Daniel, New York, NY
The incomparable Daniel Boulud produced a classic fall menu that offered one intellectual and hedonistic glory after another. The food was matched with wines that the chef loves the most ... southern Rhônes. Well not completely. We started with a 1995 Taittinger Blanc de Blancs, a gorgeous Champagne that falls just short of the brilliant 1990, and a magnum of the Peter Michael 1999 Point Rouge, a glorious Burgundian-styled Chardonnay with tremendous flavor depth and texture.
From those wines, we moved to a great line-up of Châteauneuf du Papes, all from pristinely stored magnums from my cellar. The 1998 Charvin may be the heir apparent to Rayas now that Jacques Reynaud is gone. This is pure sweet Grenache picked very ripe and loaded with raspberry, cherry, and black fruits presented in a velvety-textured, opulent style. Far more spicy, in a true Provençal style, with notes of garrigue, pepper, and spice is the 1998 Bois de Boursan Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée des Felix. One of the all-time great Châteauneuf du Papes in my experience is the 1990 Pégaü. From magnum, it is absolute glory, and close to perfection, offering gorgeous black fruits intermixed with pepper, spice box, cedar, and all sorts of heavenly spices. A magnificent wine, it clearly dominated the lighter, more Burgundian and delicate 1998 Rayas. While the Rayas is a beautiful wine, I should have reversed the order in which they were served. Lastly, the 1998 Henri Bonneau Réserve des Céléstins was like drinking pure beef blood intermixed with black fruits, herbs, and pepper.
I should also note that this night I got to meet two people I have always admired from a distance, Dick Enberg, the well-known sports commentator, and Tommy Le Puma, who produced so many great jazz musicians. What a night!
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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...