A nice dinner with some great wines

Northern Ohio

Tasted March 24, 2006 by psmith with 779 views


Its been a while since Jen and I have had a really nice dinner so a Friday to end a week off of work seemed like a good enough reason to celebrate life in general. We headed up north to Chez Francois, a well-regarded French restaurant in Vermilion, Ohio, for a night of good food and wine.

Flight 1 (1 note)

To get things started:

White - Off-dry
1989 Trimbach Riesling Clos Ste. Hune Vendanges Tardives France, Alsace
94 points
Nose brings to mind a far sweeter wine. Classic Riesling notes with honeyed pear, mineral, and traces of smoke. Viscous and round on the palate, though boarders on heavy without food. Doesn't have quite the penetrating minerallity of most Clos Ste. Hune, and possilbly just a trace of RS. Wonderfully opulent and rich, with great length, purity, and verve. Still quite young.

Flight 2 (1 note)

The Clos ste. Hune was meant for the first two courses, the exact preparations of which I don't remember well. It worked wonderfully with an amuse of rich, well spiced, pureed carrot soup with ginger foam, but was less successful with crab cakes and a later striped bass course. We went back to it with cheeses where it really shined.

The next course was a filet of beef with goat cheese and duck confit. The Jayer we drank with this was reasonably successful but didn't really shine until after the meal with a rich epoisse.

1985 Henri Jayer Echezeaux France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Echezeaux Grand Cru
95 points
A deep, low-yield dark Burg nose showing spices and sous bois but hints of VA. Initially really reserved on the palate, with bitter hard edges, and not showing the weight expected of a pedigreed grand cru.

Takes about two hours to start moving. A stunning nose shows feminine black strawberry notes and a wonderful assortment of Asian spice and perfumed violet aromas. Never fully gains that caressing, velvety texture it might with significantly more age, but does lose the hard edges and shows quite seamless and wonderfully pure. Fine wood tannin complement the palate nicely. Shows great potential.

Flight 3 (1 note)

The small amount of Clos ste. Hune we had left was great with the cheeses and the Jayer was starting to get really interesting, so we nibbled for an hour or so before ordering a Beaucastel to end the night with. Despite our best intentions it was showing really young and gave us an excuse to stay even longer at the restaurant.

1978 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
92 points
Fresh and youthful without a trace of bricking. Not a really funky Beaucastel with a more feminine and restrained nose of meat, animal fur, chalk, and mint. More medium-bodied and actually a bit reserved on the palate. A well-integrated if somewhat angular approach and a sweaty undercurrent framed by fine tannin. Similarly styled to the 1990, though without quite the intensity or body.

Flight 4 (1 note)

Dessert was a wonderful combo of a decadently rich chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream; however, as might be expected it didn't really play nicely with the wines and unfortunately got overlooked.

After five hours the restaurant was closing up and we persuaded the owner to sell us a bottle, and glassware, so that we could drink back at our hotel. While we had eaten plenty I was ready for a midnight snack and ordered a Dominos pizza to the room. The wine was much better than the pizza.

1984 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée St. Vivant France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Romanée St. Vivant Grand Cru
89 points
Light, amber color. Very feminine pretty old strawberry nose with some weedy vegetal aromas. Light, but perfumed and with mature sous bois, spicy Vosne notes, and characteristic DRC red cherry fruit and stems. Hard tannins won't soften in time, but a really enjoyable wine from a maligned vintage.


The meal was expertly prepared and the service extraordinary. We'll be making another trip ASAP.

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