La Beaugravière

My favorite restaurant in the southern Rhône is Guy Jullien's La Beaugravière, a café/bistro in the sleepy village of Mondragon, located 20-25 minutes north of Avignon. The cépes were spectacular this year, and we began our meal with them cooked in garlic, butter, and parsley ... as natural, pure, and tasty as can be. That was followed by a brilliant rendition of deep fried zucchini flowers, and Jullien's famed charolais filet of beef cooked rare.

The wines were a brilliant display of three of the greatest Châteauneuf du Papes from the profound 1998 vintage. The 1998 Charvin from magnum was pure silk with a fabulous perfume, great texture, and the most elegant, Rayas-like style of Châteauneuf du Pape available today. The best bottle yet of the 1998 Clos du Mont Olivet Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée Papet blew me away, from its packed and stacked notes of kirsch liqueur and other black fruits stuffed into a full-bodied, intense wine with no hard edges, but with great upside potential. The 1998 Marcoux Châteauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes is pure perfection. A magnificent wine, it offers notes of flowers, crème de cassis, blackberries, and licorice, marvelous body, a wealth of fruit, and fabulous overall balance

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