Dinner at Chez Parker with American and French Friends
A word of advice. No one should turn down an invitation to have dinner at my house. The evening began brilliantly with a spectacular magnum of 1998 Peter Michael Chardonnay Point Rouge, which reveals a degree of richness and definition that is riveting. One of the finest wines of this maligned vintage in California, it is drinking superbly, and has the potential to last another 4-5 years. Atypically, there were two corked bottles, the 1987 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve (a potentially super wine) and 1992 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select (only slightly corked, but still undrinkable). Finally, some good news with the 1993 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon, a beautifully pure effort with crème de cassis, mineral, and licorice characteristics offered in a seamless, medium to full-bodied, tremendously penetrating style with both power and elegance. Still youthful and primary, it has another 10-15 years of upside remaining. The blockbuster 1995 Dalla Valle Maya boasts an impenetrable purple color as well as a sumptuous perfume of creosote, Asian spices, sweet blackberries and cassis, full body, huge tannin, and a 60-second finish. This great wine is still young, but it has fabulous potential. It is another example of a vintage that should not be overlooked as many 1995s have proven to be nearly as good as their 1994 counterparts. The 1996 Colgin Cabernet Sauvignon Herb Lamb Vineyard exhibits a dense plum/purple color in addition to an exotic nose of white flowers, rhubarb, herbs, melted asphalt, new saddle leather, and copious quantities of blackberries, plums, and figs. While somewhat controversial, everyone enjoyed it immensely. It is certainly not as classic as the Screaming Eagle or Maya. The most evolved of the Cabernets, it is best drunk over the next 10-15 years. The port-like 1997 Harlan possesses an unctuosity and thickness that transcends most classic dry red wines. Many people probably do not understand it because of its incredible intensity, but this remains one of the potentially single greatest Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines ever made in California. I can understand why consulting winemaker Michel Rolland said it was the greatest wine he had ever made in his career ... and that's saying something. Although still young, its thickness and overall density are remarkable. All of these wines were double decanted, with the sediment in the bottle washed out (Harlan had the most sediment) six hours prior to dinner.
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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...