So we went back up to Marc's summer home on the Normandy coast near Deauville last week. Of course, knowing Alain would be there, I was well aware that our vinous choices would be somewhat limited. Alain knows what he likes, and he doesn't like (list non-exhaustive): red Burgundy, Northern Rhône, Southern Rhône, white Burgundy, white Loires or any rosés.
Marc, however, likes Bollinger Spécial Cuvée, so that was in the cards. And, whoops, Marc also does like red Burgundy, and since he's the host... we just had to bring him some kind offerings.
2002 Philippe Amiot Chambolle Musigny - light as cranberry juice, but far more nuanced, with ethereal aromas of gooseberry and juicy raspberry. I loved this when I first tasted it in 2005, and it's still an approachable beauty, but probably should be drunk in a year or two.
Alain, however, said, "It's too light for me."
I had made pan-seared duck breasts from a local farm, along with a crushed green-peppercorn sauce with shallots and armagnac and a touch of crème fraîche. There was no way we were going to dive into some square-shouldered Bordeaux or other.
1999 Hudelot-Noellat Nuits-Saint-Georges - I knew this would be heartier, and it was. More rustic than the lacy Chambolle, it was brambly, young and somewhat tannic.
I looked down the table at Alain. Strike two. "Still too light." Huh?
So it was something of a provocation the next day at lunch when I went for a third. (Ah, but it was our last day, and I was too curious to taste the third Burgundy we had already picked up days earlier - too curious, that is, to leave it to the overheated closets of Marc's summer home.) So away went the capsule and out popped the cork when we sat down to feast on pork and lamb skewers. Alain strode out to the patio and plunked his contribution to the meal down on the table: a magnum of 2004 Château Something-or-Other Médoc.
The table was cleft in twain, or rather staggered, with some sipping Bordeaux and others, what Arnaud termed "the good stuff":
2002 Catherine & Claude Maréchal Pommard "La Chanière" - far more dense and robust than their Savignys and Volnays, but still a vin de plaisir, as are the best Maréchal wines. Dark fruits, pinot-y nose, a suave swath of some secondary aromas sliding over the mid-palate, and very harmonious: the picture of classicism and balance.
And so everyone kept coming back to this bottle, until it was no more... At which point, we finally did discover that the magnum of 2004 Château Whatsit was actually pretty good.