Celebrations at Victoria & Albert’s

March 23, 2002

Ron and Bev Siegel invited us to dinner and tasting at Victoria & Albert’s in Disney’s Grand Floridian. Andy and Libby Crocket accompanied us. The event was held in the kitchen at the Chef’s Table.

We were there to celebrate Ron & Bev’s anniversary, our anniversary, and Bev’s birthday. Considering that we’re all just young whippersnappers, it was amazing that Linda and I, at 24 years, have been married the shortest time of anyone at the table!

We weren’t sure that we could top our previous event in November, the Tasting of the Century, but in the end, the consensus was that we had. Jim Griffin in particular felt that the wines were even better this time. And once again we had not off bottles. In fact nearly every wine showed twenty or thirty years younger than the date on the bottle. Since all of my wines were ones that I’ve had in the cellar for ten years, I was pleased to see that the corks were all moist and in excellent condition. Many of the wines had very little sediment.

There was a clear consensus that the 1947 Cheval Blanc was the best wine (only Linda disagreed). In fact, Ron dubbed it the best wine he’d ever tasted. This is a very famous wine, having been anointed the greatest wine of the 20th century by the Wine Spectator and many other writers. Fortunately I purchased this bottle before all the hype, or we couldn’t have touched it.

Our six hours at table flew past. Scott’s food was again remarkable, thirteen courses if you count everything. And again Jim’s wine matching was superb.

It is interesting to be in the V&A kitchen. It’s quieter than a lot of restaurants, even with a dozen chefs working. Most kitchens bustle, with the waiters rushing in and out to fill orders, but things seem very orchestrated at V&A. Of course, the kitchen is really a collection of rooms, which breaks things up. The chef’s table is located in an alcove at the side, which used to be a wine cellar. As a result, the air conditioning is good, and it keeps the kitchen smells away from the tasting.

At the chef’s table they use Riedel stemware, which really enhances the wine. The bowls are the size of goldfish bowls. We had an interesting experience with the Cheval Blanc. Some of us had it in a burgundy glass, which flares out slightly. Others had it in a Bordeaux glass that closes in at the top. Even though the two glasses are extremely similar, the nose of the wine was completely different. I’ve experienced this effect many times before, but only with more radical differences in glassware.

All wines were served at 65 degrees. In fact the 1934 Pommard even instructed us to do that on the label!

It was also the anniversary of Ron & Bev, and Bev’s birthday. We’re all the same age. The funny thing was that of the three couples, at 24 years, we’ve been married the shortest time.

Click on the small images for a larger view, then use your browser’s “Back” button to return here.


Giacomo Contemo, Barolo 1961 (Steve)
Albert Bichots, Pommard 1934 (Steve)
Leroy, Grand-Echezeau 1959 (Ron)
Beringer, Chabot Cabernet Sauvignon 1985 (Ron’s mystery wine)
BV Georges de Latour Reserve 1968 (Steve)
Chateau Cheval-Blanc 1947 (Steve)
Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1964 (gift from Ron to Jim)
Chateau Lynch-Bages 1961 (Ron)
Bertani, Amarone 1964 (Ron)
Penfold’s, Grange Hermitage 1977 (Ron)
Chateau d ‘Yquem 1990 (Ron)
Chateau Raymond-Lafon 1985 (Ron)
Chalk Hill, Sauvignon Blanc Late Harvest 1985 (Andy)
Pol Roger, Cuvee Winston Churchill, 1988 (V&A, not shown)
Ballot-Millot, Meursault-Genevrieres 1996 (V&A, not shown)


James Griffin, Maître d’Hôtel and Scott Hunnel, Chef de Cuisine