Daniel, New York, NY

The incomparable Daniel Boulud produced a classic fall menu that offered one intellectual and hedonistic glory after another. The food was matched with wines that the chef loves the most ... southern Rhônes. Well not completely. We started with a 1995 Taittinger Blanc de Blancs, a gorgeous Champagne that falls just short of the brilliant 1990, and a magnum of the Peter Michael 1999 Point Rouge, a glorious Burgundian-styled Chardonnay with tremendous flavor depth and texture.

From those wines, we moved to a great line-up of Châteauneuf du Papes, all from pristinely stored magnums from my cellar. The 1998 Charvin may be the heir apparent to Rayas now that Jacques Reynaud is gone. This is pure sweet Grenache picked very ripe and loaded with raspberry, cherry, and black fruits presented in a velvety-textured, opulent style. Far more spicy, in a true Provençal style, with notes of garrigue, pepper, and spice is the 1998 Bois de Boursan Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée des Felix. One of the all-time great Châteauneuf du Papes in my experience is the 1990 Pégaü. From magnum, it is absolute glory, and close to perfection, offering gorgeous black fruits intermixed with pepper, spice box, cedar, and all sorts of heavenly spices. A magnificent wine, it clearly dominated the lighter, more Burgundian and delicate 1998 Rayas. While the Rayas is a beautiful wine, I should have reversed the order in which they were served. Lastly, the 1998 Henri Bonneau Réserve des Céléstins was like drinking pure beef blood intermixed with black fruits, herbs, and pepper.

I should also note that this night I got to meet two people I have always admired from a distance, Dick Enberg, the well-known sports commentator, and Tommy Le Puma, who produced so many great jazz musicians. What a night!

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