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June 2008


WINE & SPIRITS

Provence In Rye
By Baroness Sheri de Borchgrave

OVERINDULGE AT RYE'S LA PANETIERE

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While you can take Jacques Loupiac out of Provence you can't take the Provence out of Jacques. The restaurateur grew up all across southern France. His father, who ran a patisserie and gourmet food shop, was constantly uprooting the clan—from Aix-en-Provence to Marseilles and points in between. After crossing the Atlantic, he worked as a front-of-the-house captain at legendary haute cuisine palace La Caravelle in Manhattan before moving on to La Cremaillere in Westchester. For the past 23 years he has run his own shop, the charming Provence-inspired La Panetiere in Rye.

A true wine destination, the restaurant holds the prestigious Wine Spectator Excellence Award. When I mentioned to a wine journalist friend that I'd be writing about the place, he begged me not to let the cat out of the bag. La Panetiere, he explained, has an astonishing collection of fine Bordeaux and Burgundies all priced well below the usual restaurant markup. My friend hoped to keep his find under wraps. I'm determined to spread the news far and wide (sorry!).

There were indeed some real dazzlers on the wine list: ancient vintages of Château Latour (1914), Château Haut Brion (1920) and Château Ausone (1926) along with more recent treasures from the '60s, '70s and '80s like a '61 Cheval Blanc and '79 Haut Brion.

Once at the restaurant, I met up with the impresario owner. "I've been buying Bordeaux futures since 1985," explained Loupiac, "and collecting old vintages for decades." He led me on a tour of his beautifully designed cellar. "I've bought up entire cellars at auction from top collectors," he continued. He showed off his collection of Burgundies, holding up prized possessions, like a '37 Chambolle Musigny, a '52 Charmes-Chambertin and a '61 Clos de Beze.

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