Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Winemaker Dinner with Château Lafon Rochet at Restaurant 2941 in Northern Virginia, with Sofia Poniatowski and Chef Bertrand Chemel, USA/ Bordeaux

Pictures: Winemaker Dinner with Château Lafon Rochet at Restaurant 2941 in Northern Virginia, with Sofia Poniatowski and Chef Bertrand Chemel, USA/ Bordeaux

Sofia Poniatowski of the Tesseron family that owns Château Lafon-Rochet was in town (Washington DC) - for the Heart's Delight events - and Annette Schiller was able to organize a winemaker dinner with her at Restaurant 2941 in Northern Virginia.

Pictures: Arriving at Restaurant 2941

The wine-pairing dinner with Michel Tesseron in his private dining room at Château Lafon-Rochet was the highlight of the 2016 ombiasy tour to Bordeaux. See: At the Invitation of Owner Michel Tesseron: Private Dinner at Château Lafon-Rochet, Saint-Estèphe, 4ième Grand Cru Classé – Bordeaux Tour by ombiasy WineTours 2016, France

Picture: Getting Ready - Annette Schiller and Sofia Poniatowski

In terms of Château Lafon-Rochet winemaker dinners in Washington DC, this was the second one Annette organized. The first one was with Vineyard Manager Anaïs Maillet and the wines of Château Lafon-Rochet a few years ago at BToo: Winemaker Dinner with Château LAFON-ROCHET Wines and Winemaker Anaïs Maillet at Chef Bart Vandaele’s Hipp B Too Restaurant in Washington DC, US/France

Pictures: Champagne Reception

Finally, on the evening following the Château Lafon-Rochet winemaker dinner at Restaurant 2941, there was another Bordeaux winemaker dinner in the Washington DC area, organized by Annette Schiller: Winemaker Dinner with Château Haut-Bailly at BToo in Washington DC, with Diana Paulin and Chef Bart Vandaele, USA/ Bordeaux

Pictures: Sofia Poniatowski and Chef Bertrand Chemel

Invitation

Please welcome Sofia from the Tesseron family (owners, managers, winemakers of Château Lafon-Rochet) on May, 7, 2018 at 6.30 pm for a fabulous dinner meticulously prepared by chef Bertrand Chemel at restaurant 2941 in Falls Church.

The dinner is at $ 170 incl. tax and gratuity, showcasing the phenomenal wines of Château Lafon-Rochet (vintages 2014, 2010, 2005,1996 and a 2005 Château Rieussec, Sauterne).

Located in Saint-Estèphe, nestled between two legendary classified growths, Cos d’Estournel and Lafite Rothschild, Château Lafon-Rochet has the distinction of being one of five Chateau in Saint-Estèphe to be included in the 1855 Classifaction of the Médoc. With its origins dating back to the 16th century, Lafon-Rochet has exhibited the outstanding quality in winemaking to stand the test of time.

Pictures: Welcome and Opening Remarks - Sommelier Jonathan Schuyler, Sofia Poniatowski and Annette Schiller

Château Lafon-Rochet

Château Lafon-Rochet features some of the finest vineyards in the world. It is situated in the small appellation Saint-Estèphe and is sandwiched between two prominent neighbors: Cos-d’Estournel on the other side of the street and Lafite-Rothschild, separated only by a small dirt track, and visible across the vineyard that belongs to Lafon-Rochet. Since the 16th century this Château makes excellent wines and had been in the hands of the Lafon family for almost 300 years.

In 1895 the phylloxera disaster forced the family to sell Château Lafon-Rochet. A period of a rapid succession of several disinterested owners followed until Guy Tesseron (who also bought Château Pontet-Canet) acquired the château in the 1960s. He and then his son Michel brought Lafon-Rochet back to its former glory. The new generation is now at the helm and Basile Tesseron is energetically pursuing quality control.

Basile Tesseron, Directeur Technique Lucas Leclercq and Vineyard Manager Anaïs Maillet are currently at the helm of Château Lafon-Rochet.

History

Lafon-Rochet’s history dates back to the 17th century. The property was then known as the Domaine Rochet and belonged to Antoinette Guillemotes who renamed the estate Château Lafon-Rochet after her marriage with Etienne de Lafon..

Over the 150 years that followed, Etienne de Lafon’s heirs not only maintained the estate and coped with the various diseases and economic difficulties from which the vineyard suffered but also enabled Lafon-Rochet to enter the 1855 classification of the Grands crus du Médoc (the Great Growths of the Medoc).

At the dawn of the 20th century financial difficulties resurfaced and so new owners took over the Château. Thus began a long period of instability until the Tesseron family took over the estate in 1960.

When in 1960 Guy Tesseron, a master of old Cognac, took over the property, he had to start from scratch and rebuild the whole property. Thus began Château Lafon Rochet’s rebirth.

First he concentrated on the renovation of the fermenting room and the wine storehouse before tackling the mansion itself. He decided to demolish the whole building and create a new family home for Lafon-Rochet. The plans were for an elegant Chartreuse, which was quite unusual at the time.

It took almost ten years to restore the château, the vineyard and infrastructures. This fresh start finally paid off in 1966. As the young Michel Tesseron recalls it was the first time that Lafon-Rochet was able to present a wine worthy of Quatrième Grand cru – fourth growth. The following year, 1967, was a great vintage paving the way for 1970, one of Lafon-Rochet’s most memorable vintages. In 1975 Guy Tesseron also took over Château Pontet-Canet, then a few years later Château Malescasse.

Until 1999 the family jointly managed Château Pontet-Canet and Château Lafon-Rochet but lost the Château Malescasse, so dear to Michel Tesseron. As part of the re-organization, Alfred and his brother Gerard Tesseron took over Pontet-Canet, while Michel and his sister Princess Caroline Poniatowski took over Lafon-Rochet. Michel spontaneously turned towards the Château “jaune”, so-called since he repainted it sunshine yellow in 2000.

Pictures: With Owners Basile and Michel Tesseron, Directeur Technique Lucas Leclerq and Vineyard Manager Anaïs Maillet at Château Lafon-Rochet

Michel and Basile Tesseron

Before joining the family business in 1987, Michel Tesseron worked in in Cognac, then in Bordeaux for Barton & Guestier, and for the négociants Chantecaille.

In 2007, Basile Tesseron joined his father in order to continue the work started by his grandfather, who had already initiated the young Basile into the subtleties of the aromas and flavours of cognac.

With passion, humour and ambition, Basile pursued the work of his predecessors enabling Lafon-Rochet to live on through the centuries. He began by redesigning the vat room of the property, reviving the quest for excellence and quality in keeping with the exceptional terroir and the human and family values that have punctuated 5 centuries of adventure.

Basile Tesseron took over with the 2007 vintage and he now has full control.

Vineyards and Winemaking

Lafon-Rochet's vineyards covers 45 hectares and are planted with Cabernet Sauvignon 54%, Merlot 40%, Cabernet Franc 4%, Petit Verdot 2%.

Basile Tesseron, Directeur Technique Lucas Leclercq and Vineyard Manager Anaïs Maillet are steering Château Lafon-Rochet towards biodynamic viticulture, following the example of Basile’s uncle at Pontet-Canet. But Lafon-Rochet has not yet been certified.

As far as winemaking is concerned, the wine cellar has been completely renovated. Importantly, Basile and Michel Tesseron decided to go the route of stainless steel tanks and concrete vats. To match the 40 different vineyard parcels, the estate now has 18 stainless steel tanks and 18 concrete vats in different sizes and shapes for fermentation. The wine is aged for 9 months in new oak and for another 9 month in used oak.

The grand vin is Château Lafon-Rochet (11000 cases). The second wine is Pélerins de Lafon-Rochet (also 11000 cases).

Pictures: The Dinner, with Sofia Poniatowski

2941 Restaurant

EaterDC: 2941 manages to strike a balance between elegant and casual, and between straightforward and elaborate cooking. Chef Bertrand Chemel's skills are evident in dishes such as a paella soup, and broccoli raviolini with smoked pioppini mushroom. Diners can have a snack at the bar, an a la carte meal, or a full tasting menu. It's all available in a picturesque setting by a lake and waterfall in Falls Church, Virginia.

Picture: 2941 Restaurant

Executive Chef Bertrand Chemel

In an area of the country until recently confined to strip malls and burger joints, Chef Bertrand Chemel brings a welcome dose of Gallic flair at 2941. An Auvergne boy born-and-raised, it was no surprise, then, when Chemel fell into his first job in a kitchen. At 14, he found himself sweeping the flour from the floors of the bakery and pastry shop next to his grandmother’s house. An obsession was born.

He would soon be under the wing of renowned chef Michel Gaudin at his eponymous destination restaurant in Megève, France. The two fell in quickly and Gaudin became his mentor, sending Chemel to Geneva’s Hotel du Rhône for training. Aptly, this small nation known mostly for being neutral, and making nifty portable knives, would be that all-important exposure to international cuisines. He also spent time at La Bastide St-Antoine in Grasse, France, and at the Savoy Hotel in London.

If Gaudin was Chemel’s first mentor, Daniel Boulud was his stateside guru after his move to the US . It was from this master of French-cuisine-for-Americans that Chemel honed his culinary style. He began as a line cook in 1999 at Daniel and with a stop along the way as Laurent Tourondel’s sous chef at Cello, he eventually landed at Café Boulud in 2003.

The sleekly modern 2941 where Chemel has found his own resting spot is an astonishingly idyllic place where you have to avoid bumping into Rodin sculptures and Dalis in the herb garden where Chemel plucks his aromatics daily—an appropriate venue for the contemporary Gallic fare that he interprets through the lens of Americana, and Virginia’s bounty.

Pictures: Annette and Christian Schiller, with Chef Bertrand Chemel

Château Lafon-Rochet Winemaker Dinner

Monday May 7, 2018
2941 Restaurant
Five-Course Tasting Menu | $170 All Inclusive

Pictures: The Tables

Reception
Canapés
Ossau Iraty cheese canelé
Hamachi crudo, caviar, kalamansi foam
Radish & smoked whipped butter
Billecart-Salmon Brut Réserve NV


First Course
Crispy Bacon Meurette
Bordeaux poached quail egg, ramps, mushroom, charred carrot
Pelerins de Lafon-Rochet (2014)


Second Course
Braised Beef Cheeks
grilled Portobello, mushroom risotto, baby watercress
Château Lafon-Rochet (2010)


Third Course
Elysian Lamb Loin
caramelized fennel, eggplant, romano beans, rosemary jus
Château Lafon-Rochet (2005)


Fourth Course
Grilled Venison Loin
marjoram pomme purée, roasted tomato on the vine
Château Lafon-Rochet (1996)


Dessert
Millefeuille
berries, vanilla cream, puff pastry, yuzu ice cream
Château Rieussec, Sauternes (2005)


Executive Chef, Bertrand Chemel
​Pastry Chef, Nicholas Pine

The Wines

Billecart-Salmon Brut Réserve NV

wine-searcher average price in US$: 54

Billecart-Salmon is a medium-sized champagne house in Mareuil-sur-Ay, France. Founded in 1818 with the marriage of Nicolas François Billecart and Elisabeth Salmon, it is one of the few to remain family owned.


Pelerins de Lafon-Rochet (2014)

wine-searcher average price in US$: 32


Château Lafon-Rochet (2010)

wine-searcher average price in US$: 65

I had some bottle variation with this blend of 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and the rest Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. The 2010 from Lafon Rochet seemed slightly restrained and closed down on the three occasions I tasted it in Bordeaux. Dense black/ruby, it displays sweet tannin, excellent purity, fresh fruit and a very primary, almost grapy style with lots of fruit, but at the same time, a somewhat monolithic character. It should turn out fine, but it certainly needs a good 7-8 years of cellaring and should drink well for up to two decades.

The property is owned by the Tesseron family and run by the newest generation, son Basile, who is converting the estate to biodynamic farming a la his uncle, Alfred Tesseron at Pontet Canet.
Score: 90+ Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (204), March 2013


Château Lafon-Rochet (2005)

wine-searcher average price in US$: 84

Dense ruby/purple and still youthful and exuberant, with oodles of cassis and incense, the 2005 Lafon-Rochet is medium to full-bodied, with ripe tannin and a long finish. Just becoming approachable. 91 Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (219), June 2015


Château Lafon-Rochet (1996)

wine-searcher average price in US$: 90


Château Rieussec, Sauternes (2005)

Château Rieussec is Premier Cru Classé of 1855. Belonging to the Sauternes appellation in Gironde, in the region of Graves, the winery is located in the commune of Fargues.

The Rieussec estate was the property of the monks of Carmes de Langon until the French revolution, when the church property was confiscated by the state and auctioned off. Today, it is owned by Domaines Barons de Rothschild, the owners of Château Lafite Rothschild. The Rothschilds invested in a new cellar in 1989, and strove to increase quality by better selection of the grapes, which also led to reduced production in the 1990s.

The vineyards of Château Rieussec total 93 hectares and border on those of Château d'Yquem in the west. They are planted to 90% Sémillon, 7% Sauvignon and 3% Muscadelle. Four wines are produced, of which three from the Sauternes appellation: the classified growth Château Rieussec, the second wine Carmes de Rieussec, and Château de Cosse. Furthermore, a dry white wine from the Bordeaux AOC, is produced under the name « R » de Rieussec, using a blend of Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc, and 20% new oak.

Château Rieussec is aged from 16 to 26 months in barrel, depending on the vintage, typically using 55% new barrels.

Average total production is around 10 000 cases annually, of which about 6 000 cases Château Rieussec. There was no production in 1993 and half the average production in 2000.


Closing Remarks and Thank You

Thanks Sofia, Annette and Bertrand for a great evening, with the world class wines of Château Lafon-Rochetand the world class food of Chef Bertrand Chemel.

Pictures: Thank You

Going Home

Bye-bye and good night. The dinner took place in the "Waterfall Room" of Restaurant 2941 and on our way home we had the opportunity to take another look at the wonderful waterfall.

Pictures: Bye-bye

Château Lafon-Rochet and OmbiasyPR & WineTours

Château Lafon-Rochet belongs to the 2 or 3 dozens of Bordeaux châteaux to which we have a closer relationship than to others.

Picture: Annette and Christian Schiller with Basile Tesseron, Owner, in New York. See: Bordeaux Vintage 2014 in Bottle: Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (UGC) on 2017 North America Tour in New York - Schiller’s Favorites

One of the first winemaker dinners that Annette organized in Washington DC was with Anaïs Maillet and the wines of Château Lafon-Rochet at BToo on 14th Street NW.

Picture: Annette Schiller and Château LAFON-ROCHET’s winemaker Anaïs Maillet at B Too in Washington DC (Picture: Charlie Adler). See:  Winemaker Dinner with Château LAFON-ROCHET Wines and Winemaker Anaïs Maillet at Chef Bart Vandaele’s Hipp B Too Restaurant in Washington DC, US/France (2014)

I still have good memories of a winemaker dinner at the French Embassy in Washington DC a number of years ago, hosted by Château Lafon-Rochet owner Basile Tesseron.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Basile Tesseron. See: Tasting the Wines of Chateau Lafon-Rochet, Saint-Estèphe, 4ème Cru Classé en 1855, with Owner Basile Tesseron at the French Embassy in Washington DC, USA/France (2012)

A year ago, Michel Tesseron treated the ombiasy tour group to a very special dinner in the private quarters of Château Lafon-Rochet.

Pictures: Dinner with Michel Tesseron. See:  At the Invitation of Owner Michel Tesseron: Private Dinner at Château Lafon-Rochet, Saint-Estèphe, 4ième Grand Cru Classé – Bordeaux Tour by ombiasy WineTours 2016, France

Postscriptum

Virginia top winemaker Chris Pearmund was among the guests and he used the event to propose to his charming wife-to-be. All the best to the two of you!!!

Pictures: Chris Pearmund and his Fiancée, with Sofia Poniatowski

schiller-wine: Related Postings

Upcoming Tours/ Wine Dinners/ Tastings - Annette and Christian Schiller/ ombiasyPR & WineTours/ schiller-wine, Germany, France, USA (Issued: April 2, 2018)

Ombiasy Wine Tours 2018: 3 x France and 3 x Germany - Ombiasy Newsletter December 2017

UPCOMING Ombiasy Wine Tours in 2018 to Germany and Alsace (May/ June) and to Bordeaux and Burgundy-Champagne (September)

Invitation: TWO !!!!! Exceptional Bordeaux Winemaker Dinners: Lafon-Rochet, May 7, and Haut-Bailly, May 8, 2018, Washington DC, USA

At the Invitation of Owner Michel Tesseron: Private Dinner at Château Lafon-Rochet, Saint-Estèphe, 4ième Grand Cru Classé – Bordeaux Tour by ombiasy WineTours 2016, France 

Winemaker Dinner with Château LAFON-ROCHET Wines and Winemaker Anaïs Maillet at Chef Bart Vandaele’s Hipp B Too Restaurant in Washington DC, US/France

Bordeaux Vintage 2014 in Bottle: Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (UGC) on 2017 North America Tour in New York - Schiller’s Favorites

Tasting the Wines of Chateau Lafon-Rochet, Saint-Estèphe, 4ème Cru Classé en 1855, with Owner Basile Tesseron at the French Embassy in Washington DC, USA/France (2012)

Dining with Côte de Beaune Winemaker Pascal Maillard, Domaine Maillard Père et Fils, at Restaurant 2941 in Virginia, USA

Wining and Dining with a Princess: Wine Pairing Dinner with the German Wine Princess Sabine Wagner at Restaurant 2941 in Northern Virginia, USA

Jean-Michel Guillon from Gevry-Chambertin in Washington DC: Winemaker Dinner at 2941 Restaurant with Chef Bertrand Chemel

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