Le Bernardin

An exquisite meal prepared by Chef Eric Ripert, who is a magician when it comes to seafood, was filled with fabulous courses. The dishes were remarkably light yet intensely flavored. One would think such food would not work with Châteauneuf du Pape, but because none of these wines exhibited any oak, the combination worked extraordinarily well.

The two Coche-Dury wines were brilliant, with the 1995 out of this world, and the 2000 slightly lighter. The three perfect Pégaü Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée da Capos are among the greatest wines I have ever tasted in my life. The 1998 was the most structured and defined, the 2000 the most exotic and opulent, and the 2003 one of the single greatest wines I have ever tasted. The Châteauneufs were all from magnums, and were decanted at least an hour in advance. The alcohol levels are in the 15-16 percent range. These old vine cuvées of primarily Grenache (90-95%), aged in neutral wood and tank, are exquisitely rich, full-flavored and intense, but velvety textured, with finishes that last for a minute or more. They have become possibly my favorite wines in the world, and all three strutted their stuff on this magical Monday in March.

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