Taken, at the weekend, by a generous friend to Le Manoir Aux Qat’Saisons – Raymond Blanc’s place which has had two Michelin stars for the last 22 years – I am deputed to interface with the sommelier on condition that I ultimately defer to the sommelier’s judgment.
We’re on the nine course Menu of Discovery, of which about six courses require white wine. Tentatively I suggest a Sancerre. The silent hauteur of the sommelier suggests this is a faux pas.
How so? Well, explains the sommelier, the courses are full-flavoured, and the delicacy of Sancerre would be lost in accompanying them.
The sommelier suggests a Jurancon, a Meursault and a Viognier. He’s right of course. All three are delicious.
Then the lamb course. I suggest a Chateau Belgrave 2000. The sommelier does not demur, and when pushed for an opinion, shrugs: “It’s a typical Bordeaux”.
When we got to the dining room the four bottles are brought over for inspection and opened at a side table, but the Belgrave is not decanted, which, as a 5th growth of the Medoc, I would have done.
Greatly daring I ask the sommelier if he’s going to decant the Belgrave, only to receive this magnificent put-down.
“I shall taste it”, he replied, “then I shall make my decision.”