Accidental tourists: Lunch at Troplong Mondot

by Chuck Hayward

Accidental tourists: Lunch at Troplong Mondot

Post by Chuck Hayward | Friday, April 2nd

When traveling to a wine region, keeping to schedule is important in order to maximize your time on the ground. But a certain flexibility is required as you never know what accidents might occur or what special opportunities may present themselves.

Sometimes this is nearly the same thing.

At Troplong Mondot with Xavier Pariente

So it was during a late night soiree hosted by Stephane Derenoncourt that we found ourselves invited to lunch the following day at the famed Chateau Troplong Mondot. What to do? We had a totally packed schedule, but hell, we were going to be in in the neighborhood that morning at Ausone...certainly we could find an hour to squeeze in lunch! Good thing too, as our hostess Christine Valette wasn't going to take no for an answer.  So after leaving the caves at Ausone, we sped off to the beautiful town of St. Emilion to procure a flower arrangement for our hostess and then on to lunch at the Chateau.

A visit to Troplong Mondot is a special thing. Consistently among the best of their appellation, this was validated in 2006 when Troplong was elevated to Premier Grand Cru Classe. And it's easy to see why as we walked about the hill of Mondot in blustery weather. With a commanding view of the village and the vineyards below, the estate has numerous terroirs with which to pick and choose the best parcels.

I could see why Shaun could not say no to our visit as we met Christine and her daughter Margaux, our guide about the property. Just returning from an extensive stay in Africa to help at the winery, Margaux explained that she is the oldest of Christine's five (FIVE??) daughters which caused a collective gasp amongst our party. I managed to refrain from asking if a merger could be had with myself and my four brothers! We later met Christine's husband, Xavier Pariente and as we stood before this calm, collected gentleman, someone asked how did he do it (raise five daughters, that is).

"I am god," he replied.

Lunch was fantastic. Informal and relaxed, an assortment of workers and visitors sat at long picnic tables covered with checkerboard tablecloths. A buffet of salads, plats du foie gras, and lentils followed by cheeses and much bread gave us needed nourishment. We had a chance to try an assortment of older vintages highlighted by a double magnum of the 1992, a perfectly poised wine with a palate of youthful fruit yet beginning to reveal the secondary characteristics of earth and truffles. A bit of sauternes from an estate owned by friends and we were off!!

We had to stay on schedule after all.