Café Boulud, New York, NY
Café Boulud is the more casual dining establishment of Chef Daniel Boulud. As chef, he has installed Andrew Carmellini, who has an impressive résumé and fashions intensively flavorful dishes that are different from those of his boss. Carmellini is aided by a terrific sommelier, Olivier Flosse. The food was marvelous, with the langoustine, ravioli, and turbot absolutely spectacular.
As for the wines, the 1990 is one of the great Dom Perignons in my lifetime. The 1989 Trimbach Riesling Clos Ste. Hune Vendange Tardive is a spectacular tribute to great Riesling. Slightly sweet, but with enough acidity, it still tastes extremely young at age 13.
Those wines were followed by possibly the last truly profound Rayas, the 1995. Emmanuel Reynaud, who has taken over for his uncle, has not made anything that rivals this wine. The 1995 Marcoux Vieilles Vignes was stunning, although it is overwhelmed by more recent vintages. A great wine, the 1990 Vieux Donjon was fully mature, revealing huge notes of garrigue, pepper, black cherry jam, licorice, and incense. Another super wine was the 1985 Pégaü Cuvée Réservée, still a young, dense, meaty, chewy, and traditionally styled Châteauneuf du Pape.
Lastly, the 1970 Taylor is a sensational vintage port that is just hitting its peak of perfection.
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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...