I have been pining for Paris quite literally since the days of Madeline books, reading them ‘til tattered on the dock at my cabin in northern Wisconsin, circa five years old. The fancy hotels, the fashionable hats and shoes, the food, the parks, the museums, the Eiffel tower… Eventually, I would get there.
And I did. And it was just that.
The air held the crisp scent of autumn, though the leaves still wore their (albeit waning) green colour. As I drove into this wondrous city, it was nighttime. The storefronts were aglow with the latest trends, chatter fell from the mouths of friends and lovers over glasses of wine in jam-packed bistros. It was intoxicating.
I spent my first night dining at an adorable little restaurant that was quite removed from the bustle of it all—a quaint, authentic eatery called Chez Dumonet Josephine. It was perfect. Old pictures filled the space on the walls, laughter and discussion filled the space in the air, the wine was not exceptional but well above the quality you would normally get in Paris at those prices—mostly Bordeaux from unclassified chateaus. However, that said, if you want to drop a pretty penny, this place has crazy extensive first through fifth growths from a number of vintages, going back to the forties, including the much-acclaimed 1947 Chateau Cheval Blanc (perhaps Ratatouille or Sideways comes to mind?). This is one of the most expensive wines on the market today, selling from about $3,000-6,500, though considerably higher if you want to be ultra-cautious about the way it has been handled in the cellar (which, if you are already spending so much…).
I was surprised that most restaurants we dined at in Paris seemed to predominantly carry Bordeaux. I suppose I assumed being so close to the Loire Valley, Burgundy, and Champagne, that may not be so… Therefore, Bordeaux it typically was.
That evening, after foie gras, beef bourgogne, soufflé, and herring was had around the table, we ended with a lovely aged dessert wine: a 1971 Doisy Daene Sauternes, not the most exceptional vintage, but a year that was still known for solid, age-worthy wine. This second growth white from the Barsac commune of Sauternes was beyond its youth, falling into the autumn of its life, but it was Sauternes nonetheless. The sweet, balanced goodness of this, one of the few age-worthy dessert wines, held its own. In fact, I believe everyone made the mistake of sipping it down a little too fast, for with a little time in the glass, it opened quite beautifully, displaying honeyed notes, white flowers, and cinnamon. What a treat to open up a bottle with so much age.
Sauternes is a Bortrytis-affected wine made of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grapes. It is a wine I have spoken of before when discussing Chateau Raymond-Lafon. Doisy Dane, made of 80% Semillon and 20% Sauvignon Blanc, is technically a higher classified chateau—a wine classified as a second growth in 1855. For a quick little crash course in the 1885 classification in Bordeaux, this may be a helpful site: http://www.cellarnotes.net/medoc_classification.htm. Otherwise, numerous books are out there to peruse for more in depth information about this region and its wines. For recommendations on anything specific, just drop me a note…