The 32nd session of the Academy of Ancient Wines is held at the Macéo restaurant. We are 31 announced but a late defection has brought our group to 30 guests, seven of whom are students of the school Cordon Bleu to whom I proposed to come after my conference-tasting done a few weeks ago in their premises. We are divided into three tables of which here are the wines, preceded by the wines of the aperitif.
Aperitif wines: Champagne Cuvée Brut Taittinger Jeroboam 70’s / 80’s – Champagne Colin Cuvée Castile Blanc de Blancs 90’s magnum – Champagne Pâques Gaumont Brut Imperial 80’s (2 bottles).
Group 1 wines: Château Carbonnieux white 1980 – Chateau Bouscaut white 1927 – Kebir Imperial white Frédéric Lung 30s – Arbois Fruitière Vinicole d’Arbois 1961 – Château Palmer 1975 – Chateau de l’Enclos Pomerol 1976 – Côtes de Beaune Bouchard Ainé et fils 1923 – Flory Old red wine 1953 – Red Algerian wine of the 40s / 50s (Médea) – F. Sénéclauze Wine Red Algeria presumed 1939 – Langoiran 1943 – Muscat de la Trappe Liqueur wine Presumed Algiers of the 50s – Tokaji Aszu Eszencia 1988 – Marc Blanc of the Domaine d’Ott 1929 (common to all three tables).
Group 2 wines: Champagne Mumm cordon rouge magnum 1960s – Pouilly Fuissé Julien Damoy 1947 – Kebir Imperial F. Lung white 40s – Moulin Haut Laroque Côtes de Fronsac 1964 – Cos d’Estournel 1960 – Chateau Cabrières, Châteauneuf-du-Pape 1971 – Minuto Riserva Special, Barolo 1964 – Barolo Marchesi Barolo 1961 – Royal Kebir Frederick Lung 1940 – Vouvray Clovis Lefèvre Great Year 1959 – Ste Croix-du-Mont GM Dumons & Co. 1943 – Tokaji Aszu Eszencia 1988 – Marc Blanc Ott Estate 1929 (common to all three tables).
Group 3 wines: Château Bouscaut white 1986 – Château de Fonsalette white 1990 – Châteauneuf-du-Pape white Mont-Redon 1970 – Chateau Saint Pierre Saint Julien 1970 – Chateau Destieux 1949 – Saint-Amour supposed 1947 – Royal Kebir Frédéric Lung red 1947 – Algerian wine (red / rosé?) La Trappe Algiers 1962 – Vouvray Clovis Lefèvre Great year 1959 – Château Pernaud Haut Barsac 1929 – Tokaji Aszu Eszencia 1988 – Marc Blanc of the Domaine d’Ott 1929 (common to all three tables).
Some remarks should be noted on the wines present. A few months ago, a descendant of Frédéric Lung contacted me. He is getting married soon, and he wants to be able to buy Frédéric Lung’s wines for his wedding. He went on the internet and looking for Frédéric Lung, invariably falls on my name. I told him that I do not sell these wines that I love because they are intended to be shared with amateurs. It turns out that neither he nor his mother drank wine from his family. I then told him: If you join the academy with your mother, she will be my guest. He registered and kept the secret to his mother until their arrival. The presence of descendants of a winemaker that I appreciate is a privilege so I asked other registered academicians to bring Algerian wines if they have them. This evening out of the 46 wines to share, there will be 8 wines from Algeria, including 4 from Frédéric Lung. Shortly after this announcement, a late registered academician told me, « You drank a lot of Frederic Lung’s wines, but I see you’ve never drunk Frédéric Lung’s White Imperial Kebir, so I bring one « . I like his generosity, but I also like the challenges so I brought also an Imperial White Kebir Frédéric Lung.
The day of the session, I’m at the restaurant at 4pm to open all the wines that had been grouped in my cellar. I am soon joined by four friends who help me open the wines, which is usually an opportunity to open other bottles for the openers, who will later be assigned to the different tables. There was a very large number of plugs that were sticking to the walls, forcing me to use a bimetallic strip coupled with a corkscrew, which more easily takes off the plugs. Is this recrudescence of glued corks linked to hygrometry and atmospheric pressure conditions, I do not know, but this is not the first time that we find corking behaviors oriented in the same direction for a large number of wines, either glued or, on the contrary, tending to fall into the bottle. The odors of the wines are generally very promising because the levels of the wines are most often perfect. The quality of the contributions is certain.
It is with a champagne Charles Heidsieck rosé 1981 that I am doped to open the wines. Brought by a faithful friend, it is a lively, energetic champagne that makes you optimistic. It would be hard to give an age to this beautiful round rosé, beautiful acidity. Another friend has taken out of his musette four off-program wines for the openers and who will then be assigned to the tables. I touched them only after having finished the openings. Tired, my attention for them was weak but I still felt that each of these wines is of interest.
The Château Magence Graves Dry Guillot de Suduiraut 1959 has a beautiful presence, young and flawless.
The Bourgogne Aligoté A. Noirot-Carrière 1962 is simple but also of good quality.
The unknown Bonnezeaux, end of the 50’s which has no indication on the bottle is slightly cloudy but I love a soft side and especially the fact that it is an enigma.
The Château La Vieille France Graves Superior bottled by Calvet 1962 is dry and lively, nice to wait for the guests of the 32nd session of the academy. At the Macéo restaurant, we opened about fifty bottles, we tasted with friends arrived early wines that support the morale of the openers. We are ready to welcome the thirty participants of the 32nd session of the Academy of Ancient Wines.
An hour before they arrive, I wanted to open the Champagne Cuvée Brut Taittinger Jeroboam 80s for a little air. The cork is very curled in its lower part and the smell is putrid, animal. Will he reconstitute himself? I’m pretty scared. It is appropriate that as an aperitif we start with the other champagnes.
Champagne Colin Cuvée Castille Blanc de Blancs magnum from the 90ies is very pleasant, relatively young and lively, which benefits from the delicious gougères served lukewarm, which is perfect for champagne. We are in a good mood.
Champagne Pâques Gaumont Brut Imperial 80s is served in two bottles. He has a happy maturity. It is more built and full than the Blanc de Blancs.
I warned everyone of the risk of difficulty of Champagne Cuvée Brut Taittinger Jeroboam 80s. I taste it and I feel that the perfume has become much more sociable. The color is dark, the bubble is non-existent and the sparkling is almost insensitive. Around me many friends like its originality but for me this wine is tired, even if it still expresses many complexities.
We go to the table and as usual, I give a welcome speech which, for once, will have no criticism as I am happy with the punctuality in the preparatory phases to the academy and the quality of the wines brought . I point out two facts that are important to me, the presence of seven students Cordon Bleu, all nationalities, and descendants of the family of Frédéric Lung, the largest winemaker Algerian, who for the first time will drink wines of their ancestor.
The menu composed by the restaurant is: mousseline of peas, chorizo and onions new / terrine of poultry way Macéo / shoulder of lamb confit, light cream of garlic and potatoes granailles / cheese of the restaurant and cheese of the participants / shortbread breton with buckwheat, smooth cream with salted butter caramel and cider sorbet.
Here are the wines we have at table 1, knowing that several other wines will be brought generously by their contributors. Château Carbonnieux white 1980 is incredibly clear for a wine that is 39 years old. It is fresh like a roach, precise, generous, of beautiful acidity.
The Château Bouscaut white 1927 amazes all those who have not had the opportunity to drink old wines. How is it possible for a 92 years old wine to have this beautiful precision? It is very assembled, consistent and lively, of good length. It has no age and would be younger than many dry white wines from Bordeaux.
The white Imperial Kebir Frédéric Lung 30s is rich, thick and you can smell notes of coffee, just melted. Florence Lung is moved to see that a white wine of her great-uncle can be so brilliant. I had also included a Frédéric Lung White Imperial Kebir 40ies at table 2, but we were lucky to be able to taste it. He is transcendental. It is so much richer than the other that it is incredible because everything is assembled to perfection and there is a fat that the first drunk has not. This fat irresistibly evokes a Montrachet, and if there was not the small trace of coffee, one could, mistakenly, blindly name a Montrachet. I think it’s one of the greatest white wines I’ve ever had, because it gave me a unique emotional flash.
L’Arbois Fruitière Vinicole d’Arbois 1961 is a superb Jura wine, with great richness and energy. What a pity he comes after the Lung, because he is brilliant but in the shadow of the Lung.
Château Palmer 1975 opens the road of reds in a very beautiful way. It is so rich and concentrated that it looks like truffle. It has grain and a truffle chews. He is 44 but he is a young warrior. There too certainties fall. A wine of 44 years also conquering, it should not exist.
The Château de l’Enclos Pomerol 1976 is a little shy after the Palmer, but he settles and is feminine when the Palmer is masculine to the highest degree.
The big shock arrives. The Côtes de Beaune Bouchard Ainé and son 1923 is a heavy velvet curtain that is thrown in my face. I am assailed with velvet. But I am also fondled, because this wine is extremely subtle. Everything is suggested, delicate and subtle, on a pile of velvet. Its length is extreme. We are here in what is « my » world of wine because for me, it is before 1930 that are located the « real » wines. It is a provocation of course to say that, and an approximation, but this 1923 is totally exceptional. This wine of a friend is for me the ideal of the academy.
The Flory Old Red Wine 1953 is a wine unknown to everyone, even the one who brought it. It comes from the Eastern Pyrenees and gives the impression of having a certain alcoholic strength. It is a simple wine, consistent because of its alcohol, and very pleasant to drink if one accepts its simplicity. He is happy.
The red Algerian wine of the 40/50 (Medea) has the characteristics of Algerian wines, solidity and coffee, but it speaks to me less than the F. Sénéclauze Wine Red end of Algeria presumed 1939 which may have less of complexity than Lung wines, but has a charm that I adore.
I had supplied in group 3 a Royal Kébir Frédéric Lung red 1947 and friends bring me a glass and for Florence Lung too. I miss fainting so much this wine is big. It is the perfect Algerian wine, rich, barely and subtly roasted, with evocations of coffee all in subtlety. This wine is a love.
The Langoiran wines are the first Côtes of Bordeaux that I like, because we never expect them to be as good a level of complexity. This Langoiran 1943 is pleasant, nicely sweet, but perhaps too discreet.
The Muscat de la Trappe Vin de Liqueur Alger presumed 50ies is amazing, because it is rich, enigmatic, playing on unknown registers. He is very pleasant.
I am brought a wine that I provided at table 3, a Château Pernaud Haut Barsac 1929. Incredible. I would be quoted for this wine the most famous names of Sauternes, I would not deny any. This wine is huge. He has an incredible fat and the year 1929 makes it sublime. This is the absolute perfection of Sauternes.
From another table I tasted a Minuto Riserva Speciale, Barolo 1964 which I enjoyed the freshness almost minty freshness, the Royal Kebir Frédéric Lung 1940 red that some preferred to 1947 which is not my case, because this exciting 1940 does not have the same liveliness as the 1947.
I was also given the Château de Fonsalette Blanc 1990 which is superb of youth and nobility but is a little young for the academy.
The Saint-Amour supposed 1947 is a noble Beaujolais. There is so much wealth in these ancient Beaujolais complexities that are so often forgotten.
My friends make fun of me, because each table has a Tokaji Aszu Eszencia 1988 and it’s the third or fourth time I’ve included it for each table in the sessions. They imagine that I have some dumpers that I would like to get rid of. They would do better to congratulate me because this Tokaji with the gracious wealth is penetrating while being subtle. He is particularly accomplished despite his young age.
The Marc Blanc of Domaine d’Ott 1929 ultra virile, limpid as water, concludes this dinner.
What to remember? This dinner calls into question all notions of age. « Age does not exist ». The received ideas fall and young people from all countries who will work in the world of wine and gastronomy, already challenged during my tasting at Le Cordon Bleu will no longer consider the wines in the same way. The academy changes the vision of wine.
In this dinner I felt some wines as being of the highest possible level of taste: 1 – Kebir Imperial white Frédéric Lung years 40, 2 – Château Pernaud Haut Barsac 1929, 3 – Côtes de Beaune Bouchard Ainé and son 1923, 4 – Royal Kebir Frédéric Lung red 1947.
If I put 1947 in fourth position, it’s because I know it by heart, having drunk it nine times. We can say that these four wines all deserve to be first.
Other wines of course were very brilliant like the Palmer 1975, the Arbois 1961, the Barolo 1964 and many others, but the four mentioned are transcendent. One of these four wines alone would justify the meeting that we lived.
The restaurant’s cuisine is of high quality, the dishes being readable and accompanied by good wines. The wine service has been smartly managed and Beatrice, who is helping me with the preparation of the event, has once again shown how essential she is to the success of this event.
The friendly atmosphere and the joie de vivre of everyone made this meeting one of the most successful and happy we have ever known.
(pictures of all the bottles can be seen in the articles below)