Petit Louis, Baltimore
My favorite Baltimore bistro, Petit Louis, has been making better and better food in a classic French bistro style. At a meal with several friends, I had one of the all time great Alsatian Rieslings, the 1989 Trimbach Clos St. Hune Vendange Tardive. It is youthful yet flirts with perfection with its extraordinarily explosive nose, liquid minerality, and precise flavors. From one of the world's greatest sites for dry white wine, this late harvest cuvée was slightly off-dry, but remarkably intense. Several 100-point wines followed, including the 1990 Henri Bonneau Châteauneuf du Pape Réserve des Céléstins and 1990 Château Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape Hommage à Jacques Perrin. Both wines are still very young, although the Bonneau is beginning to reveal secondary aromas of leather, beef blood, and ripe fruit. The Beaucastel is still a monster, with its Mourvèdre component dominating this black/purple-colored wine with notes of licorice, tree bark, violets, blueberries and blackberries. Another 100-point wine is the 1990 Rayas Châteauneuf du Pape. There are many fraudulent bottles of this floating around, but this was the real deal. Revealing much less color than the other Châteauneuf du Papes, it was extraordinarily perfumed, with that kirsch liqueur, raspberry, and spice box-scented nose as well as fabulously luxurious, intense yet light flavors. This is the greatest Rayas I have ever tasted. Another great wine that consistently scores in the mid-nineties is the 1990 Clos du Mont Olivet Cuvée Papet, which is really on fire at present. Readers who own it should drink some, although it will certainly last for another 10-15 years.
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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...