I had not been to Lucerne since 1972, and it was wonderful to get back to this beautiful Swiss town with its medieval atmosphere and gorgeous lakeside views. It was even better to be there on a crisp, cold January day with light snow falling. My wife and I, along with some friends, went to the Brasserie Bodu, which is just off the lake's edge, and enjoyed some spectacular weinerschnitzel with homemade french fries. With that we drank two glorious 1996 Bordeaux that performed even better than I remembered. The 1996 Pape Clément, a château that is clearly on a mission to make first-growth quality wines, exhibited a deep ruby/purple color along with notes of licorice, scorched earth, black fruits, and chocolate. This full-bodied 1996 can be drunk now or cellared for 15 more years. The dark blue/purple-colored 1996 Angélus offered wonderfully sweet black fruit characteristics intermixed with notions of smoke, espresso roast, and blueberries. Rich and concentrated, it was showing surprisingly well since this was a vintage that favored the Médoc's late picked Cabernet Sauvignon more than the right bank appellations. This terrific wine will last another 10-15 years.
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Petit Louis Bistro
A lookalike, authentic French bistro, Petit Louis in Baltimore's Roland Park is the creation of restauranteurs par excellence Cindy Wolf and Tony Foreman. You feel like you’ve walked into a bistro on the Left Bank of Paris when you enter Petit Louis. The food is classic bistro, and they do it well. All of the courses we had were flavorful, sometimes a trifle rustic, but delicious in their intensity. This was good comfort food prepared extremely well. The wines started with one of the major surprises for me over the last year, the 2006 sparking wine from Tony Soter in Oregon. I had this several times while I was out visiting Oregon, and I had always been impressed, but this is a 10-year-old sparking Rosé that is just sensational, and I’m talking world class—it’s that good. Something this good from France would cost at least two to three times as much, so kudos to Tony Soter. The 1995 Billaud-Simon Chablis Mont de Milieu was oxidized and undrinkable. The 1996 Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris Clos St. Urbain Rangen de Thann was sweet, and although it went well with the foie gras, it was just a little too unctuous and sweet a wine...