The Dinner of the Century

Victoria & Albert’s


In November, 2001 about half of the The Wine Syndicate put together a dinner and tasting at Victoria & Albert’s in Disney’s Grand Floridian. The event, held in the kitchen at the Chef’s Table, was dubbed “The Dinner of the Century” because it featured wines from ten consecutive decades, beginning in 1918 and progressing through 2000.

We spent six and a half hours(!) at table, but the time seemed to fly. The food was remarkable, easily the best eleven courses I’ve ever had. Even more remarkable was that the menu was created on the spot, to match the wines we brought. And match it did. There were many remarkable pairings, but for me the most memorable was the Seared Hudson Foie Gras over Brioch French Toast matched with the 1990 Chateau d’Yquem. Heaven.

With such old wines, I was expecting a few clunkers. especially from the old Burgundies, which were very light, and the 1918 Sherry, which I threw in more to add the tenth decade than from any expectation it would be drinkable. Yet amazingly, all of the wines were drinking spectacularly. The 1929 and 1947 Burgundies stole the show, achieving that rare “Holy Grail” status that we Burgundy lovers wade through hundreds of wines to find. To have two on the same table was unprecedented. And that 1918 sherry? It was dark, and rich, and complex enough that it actually stole the show from both Yquems! Read on for the menu and my tasting notes.

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20011130winesThe complete lineup.
20011130redsThe Reds.Louis Latour, Château Corton Grancey 1929
Château Talbot 1934
Clos de Tart 1947
Château Haut-Brion 1953
Château Lafite-Rothschild 1961
Domaine Romanée-Conti, La Tâche 1986
20011130whitesThe Whites.Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Premier Cru, Epernay (not shown)
Laurent Perrier, Rose MV
Taittinger, Comtes de Champagne 1986
Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc (not used)
Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Chardonnay 2000
Guenoc Genevieve Magoon Reserve Chardonnay 1990 (not used)
Château d’Yquem 1977 (used twice)
Château d’Yquem 1990 (used twice)
Jiménez Gonzalez, Cream Sherry 1918


20011130sommelierjimWith James, the Maître d’HôtelSteve, Linda, Ron, Maître d’Hôtel James Griffin, Bev, Patty, Jim.
20011130chefscottWith Scott, the Chef de CuisineSteve, Linda, Ron, Bev, Chef de Cuisine Scott Hunnel, Patty, Jim.




Welcome to Victoria and Albert’s Chef’s Table

November 30, 2001  

The wine and food pairings were a dynamic event, and James changed a few things around from the printed version of this menu that they presented us with at the conclusion of the meal. I’ve edited that version to reflect they way James actually served them, which was an exercise in food and wine matching brilliance.

Iranian Karabarun Golden Osetra Caviar, Traditional Garnish

Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Premier Cru, Epernay


Ahi Tuna with Bok Choy Salad and Wasabi Vinaigrette

Laurent Perrier, Rose NV


Holland Dover Sole and Nantucket Scallops with Couscous Ragout

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Chardonnay 2000


Roasted Quail over Braised Belgium Endive and Spinach & White Truffle
White Truffle: The most prized luxury ingredient in the food market today. This rare ingredient is harvested from the Piedmont Region of Italy. The ripened fungus has an earthy/garlicky flavor and aroma, meant to be shaved at the last moment.

Clos de Tart 1947


Seared Hudson Foie Gras over Brioch French Toast

Château d’Yquem 1977
Château d’Yquem 1990


Free Range Consommé
Smoked Salmon Cream

Taittinger, Comtes de Champagne 1986


Mushroom Roulade with Chanterelles, Cognac Cream and Black Truffle Essence & White Truffle

Louis Latour, Château Corton Grancey 1929
Château Haut-Brion 1953


Trio of Sorbets


Grilled Prime Beef Filet over Caramelized Onion Risotto

Château Talbot 1934
Domaine Romanée-Conti, La Tâche 1986


Texas Boar and Colorado Lamb with Mustard Spatzle and Rosemary Jus

Château Lafite-Rothschild 1961


Vacherin Fribourgeois, Petit Basque and Royal Stilton with Burgundy Poached Pear

Jiménez Gonzalez, Cream Sherry 1918


Tropical Fruit Mousse in an Orange Scented Chocolate “Purse”
Pyramid of Chocolate Mousse with Glazed Strawberries
Caramelized Banana Gateau
Vanilla Bean Crème Br
Kona Chocolate Soufflé
Grand Marnier Soufflé



Scott Hunnel
Chef de Cuisine

Erich Herbitschek
Pastry Chef

James Griffin
Maître d’Hôtel


Tasting Notes


NV Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Premier Cru, Epernay Jim 19pts My favorite Champagne of the evening. Creamy, with good acid balance, and a creamy nose and finish, too. Scored 91 by Parker.
NV Laurent Perrier, Rose Brut Jim 17-1/2 Tart, dried flowers, touch of cedar in the nose, with a dry creamy finish.
2000 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Chardonnay Jim 20 Wow. Buy more of this. Intense lemon reminiscent of Genevieve Magoon unfiltered. Very mouth-filling, fruity and balanced.
1947 Clos de Tart Steve 20 Fabulous uncooked bacon fat nose. Medium Brown and thin appearance completely belies its character. Shockingly good fruit, balanced, complex, with a long woody finish. I wish I’d saved some of this until the end of the tasting, as I did with the 1929.
1977 Château d’Yquem Steve 19 Classic Yquem complexity, but not a food wine. The 1990 was the match for the Fois Gras. Slightly raisiny nose, and a bit of a dry finish, with lots going on in the mouth. Probably at its peak.
1990 Château d’Yquem Jim 19 Initial paint thinner nose rapidly blows of leaving a lovely fruit character. Intensely sweet but with excellent acid balance. Initially it seemed a bit corky in the mouth, but this too dissipated. The combination of this wine, the Fois Gras and the brioche French toast was the best tasting (food) item that I’ve ever put in my mouth.
1986 Taittinger, Comtes de Champagne Jim 17 James cleverly used this ultra dry Champagne to clear all that sugar out of our mouths before the reds. Perhaps it suffered as a result, but it was my least favorite Champagne of the evening. Bone dry and toasty, with an unpleasant bread dough character.
1929 Louis Latour, Château Corton Grancey Ron 20+ What can I say? This may be the best wine I’ve ever had. A pale color, more gray than red, and the sediment visibly fell out of it during the four hours it was in my glass. Yet with each passing minute the nose evolved and changed, passing through many fruit bouquets and nearly every earthy scent you’ve ever heard associated with Burgundy. Clearly detectable at various times were: burnt paper, cinnamon toast with butter and brown sugar, apple pie and wet, hot sawdust. The wine was simply too complex for food, and didn’t match the mushroom course. But the Haut Brion did, and with this good a wine, who needs food anyway?
1953 Château Haut-Brion Ron 19-1/2 The mineral and earthy nose of this wine was a perfect match for the mushrooms. Shockingly dark color, intense fruit, a touch of tar and cedar in the finish. Amazingly youthful.
1934 Château Talbot Ron 19 Another old wine with excellent color and fruit. Very minty, a character I seldom get in older wines. Almost reminiscent of Heitz Martha’s Vineyard from the 1980s!  Still quite tannic, with some great dusty chocolate hints. A fabulous match to the filet and especially the risotto.
1986 Domaine Romanée-Conti, La Tâche Ron 18 A huge, famous and expensive wine that may or may not ever turn into something like the 1929 or 1947. Mint, fruit, and meat flavors, with a tart, tannic and acidic finish. Way too tight to evaluate now. I’ll buy old ones instead — who knows if I’ll live long enough for this one to get interesting!
1961 Château Lafite-Rothschild Steve 19-1/2 The famous vintage from the famous first growth. Although I’d only had the 1962 before, I could have recognized this wine on nose alone. Classic Lafite in perfect condition. Very youthful. Mint, dust, figs, soft intense fruit, lead pencil, fresh sawn cedar.
1918 Jiménez Gonzalez, Cream Sherry Steve 19 I figured we’d dump this down the drain. I was wrong. Still deep in color (perhaps due to the unusual gold foil coating on the bottle) this wine blew the doors of the Yquems! When the tasting was done, there was still Yquem left, but this was gone! Great acid, like coffee liqueur in the mouth, long legs, and a wonderful citrus finish. A great match with the pears.

Wow! I don’t know if I’ll ever have another dinner like that. But I’m sure going to try 😉