One part of my trip was a business stop at University of Lyon, where one
of my better winegeek chemist friends works. At the end of the
business, we repaired with another French chemist to dinner in Lyon.
Despite my efforts to host the event, I was taken out by the two
Lyonnais chemistry professors to Les Oliviers, a lovely but small
restaurant located fairly central to Center city. My friend Christophe
is a semi-regular there, so was greeted like family and apprised of the
several additions to the menu (in the English sense of the word) that
night. In the end, all three of us settled on the Menu de Marché, which
for me consisted of an eggroll filled with crab meat, bay scallops and
assorted julienned vegetables followed by a seasoned veal patty in a
pumpkin-cumin sauce with some crisp Serrano ham (a dish far better than
it sounds). As I am still fighting off a cold, my tasting was a bit
impaired, but what follows are my best impressions. With the first
course, we got:

2006 E. Texier Brézème Blanc

It was not nearly as crisp as I expected, but still quite lively and
restrained for a Roussanne. I attribute the decreased acidity to the
year, but I don't have enough experience with this wine in other years
to be certain. Quite charming in a rounded but restrained way and a
good match with our starters (one of my companions got a suprême de
volaille dish that was superb and still the wine worked). Although very
nice, I think both of us winegeeks regretted not trying the '07 Brun
Beaujolais Blanc instead.

2006 Bergerie de L'Hortus 'Cuvée Classique' Pic St. Loup

This was a choice made by my winegeek friend Christophe, as I vainly
sought for a lighter red wine to pair with our main courses of veal and
foie gras. This being Lyon, not a Loire red on the menu, and
surprisingly no good Beaujolais choices either. Christophe's a fan of
Hortus (interesting since his tastes run quite close to mine) and this
wine indeed turned out not to be overdone at all, but rather a classic
old vine Carignane sort of wine, briary and brambly with ripe -- but not
overripe -- fruit and a fairly light body. Still not a wow sort of
wine, but a very reasonable pairing with our food. Good going, Christophe!

It's also worth noting that this restaurant was actually our second
choice, the first being Les Adrets on the Rue de Boeuf. Jean and I had
one of the meals of our life there 7 years ago, complete with a bottle
of '98 Graillot Crozes that was painfully young then; Christophe assures
me that there are still bottles of that '98 Graillot on the menu there,
but alas they were booked solid, courtesy of a 2005 Bib Gourmand
designation. Just as well, perhaps, as Jean might never have spoken to
me had I gone there without her, regardless of the reason.

A great night with good food and friends, and talk of French politics
and French academic life, which remarkably aren't easy to distinguish.

Mark Lipton
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