Dinner with Oregon Winemakers at Paley's Place, Portland, Oregon
This meal at the superb Portland bistro called Paley's Place (I highly recommend it) began with the 1999 Ponzi Pinot Noir (from a single vineyard, but I did not write down the name since I don't believe the wine has been released). It is an excellent, elegant Pinot with a premier cru Côte de Beaune-like style. Somewhat perplexing was the 1998 Ponzi Pinot Noir Reserve. It revealed leafy, autumnal characteristics, high acidity, and nasty tannin in its emaciated personality. Performing fabulously well, the sumptuous 1998 Kistler Chardonnay Cuvée Kathleen totally blew away a brilliant bottle of 1998 Coche Dury Meursault Rougeot. I know the Coche needs more time, but who can't acknowledge the Montrachet-like richness and complexity of Kistler's top Chardonnay cuvée? The fabulous magnum of Marcassin's 1997 Pinot Noir revealed a blockbuster bouquet of plums, figs, currants, black cherries, and a hint of raspberries intermixed with autumnal leaves, earth, and gamy notes. It is full-bodied, rich, and a tour de force in winemaking. Readers who never get a chance to taste the Marcassin wines must think that proprietors Helen Turley and John Wetlaufer and I share a Swiss bank account, but that's not true. I just call the wines the way I see them. Obviously I can not comment on the 1999 Beaux Frères Pinot Noir, but I will say it was not completely embarrassed by the Marcassin. The wine of the night was Jasmin's 1978 Côte Rôtie, the greatest Côte Rôtie the late Robert Jasmin ever made. This magnificent wine revealed the exotic bacon fat, raspberry liqueur, cherry, spice, and gamy notes of a great, traditionally made Côte Rôtie. It was to die for.
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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...