November 10, 2023

The French triangle, day 1: horses and dragons

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My flight landed in the early hours of the morning, and going through immigration and getting my luggage went without a hitch. I had more than an hour to kill before boarding my train, and I was looking around for breakfast options. Unfortunately I had passed up hitting McDo at Charles de Gaulle Terminal 2, and I didn't like any of the options at the TGV station, so I decided to suck it until lunch.

It was good to be back at Bordeaux Gare Saint-Jean after so many years, and I took a connecting train to Libourne, where I was picked up to join a late lunch (late on account of me...)

Château Cheval Blanc
was the last stop in Bordeaux on our MNSC trip, and would be the first stop of my current trip. It's been 14 years and Pierre Lurton is looking a little different... but so am I.

Hairy Legs, Monsieur Tomate, and the others were already nibbling on snacks while sipping on the white wine.

2021 Le Petit Chaval Blanc - good, crisp acidity on the palate. Really classic and lovely sauvignon blanc.

The cone came with some lamprey inside. The last time I had this Bordelais specialty was, well, the last time I was in the region. This tasted much better.

This was a tempura but it's lemon peel! Really sweet and fragrant.

Œuf broullé - with crispy bacon.

We sit down for lunch. I think this was a different dining room from the one I sat in on my last visit.

Entremet mousseux de topinambours, petits légumes croquants semés comme un jardin - the mousseux was very smooth, with obvious flavors of smoky Jerusalem artichoke. The fresh garden vegetables like carrots, fennel, radishes, slices of Jerusalem artichoke added crunch, while slices of clementine gently accented the dish with some citrus fragrance.

Tourte d'agneau confit, oignons et endives caramélisés, petite salade à l'anguille fumée et aux cèpes - I was always going to love a tourte like this, especially in this season. The cèps in the salad were not unexpected, but I thought the smoked eel was a nice surprise.

This was stuffed with plenty of mushrooms inside.

In lieu of the usual pigeon or duck, we had very tasty and, well, "lamby" lamb. Totally up my alley thanks to the fragrant fat of the animal.

Fromages - the Gruyère had quite a bit of aging on it, so the texture was very hard and the salt had crystallized.

Crêpe soufflée aux pommes de nos joualles - very nice and fluffy.

Amande financier - a very fragrant way to end our meal.

Our host was incredibly generous and shared with us some amazing bottles, all of which drank very, very well today.

2018 Quinault L'Englos - of course this was ripe and young, but tannins were already smooth now. Unfortunately a little dusty and chalky so not the cleanest nose.

2011 Cheval Blanc - so fragrant and beautiful on the nose, with lovely spices, cedar, a little leather. Good acidity here to balance the tannins. Toasty notes came out later. Really showing very well today.

2010 Cheval Blanc - more tobacco notes on the nose with a hint of cigar, more smoky and also some graphite. There was fruit underneath but it was initially overshadowed by the smoke. Later on the woodsy notes came and the wine became more showy, beautiful, and at the same time powerful.

2009 Cheval Blanc - this was more exotic and sexy on the nose, with more oak, more flint. This was definitely more open so the nose was woodsy and lovely. Later on we also got some coffee notes. A real beauty!

2001 Cheval Blanc - tons of cedar on the nose, sooooo fragrant, such a beautiful wine that was incredible open and flamboyant, with smoky and coffee notes.

A beautiful lunch, and what a way to kick off my trip! Very grateful to our generous host and for my friends to allow me to tag along.

Victor and I headed off to another wine tasting after lunch at Château Quintus while the others headed back for some rest.  The tasting notes are here.

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