Restaurant Citronelle, Washington, DC

I  would have to rank the cooking of Michel Richard alongside that of New York's Daniel Boulud as the finest French-inspired cuisine in America. His style is completely different from Boulud's, but what a fabulous chef he is. Anyone traveling to D.C. should check out his stunning culinary delights in the Latham Hotel's restaurant, Citronelle (on M Street in Georgetown). The dishes included sauteed foie gras with crispy apple french fries, veal cooked four ways, squab cooked four ways, artichoke terrine, scallops with zucchini head dress, Santa Barbara shrimp, his sushi interpretation of tuna, and spinach / basil soup.

There were no surprises in the wines. The debut vintage of the Marcassin Chardonnay Marcassin Vineyard, the 1996, was strutting its majestic richness, liquid minerality, and extraordinary complexity. The 1982 Pichon Lalande remains at a magical plateau, showing no signs of decline. The 1982 Lafleur and 1982 l'Evangile both continue to move up the ladder. They are at the beginning of their plateaus of maturity. All three of the '82s revealed more density than the glorious, elegant, 1990 Léoville-Poyferré, a wine of sweetness, richness, and complex, cedary, black currant, and licorice notes. From a challenging vintage, Peter Michael's top Chardonnay cuvée, the 1998 Point Rouge, also performed splendidly.

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