Epic Day, Part Deux! Dinner at Talbot

by Chuck Hayward

Epic Day, Part Deux! Dinner at Talbot

Post by John Perry | Tuesday, March 30th

So after extricating ourselves from the mud in Margaux and finally finding a place to clean up and knock back a couple of beers, it was time to head off to Chateau Talbot for our scheduled dinner. Jean-Pierre Marty, the general manager of the estate and Paul Favale, the vice president of Maison Joanne USA, greeted us at the gate.

The "aged and dusty" package costs extra.

We were first given a tour of the cellars, where bottles were organized by vintage going back to the beginning of the 20th century. We jokingly suggested popping some of the older bottles (strictly for research purposes of course!), but our focus over dinner would be some of the more recent offerings from Talbot.

Chateau Talbot is planted to a whopping 102 hectares and annually produces over 400,000 bottles between their grand vin, second wine, and a vin blanc (Le Caillou Blanc).  Although they have a large production, quality levels are strictly enforced and I can attest through personal experience that they make some terrific wines.  Top-notch wine consultant Stephane Derenoncourt has recently assisted at Talbot, which should result in even more fantastic wines.

After completing a tour of the production end of the operation, we tasted the 2009 Connetable de Talbot (the second wine of the property) and 2009 Chateau Talbot.  The second wine, a blend of 45% Merlot and 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, showed some charming, spicy red fruit on the nose followed by a round body and finishing with sweet, fine tannin.  I found it quite approachable now and will look forward to it upon release.

White wine barrel hall at Talbot

The grand vin in 2009 is composed of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot and 4% Petit Verdot.  Jean-Pierre explained that every vintage of Talbot contains an average of 5% Petit Verdot, used to give added structure to the wines.  The 2009 displayed better fruit intensity than the second wine and picked up some complex tobacco and cedar notes on the palate, finally rounding out with round and sweet tannins that are beginning to integrate nicely— truly a pleasure.

It was then off to dinner where we met Lorraine Cordier, one of the chateau's directors and a member of the Cordier family who has owned the property since the early 1900s. We were ushered in to the ornate sitting room where Champagne was offered and enthusiastically accepted. Two bottles of Laurent Perrier Grand Siècle (a wine I had the pleasure of drinking at the previous night's dinner) were opened up and, again, kicked some serious butt. I could get used to having this wine every night before dinner! The sitting room itself was a blast from the past— plush, red velvet furniture, elaborate wallpaper and paintings— just a really classic feel. And there was something that you would never see in the states: cups filled with cigarettes on every table in the room. Mademoiselle Cordier freely smokes in the house and obviously permits her guests to indulge as well.

Dinner was soon served and we enjoyed a white Bordeaux from another property of the Cordier family, followed by the 2000, 2003 and 2005 Chateau Talbot. All the wines were sensational and were great matches with the soup, filet mignon, and cheese course. The real highlight of the meal was when Mademoiselle Cordier casually mentioned the soccer game between Bordeaux and Lyon that was being broadcast on TV that night. We all said that we would be more than happy to watch the game and conveniently enough there was a television at the end of the table!  The game was flipped on and we caught the first half of action over this terrific meal.

By that point, I was feeling pretty good from the wine and the relaxed atmosphere during dinner, and as we were enjoying our espresso I asked Mademoiselle Cordier if I could have a cigarette. Now, I don't often smoke, but you know what they say, "When in Rome!" Or I guess in this case, "When in Bordeaux!" Her face lit up, happy to have a partner in crime and that this small group of Americans could cut loose and indulge a little bit. Jean-Pierre whipped out a box of his cigarillos that he shared with the rest of the group and we all puffed away, with full bellies and content to sit back and watch the game.

We adjourned to another sitting room to catch the second half of the soccer match. A fire was lit, cognac was poured and we sat on the edge of our seats hoping for Bordeaux to pull off a victory. Alas, they failed to come through with a win, the only black mark on an absolutely amazing day. We bid farewell and made the long trek back to Libourne, with me secretly wishing that we could have just crashed there for the night. Au revoir Talbot, thanks for everything!