Joel Robuchon seems to be continually making the headlines these days, his latest achievement being a further Michelin star for his Japanese restaurant YOSHI at the Hotel Metropole in Monaco. The Antique Wine Company has many clients in the Principality and so this news prompted me during a recent visit to have lunch at the hotel’s main restaurant, it is one of my favourites but also because it has just appointed a new head sommelier, Frederic Woelffle, fresh from the Four Seasons Resort in Provence at Terre Blanche (pictured left).
This gastronomic experience didn’t disappoint from Robuchon protégé Christophe Cussac. An amuse bouche of foie gras with port wine and parmesan cheese whet the appetite along with the most extensive array of breads that I believe I have ever seen. I wondered if I might be asked by the enthusiastic sommelier: “what wine would like with your bread sir?”
The wine list boasts many great wines: 1990 Domaine de la Romanee Conti St Vivant at €3,600 per bottle; 1998 Cheval Blanc for €4,200 and a 1985 Chateau Petrus at an eyewatering €6,650. While the 2004 Petit Mouton de Mouton Rothschild seemed to be priced high at €360, the Chateau d’Yquem 1998 seemed quite reasonable by comparison at €970. Often when it’s hard to find value on a restaurant wine list the Rhone valley provides respite and this was definitely one of those situations. I settled on a bottle of 2003 St Joseph from Domaine Jean-Louis Chave. Having chosen this based upon its relatively great value at €80, I was well pleased with the wine’s lovely mineral and liquorice flavours leading into a long peppery finish but selecting the food to match the wine was the challenge.
After Saint Jacques, spit roasted “Poulet Fermier” with Robuchon’s famous mashed potato, rumour has it that it’s made with 50 per cent cream plus 50 per cent butter and a little potato thrown in, sommelier Nicolas Vialettes, whom I remembered from restaurant The Square in London, came over and complimented my choice on the wine, “one of the best wine makers in the world”. Reflecting on this for a moment, I remembered the little known fact that more 100 point Parker wines have appeared from the Rhone Valley than Bordeaux!
Head sommelier Frederic Woelffle then appeared and kindly offered my companion and I a glass of 2001 Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion, “an open bottle that just happened to be in the kitchen!”. We chatted about the wine list Frederic has proudly inherited, but says he has yet to cast his signature upon it.
He invited me to return in a couple of months to do one of my Riviera Radio wine series interviews, an occasion which I’m certainly looking forward to because I suspect the wine list here is set to become something quite special.
Following the medley of desserts including apple tart and dark chocolate torte, I finally “Iles flottanted” my way home with the sweet aftertaste of a very pleasant food and wine experience!