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 at that stage of the meal. I would rather have kept it to the end and finished with it.

Jacky Truchot’s elegant 2001 Domaine Truchot-Martin Morey-St.-Denis 1er Cru Les Ruchots had very little color to it, but it had wonderfully ethereal violet, raspberry, mushroom and forest floor notes. Medium bodied, with silky tannins, it is fully mature but delicious and complex. The gorgeous 2007 Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf-du-Pape Reserve went through a dormant, somewhat dumb stage after bottling, but has come back with a vengeance and is now strutting its stuff, showing fabulous richness, opulence, and the tell-tale Rayas kirsch liqueur, licorice and exotic characteristics. Full-bodied, beautifully round, plump and viscous, it should continue to drink well for at least another decade.

Another strong showing was Alain Graillot’s special Cuvée, the 2001 Crozes-Hermitage La Guiraude. This is pure Syrah, dense and meaty, with notes of black olive tapenade, blackberry and cassis. It is hitting its peak of full maturity and should be drunk over the next 4 to 5 years. Fully mature and on the downslope is the 1985 Bosquet des Pape Châteauneuf-du-Pape. This was a fast-maturing vintage, and the wines were delicious from the get-go, but at 31 years of age, I’m surprised just how well it has held onto its life. It is still an acceptably complex Châteauneuf-du-Pape, offering up notes of loamy soil, Provençal herbs, red currants and a touch of kirsch.

1990 and 1983 were two great vintages for La Mission Haut-Brion, especially the 1990. These wines both had dense plum/purple colors. The 1990 was rich and concentrated, with silky tannins and loads of tar, black truffle, cassis, and wood smoke in a full-bodied, opulent, complex yet approachable style. It has at least another 15 or more years of upside to it. The 1983 La Mission Haut-Brion (the first vintage made by the Dillon family after they acquired this historic property) still has a dark plum/garnet color along with notes of melted tar, black currant, licorice, and a touch of white chocolate. Thick, juicy and round, it’s not as complex as the 1990 or as concentrated but hey, it’s still a beauty.

The 2012 Domaine du Pégaü Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Réservée is classic Pégaü, displaying a touch of brett, some new salad leather, black currants, cherries, roasted herbs and spice. One of my two favorite red wines of the day after the La Mission Haut-Brions was the 2010 Bosquet des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape Chante le Merle Vieilles Vignes, which was young but super-concentrated, rich, and probably the best Chante Le Merle Bosquet des Papes made since they inaugurated this Cuvée in 1990. This wine has a good 15 to 20 years of upside and is just a spectacular wine from this top vintage. In contrast, the 2009 St. Préfert Châteauneuf-du-Pape Collection Charles Giraud seems fully mature, as so many of the 2009s do. They have been on a fast evolutionary track, and while there’s no danger of them falling apart over the next 5 to 6 years, my advice is to drink them sooner rather than later. It’s a beautiful vintage, but the wines are fruit-forward. Showing surprising complexity for its age, this wine has plenty of cedar wood, roasted herbs, black currants and kirsch in a full-bodied, luscious, consumer-friendly style. Drink it over the next 5 to 7 years.

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