With my wife having a long week-end in Paris while I was tied to my desk editing and proof-reading the next issue of The Wine Advocate, I decided to take a break and treat myself to a special evening of wine and food. A Bolognese sauce I made from scratch and simmered for about four hours was, even by my critical standards, superb. I started off with a glass of Nicolas Feuillate’s barrel-aged Champagne from the 1997 vintage. It was very good, but not a knock-out by any means. I then did something I rarely do as I find it somewhat distracting to taste three totally different styles of wine. However, my curiosity overcame my good sense. I opened and decanted all three red wines several hours in advance, and the 2000 Lafleur (as I should have known) was impossible to appreciate, especially in the company of the more exuberant Grenaches. In any event, this is one of the densest colored Lafleurs I have ever seen. The sweet kirsch/licorice notes that one finds in Grenache as well as in most Lafleurs, were barely hinted at in this bottle. It is a powerful, full-bodied, sensationally concentrated effort that needs another 10-15 years before it will be ready to drink. I may have caught the 2000 Sine Qua Non Incognito at the perfect time (although it was also the wine of the night when I had it last fall in Napa). This is by far the greatest Grenache ever made in California. It will be interesting to see if some of the newer offerings from Sine Qua Non can give it a run for its money. This is pure, sweet raspberry and black cherry fruit interwoven with mineral, flower, and spice characteristics. The wine is full-bodied, opulent, extraordinarily pure, and beautifully textured. Next to the Cuvée da Capo, the Sine Qua Non seemed refreshing and polished, whereas the Capo was massive, rustic, backward, meaty, and animal-like. Virtually every bottle I have had of the 2000 Cuvée da Capo merits a three-digit score, but this one did not perform at the level of previous examples. Was it because of the SQN? Who knows.
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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...