In the late Fall of 1984, as the dollar hit all-time highs against the French Franc, a young American importer booked two R/T tickets to Paris Orly. Believing it was now or never, he then did one better, and reserved a table for two at Taillevent, Jean-Claude Vrinat’s 3-star restaurant at ADDRESS.
As the maitre d’hotel led the importer to his table, the 29 year-old importer felt like an imposter on a Hollywood set. The Taillevent clientele was dressed in Armani and Zegna, while he and his friend were clad in faded sports coats with frayed lapels and slacks that still bore the creases from the 7-hour flight the night before.
The Taillevent Carte des Vins was world renown, a thick tome, replete with an exhaustive selection of classified growth Bordeaux, including pages and pages of back vintages of First Growth Chateaux Lafite, Mouton, Haut Brion and Latour. But as had always been the case since since the importer first visited Burgundy in the summer of 1979, he passed over the Bordeaux and went to white Burgundy section of the wine list — dozens of pages filled with carefully cellared bottles from the greatest estates in the Cote de Beaune.
His eyes were like saucers as he scoured back vintages from Leflaive, Lafon, Roulot, Ampeau, Niellon, Sauzet and Ramonet. But it wouldn’t be long before he realized that even with the dollar at 9.64 to the French Franc, his palate was far more adventurous than his bank account.
The sommelier approached our table, clad in classic black on white, his silver tastevin tasting cup draped around his neck. He smiled politely, eyed our frayed lapels and intuited our predicament.
“You appear to be a white Burgundy connoisseur. May I suggest something unusual for you to try?”
“Consider the 1978 Macon-Vire from Andre Bonhomme. It’s the only Chardonnay from the Maconais at Taiillevent, and we held the wine in our cellar for five years before putting it on the list. It’s magnificent.” Then he stopped, smiled. And winked! “Honestly, it’s like village Meursault at one-third the price… only BETTER!”
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