'79 Pichon-Lalande Party


What a grand Harvest Dinner last night, for members of the International Wine & Food Society! Held in the stately Georgian Room of Seattle's Fairmont Olympic Hotel, it featured 8 exquisite courses, 8 superb wines, including a stunning Bordeaux from Château Pichon-Longueville, Comtesse de Lalande. Not just any old bottle, mind you, but a rare 1979 impériale donated by Seattle branch president Michael de Maar.
Georgian Room.jpg Wines on display w RH 2.jpg De Maar.jpg

Sommelier Joseph Linder begins by cutting the capsule on the impériale, which holds the equivalent of 8 bottles of wine. The cork is almost two inches across, and everyone is relieved when it emerges from the neck in one piece.
Cutting the capsule.jpg Drawing the cork.jpg Cork is free.jpg

Now comes another crucial step: decanting. [By the way, the New York Times had an article about opening an impériale of Château Lafite-Rothschild in Wednesday's paper. Worth looking at!] Toward the end, Joseph decants over a candle, so he can be sure none of the wine's sediment gets into the carafe. Now we're good to go.

Decanting begins.jpg Decanting ends.jpg Decanting finished.jpg

Back in the kitchen, executive sous-chef Patrick Doré, a Canadian veteran of hotel kitchens, and Georgian Room sous-chef Brian Doherty are ready to start sending out artfully composed plates.

The chefs.jpg Kitchen prep.jpg

Here they come: a truffle-crusted terrine of duck liver, accompanied by a Beaumes-de-Venise. A tuna tartare topped with seared foie gras, accompanied by a Chablis Grand Cru. A tartelet of morel mushrooms accompanied by a Beaune Clos des Mouches from Drouhin, a combination that would have been the evening's high point ... except that the Bordeaux was still ahead.

Duck terrine.jpg Foie gras tuna tartar.jpg Mushroom tartelet.jpg

Time has come for the Pièce de Résistance, the Main Event, the Big Kahuna: grilled tenderloin of veal with crisp morels ... and, of course, the 1979 Pichon-Lalande.

Joseph pouring Pichon.jpg Veal w Pichon.jpg

There's more: a cheese course, two desserts ... two more wines and a final glass of champagne in the bar. What a wonderful evening, what a privilege to enjoy the work of such talented chefs and dedicated dining room staff. Our thanks to them all.

Big and beautiful.jpg Label closeup.jpg

What's such a great wine like, 25 years after harvest? The color, first of all, is remarkable, clear and bright garnet; the bouquet is earthy [mushrooms, a touch of cigar-box]. In the mouth, it's silky-smooth, with subtle hints of violets. It's undeniably French, unmistakably Bordeaux, typically Pauillac, and uniquely Pichon.

The taste of the Pichon lingers for hours. How humbling to recognize, once again, that the fruits of a vineyard in France can produce such pleasure for three dozen people, a quarter century later, halfway around the world.



Could that be the reflection of the beaming author standing guard in his red vest and black tie just above the Beaune Clos des Mouche? If it's not Waldo, then it has to be Holden!

Sheesh! Nothing like having someone watch while you're typing. Morgy's right ...

Sylvia and I were greatly impressed with the presentation on Friday night. Not only were the food and wine, or should I say the wine and food(?) outstanding, there were other bennies. (1) We weren't parked in each other's laps. (2) The food was served warm. (3) There were adequate pours of wine. (4) The company was pleasant. (5) The facility was a good choice for black tie. (6)The organizers did a terrific job!

We stayed at the hotel overnight. On Saturday we took a tour of the new library. Since the Chaine was having a dinner at the new restaurant, Union, we walked down to "case the joint." We decided that 50 people in that restaurant would be too much of a test of our nerves. We will pass on that dinner. We may go there privately.

However, as coincidence would have it, as we were looking in the window, guess who should drive up but Mel and Leena. We gushed about our IFWS dinner and Sylvia produced the menu. I could tell that Mel was impressed. He casually mentioned that they belonged to the London chapter of IFWS.

I think Sylvia and I are seriously considering applying for membership in the IFWS, if old codgers are accepted.

Want to talk about ideas for more dinners? events?


Oh, why wasn't I there? Looks like a historique diner.
Great story. way to go on the photos as well. Keep
up the good work, Mr. Pickle.

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This page contains a single entry by Cornichon published on October 23, 2004 3:59 PM.

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Recent Comments

  • craig mccord: Oh, why wasn't I there? Looks like a historique diner. read more
  • Dave Lonay: Ron, Sylvia and I were greatly impressed with the presentation read more
  • Ronald: Sheesh! Nothing like having someone watch while you're typing. Morgy's read more
  • Morgy: Could that be the reflection of the beaming author standing read more