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29th Fête d’Anniversaire dinner at The Hilton Hotel

  • Hilton Hotel M3 4LQ England (map)

A 29th birthday party is not normally something for a big “do”, but none the less one for celebration and considered anticipation! 

However, it was duly commemorated and with 62 participants and the extra benefit of attendance from Francis Boutemy from the Grand Conseil in Bordeaux. 

The evening was a fine gathering of Commandeurs, guests and potential members, who gathered at the Hilton on a lovely spring evening for a night of great company and with some delicious wines.

There was lots of space to meet and mingle with and no rushing and the Champagne Prevoteau-Perrier Brut N.V. slipped down very easily and enabled guests and colleagues to mix freely.  We also enjoyed some tasty and interesting canapés.

The party went into one of the cavernous Hilton dining rooms (which are a boon to those with tinnitus, with their sound absorbing properties). To be looked after exceedingly well by a well-trained and charming set of wine and food waiters.

The first wine was a young and sprightly Bordeaux Blanc from the very reliable Sichel family. 

The 2016 Château Argadens Blanc, Bordeaux AOC was nicely balanced and light and fresh and bodes well for the other 2016 whites. This lovely aperitif style drinking wine was paired with a very tasty pressing of duck and brunoise vegetables, fig chutney, air dried ham, petit salad and truffle honey and subsequently a little overwhelmed by a rather mustard heavy grilled fillet of mackerel, broad bean purée, potato and grain mustard ecrasée, and cauliflower.

Our meal centered around our two well-chosen, different and tasty reds both from 2001 but with very different styles and pedigrees and both defying the earlier low expectations of the year.  We started with a superb 2001 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou 2nd Cru AOC St-Julien, this everything you might expect from a first-class Cabernet Sauvignon dominated St Julien and got better the longer it was out of the bottle and we think could still give a number more years of drinking pleasure. 

This was accompanied by a generous portion of Fillet of beef, feather blade bon bon, parmentier potato, carrot purée, wilted spinach, tenderstem broccoli with its very tasty jus.

The second wine was a Cru Bourgeois and was one of those wines that explains why this Cru is getting an increasingly good reputation for well-made affordable clarets. 

We felt this 2001 Château Sociando-Mallet Cru Bourgeois AOC Haut-Médoc was probably at the peak of its drinking and could drink well on its own but was very good with the brie cheese with it was paired 

The “Greg Wallace Tendency” will have been delighted with the delightful desert of apple tart with Chantilly cream and an excellent 2008 Château Raymond-Lafon  AOC Sauternes. The two worked excellently together both having a lovely balanced sweetness and the wine having lovely complex flavours and a long and satisfying finish. With our hosts to thank, the toasts to be given and some nice coffee and macaroons to round off the evening, we headed for our “carriages” after an interesting and tasty birthday party.