Randy and Robin
Randy (left) and Robin, toward the end of the second bottle of 1996 Haut-Brion Blanc.
We had the great pleasure tonight of finally hooking up face-to-face with a longtime E-mail pal, WLDGer and American-in-Paris Randy Resnick and his wife Evelyne.

At Randy's suggestion, we dined at Vins & Marée ("Wines and Tides"), a small but excellent restaurant specializing entirely in fish dishes. (It's located at 108, Rue du Maine, in the 14th arondissement near Montparnasse.)

This was a great suggestion - the restaurant was friendly, stylish but not too formal, and everything we tried and passed around was first-rate. The bill of fare included starters of grilled sardines with fleur de sel sea salt, and an incredibly silken marinated raw salmon. Our main-course choices included sole with acidulated butter, lotte (monkfish) gratinee, and my choice, a French Atlantic fish called St. Pierre, a firm, mild, white-fleshed fish that reminded me a bit of sea bass, served on a sauce ... umm ... hollandaise with parsley? Bernaise? Something like that.

The wives
Randy's wife Evelyne (left) and Robin's wife Mary Johnson, also well fed and wined.
The food was all fine, in any case, and desserts were equally good; I shunned the gooey chocolate excesses that most of the group chose in favor of an incredibly subtle and delicious crême Catalane, a variation of Crême Brûlée touched with orange flavor and served in a carved out orange half instead of a ramekin.

And the wine? Oh, yeah. We did have wine. Connoisseurs of WLDG Offline excesses will be disappointed to learn that we only had one wine. But we had two bottles of it. And that wine was something rare and special indeed:

Chateau Haut-Brion 1996 Grand Vin de Graves Pessac-Léognan (Blanc) - Clear gold, Wonderful scents, heady orange blossoms and toasted almonds. Full and very rich, textured flavors follow the nose, continuing into a shimmering finish that lasts for minutes.

Need I add that a good time was had by all?

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All my wine-tasting reports are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores.

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