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(by most famous French wine collector François Audouze)

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Last year, a very famous TV information program made a subject on old wines. The central theme was the cellar of Bouchard, and a dinner with wines of the 19th century, that I attended. They took me as a link in this subject, showing me buying in auction, and showing me in my cellar. As it is very popular, probably 3 to 5 million people have seen my cellar.

Showing some bottles, I said concerning alcohols : with my rhythm of consumption, I have more than one thousand years of stock of alcohol.

Someone had thought that the thousand years concerned wines and not alcohol, and, on a forum devoted to wine, like this one but in French, he wrote : here is a man who is not a good example, because, if he has thousand years, it means that he does not drink. It must be one of those people who have no interest in wines, and just show their cellar.

A friend of mine, who writes on this forum, told me : you should write something to alter this negative opinion.

I wrote an answer, and finding that this forum is active, I decided to post there. As French is my mother language, I thought it would be easier to describe my emotions on wines than in English.

I told various stories, and I noticed that every message was criticised, with very specious arguments, tending to give of me an image of a man who is only interested to show, to talk about the famous people that he knows, interested only in expensive wines, who does not know anything on wine and so on. And it was rude and systematic.

I wondered why they wanted to harass me that way.

It hurt me, and my wife said : quit. But to quit is like a victory à la Pyrrhus. And it is not in my mind.

So, to stop such a terrible controversy (I am unable to sustain the aggressiveness of ten people simultaneously), I decided something completely crazy : I said that I invite ten people of this forum for a dinner with my wines, and you will see how is my approach to wine.

Ten people registered and I invited too one of the founders of the forum with whom I had some very hard fights concerning money and wine (on a subject like : if you have money, you are a stupid man, and, of course, you cannot enjoy a wine, blab bla bla bla).

Then I went in my cellar to choose wines, and it is always a subject of excitement for me to choose bottles. I decided that I could take risks with them, as they know what wine is, and that I should not invest too much if they come to attack me.

I registered in a restaurant that I know, but then I remembered that my friend who made the cook for the Sylvester’s dinner could make the dinner for that occasion too. He accepted. So, we were 12 by the apartment of my friend who created a menu that none of them would have never imagined.

Here is the Menu :

1 Velouté de potimarron, arôme de céleri
2 Huître Gillardeau n°2 simplement pochée, sabayon extrême à la reine des prés
3 Foie gras de sept heures, chutney de poireaux à la coriandre, caramel acide d'épices
4 Noix de St Jacques juste saisies, soupçon de vanille, laitance de roquette à l'amande douce, girolle
5 Bar à l'unilatéral, jus végétal au coquelicot, coing poêlé
6 Saumon mi-cuit vapeur, framboises façon royale, morille à la pistache
7 Quasi de veau basse température, crème de foie de veau, mousseline de vitelottes
8 Filet mignon de porc poêlé minute, truffe noire, coulis de pétales de rose, cèpe
9 Cuissot de biche en rôti, jus court à la truffe noire, chou vert en compotée
10 Stilton
11 Poire Williams, tiède mais crue
12 Suprême de pomelos juste saisi, coulis de mangue aux agrumes, mangue fraîche.

Needless to say that many two stars chefs could learn a lot from my friend. It was amazingly good. I had asked a friend of mine who is sommelier to make the service of wines, in order to be free to discuss, and here is what we have drunk totally blind except the two first :

Apéritif Clacquesin (a liquor of wood tar, made with the resin of a pine tree)

Champagne Léon Camuzet

Clairette de Die Jean Algoud, probably years 60

Grand vin de Cassis, La Ferme Blanche circa 1985

Saint Véran maison Bichot 1989

Montlouis La Taille aux loups demi-sec 13° - 1990

Château Coustolle Côtes de Canon Fronsac 1966

Château La Tour de Bessan Margaux 1949

Moulin à Vent Alfred Liboz 1955

Nuits Saint Georges Les Cailles, maison Morin 1915

Château Cheval Blanc 1900 (supposed)

Château Mouton-Rothschild 1934

Cuvée du président Alger circa 1980

Château Pion, Monbazillac 1973

Château Cantegril, Barsac 1922

So I had taken wines from very different regions and from very different decades.

And I had taken difficult wines, as I did not want to take very secure solid wines only.

When they arrived, I was prepared to a certain aggressiveness, but in fact, everyone was very sympathetic, and immediately, the atmosphere was very kind. I explained my vision on wine, explained how to proceed with the wines, and, from 8 pm to 2 am, we had a magnificent dinner with an extraterrestrial cook, and wines which conquered the most difficult among them.

The star of the dinner has been the Nuits Cailles 1915, which is my beloved wine, that I open when I want to convince someone on the value of old wines (but as I do it repeatedly, I hope that I will not have too many people to convince as the source will be rapidly dry).

Every wine had something to say.

Three wines were under my expectations : the Coustolle that I love as it is one of the best Cotes de Canon Fronsac was corked. Not in mouth, but sufficiently dry to be unpleasant. The Montlouis that I adore did not shine as usual. And the Algerian wine was much too ordinary, even if it pleased to the founder of the forum (all of them drank blind).

They have completely changed their mind concerning old wines.

My personal vote has been :

1 - Nuits Saint Georges Les Cailles, maison Morin 1915,

2 - Château La Tour de Bessan Margaux 1949,

3 - Château Cantegril, Haut-Barsac 1922,

4 - Clairette de Die Jean Algoud, vers années 60

I did not ask for their votes as it was so late! But they adored the Mouton 1934 (a low fill bottle that I had taken) and the Cheval Blanc whose nose was incredible of perfection.

The app

reciation on the Moulin à Vent was very controversial. Some adored it, some thought it was tired. I was in-between, but this wine created the best combination with the 7th course.

Contrarily to what I thought, they were very kind, opened, and even more, they offered me an unexpected gift : a Barolo of 1964, a Vouvray Huet 1919, and an alcohol of La Grande Chartreuse having more than 70 years. I was so surprised after the stress of preparing such an event that I had almost tears in my eyes when they gave me that gift.

Of course everyone was happy, amazed by the perfection of this dinner.

On the forum, the atmosphere has completely changed (for the moment, but probably for long).

My wife was against this dinner, thinking that the ones who want to attack me will not change their attitude.

I must say that my stubbornness proved to be justified as we have made a dinner which will remain in the memory of all as a great dinner.

They told me : in fact, it was good that we attacked you. We should do it more often.

So, if some of you want to drink nice wines with a great food, it’s time to attack me.

No, no, no !
__________________ Best regards from François Audouze


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