Yesterday I had a great meal at La Trompette in Chiswick. The food was marvellous, the company brilliant, but sadly the red Burgundies we took along were extremely disappointing.
This was only my second meal at La Trompette and based on the food and highly interesting wine list it is a shame I have not been there more often. Pity it is a bit out of the way now I live in Winchester.
We started off with a bottle of Pol Roger 2002 brought by an agent of Pol who wishes to remain anonymous. It was just the business. Quite ripe with luxurious fruit, great acidity that was in perfect balance and really complex. A glorious wine that would just age and age. Only just about to appear on the market and I will definitely be scoring some, if you like champagne to age then you certainly should too. I thought it was easily the best since the 1996, our un-named agent thought it better than that. Undoubtedly brilliant.
Our first white wine was Chablis Grand Cru Blanchots 2004 from Raveneau. I find it hard to describe quite how brilliant this wine was. Tasting blind I would never guess it as a 2004, and probably not as Chablis, but rather something grand from Ramonet. It had layers of powerful flavour all finely balanced by great acidity and fresh lemon fruit. There was a rich, weighty density to it but it never seemed less than refined and classy even with its power. The development it showed in the glass throughout the meal was utterly compelling, and I only say it was not the best Chablis I have ever tasted because it was quite unlike any Chablis I have ever tasted. Truly magnificent, a hilarious joy to drink and revel in throughout the meal.
We tasted this with some seafood bisque with a salt cod croquette. The bisque had a good, rich flavour that was quite fishy enough and the salt cod was OK, but not my favourite thing ever. The richness of the soup was a good match for the power of the Chablis and the acidity of that kept the soup seeming fresh and delightful. This was a good dish.
Then came two 1990 Lamarche Premier Cru Vosne-Romanees. I’m sorry, Per, but I just thought these were rubbish and on their way out so I am going to be rude about them. The Chaumes was almost fruitless and quite dried out. Even thought it was effectively dead I didn’t think it showed any signs that it would have been terribly much more fun when it was younger. There was nothing to enjoy here.
The Suchots had the redeeming feature of a little bit of fruit remaining, but again this tasted largely of stewed tea with dried out tannins and nothing to titillate on the palate. As 1990 was quite a fun, fleshy vintage I was disappointed by how lean and dry these wines were, but not that surprised. I’ve never had a good Lamarache from around this period and these showed that either they were harvesting frighteningly early, had petrifying yields, or simply couldn’t make wine for toffee even in a vintage as forgiving as this one.
The dish we drank them which was, fortunately, far, far better: a little lasagne of rabbit with ceps. The rabbit flavour was rich and gamey enhanced by the mushrooms and I just shovelled this down. It was totally winning and the kind of thing I want to eat on regular occasions in the future. Brilliant flavours, a marvellous texture and simply scrummy. Top nosh!
Then we popped my two wines and I utterly despised them and felt cheated at having purchased them. Confuron-Cotetidot provided a Clos de Vougeot and Echezeaux 2006 and, whilst we felt it was instructive to drink them, I don’t think any of us would feel the need to patronise this producer with our funds based on these examples. The Clos de Vougeot was slightly better, it had some nice fruit and, whilst the tannins were hellishly extracted and harsh, they might have resolved in time.
The Echezeaux was simply shocking. Incredibly extracted with bitter, hard tannins that totally overwhelmed what soupy, over-ripe fruit managed to show through. It was totally lacking loveliness and I couldn’t imagine a less enjoyable bottle of Echezeaux. Both of these wines suffered from being monolithic and remarkably simple, so even if you did age them and somehow the fruit didn’t die before the horrific tannins, they’d never become the complex, engaging drinks one wants from Burgundy. And they didn’t provide any pleasure, and Burgundy should be pleasurable in the extreme.
These shockers were meant to match some lamb with Jersey Royal potatoes. The lamb was excellent and had a great flavour; I loved it. The Jersey Royals were presented in an impressively silly manner, but there is nothing wrong with silly and they tasted fantastic. It was a great dish and I was only disappointed I didn’t have any remotely good red wine to drink with it. I was really embarrassed by those two Confuron wines; everyone kept trying to placate me but there was no getting away from the fact that they were simply dreadful.
Finally we had Rieussec 1997 with rhubarb crème brulee. An inspired combination. The Rieussec was singing – time to drink as the acidity seemed to be softening a little but its gloriously rich and decadent characters were a perfect foil for the sweet and sharp flavours in the rhubarb crème brulee. This was the wine and food match of lunch- highly delightful.
I cannot recommend La Trompette highly enough: the food, service and environment made it a truly top rate place. They’ve got a great wine-list too if you cannot manage taking your own stuff. Based on the red wines we had we shouldn’t have managed taking our own stuff. The Lamarches used to be awful and now were awful and pretty much passed it, but then I expect you knew they would be anyway. The Confuron-Cotetidots were boring monoliths made in styles totally unsympathetic to Burgundy and Pinot Noir. After my recent experiences with their wines I will never buy from them again and I suggest you don’t either. But do visit La Trompette, you’ll have fine-dining frolics.
Sorry about the spelling mistakes in this piece. I think the tranquilisers I had swimming around my brain serving to recover my equilibrium after visiting London must have interfered with the parts of my mind used for composing words.
V interesting, David, and an enjoyable read despite your disappointment (for which commiserations). Found your comments on the Chablis v interesting. I have found Raveneau and also Dauvissat to be quite unlike other Chablis – in a good way. Really amazing wines, especially with some age.
I sort of wanted to see quite how good Yves Confuron’s Grand Crus were after having some ordinary 1er cru Nuits and Vosne recently – I didn’t expect them to be anywhere near this bad. The Echezeaux was the least lovely example of the vineyard I think I’ve ever had. So hard, tough and monolithic. I have learnt my lesson and will only bring wines I know to be lovely to future events. No experiments when you visit, Guy!
The Ravenneau was simply awe-inspiring – it’s brilliance really defied description and witnessing it evolve in the glass was a super thrill. Thanks for bringing that, Peter! And thanks for the Rieussec, too; that was just tits!
Hurrah! The Jersey Royals for once seem to have been served in a sensible fashion! Simple is brilliant.
They tasted amazing, Dan. I cannot think of when I’ve had Royals with so much flavour.
To be fair to dan (dan, the potato man), he provided the best royals ever a couple of weekends ago. From plant to plate in less than half an hour! I committed what I now accept as the heresy of adding butter to Lydia’s royals. This was foolish, if a little forgivable. It turns out the only way to eat them is absolutely plain boiled. Would you add coke to burgundy? No! Do you know I think what might be a winner? Royals slathered in oscietra. No butter. Just eggs. Imagine that!
I should add that what the Richardson family are to potatoes the Seysses are to grapes.
I’m sorry to hear about those Lamarche 90s, my 88 Grande Rue is showing rather well though certainly still with some of the auterity of the vintage. This was made by Mrs. Lamarche as Mr wasn’t well. I’ve never enjoyed Confuron-Coteditot though I love the Courcel wines made by the same chap. I’ve heard that recent vintages are much better though your experience would suggest otherwise, with the caveat that foul, unbalanced wines can,in my experience and contrary to the common view, become beautiful later on without carrying any hint of that possibility in a current manifestation.