Yam’Tcha has to be one of the most delightful restaurants I have had the pleasure of visiting in a number of years. Both extremely calm and professional, it is a welcoming place to enjoy a relaxed lunch. OK - it is based in Paris, and so might not be easily accessible to those living this side of the channel - but Eurostar is so efficient and easy that it is certainly an option for a special lunch. We had travelled to Paris to visit a friend a share an interesting bottle or two.
On leaving the train at Garede Nord we bumped into the legendarycharacter that is Clovis Taittinger, and so decided that we should refresh ourselves with a swift pression and have a quick catch up chat on all things Comte and Prelude. Clovis is a true character of the wine trade and if ever given the opportunity I would highly recommend booking in to share an evening with him.
Arriving at our friend’s flat, a chilled bottle of 1995 Krug was waiting alongside a few slices of aged Comte to settle the stomach pre-lunch. The 1995 Krug has been most definitely overshadowed by the almighty 1996 vintage, which is of considerable benefit to anyone looking for a vintage to drink; hitting £1000 per 6 it sits around 30% cheaper than its younger brother but is drinking beautifully at the moment. It is something of a dark horse, full-bodied and rich already but maintaining beautiful freshness and vibrancy. It will be worth watching these two vintages over the next few years to see how they evolve.
And so to lunch. Yam’Tcha is a small restaurant – maybe 30 covers – with two options to choose: the 3 course lunch menu or the 7 course tasting option. We were in Paris for a long relaxed lunch and there was certainly no rush, so we elected to run with the extended menu and start what was an exceptional meal.
Wine-wise, we had with us two wines (more of which later) but given that the sommelier had been kind enough to allow us to bring a couple of bottles, I thought best to also buy something from the list. Vatan Sancerre (only 500 cases made a year) is something I had only ever read about (indeed I had never actually seen a bottle) but I occasionally see it on a list, only to be told it was sold out and on strict allocation. This time, there it was winking at me: Anne Vatan (now taken over from her father Edmond) Sancerre Clos La Neore 2011. My instant thought was that I would be told ‘Je suis desole.....’ but no, with a broad smile, our sommelier Marine Delaporte disappeared into the back and returned with the requested bottle. The wine was beautifully aromatic and one of the most precise wines I have had the pleasure of imbibing. Edmond Vatan spent six decades perfecting the vineyard, located on a very special chuck of limestone on the wickedly steep vineyards of Chavignol; no shortcuts are ever taken and resulting yields are tiny – there is a mix of late and early harvest, very strict selection pre-fermentation, aging in very old large barrels – with no fining and no filtration. It is a wine made with such passion and dedication you can understand the demand and loyalty consumers have for this wine. I would love to be able to offer some to our clients, but in truth if I find any it is only heading in one direction...
Some highlights of the seven courses included ‘Thon blanc servi cru/encornets/moules & tomates roties’ which consisted of very fresh, delicate sashimi Tuna served with perfectly cooked squid and mussels and a highly intense roasted tomato essence. It matched perfectly with the Sancerre... if this was the start, well away we go...
Wine two also matched immaculately with the second course, which has to be one of the best courses I have eaten in a number of years – ‘Langoustines d’Ecosses/cepes and sauce Shaoxing’ was just perfection on a fork. In fact it was so bloody good, I asked if I could have another serving - served alongside white Burgundy as it should be. Whilst there continue to be concerns about storing white Burgundy long-term, the risk is sometimes worth taking and Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet 2006 was simply stunning. Minerally and tight with beautiful acidity that married to perfection with the earthy rich Porcini infused sauce served with the Langoustine. As the wine breathed it came to life with hints of white peach and hazelnuts, vanilla and just a nuance of smoke – it was pure tension and focus in a glass (97+ pts).
The final wine: Roumier Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses 1993. The tiny block of land sitting just underneath Musigny, it is often mistaken for Grand Cru in tastings and many producers just label as ‘Amoureuses’ indicating their thoughts that this should indeed be a Grand Cru. Quoting a Dutch wine lover I bumped into in Burgundy one time – ‘this wine is making my balls tingling’... the aroma was intoxicating and the table was properly silent for around a minute. Intense aromas of truffles, forest floor and mushrooms, hints of wild strawberry and raspberry fruit, smoky undertones and touches of spice – massively complex but incredibly fine on the palate. Nothing comes close to Burgundy when it is this good (100 pts – can I give more?)
Served alongside the Amoureuses was ‘Poitrine de cochon/courgette/sauce Fuyu’ which with sweet and caramelised pork fat and meat melting in the mouth, very finely sliced courgette and a very delicate reduction, worked beautifully with the Burgundy – it did not compete in any way, but added another level of complexity and revealed the still refreshing acidity of the 22 year old Burgundy.
We are currently working on a takeover of Yam’Tcha for a client trip in the spring of 2016 – a ‘Paulee with a slight Parisian/Hong Kong fusion edge’... details to follow.
The staff at Yam’Tcha were friendly, enthusiastic and wonderfully welcoming; the food was very good indeed and the wines, well I think I have said enough.