This was a fabulous restaurant, a real Swiss bistro, with abundant portions, an absolutely outrageous fine wine list, with terrific California selections and heavy on Rhône wines. The food was sensational, with one of the best Quiche Lorraine’s I have ever eaten. In addition, they served possibly the finest Veal Cordon Bleu I have ever had – perfectly cooked veal stuffed with high-quality ham and several Swiss cheeses. It was sumptuous, rib-sticking and incredibly satisfying.
The wines all hit the high points of the night, probably aided by the great ambience, cuisine and just a fun time. The 2011 F.X. Pichler Rielsing Unendlich (we drank down two bottles) was absolutely outrageously rich and honeyed with loads of caramelized citrus, a touch of tropical fruit, but great minerality and precision. This guy’s wines are also known for their unreal purity of character, and both bottles had that in spades.
We then moved to two of my favorite Châteauneuf du Papes of all time. An old-vine, 100% Grenache cuvée grown in pure sandy soils near Château Rayas, the 2010 Domaine Giraud Les Grenaches de Pierre was dense purple, still youthful and young, but showed unbelievable levels of black cherry fruit, black raspberry, earth and spice. It is full-bodied, extravagantly rich and a total hedonistic, intellectual turn-on. It should continue to drink well for at least another 10-15 years, if you can somehow manage to keep your hands off of it. That was followed by a magnum of 2007 Domaine de Pégaü Cuvée da Capo, which was out of this world, in a more traditional style, with loads of garrigue, licorice, roasted meats, beef blood and plenty of kirsch liqueur. This was killer Châteauneuf du Pape as well.
All things considered, this was a great night, with some of my best friends, including an old buddy from Lucerne who has a great wine shop there, Carl Studer; my business manager, Joe James; our young turk who checks out wine-tasting and eating venues for us, Oliver Mumenthaler, and we were occasionally joined by the beautiful waitress at this tiny bistro as well as the exuberant proprietor. This is my kind of place, and I highly recommend it if you are ever in Zurich.
BÜ’s Restaurant, Address: Kuttelgasse 15, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland
Tel. : +41 44 211 94 11
Course 1: – Quiche Lorraine
Course 2: – Swiss Veal Cordon Bleu
Vintage Wine Rating
2011 F.X. Pichler Riesling Unendlich 95
2010 Domaine Giraud Les Grenaches de Pierre Châteauneuf du Pape
2007 Domaine de Pégaü Cuvée da Capo Châteauneuf du Pape (magnum) 99
Dinner with Friends
This was another casual winter evening spent with great friends at our place here in Colorado. The week had been especially cold, so we started a fire in the fireplace, opened some big reds and went with classic bistro fare.
Starting off with a bottle from one of my favorite Champagne producers, the 2007 Vilmart Grand Cellier d’Or showed fabulously, with great aromatics and impressive richness and texture. It’s a big, full-flavored effort and a superb bottle of bubbly. To go with a mixed greens salad (and assorted appies), the 2011 Dagueneau Blanc Fume de Pouilly Silex worked nicely, yet lacked some of the vibrancy that this cuvee normally possesses. Showing the expected lively, tangy acidity and liquid minerality that’s the hallmark of this cuvee, it was surprisingly soft, supple and easygoing on the palate. Outstanding, but far from riveting, and at the going rate, it’s what you should get.
Moving to the reds, I went with two Châteauneuf du Papes and one Grenache from California’s Central Coast, all of which performed brilliantly. Leading off and paired with a classic soupe à l’oignon, the 100% Grenache 2005 Domaine Giraud Châteauneuf du Pape Les Grenaches de Pierre was tight and slightly closed right on opening, yet blossomed in the glass. Starting to show some evolution aromatically, it offered full-bodied richness on the palate, loads of fruit and fine, polished tannin on the finish. It has classic Châteauneuf du Pape character and the depth and richness to continue drinking nicely for another decade. Moving to the main course of roasted chicken(s) and root vegetables, the 2009 Clos Saint-Jean Chaâteauneuf du Pape la Combe des Fous (60% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% each of Vaccarese and Cinsault) was open and ready to go, with an incredible bouquet, full-bodied richness and a seamless, sexy feel. This estate hasn’t missed a step in a while, and this beauty manages the warmth of the vintage flawlessly with sweet tannin and blockbuster length. Showing every bit as impressive as it did on release, it went perfectly with the food and is easily one of the top wines in the vintage. In addition, I doubt it will ever shut down, and when all is said and done, it should have upwards of two decades of total longevity. Lastly, and a wine I’ve been lucky enough to have numerous times recently, the 2004 Sine Qua Non Ode to E (Grenache) offered an extraordinary bouquet of crème de cassis, graphite, melted licorice and assorted wild herbs to go with a full-bodied, seamless and elegant profile that has jaw dropping purity and depth. Still shockingly youthful and fresh, it has a least another decade to go, yet when a wine is showing this good, I see no reason to wait.
A great time all around, and at the end of the evening, all of the bottles were empty… always a good sign.
Course 1: – Mixed Greens
Course 2: – French Onion Soup
Course 3: – Roasted Chicken with root vegetables
Vintage Wine Rating
2007 Vilmart et Cie Brut Premier Cru Cuvee Grand Cellier d’Or 93
2011 Louis-Benjamin Dagueneau Blanc Fume de Pouilly Silex 90
2005 Domaine Giraud Châteauneuf du Pape les Grenaches de Pierre 95
2009 Clos Saint-Jean Châteauneuf du Pape la Combe des Fous 98
2004 Sine Qua Non Ode To E (Grenache) 100
Serge Chenet September 2011 Robert Parker
This is a beautiful bed and breakfast about 15-20 minutes from the old tourist bastion of Avignon, and 20 minutes south of Châteauneuf du Pape. The cuisine is modern and creative, but never silly. It is named after Chef Serge Chenet, who has been in the Rhône Valley for years and has set up this wonderful gastronomic venue. Everything we had was tasty, but the real focus was on some extraordinary wines. The 2010 Roussanne cuvée from Michel Gassier, from his beautiful estate in the Costières de Nîmes, the Coucardière, was gorgeous. Gassier is on top of his game with both white and red wines. This effort, an inexpensive version of a Beaucastel Roussanne Vieilles Vignes, exhibits lots of rosewater, honeysuckle and marmalade notes with good acidity and minerality. It should drink nicely for a long time. A magnum of 2001 Domaine Giraud Grenache de Pierre was sensational, offering pure kirsch liqueur notes intermixed with raspberries, licorice and loamy soil (although this vineyard’s soil is pure sand). Fully mature, and not likely to improve (even from magnum), this is a sumptuous wine to drink over the next 4-5 years. Two perfect wines that should last for another two decades are Clos Saint-Jean’s 2007 Châteauneuf du Pape Sanctus Sanctorum and their 2007 Châteauneuf du Pape Deus Ex Machina, both served from magnums. They are both infants, but the contrasts between the 100% old vine Grenache Sanctus Sanctorum and the 60% Grenache / 40% Mourvèdre blend Deus Ex Machina were striking. The Sanctus Sanctorum may be the single greatest wine I have ever tasted. Given the fact that it is a naked, low yielding, almost intellectual curiosity given the old vines and the fact that it is only available in magnum, it is a riveting wine that I wish every reader could have a chance to taste in order to see the glory of Grenache at such a celestial level. The blend of Grenache and Mourvèdre makes for a fabulous combination, and no one does it better than Clos Saint-Jean’s Maurel brothers, who created this cuvée in 2003. It has been one of the great Châteauneuf du Papes in every vintage since. We then moved to another of my favorite traditional, old style, long-aged Clos du Mont Olivet offerings, their Cuvée du Papet. The 2004 magnum was fully mature and gorgeous, but it was a dead heat to see whether the 2007 or 2006 du Papet was better. The 2007 is more primary, but the 2006 is no slouch. This excellent vintage is somewhat forgotten given what has happened in the Rhône recently. One of the most monumental Châteauneuf du Papes of all time is André Brunel’s Les Cailloux Cuvée Centenaire 1990. I was fortunate enough to buy a case and subsequently drink every fabulous bottle, so there are no regrets. This was another fabulous look at a great Châteauneuf du Pape primarily made from Grenache vines planted in 1889. It also includes small amounts of Syrah and Mourvèdre. This wine is pure kirsch, raspberry, spring flowers, spice box and earth offered in a voluptuous, full-bodied, opulent style that has been fully mature for many years. However, it shows no signs of fading. We finished with a still tannic, young 1989 Les Cailloux Châteauneuf du Pape and a spectacular, fully mature 1978 Les Cailloux Châteauneuf du Pape that exhibits the great garrigue, licorice, seaweed, black currant and black cherry characteristics of this wine. This was a sensational night of great wine, fabulous food and wonderful company.
Serge Chenet, Route de St. Bruno, 30131 Pujaut, France Tel. 011 +33 04 90 95 20 29
Food: Mediterranean sea bass with eggplant corriando cappuccino Foie Gras Brochets of Boudin Sorbet of herring on toasted bread Parmesan lollipop Provençal lamb
2010 Michel Gassier Coucardière Costières de Nîmes Roussanne 91
2001 Domaine Giraud Grenache de Pierre (magnum) 94
2007 Clos Saint-Jean Châteauneuf du Pape Sanctus Sanctorum (magnum) 100
2007 Clos Saint-Jean Châteauneuf du Pape Deus Ex Machina (magnum) 100
2006 Clos du Mont Olivet Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée du Papet 93
2007 Clos du Mont Olivet Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée du Papet 96
2004 Clos du Mont Olivet Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée du Papet (magnum) 90
1990 Les Cailloux Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée Centenaire 100
1989 Les Cailloux Châteauneuf du Pape 90
1978 Les Cailloux Châteauneuf du Pape 95