You may remember our blatant attempt to barter Nick's cooking skills and some of the contents of our cellar in exchange for a generous donation to Wine Relief back in March (see Gone for £6,000 - Classic Wine Dinner chez nous). Last night was the agreed date for redemption of this generous bid and, I'm thrilled and not a little relieved to say, we had a seriously good time. At least Nick and I did and I sincerely hope that Charlie and Liz Berman and their friends Dermot, Sophie, Peter and Sue (shown here looking uncharacteristically sober in an incredibly amateur photograph taken by me just before it started to rain) did too.
Neal Martin of www.wine-journal.com copied us with an offer of lunch at a Burger King and managed to raise a further £175. Because he published an account of his meal (see http://www.wine-journal.com/message_bk_with_neal.html) mit pictures, I feel I perhaps ought to too. And yes, ours did take more than 53 seconds to prepare.
Caviar and blinis, Sally Clarke's cheese straws
Louis Roederer Cristal 1995 (magnum)
Keltic Seafare scallops with slow-baked tomatoes and thyme
Corton Charlemagne 1997 J F Coche Dury
Criots Batard Montrachet 1996 Roger Belland
Creedy Carver duck breasts with fresh peas and giant oven chips
Ch Tertre Roteboeuf 1985 St Emilion
Ch Tertre Roteboeuf 1982 St Emilion
Ch Mouton Rothschild 1982 Pauillac
Ch Latour 1970 Pauillac
Comté cheese, Poilâne bread, mixed leaves from Secretts Farm
Orange and almond cake with sliced Alphonso mangoes
Vouvray Cuvée Constance 1989 G Huet
Fortunately we were not blighted by any duff corks and all the wines were showing beautifullly, except for the Criots which, like many 1996 white burgundies, seemed well on the way to oxidation (see 1996 burgundies explained). The Cristal could of course last for many a long year more - but at least we weren't drinking it at three years old like Cristal's more famous consumers. The Corton was lovely - and indisputably Coche - showing just how good a vintage 1997 can be for white burgundy.
The Tertre 1985 is still gloriously rich, showing no signs of fading, while the 1982 is just a little bit rustic, a reflection of the fact that back then Francois Mitjavile was just starting out and could not afford enough new barrels. The Mouton reminded us all why this is a first growth - fabulous now but no hurry to drink - while the Latour has probably at last reached its peak (this bottle had a good level, unlike some others I have enjoyed). Very classic indeed and a good illustration of how very different these two Pauillac first growths are.
Top quality mature vintage port is always a treat - and so very different from the stuff in youth (I'm looking forward to tasting many a 2003 this coming week) while the Vouvray was probably the single most youthful wine we drank all evening - with the possible exception of the Cristal.
It goes without saying that what Laura Mentzelopoulos once called, after dining at L'Escargot, "Nick's plates" were their usual divine selves.
It must have been a good evening. I stayed up until 1.30 on May morning.