Emergo Foundation Charity Event
For The Benefit of Children with Autism in Montreal
I was on maximal social discourse duty for this event and barely had a chance to taste the food, but what I did have was very good (even though it was a catered meal at Quebec’s top bank), so I will concentrate on the wines.
Billecart-Salmon is always an incredibly reliable, consistent, outstanding producer of Champagne, and the 1996 Blanc de Blancs that was served as a prelude to the meal was superb. It was followed by a fresh, lively 2006 Chardonnay Vine Hill from Kistler. This vintage can be somewhat dicey in terms of its irregularity, but this wine performed very well, with minimal oak and loads of honeysuckle and caramelized citrus (tangerine) in a medium-bodied, fresh lively style.
The real glories were the three red wines. (A fourth was the 2000 Beaux Frères, but obviously I’m can’t comment on that.) My favorite was the 1982 Pichon Lalande, even though one bottle was slightly corked. The others were magnificent – sumptuous, rich and full-bodied, as well as decadent in their luxurious richness and fruit-driven style. All the complexity of nearly 30 years of aging has come forth, and this wine, which seemed to be fully mature since its release in 1984, continues to float along at a riveting level of quality. It is a testament to the great balance in the wine that it never seems to be out of sorts. At some point it will begin to fade, so I would capture this wine in this magical moment, before that happens. The 1986 Cheval Blanc is from a more austere vintage, but this wine was young and vibrant, showing hints of menthol, new saddle leather, mulberries and a nice forest floor note. It is not as rich and opulent as the Pichon Lalande, but that’s to be expected, given the contrasting styles of these two vintages. Lastly, the dry port-like 1982 Penfolds Grange seems to be coming close to full maturity. Some of the American oak used in its aging is still apparent in the aromatics, but the wine is full-bodied, powerful, rich and tasting slightly younger than the fully mature 1982 Pichon Lalande.
It was a privilege to participate in this event, where I met one of the most brilliant young wine writers I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. François Chartier, who is well-known in Montreal as a brilliant writer, is the full package – a wine specialist with a rare and keen knowledge both of the world’s fine wines as well as cuisines. He is a name to remember, and I feel privileged to have met him and spent over an hour being interviewed by him.
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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...