Eleven Madison Park
York, NY 10010
I knew right away this was going to
be a once-in-a-lifetime lunch, even though my wife and I have enjoyed many
spectacular meals at Eleven Madison Park over the years. As much as I enjoy
reviewing wines critically, it is a job that inevitably involves tasting a lot
of wines. Sometimes, it is nice to spend a few hours with one or two wines.
That’s what this lunch was all about. These weren’t just any wines, though, but
three great 2009s from one of my favorite domaines in Burgundy. Of course, the
2009s are objects of desire among the world’s most passionate collectors.
Prices have skyrocketed since these wines were released, making them virtually
unattainable for mere mortals. I doubt I will ever taste – let alone drink –
these three great wines together again, but once was enough to get a good look
As it turns out, at least one of
the dishes we were served was likely an experiment in Eleven Madison Park’s
transition to their recently introduced New York City-inspired tasting menu.
The ‘Sturgeon’ was more like a deconstructed Brooklyn bagel. But the best bagel
you have ever had. The accompanying tin of caviar disappeared pretty quickly.
The dish was every bit as delicious as its presentation (in a smoke filled
dome) was dramatic. The rest of our courses were a bit less showy, but equally
delicious. Daniel Humm is one of the very few chefs I know who plays in all
dimensions. Most of these dishes were built on contrasts of temperature,
texture and flavor. All of them were visually arresting.
As for the wines, well, they were
pretty spectacular. How many times will a lunch start with a Roumier Musigny?
Not too often for me, that is for sure. I adored the 2009 Musigny when I tasted
it from barrel. Frankly, I was quite a bit less impressed with the bottle I
tasted at the domaine in November 2011. Despite Christophe Roumier’s assertion
that the bottle was fine, I had a very different opinion. The only way to know
for sure was to buy a bottle. We followed the 2009 Musigny and the Bonnes-Mares for several hours, a fascinating
and thrilling experience in every way. The 2009 Musigny was pure seduction.
Silky, sensual and intensely perfumed, it captivated all of the senses with
pure pleasure and an intricate latticework of aromas and flavors that seemed to
have no end. Then came the 2009
Bonnes-Mares. What a wine! While the Musigny showed more of a red fruit
profile, the Bonnes-Mares was quite a bit darker. It also had a lot more
underlying structure. With time in the glass, hints of menthol, tar and dried
roses added complexity. Both wines took us on a journey. Ultimately, though,
the Musigny gave up its charms easier, while the Bonnes-Mares continued to open
up over several hours, seemingly with something new to say with each taste. It
was flat-out monumental. The stuff dreams are made of.
The 2009 Corton-Charlemagne, always a middle of the road performer at
the domaine, was surprisingly outstanding, and had no problem being served
after the two flagship grand crus. Stylistically, Roumier has worked to give
the wine more focus and delineation, and that served him very well in 2009.
Rich and textured, the Corton-Charlemagne, deftly balanced the generosity of
the year with plenty of vibrant, incisive minerality.
What more can I say? A brilliant
menu for Daniel Humm and his team paired with three monumental wines from
Christophe Roumier. I can’t imagine there are too many better ways to spend an
afternoon. I left Eleven Madison Park inspired and energized, and there simply
aren’t too many restaurants I can say that about.
Hamachi; marinated with horseradish
Lobster; poached with Meyer lemon,
burnt leek and shellfish bisque
Sturgeon; smoke with pickles, rye,
crisp and everything bagel crumble
Rabbit; roasted roulade with
endive, saffron and pear
Vacherin; Marble potatoes, pearl
onions and mustard greens
Domaine Georges Roumier Musigny
Domaine Georges Roumier Bonnes-Mares
Domaine Georges Roumier
-- Antonio Galloni