA. The salty cheese bread worked wonderfully with the soup to contrast the sweet with the slightly sour and salt - simple but so effective. 

Next up was the most delightful egg - poached and coddled like a half boiled egg from Jalan 222 it came with (I think) Salmon, Onion Jam, watercress and a Chablis sauce. The combo of somewhat salty salmon wine sauce with the most perfectly poached egg and crisp wafer bread is just excellent - got gunk, salt, carbo, goo and sweet - and the bitter watercress was genius. And naturally perfect when slurped off the plate with the remains of the baguette, all slurpy salt wheat bite, chew and butter gunk swallow. Total perfecto. 

We were on to a third wine by this time, a 2008 Grand Cru Corton-Charlemagne out of Bonneau du Martray. I have no note except to say that the egg combo brought out a class in the wine that alone it seemed to lack. It tamed some acidity and brought it up to….  can't remember. Champagne breakfast can do that to you.

The wonderful Pork
Wine Four was a 2008 Premier Cru Gevrey Chambertin Clos St Jacques from Domaine Bruno Clair. And it was a stunner. Firm in the mouth with good bite on the cheeks, dark forest berries and damson and slight hint of cherry, and loooooooong finish. This was a big, big wine - don't get many like this in Kuala Lumpur, and if we do they cost both arms plus the leg. O thank you wine gods for smiling on this poor humble group of pilgrims. 

And it was fantastic with the pork that came to the table adorned as it was with some light steamed veg, fried onion and beetroot jam. And a little chunk of pork belly done Siew Yoke style (crispy skin) which was absolutely brilliant in its taste. Perhaps the French invented Siew Yoke rather than the Chinese? (oooooooo….   open up a big debate here…). The pork hunk felt as if it had been done sous vide (steamed in a bag) and then lightly seared with salt to give a light crunch to combine with the moist taste and texture of the meat. Perfect bite and chew and with the beetroot jam adding a light sweet acidic slap on the tongue. Great dish. 

The Money communes with the Siew Yoke. Ooooooiiinnnnnnnkkkkkk...
Service throughout was friendly, efficient and fun. Glasses got topped when needed and table settings got replaced neatly and quickly. A number of members have since said that Au Fil du Zinc was one of their food highlights of the trip. Well and okay… for me it was fabulous wines and well prepared and presented food which perhaps needed a little more to really "get there". Good to very good, but not stunned as much as I have been elsewhere. Of course, what stuns me might not be what stuns others, and far be it from me to claim any superiority in judgement when others have far more refined palates than me. I did thoroughly enjoy the ranges of tastes and textures both throughout and across the dishes, all of which paired well with the wonderfully amazing wines that kept getting brought to the table. I think perhaps it was the fusing of the Japanese with the classic French that I didn't quite get on this outing, and perhaps I need a bit of gastro time to appreciate how the magic between the two happens. Notwithstanding, an excellent lunch at a well appointed eaterie and well worth a return visit. As Dear Leader says, definitely one to watch. 

(L to R) Suzuki, Tony, Chef Ryo, Allie and Yin-How
Au Fil Du Zinc Degustation Menu du Chef - 3 plats Euro32, 5 plats Euro45, 7 plats Euro60 - 5 and 7 need the whole table to order

Mushroom and Pigfoot Croquette
Oeuf mollet / Sauman / Sauce Chablis
Champignon / Pied de Cochon / Croquant
Soup de Mais / Cromesqui Foie Gras

Magret / Figue / Poireau
Cochon Bio de Nitry / Legumes
Cabillaud / Aubergine / Olive Noir / Curcuma

Assiete de fromages ou fromage blanc
Baba au Rhum / Ananas / Coco
Myrtille / Cheese Cake / Litchi
Chocolat / Gigembre / Poire

"Rive Gauche" Bereche et Fils Champagne, Meunier
2010 Chablis Grand Cru, Domaine Francois Raveneau
2008 Grand Cru Corton-Charlemagne, Domaine Bonneau du Martray
2008 Premier Cru Gevrey Chambertin Clos St Jacques, Domaine Bruno Clair

A gentle stagger back on the bus for what in theory should have been a straight punch through to Beaune and a tasting at the Domaine Drouhin. Theory, however, did not accommodate for a bus driver who spent much driving time on his handphone. This in France is not lawful and Napoleon promptly got pulled over just outside of Beaune by two of the local gendarmerie on their motorbikes. We saw him getting seriously booked and apparently breathalysed by two of France's Finest. Given that we were already late from our late and extended lunchtime, the extra forty minute delay caused by this escapade meant that the Drouhin tasting had been rendered no way possible. Dear Leader decided best to go straight to the hotel. For some reason still yet to be fathomed, the two Gendarmes gave our bus a motorcycle escort to the hotel. I guess they did not trust Napoleon - not many of us did at this point in time. I wondered aloud whether the Police might also give us a hand to unload the bags. They didn't.  Bloody French. Poor Napoleon had to do it all by himself, albeit a bit more sullenly and sheepishly than the previous unloading. I did feel for him a bit - it is never fun to get a ticket from the law. Others said serve le miserable right - not safe to drive when talking into a handphone. Also not wrong.

Napoleon getting a ticket
It had been decided for us to splurge and stay at the Montrachet Hotel (the same venue for our dinner that evening) for the convenience of being able to dress up and come straight down to the One Star Restaurant. Which worked extremely well - it felt so good not to have to climb aboard a bus and career off somewhere into the night. The room we had was wonderfully large, with Lenglui able to sprawl in the bedroom whilst I camped in the TV area and plugged in all the various adapters to recharge our increasingly necessary little communication machines. Got showered and shaved and after washing some smalls had time for a quick nap.  All our hotels to date had these hot pipes in the bathroom which means that you can wash the smalls and get them dry within a couple of hours. Fantastic for the light travellers like us. We normally prefer to stay in as few hotels as possible since this means not having to unpack and repack too often. Happy to relinquish this for the luxury that hotels like this one offer.  

Cremant Sunset
We got dressed in Jacket and IWFS Medallion as requested and sauntered down to the restaurant. Lenglui and I had been to the Montrachet on a previous visit in 2013 for a lunch, but as we entered little of it looked familiar. There was a partition between our dinner area and the main room which I could not recall, and the garden area seemed a bit bare (though it was getting late in the autumn). Nevertheless, it was on the verandah we all got gathered for sunset and fizz aperitifs before the feast.  The dinner was being hosted by Domaine Amiot Guy et Fils owner Fabrice Amiot who was also arranging the wines from his cellars for the evening. And (except for the fizz) all would be in magnum, including a rare Le Montrachet Grand Cru 2000 which would highlight the evening. 

The fizz would prove to be Amiot's Cremant de Bourgogne, which came across as somewhat light in weight and unfortunately a bit ordinary, though again the context is important - sucking on Ruinart, Pommery and Bolly for the past few days will do that to a wine. But it was nice to be out in the chill with the dark coming in and the table beckoning. And the menu all in English some more. Fantastique.

Chef Luc gets the Bird
We all got seated and the table dinner setting was opulent and impressive. Fabrice gave a quick description of the fields and wines. He proved amiable and charming and generous and great company. He also promised to take us up to where the grapes were being picked at 8am the next morning. O joy - nothing like an early morning walk to shake the bones and brain awake. Bloody French. 

At around this point Chef Luc came out from the Montrachet kitchen to show the Bresse chicken in its pot that would get done two ways. It looked already steamed and skin roasted and got photographed to death by everyone. I know they ban flash photography in museums, which got me wondering whether it does anything to food? Does the food absorb some ultraviolet or sub infra red waves from the flashing that cause cancer? Hmmm….

We started with an amuse bouche of Foie Gras mousse with shallots which would prove a creamy, smokey, onion oily bite to get the mouth in gear. It was excellently smooth and creamy with just enough salt intensity to tickle rather than bite the tongue and cheeks. This was very well done. 

The 2008 "Chaumes" was getting poured and would prove a total charmer, all lush honey apples and chewy fruit with dates and raisins in there somewhere. Felt and tasted like Christmas, all rich and pudding-like. In excellent balance with a nice bite and mid length on the finish. 

Grilled Fillets of Mackerel with Beetroot and Raspberry
One doesn't often see Mackerel on a menu in our part of the world and to see it in such an august setting as the Montrachet was a little odd. Mackerel was always the cheap fish, the one you bought in a tin from the supermarket and mashed it up in pasta for a cheap student dinner. Notwithstanding, these fillets were excellent and bereft of that oily fishy tang that a strong mackerel can often give off. There was still enough oil in the fish for taste, but not so much as to give that sensation of swallowing the gunk at the bottom of the supermarket tin. Given the almost perfect texture and feel, the suspicion was the Mackerel had been prepared sous vide for better control over the cooking time. It was lovely. The Beetroot and Raspberry gave natural fruit acidity to the fish yet did not overpower and the ensemble became a perfect blend of firm lightly omega 3 oiled texture with sweet acidity. My mouth is watering at the memory. 

"Dayveed, yoo are laike mai waine?"   "Tony, do I like his wine?"   "Yes you do."  "Yes Fabrice, I do. Oui."
The Chaumes didn't quite match for me. The beetroot and berry acidity seemed to fight the Christmas Day honleylush feel of the wine. Partly the same with the fish - didn't quite gel together. There you go - food was excellent, wine was excellent, but not a marriage made in gastronomic heaven. 

Wine Two was again a Chassagne Montrachet but from a different climat and year. The 2007 "Macherelles" was clean and lean and with a fantastic Opal Fruits raspy citrus whack in the cheeks. Very little oak, which let some honey and chewy toffee notes come through. Dear Leader thought it needed time - well and okay - I gave it ten seconds more and walloped the boy. O lovely - like a smell of spring bells ringing the air in the fields whilst mineral water tinkles and dances over the stones of the years. Wow - seriously transported by this wine.

Hake with Artichoke Barigoule. Yum.
It was well paired with the rich Hake, whose oil and salt countered the fruit and acidity of the wine. Well tasty. Most of the veg went untouched due to detecting a slight hit of capsicum on first nibble. But the artichoke was fantastic - crisp and full of flavour and taste. Seems Barigoule is a traditional Provencal dish where the artichoke is braised with onions, garlic and carrots in a seasoned broth of wine and water. Well wicked. Killed the wine, though….

Bresse Chicken breast
The Bresse Chicken breast felt a bit on the dry side, but still moist enough to let the taste of the bird come through. Firm and crunchy bite, helped by some wonderfully seasoned fatty chicken skin - combo is total yum. For me, the chanterelles and bits of green healthy looking leaves did little to help and hindered rather than helped the bird. So it goes. This was simply done and well done as a result. 

That 2000 Montrachet moment...
We were on to the big boy for the night, the 2000 Montrachet Magnum. And big boy it was. Crispily light body, and so many layers of aromas going on. I was getting honey, toast, cream - and a total sense of terroir in the nose. Never got this before. Kind of underlining and somehow validating the deeply imagined sense of how a proper White Burgundy of the local earth should smell. Strange - can't quite put the words here. Perhaps one needs to be drunk in Burgundy and drunk ON Burgundy to feel it. Endless honey on the nose. I was drinking greatness and it was beyond sublime. The total exquisite Business. But it had to be drunk quite quickly - left a bit in the glass for later and it seemed to gain a sharp sour note. 

The Bresse Chicken thighs had been finely chopped and loaded into ravioli like pockets, not unlike the big Chinese wantan dumplings we get at the hawkers, and floated with more chopped thigh in a consomme pond. The Chicken was a bit dry, and not enough season for me in either bird or soup. Hugely well prepared and presented, just needed something to give it moistness and more taste. 

Bresse Chicken, er, Ravioli?
The 2003 Les Chaumes Red being paired with it was yet again a belting wine. Excellent weight and supremely well balanced. Spice cherry mouth, black pepper, a full body with good fire, weight and whack, though a surprisingly short finish. Stays well in the mouth, though.

It was about this time that I felt the need to do a Mossie Dixon Sweeper and go in search of any remnants of stunning greatness that might have been left in the bottles waiting to be swept. And imagine my delight when standing on the table was an undrunk bottle of the Montrachet. Delight quickly turned to despair when Dear Leader shared that the boy was corked. We had a sniff and so it proved. Darn sad. Magnum some more. Dixon would have wept. But still probably would have had a glass to double check.  

Map Reading 101 - not recommended any time after aperitifs
I have notes on the dessert but to be frank no real memory of them. There was an amuse dessert of a caramel mint creme on pastry with a sugar candy chip. I was not sure why we were having this here. The cake style pastry and cream fell like lead into the belly and slapdashed the tonsils with that furry gaaaak coating that only whipped cream can give. But it did give a good reason to break out the Rose Cremant - proved an excellent stripper of tonsil gunk. 

(L to R) Rajan, Fabrice, Chef Luc, May, Yin-How and David
I think there was a change to the menu which read Apricots and Ice Cream because we got a kind of cheesecake topped with an almond toffee crisp with a caramel smear and a scoop of ice cream on the side. I think perhaps the apricots were infused into the cream and in the jam sandwiched between the biscuit and the cream. I kind of liked it, but the combo of apricot and almond didn't quite work for me. It was tasty enough, but maybe a bit too large a finish given the preceding dishes. 

It was similar for the Rose Cremant - nice enough but somehow not quite pairing with the food and having some very hard vinous acts to follow. Nice wine, perhaps wrong place. Though it seems that finishing with Bubbles is very Burgundian. 

All the Magnums. Magnifique.
Ewwww  alert - whilst I was sniffing the Rose I accidentally snorted some of the wine bubbles. For the first time I had fizz going up the nasal passages and connecting directly with the brain and sinus. The bubbles literally blew my mind and nose and brought tears to the eyes. Cleared a lot of wax from the ears too. My writing seems to be getting quite body function focused. Must be France. Or the Champagne breakfasts. Oui.

The delightful petit fours and coffee ended the night very nicely, though some had already left the proceedings to hit the hay. A most pleasant evening with great food and stunning wines. Looking back at this time, I can't truly say that I remember any of the tastes of the dishes.The notes and the photos bring them back but as alluded to earlier there was little of the "stun" factor that some dishes through the years have done for me. Would I go back? Probably not - if ever back in Beaune I'd go for the Bresse Chicken at the Hotel de Ville we had visited in 2013. Now THAT was a stunning bird. Great steak too. But the wines were magnificent.

And then the evening was done. As said, many had headed off to bed though a few remained to party on. We decided against and slunk off straight to bed for an earlyish night. Some of us had an early start on the morrow to go tramp the fields. I had been instructed to sleep because I would be one of them. Yes. Bon nuit….

My name is Bond. Short Bond. Six inches. Oui.
Le Montrachet Menu

Aperitif: Cremant de Bourgogne

Grilled fillets of Mackerel, Beetroot and Raspberries with Tarragon
Chassagne- Montrachet 1er Cru "Les Chaumes" 2008

Line-caught hake with olives, confit pepper, artichoke, barigoule
Chassagne- Montrachet 1er Cru "Les Macherelles" 2007

Casserole of Bresse chicken in two ways: 
- the breasts with chanterelles and fresh almonds
Le Montrachet 2000
- the thighs in consomme
Chassagne- Montrachet  "Les Chaumes" 2003

Fresh Apricots and Almonds, Ripple Ice Cream

Cremant de Bourgogne Rose

"And 'ere are ze Bolly grapes, but doo not touche or Monsieur Bond weel shoot yoo..."

Champagne Bollinger
16, rue Jules-Lobet – B.P.4 – 51160 Aÿ FRANCE
Tel : +33 (0) 3 26 53 33 66
Fax : +33 (0) 3 26 54 85 59
n° TVA : FR 19 334 594 777
capital social : 4480 000 €
n° Siret : 334 594 777 000 16
Contact mail : contact@champagne-bollinger.fr

Au Fil Du Zinc

18 rue des Moulins
89800 Chablis FRANCE
03 86 33 96 39

Hotel Le Montrachet
10 place du Pasquier de la Fontaine
21190 Puligny-Montrachet
Tel : +33 (0) 3 80 21 30 06
Fax : +33 3 80 21 39 06

Au Fil Du Zinc Chef Ryo (right) with Pitt Lee, David and Suzuki

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