The best time to be a wine lover

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Chateau Tour Bayard

Like lots of people we spent Thanksgiving week traversing the highways and byways of Louisiana.  We started with dinner in Lafayette on Sunday night, New Orleans on Tuesday, Baton Rouge on Wednesday and New Orleans again on Thursday.  Punctuated by a super rainy weekend,  by Saturday evening we had no groceries and no energy.  The only option was dinner out.  We were treated to the braised short ribs (to be specific, "sweet and sticky fried beef short ribs with hearts of palm, cucumber and lime-ginger vinaigrette") by Lilette at Gambit's Red Whites & Blues fundraiser and swore we would visit the restaurant "soon."  Though that turned out to be a month later, we were thrilled that we stuck with it. Lilette is a neighborhood brasserie without the pastiche of a brasserie.  The service was attentive without being annoying, the atmosphere was charming and lively and the food was fabulous.  Once again I found it refreshing to visit a  New Orleans restaurant lacking a sibling rivalry amongst the entrees, with each trying to outdo the other in size, number of ingredients and colors.

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The other great thing about Lilette was the wine list - which included an interesting and diverse collection of wines from $24 to $135 (not including a few expensive Champagnes).   We selected a 2005 Bordeaux for $42 that was a fantastic match for our meals.  I had not heard of the particular wine before, Chateau Tour Bayard, but I knew the region in Bordeaux (Montagne-Saint-Emillion) and I knew that 2005 Bordeaux was already building a reputation for being one of the best in decades.

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French wines can be incredibly confusing and Bordeaux, a wine producing region within France, is no exception.  There are 57 Appellations in Bordeaux - which is sort of like having 57 Napa Valleys, each with its own variety of chateaux, styles and winemakers.  Fortunately every so often a vintage comes along which is so good that you can pick up almost any wine across the board and be well rewarded.   It happens all over the world in various vintages - including 1997 California Cabernet which immediately raised the prices of even the most inexpensive and obscure Cabernets.  The 2005 vintage of Bordeaux wines falls under that same heading.   Robert Parker Jr. the celebrated (and feared) wine critic entitled his review of the year, "Is 2005 the Perfect Vintage?"  after lengthy discussions and tasting notes, he concludes with, "...it is the best of times to be purchasing Bordeaux and to be a wine lover."   That sentiment is repeated over and over in the wine world and with few exceptions, you can order a 2005 Bordeaux on a wine list or buy a 2005 Bordeaux at a wine store and you will be not be disappointed.

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This is a great opportunity to try your hand at Bordeaux - a wine that can be daunting and expensive - and have a good shot at finding something great.

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Cheers!

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