RN74, Seattle

This is one of my favorite restaurants in Seattle and I continue to eat here once or twice a year. It has an upscale, yet casual feel and the food is always first rate. While small, the wine list is well thought-out and well-priced, with an emphasis on Burgundy. Nevertheless, they have a solid selection of local Washington producers and a small subset of Rhônes, which is what I normally gravitate towards.

On this occasion, the Oysters were as fresh as always (Seattle is loaded with top notch seafood) and a main course of Steak Frites with duck fat fries was a comfort food as good as it gets. On the wine front, I had them decant a bottle of Clos Saint Jean's 2011 Châteauneuf du Pape la Combe des Fous and I polished off the majority of it over the evening. Always the more elegant and seamless of the two top cuvees from this estate (the Ex Machina is big, more powerful wine), this single vineyard beauty has been firing on all cylinders since day one and didn't disappoint. Crazily perfumed, seamless and full-bodied, with no shortage of complexity in its kirsch, spice, dried flowers and licorice aromas and flavors, it's hasn't yet developed any secondary nuances, but don't let that stop you from opening bottles. I was served a glass of the 2009 Pintia mid-way through the meal (blind) and absolutely loved it. Slightly darker in color than the la Combe des Fous, it too was perfumed and complex, with lots of sweet red fruits, dried herbs, licorice, spice and a kiss of vanilla, and had a full-bodied, ripe, sexy style on the palate. It's a hedonistic beauty that dishes out tons of pleasure. Unfortunately, I thought it was a modern styled 2009 Châteauneuf du Pape as opposed to 100% Tempranillo, but that's blind tasting for you. This is a must stop if you're anywhere close to Seattle.

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