Discovering Bordeaux with David Roberts MW


Last night the Goedhuis crew hosted another of their Pantechnicon dinner series which consists of being taught more about wine without forgetting to eat and drink well. Usually I throw a critical eye at the wine list and have a cursory glance at Jancis Robinson or Robert Parker’s websites before signing up but this time I also wanted to witness Goedhuis’ in-house MW, David Roberts, in full flow.

Arriving unprepared for the evening made the occasion an even more interesting experience. David Roberts’ selection was well thought through with divergent styles across the Gironde, consisting of sampling two whites then kicking of with the pairing of two different reds for the starter and the mains to end the evening with a Sauternes during dessert. The Pantechnicon’s chef must have had a tough time coming up with a good match for each flight of wines as the pairs were so divergent.

2008 Ch. Charmes Godard Blanc Bordeaux

2007 Ch. Malartic-Lagravière Blanc Cru Classé Pessac-Léognan
Smoked Beetroot, goat’s curd pannacotta, pancetta, walnut dressing

2001 Ch. Grand Mayne Cru Classé St. Émilion
1999 Ch. Grand Puy Lacoste 5ème Cru Pauillac
Wild mushroom & snail ragout, grilled bone marrow toasts

1998 Domaine de Chevalier Cru Classé Pessac-Léognan
2001 Ch. Léoville Poyferré 2ème Cru St. Julien
Braised lamb shank, gnocchi, parsley purée, pomegranate jus

1997 Ch. Bastor Lamontagne Sauternes
Orange marmalade steamed pudding, orange sorbet, five spice caramel
Opposites attract
The first set of wines were a 2008 Chateau Charmes Godard and a 2007 Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere. Apart from being owned by Belgian families, this is were the divergency started: Charmes Godard is produced by Nicolas Thienpont (of Pavie Macquin fame, part of the family owns le pin and Vieux Chateau Certan) in the Cotes de Franc on the right bank near St Emilion and Cotes de Castillon with a blend of 70% Semillon, 15% Sauvignon Gris and some Muscadelle whereas the Malartic-Lagraviere owned by the Bonnie family comes from Pessac Léognan with a blend of up to 90% Sauvignon Blanc and the remaining Semillon. I found the Charmes Godard a pleasant aperitif wine – neither heavy or light and a perfect way to start an evening. The Malartic Lagraviere was what the French call “˜Ã¡ point’ with a wonderful floral nose and an elderflower and lychee taste and successfully was matched with a Panacotta of goat’s curd sitting on a bed of beetroot.

With the wild mushroom and snail ragout starter, things got off to a serious start: we were presented with a 2001 Chateau Grand Mayne from St Emilion and a 1999 Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste, from the right bank wine mecca, Pauillac. I loved the blueberry and mint nose and grippy tannins on the Grand Mayne, the predominant Merlot (75%) was shining out. 2001 is a very undervalued year standing in the shadow of 2000 which given the pricing, should allow wine drinkers as opposed to collectors feel more at ease given the current ramp in mega vintage prices. I would keep it my cellar for another year or two. The Grand Puy Lacoste – nicknamed the “˜crocodile’ wine in China, had a more subdued nose of forest undergrowth which matched the starter perfectly but with red fruit bursting in the mouth, made it a good foil with the St Emilion.

The main menu consisted of a delicious braised lamb shank in pomegranate juice and was paired with a 1998 Domaine de Chevalier, Pessac Léognan – the new name for Grave and situated virtually in the suburbs of Bordeaux and a 2001 Léoville Poyferré, from St Julien, just south of Pauillac. As both wines have a similar blend of predominant Cabernet Sauvignon (65 to 75%), Merlot and Petit Verdot (more in the Poyferré as the Domaine de Chevalier adds a splash of Cabernet Franc), this pairing was in my opinion interesting to for the expression of terroir. The Domaine de Chevalier had an undergrowth and minty nose with a savoury fig taste, I thought I had reached the night’s crescendo… Until I put the Léoville Poyferré to my lips, I knew I was hoodwinked by David Roberts’ selection! The Poyferré with its licorice and cherry nose had an amazing balance. Most definitely the most elegant wine of the evening.

We finally finished off the dinner with a 1997 Chateau Bastor Lamontagne from Sauternes with a great mint and orange peel nose, matching the dessert Orange steamed pudding and sorbet perfectly.

Overall the dinner was a stunning experience and was illustrated by David Roberts’ great knowledge of the wines, their owners and terroirs. The pairing of the different wines and food must have been a satisfying intellectual challenge!

I was even more perplexed when I finally got time to have that cursory glance at Robert Parker’s website, none of these wines received a rating above 90 points… David’s selection had an added bonus: proving that great wines – and great evenings, do not necessarily need great Parker ratings.

Karel Roell