Friday, September 2, 2022

Chez Joël Authentic French Bistro Cuisine with High QPR Wine Selections

Chez Joël Authentic French Bistro Cuisine with High QPR Wine Selections

Back home from our road trip, Friday night dinner, we were treated to dinner with son Sean and d-in-law Michelle to celebrate their new home down the street from our in the Hobson Road corridor. 

We dined at one of our favorite eateries in the City (Chicago), Chez Joël on Taylor Street. As usual the service was outstanding, food was delectable and the price was agreeable.

Chez Joël is quaint, artsy, intimate, tasteful, comfortable,  authentic yet unpretentious in its French Bistro setting and faire. We had a perfect lat summer evening sitting outside in the adjacent courtyard.

I had my oft-time usual fare, the Duck Confit, Linda had the salmon, Sean the daily special Blue Fish, and Michelle had the lamb, Michelle's cousin Ola had the Coq au vin. 

Chez Joel Patio

Chez Joel Confit Duck

Chez Joel Lamb

All the entrees were excellent - well prepared, artful presentations, ample portions, and with appropriate accompaniments.

With the starters and seafood entrees we had a selection of WBTG (Wine By The Glass) offerings from the winelist, the Sauvignon Blanc, Daniel Olivier, Montravel, Bergerac and this California Chardonnay.

Bishop's Peak Tally Vineyards San Luis Obispo Chardonnay 2020

Bishop's Peak is the second label of wines are crafted by Talley Vineyards to capture the unique diversity of the greater Central Coast region. The goal with the Bishop's Peak Chardonnay is to produce wine that reflects the distinct aroma and flavor of cool climate chardonnay in the purest way possible. Consequently no new oak barrels are used for fermentation or aging. Produced from Chardonnay grapes grown sustainably in coastal San Luis Obispo County, predominantly in stainless steel with some neutral French oak barrels.

Vinous rated this 91 points reflecting high QPR in this entry level label. 

Straw colored, medium bodied, notes of pear and peach fruits with hints of lemon, floral with bitter citrus tones. 

RM 89 points.

For the main courses we ordered from the winelist this Northern Rhone red that we know well having enjoyed earlier vintage releases it on several occasions from the winelist at another one of our favorite French Bistro's Suzzettes' Creperie in suburban Wheaton

Repeating that earlier blogpost the notes about Domaine Chevalier and brother and sister team of Nicolas and Marlène Chevalier, tonight we tasted the newer, later 2020 vintage of this label.

Marlène & Nicolas Chevalier Les Voleyses Crozes Hermitage 2020

Once part of the cave co-operative at Tain-Hermitage, since 2008 the family vineyards of Domaine Chevalier are gradually being reclaimed by the brother and sister team of Nicolas and Marlène Chevalier. Nicolas tends the vineyards and crafts each cuvee, while Marlène handles all of the sales and marketing for Domaine Chevalier.

Following his formal agricultural studies in France, Nicolas spent four years honing his winemaking skills on estates in Australia, California and South Africa. After completing studies in agronomy and enology in France, he headed to South Australia’s Clare Valley where he mastered various techniques for fermenting Shiraz (Syrah). He then worked with Kendall Jackson in California crafting white winemaking skills. To further his post-graduate wine studies, he spent 2002 in South Africa working at legendary three-hundred-year-old Boschendal estate in Stellenbosch, South Africa, a winery renowned for its superb Syrah-based wines.

Marlène and Nicolas Chevalier farm three small vineyards at their meticulously tended family property comprising 3 1/2 acres in Crozes-Hermitage from which they produce on average 500 cases of red and white Rhône wines in tiny lots which are highly allocated. Their wines are found only in a couple of importer direct wine clubs and renowned restaurants in North American.

This is from Crozes, the village adjacent the more prestigious appellation that shares part of its name, but operates in Hermitage’s shadow. The Crozes-Hermitage appellation area extends about 10 miles (16 km) both north and south of Tain and Hermitage itself and is known to produce more approachable wines than its higher profile neighbor. By 2017, almost 4,200 acres (1,700 ha) of vines had been planted among the local cherry and apricot orchards. Unlike Hermitage, land in Crozes-Hermitage is relatively affordable and available providing an opportunity for enthusiastic newcomers, as well as a number of local growers, who want to bottle the fruit of their own labors, rather than send their production to the Cave de Tain co-op, the case of this wine too.  

Nicolas works with several distinct parcels for their wines: La Motte, Marius, Petite Pend, Les Pends and namesake source for this label, Les Voleyses. These vineyards have clay and limestone soils with excellent exposure, known to produce ripe, high quality grapes with great aromatic character and freshness. The Domaine Chevalier site has been producing grapes for notable wines gaining high praise and critical acclaim for more than three centuries.

Like the 2018 vintage we tasted earlier, the 2020 vintage was also top rated in the Northern Rhône. This represents a great value, high QPR (quality price ratio) wine.
Importer notes for the 2018 release: The 2018 Domaine Chevalier Les Voleyses Crozes-Hermitage sports a brilliant purple robe and a captivating aroma redolent with the scents of blackberry, plum, violets, and exotic spices. Sensuous and seductive in the mouth, the 2018 Les Voleyses graces the palate with a silky texture and pure floral, fruit, and forest floor flavors that have aptly been described as hedonism in a glass. Moreover, the 2018 Domaine Chevalier Les Voleyses is juicy and harmonious to the finish, as it makes an exit with joyful panache.
The Voleyses Cuvée is 100% Syrah made from younger vine fruit and aged in stainless steel.
Tonight's tasting was totally consistent with our earlier experiences with this label.

Deep inky purple colored medium-full bodied, full round layers of blackberry and plum fruits, notes of black tea, spice and leather overtake the fruits, turning to soft chewy textured tannins on a medium finish. 

RM 91 points.

The 2018 release -

Earlier vintage release blogpost -

With the dessert course Sean had the Tawney Port and I had another wine we know well from previous visits here as well as from our home cellar, this WBTG Sauterne offering. 

Château Suduiraut Lions de Suduiraut Sauterne 2016

This is the second wine of a well known prestigious Bordeaux Grand Cru. 

Resembling its flagship first label big brother this was delicious and a perfect perfect accompaniment to the Creme Brulee and Chocolate Lava Cake. 

The history of Château Suduiraut began in 1580 with the marriage of Nicole d’Allard and Léonard de Suduiraut. Classified as a Premier Cru Classé (First Growth) in Sauternes in 1855, it has always been known as a superb property (its neighbor is Château d’Yquem). 

In the 1990’s, the estate was sold to French financial insurance conglomerate AXA, who invested in the Château making significant investments in its vineyards and winemaking facilities. This eventually translated into a dramatic increase in the quality of the wines.

The Suduiraut vineyards span 92 hectares consisting of gravel, sand, limestone and clay soils on sloping hillsides. They are planted to 90% Semillon and 10% Sauvignon Blanc. The wine is fermented in French oak barrels and aged on its lees in 50% new French oak for 18-24 months. Lions de Suduiraut, their third label, is produced from almost nearly 100% Semilon. This release was a blend of  93% Semillon and 7% Sauvignon Blanc. 

It was aged 50% in new barrels and 50% from barrels of one vintage, for 16 to 18 months

Dark golden, weak tea colored, medium bodied, sprites of sweet honey, apricot with note of peach and glints of pear, citrus and notes of lychee, stone fruit on a tongue coating unctuous finish.

RM 91 points.

As usual and to be expected at Chez Joel, a wonderful, relaxing fun wine and dine evening.