La Beaugravière delivered fine back-to-back performances. A gateau de foie gras with truffle sauce to start, followed by an egg soufflé with truffles and a ’96 Paul Coulon & Fils Châteauneuf-du-Pape Domaine de Beaurenard white—a perfect match. I’m surprised that white Châteauneuf-du-Pape hasn’t caught on in the United States yet, considering it’s an ideal match for truffles, especially with a few years of bottle age.
The main course was a roasted pigeon with black truffles, and the flesh of the pigeon turned the muscular 2000 Paul Coulon & Fils CdP Boisrenard into a succulent, spice-filled beauty.
On Friday, I spent the morning driving up into the hills of the outlying Côtes du Rhône appellation and visited Domaine de Mourchon, located in the striking hillside town of Séguret. Owner Walter McKinlay, a Scottsman turned French vigneron, is proving lesser-known appellations can make excellent wine as well—I gave his ’04 Réserve cuvée 90 points in my recent Rhône report. We tasted his soon-to-be released '05s as well.
On Friday night, I ate in the main restaurant at Pic. The bistro is excellent of course, and I usually eat there when I'm working in the area. But my little personal tradition is to end each trip to the Rhône with a blow-out dinner in Pic’s gastronomique. I’m a bit fried from visiting over 30 domaines in 12 days, and staring at the three full notebooks of handwritten notes that I’ll need to make sense of when I get back is gnawing at me. So I took a little mental breather and splurged on the full tasting menu from chef and owner Anne-Sophie Pic. The sea bass course, matched with braised onions and a hint of walnut, was superb, and went great with a '95 Butteaux from Raveneau. For the venison and cheese courses, I chose the '98 Côte-Rôtie Château d'Ampuis from Guigal, but the bottle was a little fizzy and off, so sommelier Denis Bertrand switched it for a '99 Côte-Rôtie Rose Pourpre from Gaillard, which was smokin'.
It’s been nearly two weeks for me here, and you know you’ve been in France too long when you’re cursing in French at the traffic, and you’re actually disappointed that there’s nothing new to try on the 40-selection cheese tray that comes by at the end of a meal. So now it's time to just chill in the Admiral's Club at Charles de Gaulle, and kill a few hours before my flight ....