Our annual Autumn lunch at Le Gavroche which takes place tomorrow is always a highlight of the epicurean calendar but this year Michel Roux, Silvano Giraldin and their team have upped the ante with a superb seasonal menu. Silvano, it has to be acknowledged, is a persuasive fellow and he had little difficulty in convincing me that, having rested it for several outings, we should open the race card with our popular, own label, Champagne Yapp. It is made by our old chum Gilles Dumangin in Chigny-les-Roses on the Montagne de Riems from a judicious blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. It is a really bright and fruity, elegant and crowd-pleasing fizz that never fails to kick festivities off with a bang. For what, I have long suspected, are reasons of pure visual theatre Le Gavroche sommeliers, under the sage leadership of David Galetti, like to serve half their audience with an additional admixture of Crème de Cassis (from Gabriel Boudier) making a plum-robed Kir Royale. Personally, although partial to cassis, I think Gilles' wines need no embellishment but the alternating golden and purple flutes do have certain fin de siècle flamboyance that you seldom see in a domestic setting.
If there is one thing I like more than a canapé it is an amuse bouche and this year we are sampling an old Gavroche standard 'Souffle Suissesse', which is definitely one of those dishes best executed by a master chef. It is made from the lightest cheese and egg mousse served on a silky cream sauce. Our wine match, which was a clear winner in a strong field, is a Savoie 'L'Orangerie': Domaine L'Idylle 2012. It is a pure Jacquère, grown at high altitude in the Isère valley, memorably described by Victoria Moore in the Telegraph as being 'Like a meadow-scented lungful of Alpine air'. An awful lot of nonsense is written about food and wine matches but this pairing is the real deal.
Gurnard, which thankfully sounds much more appetising in its French 'galinette', gets a bad rep as being an ugly fish. Who cares? What it lacks in looks it repays in flavour. Michel has elected to serve it roasted with artichokes, ceps, lardons and a tarragon vélouté. Just delicious. Seafood with a clever autumnal undertone. What wine to serve with it though? Bellet Blanc: Domaine de la Source 2011 - of course. A rare Rolle from the Riviera that has heady wild herb scents, a tangy citrus-edged palate and long, elegant finish.
Bring on the main course. Roast suckling pig with confit shallots and a Marc d'Alsace sauce. Now we are talking, but a big dish needs big wines. Our first red, by common consent, will be a Lirac 'La Fermade' 2011 from Domaine Maby. This earthy, southern blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre is a real wolf in sheep's clothing. Close your eyes and you could easily be 12 kilometres further east in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Bags of warming garrigue berry fruit ripple over fine-grained tannins.
You won't find our next wine in a supermarket. Vin de Corse Porto Vecchio: Domaine de Torraccia 2010. An organic blend of Nielluccio, Sciacarello, Syrah and Grenache. This powerful, peppery, ink-dark wine has an untamed edged that betrays its roots in the Maquis. It is a chest-thumping, life-affirming red that will take the piglet in its stride.
To round things off another often overlooked classic Dartois aux Poires – a fine pear pastry. We have teamed this with what is arguably the rarest wine of the day. A Savennières Mœlleux 2009 from Château d'Epiré. This idiosyncratic, sweet, botrytised Loire Chenin has delicate orchard fruit flavours and an ethereal, gently-honeyed finish. Another match made in heaven or Mayfair to be precise.
All of which I look forward to revisiting with appreciative abandon.
There is just one problem. How on earth do we follow up that line-up when we reconvene in Upper Brook Street in the Spring?