One of Paris's hot spots, this restaurant is owned by France's most fashionable couple of the moment, the well-known Chanel model and actress Carole Bouquet and her live-in boyfriend/bon vivant/actor/vineyard owner, Gérard Depardieu. I had the pleasure of enjoying a long lunch with Depardieu, who owns a number of small vineyard parcels in Bordeaux, Algeria, and Morocco, in addition to his famous Loire Valley estate. He is extraordinarily knowledgeable about both food and wine, so it is not surprising that he also owns a restaurant, of which he should be very proud. We talked about many things, mostly wine, and I learned that not only is he thrilled by the special cuvées being made by one of Bordeaux's great visionaries, Bernard Magrez, but his favorite wines in the world are the older vintages of Château Rayas made under the late Jacques Reynaud. We certainly have a common point of view on that issue. Our lunch included some very tasty ham, charcuterie, and beef washed down with copious quantities of wine. The Magrez-Fombrauge 2000 is a great young wine as well as a testament to Bernard Magrez's vision of quality. Of course the 1989 Rayas, which has taken a back seat to the more dramatic, flamboyant, fleshier 1990, is coming on like gang busters. When the 1990 begins to decline, the 1989 will just be hitting its peak. It's an extraordinary example of Rayas, with a kiss of kirsch liqueur intermixed with plenty of candied flowers. Both are brilliant offerings, but are made in completely different styles. We ended a marvelous lunch with a glass of Carole Bouquet's exceptional dessert wine from Sicily, her 2000 Muscat Passito di Pantelleria.
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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...