Dinner and Tasting with Pierre Lurton of Cheval Blanc and Yquem

by Mike Supple

(from L to R): Philippe Tapie (negociant), Pierre Lurton, Mike Supple

On Tuesday, Nov 6, JJ Buckley hosted a dinner with special guest Pierre Lurton, the director of Chateaux d’Yquem and Cheval Blanc. The dinner was held in Victor’s Room on the 32nd Floor of the Westin St. Francis Hotel, looking out over the entire city of San Francisco. The food was prepared by renowned chef Michael Mina.

The evening began with hors d’oeuvres and NV Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle Champagne. Once all the guests had arrived, we moved to Victor’s room where Pierre Lurton introduced himself and spoke about the history of both Cheval Blanc and Yquem. (A brief side-note: Chateau d’Yquem literally means the Castle of Yquem. When referring to it without the word “Chateau”, the correct form is to just say “Yquem”, not “d’Yquem”. This holds true for other Chateaux, such as Chateau d’Armailhac.)

The meal consisted of the following food and wine pairings:

2002 Yquem
Hudson Valley Foie Gras Terrine
Quince Puree, Mache Salad, Toasted Brioche

2001 Le Petite Cheval and 2001 Cheval Blanc
Roasted Squab
Huckleberries, Turnip Greens, Squab Jus

1999 Cheval Blanc
American Kobe Beef
Forest Mushrooms, Twice Baked Potato, Creamed Spinach

1995 Cheval Blanc
Pyrenees Brebis
Candied Walnut, Pomegranate Syrup, Arugula

1997 Yquem
Muscat Poached Yali Pear
Maple Custard, Caramelized Pecans

As we went through the courses, Monsieur Lurton discussed each of the wines, vintage conditions, styles, etc. Both the 2002 and 1997 Yquem were fantastic, though very young. The 2002 was bright and fresh, still showing mostly the primary fruit aromas and flavors. The 1997 was beginning to develop some secondary aromas, and had fantastic depth of fruit with hints of carmelized dried apricots along with a hint of hazelnut qualities.

All of the red wines were fantastic, and quite different. The consensus at my table seemed to be that the 1999 Cheval Blanc was showing the best during the evening. It was very aromatic, with rich red fruits and a touch of black truffle. The tannins had begun to soften and integrate very well, giving a rich, full-bodied, nicely balanced wine. The 2001 Cheval Blanc definitely showed the most aging potential of any of the wines, and while it paired nicely with the squab, I would recommend a couple more years of bottle age before drinking this one. The 2001 Petit Cheval was clearly a younger sibling of the great Cheval Blanc, and was showing very well during the dinner. A little brighter and more fruit forward, without as much of the hard tannic backbone of the ’01 Cheval. The nose on the 1995 Cheval Blanc was fantastic – rich earth, white and black truffle, light floral aromatics, and bold blackberry and cassis. On the palate though it was showing a bit more closed this evening.

This was a fantastic event, and a great time was had by all. A special thanks goes out to our guest Pierre Lurton for taking the time to share his wines and knowledge with us.

We will be doing monthly dinners, so if you did not have a chance to make this one, stay tuned for more!

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