Another terrific meal at Vito’s Cafe, run by brothers Tony and Vito and their chef Luca, who hails from Florence, Italy. As I have stated before, Veal Parmigiana is a classic dish which, though widely found in the United States, is often uninteresting and boring, but theirs is top-flight and a reassuring example of why this is a wonderful combination. They also do superb very thin crust pizzas in their wood-burning oven that are top-notch, and their fried calimari is a consistent winner.
We started with Sine Qua Non’s 2007 Body and Soul, the blend of Roussanne, Viognier, and from time to time, Chardonnay. An intoxicatingly heady nose of marmalade, spring flowers, nectarines, and mandarin oranges jumps from the glass of this beautiful wine, which is medium to full-bodied, very fresh, pure, and a hoot and a howl to drink. It is a fun wine and I wish more California wineries would make blends like this. The reds started with another Sine Qua Non, the 2005 Atlantis Grenache. It was in some tough company, but this is a beautiful Grenache with lots of dark raspberries and kirsch notes intermixed with hints of spice box, earth, and sandalwood. It is medium to full-bodied, very pure, and rather strikingly, in the context of the other three Châteauneuf du Papes, it was by far the most elegant of the wines. The 2005 Janasse Châteauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes seems to be going into a somewhat dormant stage, or at least this bottle was slightly muted compared to previous examples. Taking wine to this BYO restaurant can often result in a wine going through some chemical changes, making it sometimes show better or worse, and this seemed to be tighter than I remember previous bottles. Not so for the two great 2007 Châteauneuf du Papes. The 2007 Saint-Préfert Auguste Favier, which, as I recall, is about 85% Grenache and the rest Cinsault, has an extraordinary purity and freshness, as well as a beautiful nose of white flowers intermixed with black raspberry, blueberry, and cherry. It is an elegant style of Châteauneuf du Pape, which seems to contrast sharply with the freshness of the vintage and the remarkable purity of the fruit. This wine is something to behold. Cut from a similar mold, but even more powerful, denser, and virtually all Grenache, the 2007 Châteauneuf du Pape Mon Aïeul from Pierre Usseglio is a brilliant wine. They have made some great cuvées of this wine over the years (the 2003 stands out as one of the great successes in that variable vintage), but the 2007 is striking. This wine has lots of floral notes intermixed with black raspberry, black currant, and blueberry in a full-bodied, fresh, lively style. Of course, these 2007s are still very primary, and one could say, too young to drink, but they are thrilling wines, and I don’t have a problem committing infanticide for a worthy cause – my pleasure.
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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...