Sunday, May 25, 2014

Chez Joel for simple wines and small plates bistro food

Chez Joël Bistro Francais in Chicago Little Italy For Simple Hi-QPR Wine and Authentic French Plates

Following our annual family ball game outing, we stopped in one of our favorite bistros, Chez Joël, that actually sits in Little Italy, Chicago, for some wine and food before heading back out to the 'burbs. The quest for authenticity in the menu, atmosphere and setting carries over to the wine list which is unpretentious and inviting with good value modest French selections. One can almost imagine sitting in a small ville in France.

I ordered the Pâté de deux Sortes duck & chicken liver pâté and the Fromage de Brie Chaud warm brie cheese with honey, apricot, garlic and almond to accompany the wine.  Ryan and Michelle split the grilled Angus NY Strip Steak with Roquefort Cheese Sauce and Mashed Potatoes and the roasted beet and arugula salad with goat cheese.

Having drunken one of the top Graves' producers, Chateau Pape Clement the other night, we settled on the Graves as a basis for comparison, good value, and a perfect accompaniment to the food.

The Graves appellation, named for the small pebbles that predominate in the gravelly clay soils, is the southernmost appellation in the Bordeaux region. It is well known more for it's crisp white wines made from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, but it also offers some top reds including first growth Haut Brion, as well as others that tend to be less well known yet offer good QPR - Quality Price Ratios.

Graves wines are known for character, structure and fruit, typically at prices less expensive than wines of similar quality from the nearby Médoc.

 Château du Maine Graves Bordeaux 2009

Château du Maine is a 25 acre vineyard planted in vines with average age of 25 yrs. in 55% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 8% combined of Petit-Verdot and Malbec.

The winemaker producer is Jean-Pierre Duprat.

The château sits atop a hill, composed mainly of gravel and coarse sand with a gravel-clay subsoil, that offers excellent drainage for the property. Hence his wines are less affected by late season or harvest time rains. 

Not overly complex or elegant but pleasant easy drinking, ruby colored and medium bodied, this bright vibrant flavorful red wine boasts lots of cherry and berry fruits accented by cinnamon spice and a layer and slight harsh edge of iodine and cedar tones. Aged in oak barrels (about 30% new) for about 18 months gives a slight oak tone to the terroir structure that has modest fine tannins on the finish.

RM 85 points.