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Philippe Gonet & Beychevelle at Imperial Treasure Paris

From left, Paige Donner of USA TODAY and Paris GOODfood+wine, Chantal Bregeon-Gonet, Alfred Leung, Rebecca Frasquet of AFP, NG Yin Ching, Philippe Blanc, and Kenny Leung.

Alfred Leung, Founder & CEO of Imperial Treasure Group, is hosting lunches and dinners for the media as he prepares to open their first restaurant in Paris this Sunday 29 September 2019.

Situated a mere minute walk up from the huge Louis Vuitton store on Champs Elysees, the restaurant is housed inside the 5-star, 5-story La Clef Champs Elysees. Built in 1907 by the Hennessy Family of Cognac, the 80-room hotel is located at 46 rue de Bassano.

La Clef is a hospitality brand owned by the Ascott Group, itself part of property giant Capital Land, an entity of a sovereign wealth fund unit of Singapore.

Chantal Bregeon-Gonet of Champagne Philippe Gonet helped kicked off the first event yesterday. The Le Mesnil sur Oger family-owned house produces pristine, precise champagne, particularly blanc de blancs.

Ter Blanc impresses with razor fine fruit and razor sharp freshness. The 100% chardonnay comes from two grand crus and a premier cru and is comprised of one-third wine from the 2011, 2012, and 2013 vintages. Aged in old 60-hectolitre foudres, the vivacious, riveting bubbly does not undergo malolactic fermentation. Everything in “3”, the dosage is 3 g/l.

Ter Noir is also aged in old 60-hectolitre foudres. For six months. Comprised of 1/3 chardonnay, 1/3 pinot noir, and 1/3 pinot meunier, it also does not undergo malolactic fermentation and spent five years in bottle with lees contact (far exceeding the minimum legal requirement of 15 months). Ter Noir is rounder, creamier, and has a hint of vanilla.

Both Ter Blanc and Ter Noir are contained in a bottle inspired by a 19th century relic the Gonet Family found in their cellar in Le Mesnil.

Champagne Philippe Gonet Belemnita 2005 is the top cuvée. It is a Le Mesnil sur Oger Grand Cru Chardonnay single vineyard next to Bregeon-Gonet mother’s house that was planted 90 years ago in 1929. Belemnita takes its name from the fossils – belemnite rostrums – that line the soil. Very intense, the fruit profile includes citrus, hazelnut, and a vanilla aspect. Rich, ripe – and for the hot 2005 vintage – smouldering freshness.

Chateau Beychevelle’s Managing Director and Chief Winemaker Philippe Blanc did the honours with the reds. The pairing of Champagne Philippe Gonet and the Saint-Julien Classified Growth was a most appropriate match because, staying at Beychevelle one time, Blanc served Belemnita 2005 before dinner.

Arriving ahead of time to personally oversee the uncorking of Beychevelle 2007, 2001, 1999, and 1996, Philippe Blanc had joined the Saint-Julien estate in 1995 but considers 1996 as the first vintage where he assumed full control.

After sampling the wines, Blanc decided against decanting them.

All four vintages resonate with Beychevelle DNA: fruit and structure knitted in seamless harmony, elegance, freshness, and a lingering finish on the palate and mind. There is also the mint so much associated – for me – with Beychevelle.

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The first wine – 2007 – is not a big vintage. On the contrary, it is a lighter proposition, providing the ideal opportunity to gauge the skill (or lack of) of the winemaker. A less sure hand would tend to exaggerate things. Not Blanc, who made sure that whatever mettle he got from the fruit, tannins, and acidity, he guided them to pin prick balance. Enjoyable now, 2007 is still not yet entirely evolved in spite of its lightness. On the contrary, another 10 years is not too much.

Beychevelle 2001 is always – for me – preferred over 2000. There is such a greater buoyancy in the wine. The fruit is more lifted. Which is the many more effortless times the drinker does with a glass of 2001, such is the enjoyment derived from this remarkable vintage.

At 20 years, 1999 is full of grace and refinement. Delicate sandalwood and young tobacco are embellished into the fruit.

The final wine came in yesterday as the show-stopper.

You may also want to read … 2016 – THE NEW 1982?

Chateau Beychevelle 1996 is perfumed. In full flight, and still unfurling its charms as the last sips were taken, the sandalwood, tobacco, leather, mint, and cassis were rising to the occasion. Not forgetting the elegance, finesse, and freshness so associated with Beychevelle and Blanc.

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