This was a brilliant meal at Citronelle offered by Simon & Schuster for some of their local authors, including me, one of my favorite novelists, Stephen Hunter, and married political commentators, Mary Matalin and James Carville. The food was sensational, with my favorite dishes being the lentil soup with porcini purée and foie gras, the Dover sole with almonds, an amazing rendition of baby pig's foot sausage with truffled mashed potato, and the cassoulet en crepinette with duck. The loin of Scottish hare was too gamey for my palate.

As for the wines, we began with a delicious Champagne, the Eric Rodez Cuvée des Grandes Vintages, quickly moved to Graham's 30 year old Tawny, and a crisp, refreshing, perfumed 2004 white from Château de Valandraud. James Carville is a huge fan of Côte Rôtie, so those wines, which were from my cellar, were the theme for the dinner. The first flight, paired with the spinach pasta with truffle cream and seared duck foie gras, included the 1988 Guigal La Turque. Still years away from full maturity, it was absolutely out of control. In contrast, De Vallouit's 1988 Côte Rôtie Les Roziers (this vineyard is now owned by Guigal) was fully mature. Revealing a gamey note as well as a delicious, broad, expansive personality, it requires consumption.

Guigal's stunning 1989 Côte Rôtie La Mouline and La Landonne were both virtually perfect. Sweet, expansive, and incredibly perfumed, La Mouline, as usual, was the more sexy, and La Landonne the more masculine, virile, and concentrated. We then moved to the extraordinary baby pig's foot sausage with truffled mashed potatoes, which was accompanied by a flight of 1991 Côte Rôties. These four amazing wines are a tribute to this great vintage for Côte Rôtie. I think they have hit their plateaus of maturity, where they should remain for another 5-6 years, with the exception of the still young La Mordorée, which is capable of two more decades of evolution. La Landonne should last longer than La Mouline or La Turque. All of them represent exquisite examples of Côte Rôtie at its finest - powerful yet elegant, super-concentrated yet light on its feet, and silky, silky, silky.

We finished with an assortment of 1999 Côte Rôties. The Saint-Cosme was tannic and closed, but revealed outstanding potential. The Jamet exhibited rich, full-bodied power along with plenty of gamey notes. The beautiful, elegant, suave Rostaing displayed silky tannin as well as superb concentration, but it requires more time to evolve. The Château d'Ampuis was sensational as well, the best example of this cuvée until the 2003 becomes available.

As always, Michel Richard's cuisine was brilliant as he is both a great chef as well as an artist, and there is a perfect synthesis of these two talents at his restaurant.

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