The 1947 vintage of Chateau Cheval Blanc is widely regarded as the finest wine in the world. From a vineyard in Bordeaux’s Saint Emilion, dating back to 1832, it continues to set records, becoming the most expensive wine ever sold at auction when three bottles came up at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong last May and were knocked down for £45,000.
Not, perhaps, what you would expect to find on the wine list on board a cruise ship.
But then Disney Dream is no ordinary cruise ship and even in the sort of floating environment renowned for its dedication to culinary extravagance, Remy, its top restaurant, is something special.
For a start, the cover price of $75 (almost £50) is the most expensive to be found at sea unless you count the Chef’s Table experiences offered on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis and Allure of the Seas, and on ships in the Princess fleet. But those cater for a handful of guests at a time; Remy seats more than 70 for dinner every evening.
It takes its name and its design from the Oscar-winning Disney-Pixar film Ratatouille in which food critic Anton Ego, voiced by Peter O’Toole, orders a bottle of the Chateau Cheval Blanc (which translates as White Horse Castle) to accompany his meal.
The film restaurant has none available and he is quietly slipped a bottle of Chateau Lafitte instead. No such problems on Disney Dream, where the Cheval Blanc is one of a special selection of bottles held in The Vault. The list is contained on silver-plated plaques contained in a velvet-lined box presented by a white-gloved sommelier. I told you it was no ordinary restaurant.
The basic wine list runs to about 130 different wines, mostly French, and topped by a £2,850 Domaine de La Romanee Conti Richebourg 2005. Diners planning a special evening can discuss the wine orders in advance and the chosen bottle will be brought to the right temperature, and decanted if necessary, before dinner.
Guests don’t have to be so extravagant – they can opt for a wine pairing to go with the tasting menu. That’s $99 (£62) on top of the charge for the food.
Talking of food, the menu has been created by Scott Hunnel, who runs the Victoria and Albert’s restaurant at Disney’s Grand Floridian resort in Orlando, and Arnaud Lallement from l’Assiette Champenoise, a two-star Michelin two-star restaurant near Reims.
I was not fortunate enough to have dinner in Remy, but I did enjoy a brief tasting which included a salad of smoked bison with fennel and blood oranges from Hunnel and a Langoustine Royale with Cesar sauce prepared by Lallement.
Both were there to talk about the restaurant, together with Executive Chef Patrick Albert, who leads the 12-strong brigade for most of the year while the stars are ashore.
A refreshing Champagne cocktail called Colette, and incorporating pear vodka, candied apricots and mint was also offered for our tasting session. No chance of a sip of the Chateau Cheval Blanc though. Did I mention it’s $25,000 (£15,650) a bottle?
- Remy and Palo are both proving to be a runaway success, with passengers booking tables months before they actually board the ship. Another example of how Disney have perfected the art of extracting the maximum amount of money from its customers, while leaving them happy and contented. I have written another piece on this subject for Cruise International magazine.