My guess we would be looking at matching Robuchon’s food with something from Veuve Clicquot’s Cave Privée range like the 1989 Rosé wasn’t far off the mark. In fact when I spoke to the celebrated chef later on in the afternoon he mentioned how well that lovely mature, Burgundian-like rosé went with pigeon. At this extraordinary lunch we actually had its white partner the 1990 vintage partnered with quail, caramelised foie gras and Robuchon’s famed pomme purée truffée (see the full menu below).
For me the day started with an interview with Clicquot’s relatively new (one year in the job) President and CEO Jean Marc Lacave (Veuve Clicquot CEO Interview Harpers 3 May 2013) before joining the small group of international journalists over a glass of La Grande Dame 2004. Lacave explained that under the new tie up, Yellow Label and Rosé in magnum will be the House pour at all Joël Robuchon’s restaurants round the world with Vintage 2004, Vintage Rosé 2004, La Grande Dame 2004 – white and rosé — all listed.
Lacave is keen to bring attention back on Clicquot’s flagship Yellow Label Brut, a wine that has also been a focus for chef de cave Dominique Demarville, pointing out it had rarely been served to guests of the house at Hotel du Marc over recent years.
As if to underline the point the first two lunch dishes were paired with Yellow Label and non-vintage rosé both served in magnum, Demarville setting us the not too onerous task of deciding the style that matched the caviar best and which we preferred with the langoustine. Contrary to expectations, his and ours, it was pretty well unanimous to marry the rosé with the caviar, as the combination seemed to enhance both wine and food. While the Yellow Label, showing good freshness, depth and structure, helped by serving it in the big glasses (see picture) also favoured by Dom Pérignon winemaker Richard Geoffroy, rose to the challenge of the perfectly cylindrical turban of spaghetti, standing up well to the rich langoustine sauce (see photograph).
The Clicquot 2004 was in 75cl bottles not magnums, Demarville quick to point out that the magnums of this wine are still too fresh for the dish. Already showing developed secondary aromas on first release last year this wine has opened up even more and is a lovely example of this fine vintage, a big, powerful, full flavoured wine, quite a contrast to the La Grande Dame 2004 that preceded it, a theme I shall return to. The strong trufflely flavours and textural creaminess of the Zephyr au Fromage needed such a rich, aromatic, Pinot Noir dominant fizz.
The climax of the meal, vinous and gastronomic, was the quail and the 1990 Cave Privée with the wine close to its peak of complexity and the chef matching its many nuances of flavour and texture on the plate. The 1990 was also at least a good match with the cheese –Comté and mature vintage champagne is a brilliant combination – as the charming classical Château Lynch Bages 1988. But as Demarville explained the red was there “to have a change before we go to the sugar”.
Two puddings was really a step too far, but given I knew Robuchon himself was in the kitchen, an experience not likely to be repeated, like everyone else round the table I ate both. To accompany them we moved to a demi-sec with a 45g/l dosage which Demarville gently pours into a baccarat decanter before serving. “Why? For three reasons,” he explains, “firstly, because it looks beautiful. Secondly because with the demi-sec it will actually make the flavour of the wine even more intense, showing pineapple, mango and exotic fruit flavours and the bubbles will be gentler as a result. The third reason is historical, before Madame Clicquot invented riddling in 1816 the wine was shipped with the sediment still in the bottle and it had to be decanted when served.”
The Robuchon menu at Veuve Clicquot’s Hotel du Marc
Pour commencer: Le parmesan crémeux en cappuccino au vieux porto La Grande Dame 2004
Le Caviar Impérial: en fine gelée au parfum de corail servi en surprise Carte Jaune and Rosé en magnum
La Langoustine: en turban de spaghetti avec une emulsion coralline Carte Jaune and Rosé en magnum
Le Zephyr au Fromage: compris sensual entre soufflé et crème renversée
au coulis de truffes Vintage 2004 (75cl bottle)
Le Caille caramélisée au foie gras avec une pomme purée trufée Cave Privée
1990 en magnum
Les fromages: fermier, frais et affinés Château Lynch Bages 1988
Le Rubis: crême de cheese cake au citron vert, coeur coulant de fruits noirs Demi-Sec carafé
La Fleur Caramel: aux saveurs exotiques, craquant honey candy Demi-Sec carafé
Le Fin Moka: escorté de “bonbons au chocolat”