M Sur Masson (Chez Robert Roy)
I can’t speak highly enough of the intensely flavorful comfort food from the Montreal bistro M Sur Masson. The event was actually a meal catered at a dear friend’s house in Laval, just outside Montreal. The quality of the food was sensational, all the more remarkable because it was prepared in a modest residential kitchen, not a professional one. The stunning lobster dish was one of my favorites, along with the terrific Kumamoto oysters and magnificent ris de veau with morels and, of course, one of my favorite dishes in the world, long-braised veal cheeks.
There were quite a few guests, and it was a long night of drinking top-notch wine. The Champagne was impressive, but it was a night for white Burgundies to shine. A 2005 Criots Bâtard-Montrachet from Roger Belland, who I visited over 25 years ago, showed brilliantly, but the two white wines of the night were Bouchard’s 2005 Chevalier-Montrachet and Jean-Noël Gagnard’s 2005 Bâtard-Montrachet. Both of these were terrific, full-throttle white Burgundies, with great acidity, wonderful honeyed tropical fruits, subtle, almost non-existent oak in evidence, and plenty of length and richness. Both wines seemed to have lots of upside to them, although the scandalous oxidative issue with white Burgundies would suggest to me that they are best drunk now, rather than aged, which is a shame. If that were not an issue, these wines could easily last 25-30 years.
The red wines started with a disappointing 2002 Lamarche Vosne-Romanée La Grande Rue, which everyone decided was thin, acidic, and obviously harvested from under-ripe grapes. It was quickly jettisoned in favor of a far more interesting 2002 Mazoyères Chambertin from Taupenot-Merme that had a nice dark ruby color, sweet, earthy forest floor notes with berry fruit and spice. The real killer wine, however, was the 1982 Léoville Las Cases, which is still an infant at nearly 30 years of age. It could test anyone’s patience, but the wine still has a dense purple color and a beautiful, sweet nose of cassis, black cherries, lead pencil and vanillin. It is full-bodied, rich, but excruciatingly young, with plenty of tannin still to resolve. This amazing effort is probably a 50-year wine.
Two bottles of 1986 Mouton-Rothschild had dried out corks, and were flawed because the corks weren’t able to prevent the oxidation of the wine. Both bottles obviously came from a cellar that must have had no humidity, as I don’t think these wines were cooked, they just bad corks. We finished a wonderful night of great food, company and wine with a surprisingly strong effort from an off-vintage, the 1984 d’Yquem. Honeyed tropical fruit notes with hints of pineapple and crème caramel were all present in this wine, which seemed to be performing at the very top of its game.
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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...