I went with some friends yesterday to Macao, to check out how it's changed from a sleepy colonial town of Portugal to the new global powerhouse in gambling. Earlier this year, Macao's gambling revenues surpassed those in Las Vegas. We are talking about billions of dollars. And hotels and casinos are coming up like weeds at the moment. Maybe volcanoes is a better metaphor?
The Venetian is opening in Macao a few weeks with a $2.5 billion, 3,000-room hotel that is a giant replica of what it has in Sin City while Australia’s Crown Casinos opened a Four Seasons New York hotel-style complex a few weeks ago, for which they spent about $500 million. Wynn opened late last year. And there are many, many more going in complete with great restaurants, shopping and the rest you have in Vegas.
Anyway, it was also an excuse to go to one of our Grand Award winners, Robuchon a Galera in the Hotel Lisboa. I had already visited earlier this year, and had one of my best lunches in a long time. The cuisine is thoroughly Joël Robuchon, with his deft hand for light, intricate and precise food combinations all over the menu. I had the $30 menu for lunch, which include a starter, main course and cheese or dessert. It has to be one of the best three-star level lunches on earth at that price.
I had a starter of layers of spiced avocado and crabmeat with spicy tomato foam. It went perfectly with a 2001 Fritz Haag Riesling Auslese Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr. The wine was fresh, lively and rich with lots of lemon, mineral and green apple character. Just right now. 91 points, non-blind.
My main course was sautéed mixed mushrooms with scallop, crayfish and squid in a light parsley broth. It went wonderfully with the wines, even though they were a pair of powerful 1997 reds from Tuscany and Napa Valley. I love mushrooms with big reds! The wines were a 1997 Tua Rita Toscana Redigaffi and a 1997 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Special Selection. I thought both were fabulous wines but the Tua Rita stole the show. This pure Merlot is a legend in 1997, and I couldn’t believe the restaurant had bottles. The winery itself only had six or seven left. This wine was 100 points, non-blind.
The Redigaffi showed amazing aromas of ripe blackberry, wet earth and coconut that turned to chocolate and tobacco. It was full, velvety and wonderfully long in the mouth. It lasted for minutes with each sip. I have had this a few times in the last year and it is a perfect wine. The Caymus was outclassed, but it was a wonderful bottle as will with flashy currant, mineral and jam. It was full round and velvety. Gorgeous now. 95 points, non-blind. Both were on the list for less than auction price!
We finished off a bottle of 1990 Tollot-Beaut Corton-Bressandes with the cheese. The wine was still muscular and fresh, with lots of ripe strawberry, almost raisin character and chewy tannins. It still needed time to mellow. 92 points, non-blind. The 1998 Gugial Côte-Rôtie La Landonne that we had as well was more complex and complete on the palate with lots of black pepper and berry aromas and a full yet very balanced and silky palate. I thought it was drinking wonderfully already. But, of course, it will improve for many years to come. 95 points, non-blind.
Someone wanted Port, so we went for a 1970 Taylor that I had wished that we had decanted when we arrived. It was as tight as a drum at first, but after about 35 minutes, the Port began to show aromas of licorice, raspberries and hints of flowers. It was full and very firm with a racy, silky tannin structure. Class in a glass. This needs to be decanted at least three hours in advance. 95 points, non-blind.
The six of us at the lunch were pretty tired by the end of the three-hour meal. But we were so, so satisfied. Eating and drinking in Macao’s Robuchon a Galera is a great wine experience and it won’t bankrupt you, either. It reminds me of the days when I lived in Paris in the 1980s. The dollar was strong. Three-star restaurants were not expensive and great bottles on wine lists were reasonably priced as well. Still, I think I paid less for lunch at Robuchon yesterday in Macao with all those great wines than I did 20 years ago in Paris.
William M Agner Jr — Lakeland Florida — August 10, 2007 12:20pm ET
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