An Offline meeting at Restaurant Rococo, Glasgow

22nd October 2004

Pre-SuperBOWL “Super Offline” dinner
22nd October 2004
Restaurant Rococo

A dinner, with a vague theme of mature wine organised by Toby Bailey and Bryan Collins, and attended by Toby Bailey, Bryan Collins, Paul Redfern, James Macintyre, Linden Wilkie and me.

As an aperitif: Krug 1985
Mid gold with a lovely intense mature nose, yeasty fresh bread initially, but the yeastiness gives way to lots of fruit – stone fruit, particularly peach. A gentle mousse. Lots of intense fruit on the palate, but not overweening. Huge length. Lovely creaminess. Very fine and elegant.

As we were finishing this we were brought an amuse gueule of a velouté of pumpkin with ceps and truffle oil: a light, frothy soup with a good pumpkin flavour, big chunks of ceps and just enough truffle oil that you knew it was there but without overwhelming.

Moving onto the first starter, poached turbot and oyster served with wilted spinach and a champagne velouté, we opened two 1993 Chevalier-Montrachets:
1993 Chevalier-Montrachet Les Demoiselles, Louis Jadot
Darkish coppery gold. Remarkably mature nose – creamy quite intense, but very little fruit. Some vegetal hints and cabbage. Very mature on the palate. Seems slightly flat and even and prematurely aged. Not at all unpleasant to drink, however.

1993 Chevalier-Montrachet, Leflaive
A much lighter, more normal mid gold colour. Lovely nose: truffley, buttery, mushroomy turning smoky. Lovely rounded flavours. Very complex. An absolutely superb white burgundy. Haunting length that goes on forever with a real depth of flavour, not just a reminiscence.

The turbot was a very nice generous bit of fish, well cooked; the oysters too were perfectly timed. A nice light sauce completed a very nice light dish.

The second starter was a terrine of foie gras with fig jam and celeriac remoulade. The terrine was well made, nicely seasoned allowing the richness of the liver to show through, and presented as three thin slices off a small (say 4cm) torchon. The slices of terrine were served on a rectangular smear of fig jam; the celeriac remoulade was otiose.

With the foie gras we had
1949 Vouvray Le Haut Lieu Moelleux, Huet
A rich slightly bronzey gold. Very, very restrained nose: light honeyed elegance. Hugely elegant on palate – very light and fresh tasting with oodles of acidity with a neat sweetness. Good length. Enormous elegance. I really wouldn’t put this at this sort of age and if it were served blind, I’d have put it a lot younger and declared it to be infanticide. Worked very well with the foie gras.

The first main course was a very good if slightly uninspired roast breast of mallard with creamed cabbage, braised white turnip and an appropriately mild sauce Albert. Thus the menu. The real stars of the first main course, however, were the little jugs of simply heavenly bread sauce – easily worth eating directly from the jug. With this, we had two superb 1991 burgundies:

1991 Clos de la Roche, Lignier
An elegant restrained fruit nose – lots of soft red fruit with a hint of compost. Lots of ripe fruit on the palate with a real spicy backbone. Still plenty of life in it. Seems more forward and slightly more simplistic than the Cros Parentoux. But this is textbook-writing stuff: very fine, elegant and a real treat.

1991 Vosne Romanée Cros Parentoux, Rouget
A good even burgundy colour, but looking remarkably young. Classic Burgundy nose – elegant, ripe cherry and soft red fruits with lots of earthy truffle. Light, very fresh. Good fruit and a nice tannic structure. Seems a little too young at the moment and undoubtedly improved with time in the glass.

The next main course was an excellent rolled tower of remarkably lean slow cooked aromatic pork belly with cauliflower purée and delightful light sage beignets, brought separately to the table to avoid them becoming soggy. The wines continued the theme of appearing rather younger than we might have expected:

1961 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou
Incredibly young looking ruby, more paling at the rim than an obvious bricking. Good fruit on the nose, with a touch of VA: really meaty and gamey with hints of cigar box and chocolate. Gosh, this is remarkably good. Plenty of fruit, some acidity, rich and fragrant flavours, finishing with soft tannins and huge length, all in perfect balance and harmony. Lovely. Very hard to believe that this is 43 years old: it seems so incredibly young with loads of life. What a treat!

1982 Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste
Very, very dark and young looking – just on the colour, I’d put this as mid 1990s. Slightly animalistic nose with plenty of blackcurrant, pencil shavings and a bit of mint. Excellent smooth rich attack. Very rich and complex, but really needs more time. Lots of firm mouth coating tannins on finish.

Next came a delicious dessert, described merely as a “Trio of Apricots”. This was a very well conceived dessert perfectly executed, with a good combination of textures and temperatures: a warm apricot strudel, apricot ice-cream containing a chunk of apricot and err … what was the third one? A sort of apricot cake?

After dessert we compared the remaining 1949 Huet with 1949 Moulin Touchais.
The Moulin Touchais had a rich, deep brassy gold. Very rich nose: touch of caramel and touch of orange. Light and very very fresh. Citrus peel on the palate and maybe a hint of pineapple. Touch of overripeness and there’s a mention of decay around the table. The merest touch of acidity on the finish. This is sweeter and rather less complex than the Huet, but still very enjoyable indeed and appearing nowhere near its 55 years.

Finally with coffee, and served blind was a half bottle of 1955 Sandeman.
A mid ruby colour. Figgy dried fruit on the nose. Lovely dried fruit on the palate. A touch hot with quite a bit of spirit. I’d guess at a 1970 from a lesser house such as Calem.

This was a marvellous evening with excellent food, splendid company and some stunningly good wines – also surprisingly youthful wines, with no real faults: we were very lucky (not to mention a little surprised) indeed with the quality and vitality of all the bottles opened. The only disappointment of the night was the Jadot Chevalier-Montrachet, which was merely prematurely aged and still a pleasant drink. Restaurant Rococo did us proud, not just in the excellent quality of the menu: incidentals were great (I made a note that the bread was seriously good); service was brilliant – there when we needed them, not there when we didn’t; they’d taken time to understand what wines we had brought and which we were having when; and they kept up a constant supply of quality glasses.

A very nice warm up for the next day's onslaught.


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