La Tupina

This bistro is located in the old sector of Bordeaux. On each visit, I generally order the same thing, although I was lucky enough on this visit to catch the first white asparagus of the season after I had consumed more than my share of the deep fried tripe and cracklings. The asparagus is served with a nice vinaigrette just melts in your mouth. This is one of my favorite dishes, but, lamentably, not only is the season brief, white asparagus is almost impossible to find in the United States. The asparagus from Blaye is grown in sandy soils which accounts for the tenderness and its lack of fibrous, chewy stringiness. With that we drank two vintages ofDomaine de Chevalier white that were twenty years apart in age. However, you would never have guessed that. The 1984 seemed like a ten-year-old wine, and the 2004 tasted like a three- or four-year-old. Both were outstanding, but my top rating went to the 1984, which had more waxy notes as well as slightly more complexity due to the extra time it has spent in bottle. It is a remarkable success for what is one of the worst Bordeaux vintages in the last twenty-five years. Both of these white wines have another 20 to 30 years of life ahead of them.

We then moved to two magnums of red wines, both absolutely brilliant efforts from a vintage that should not be forgotten. The exquisite 2000 La Plus de la Fleur de Boüard, the reference point for how remarkable Lalande de Pomerol can be, is just beginning to drink well. It boasts an inky/blue/purple color along with notes of graphite, blueberry liqueur, camphor, incense and cassis. Stunningly rich, opulent and full, this extraordinary wine merits a score well above its humble pedigree. We next opened a wine of pure perfection. Seemingly closer to full maturity than La Plus de la Fleur (as nonsensical as that may sound), the 2000 Château Margaux is sublime. A candidate for “wine of the vintage,” its bouquet of violets, blue and black fruits, cassis, raspberries and forest floor soars from the glass of this dense ruby/purple-colored wine. Medium to full-bodied and strikingly pure with perfect harmony and balance, this great Margaux should continue to drink well for another 30 to 50 years. Interestingly, analytically, the wines this estate has made over the last four or five years have far higher extract numbers, tannin, polyphenal, etc., but it is hard to believe these recent vintages will ever achieve the level of greatness exhibited by the 2000.

The other dishes included roast chicken that may be as good as that of L’Ami Louis in Paris (although it is a lot less expensive). A whole roasted chicken at L’Ami Louis will cost about $75, whereas it is half that amount at La Tupina. The latter’s offering is wonderfully roasted and full of flavor. As most travelers to France probably know, French chickens have relatively large legs, but little breast meat. The proportion of skeletal carcass to meat is much higher in France. The extraordinary hand-cut potatoes deep fried in duck fat are fabulous. Another not-to-be-missed, artery clogging side dish is their rustic French bread soaked in chicken fat, then fried. Yes, it is as decadent and delicious as it sounds, but just looking at it is enough to give one an anticipatory cardiac incident!

This was a marvelous lunch that completed a long twelve days of work tasting through the 2011 Bordeaux.

More articles from this author