April 3 - Dinner at Leoville Las Cases
by Chuck Hayward
We then walked across the street to his house, where we sat down in some very comfortable sofas and chairs. Jean-Hubert sank deep down and put his feet up as he immediately began to smoke his ‘Neos Extra’ cigar. He also brought out his three inch thick book of wines of his cellar, and asked us to pick any wine we wanted! There were hundreds of wines, including Petrus and DRC and a selection of Leoville Las Cases going back to 1900.He asked that one person pick the wine and the rest of us would then guess the selection. Well…if we must!
The dinner began with a home cooked tray of vegetables, including a delicious dish of cauliflower with (lots of) garlic, served with the first blind wine. My guess was a ’96 Puligny Montrachet. Jean-Hubert would not give us any clues, but after all guesses were in, it was revealed to be a ’99 Drouhin Corton Charlemagne. Jean-Hubert said that the way he tries to guess is to first attempt to identify the vintage, then the grape varietal, then the producer, and then the region. He says it’s easier to guess the producer than the region (at least for Burgundy) as the producer’s winemaking tends to be consistent across the different appellations of Burgundy.
Next came the duck, served with potatoes and parsnips. It was so good that everyone had seconds, except for Jean-Hubert who had thirds. With this course, Jean-Hubert served the wine that was picked by one of us as well as four other wines. His two chefs/servers poured three wines at the same time (to help give us some reference, as they were served blind). For once, the table agreed on one thing…the wines had been poured in order of age, from oldest to newest. As it turned out, we were completely wrong – they were served in order of vintage…but in reverse order. The youngest wine was the ’89 Clos du Marquis, followed by the ’85 Las Cases, and the ’82 Las Cases. Jean-Hubert said his style is a wine like the ’85: A wine with elegance and characteristic of the vintage with some personality. In addition, he prefers the ’86 to the ’00 and ’05, which he thinks is too powerful. He always takes what nature gives and doesn’t want to make something into what it’s not.
Next came the ’75 Las Cases, served with the cheese course, followed by the ’66 Las Cases with dessert. The evening was topped off with a cappuccino and ‘Neos Extra’ cigars.
It was now almost midnight and we said our goodbyes. Jean-Hubert walked us out to our car. Tonight he had given me a true taste of Bordeaux hospitality. Jean-Hubert is a simple man with incredible generosity and kindness. A visit never to be forgotten…