Bouchon is one of Napa Valley’s finest restaurants. It is an authentic French Bistro created in 2002 by the world renown Chef Thomas Keller of Napa Valley’s French Laundry. Located just north of the Los Carneros wine region in Yountville, Bouchon is a good site for the tasting of Los Carneros’ finest wines. We thought it was a great idea when suggested to us by our friend Claude Koeberle. Claude is a Michelin-rated chef and a Sonoma County winemaker whose Soliste wines are among some of our favorite Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from Sonoma County.
With the restaurant’s permission, we brought six superb wines of Los Carneros provided by the members of the Carneros Wine Alliance to our dinner at Bouchon.
- Domaine Carneros 2009 Le Rêve Blanc de Blanc
- Rams Gate 2012 Chardonnay Sangiacomo Vineyard Green Acres
- Carneros Hills 2012 Chardenet Coteau Blanc
- Saintsbury 2000 Pinot Noir Reserve
- Etude 2012 Heirloom Pinot Noir Grace Benoist Ranch
- Truchard 2012 Merlot
We also tasted the limited production Soliste 2010 Pinot Noir L’Amboisisie Sonoma Coast, a special treat from Claude Koeberle.
Oysters. Our dinner began with a half dozen magnificent plump oysters: Beau Soleil from New Brunswick, Flapjack from Washington State and Fanny Bay from British Columbia. We paired these gems with the Domaine Carneros 2009 Le Rêve and the Carneros Hills 2012 Chardanet. Most young or non-vintage Blanc de Blanc sparklers would pair well with oysters, but the richness of the Le Rêve made it a better wine for the magnificent dishes served later in the meal. The elegant Chardenet with its crisp mineral profile was closer to the mark but its light toastiness didn’t work well either. We enjoyed it more with the two dishes that followed. The Domaine Carneros Zero Dosage that we enjoyed earlier in the week would have been perfect.
Rillettes aux Deux Saumons and Pâté de Canard. These two rich dishes are made for Chardonnay, and all the ones we brought paired well. The 2012 Rams Gate is a spectacular wine all by itself, perfectly balanced, rich and pure, and it paired beautifully with the lightly smoked salmon, crème fraîche, and pernod and the rich fatty duck foie gras with its orange marmalade and sea salt accompaniments. The La Rêve was also magnificent, providing a rich and bubbly sweetness as a foil to the saltiness of these dishes.
Boudin Blanc. This white sausage (made of pork) served with potato puree, dried French plums and brown butter is a Bouchon specialty, and it was a perfect transition to Pinot Noir. We began with Claude’s Soliste 2010 Pinot Noir L’Amboisie, a light and delicate wine that is Burgundian in style and quite elegant. We then moved on to the Saintsbury 2000 Pinot Noir Reserve. This 15-year old wine showed extraordinarily well; it was fresh-tasting and beautifully balanced with lovely red berry fruit, spice and notable persistence. It paired perfectly with the Boudin Blanc and would no doubt enhance other pork dishes.
Gigot d’Agneau. A magnificent leg of lamb came next. Delicately roasted with boulangère potatoes and savoy cabbage, it was a perfect dish for our two other wines. We were blown away by the richness and delicacy of the boulangère potatoes with their caramelized onions and brown butter. The Etude 2012 Pinot Noir Heirloom Grace Benoist Ranch and the Truchard 2012 Merlot both paired beautifully with the lamb. The Etude Pinor Noir is a spectacular wine showing the bold earthy, red fruit flavors of Carneros Pinot Noir in an elegant and perfectly balanced format. The Truchard Merlot is bigger and spicier than the Etude Pinot Noir with some firm tannins. Lamb is quite versatile and loves rich reds like these two wines.
We ended our dinner at this point, although we would have enjoyed tasting our Carneros wines with many of the other delicious dishes offered on the menu at Bouchon. We did try for fun the pommes frites with truffles which were pretty fantastic. Happily there will be a next time for enjoying more Carneros wines at Bouchon.
Mike Potashnik and Don Winkler