Location: 419 Cold Canyon Rd, Calabasas, CA 91302 (818) 222-3888
Date: August 5, 2015
Cuisine: Modern American
Rating: Great ambiance and terrific game oriented food.
Ever year, both in the summer and winter, we Hedonists return to Saddle Peak Lodge. It’s pretty much the perfect venue for both a winter or summer food and wine blast, with gorgeous lodge patio, game driven food, and awesome wine service. For those of you who don’t know, Hedonist events have amazing wines (each diner brings at least one bottle).
Saddle Peak Ranch used to be a game lodge back in the early part of the 20th century. The rich and famous used to come up and hunt Malibu’s finest, such as this poor fellow. Now the deer are just served up on the menu.
We had more organization on the wines than usual tonight (thanks Dr. Dave!). These whites were served while we lingered. The reds were organized by Dr. Dave into three flights, which was great.
NV Pierre Gerbais Champagne L’Originale. JG 92. The wine is clear and bright with a pale lemon colour and presence of many small bubbles. The nose is clean and fully developed, showing medium(+) intensity aromas of green fruits (green apple, pear), MLF (cream, butter) and yeast (bread dough, brioche). The wine is off-dry in the mouth with a high refreshing acidity. It has a medium alcohol and a medium body with a creamy mousse. It has medium(+) intensity flavours of green fruits (green apple, pear), MLF (cream, butter) and yeast (bread dough, brioche). The finish is medium(+).
From my cellar: 2005 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Folatières. VM 92. Complex, leesy aromas of stone fruits, flowers, smoke and nutty oak. Dense, suave and ripe, with nuanced, lightly sulfidey flavors of white fruits, flowers and nuts. Layered and quite long. This, too, has turned out very well.
agavin: this bottle was drinking absolutely fabulously. Reductive, but perfectly fresh.
A bit of salmon on blini with creme fraiche and caviar.
Yummy Pretzel bread.
From my cellar: 1997 Maison Roche de Bellene Chambertin Collection Bellenum. 93 points. Nose – rose, cherry , hint of smoke Mouth – very classical pure and unmanipulated. Light red fruit and orange rind. A wine of finesse with power showing purity moreso than fruit. At age 17, admirably fresh. A charming drink.
1995 Trotanoy. Parker 91-95. Certainly the best Trotanoy between 1998 and 1982, the 1995 has a deep saturated ruby color that is dark to the rim. Relatively shut down when tasted in 2002 on several occasions, the wine, with coaxing, does offer some notes of earth, raspberry, black cherries, and a hint of licorice. Medium to full-bodied, powerful, and backward, it is an impressively constituted Trotanoy that is relatively large-scaled but the huge level of tannin also means it might be a modern-day version of the 1970. Time will tell. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2025.
agavin: really nice “youngish” Bord.
1982 Haut Brion. Parker 95. I know Jean Delmas, whom I respect as one of the world’s greatest wine producers, has always thought the 1982 Haut Brion was similar to the 1959, but I have yet to see that. It seems to me the 1989 is closer to the 1959, another perfect wine and one of the all-time great Haut Brions. While the 1982 is a beauty, it has never hit the highest notes this vintage or terroir can achieve. Complex aromatics of scorched earth, smoked herbs, and sweet red and black currants are followed by a full-bodied, silky-textured wine, but I have never felt this offering has possessed the concentration, texture, or multidimensional personality found in such vintages as 1989, 1990, and more recent years. Nevertheless, this is essentially splitting hairs as the 1982 remains a superb Haut Brion. Seemingly less evolved than the 1990, it is capable of another 20-30 years of longevity. Perhaps there is something in reserve that will reveal itself in the next decade.
agavin: I was wary about this wine because of the faded label and a suspicious bricking looking through the neck — but it turned out to be in good shape and fairly purple in the glass. Nose was fabulous and spicy, the fruit was hiding a little, but there was a nice cedar box thing going on.
While not part of the official flight, we opened this to pair with the foie gras.
1998 Château Rieussec. VM 93. Pale yellow-gold. Superripe, nuanced nose combines peach, apricot, honey and a suggestion of tropical fruits. Silky, suave and opulent; very concentrated and spicy. This very rich Sauternes carries its 130 g/l r.s. quite gracefully, thanks to firm acids. Finishes very long, with spice and honey notes. Impeccably balanced wine with terrific material.
Foie gras with toast, berries etc. Really nice tonight with a generous slab of the good stuff.
2001 Harlan Estate Proprietary Red Wine. Parker 100! This wine, which first debuted in 1990, has probably garnered more perfect scores than any other Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2001 is just entering a young adolescent stage of development, exhibiting extraordinary nuances such as sweet, loamy soil and earthy minerality intermixed with some background smoke, black currant liqueur, plum, Asian spice and new saddle leather. Full-bodied, it possesses great intensity, with stunning flavors that are viscous enough to coat the mouth, but never become heavy or overbearing. The wine has a remarkable purity, concentration and intensity that should carry it for another 30+ years. This is already very promising, and for those who own it, I would suggest a good two to three hours of decanting prior to service.
agavin: Monster! 🙂 Many people thought it wine of the night.
NV Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Único Reserva Especial 1994, 1995, 2000 (2014 Release). 97 points. Didn’t find an official review.
agavin: At first this wine was silky smooth and perfectly balanced. After an hour or so I thought it entered a slightly weird phase.
2003 Domaine de Marcoux Chateauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes. Parker 99. The blockbuster 2003 Chateauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes (16.3% alcohol) is a blend of 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah that usually emanates from the three old-vine parcels they own – La Crau, Gallimardes, and Esquirons. The fruit from the latter vineyard, which usually goes into the Vieilles Vignes as it did in 2004, did not make it in 2003. This wine is built from the back forward, meaning there is huge tannin and structure, so at first the wine seems somewhat backward, but with air, the extraordinary perfume of lilacs, sweet licorice, blackberry liqueur, and kirsch soar from the glass. There are even hints of roasted meats, smoked herbs, and underbrush as well as truffles. The wine has superb concentration, remarkable intensity, full-bodied flavors, sweetness, opulence, and a multi-layered palate and finish that literally have to be tasted to be believed. This wine spent 100% of its time in tank and is a modern-day monument to Chateauneuf du Pape, and the glories of the old vines of this appellation. I would give this wine another 1-2 years of bottle age and drink it over the following two decades. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it merit a perfect score in a few years – it’s that special.
This also wasn’t part of the flight, but was opened to provide some white for the apps.
2004 Philippe Colin Chevalier-Montrachet. Burghound 91. A subtle hint of wood spice mixes with airy nose of white flowers, acacia blossom, anise and clove that dissolve into pure, refined, intense and mineral-packed medium weight plus flavors that offer a lovely sense of detail and overall finesse. If there is a nit, it’s that the mid-palate concentration could be better and while this is certainly a lovely effort, it could easily be better still.
agavin: our bottle was advanced 🙁
Frog’s hollow peach salad, burrata, wild greens, pistachio granola, oro blanco.
Olive oil braised octopus, fingerling potato, tequila vinaigrette, chermoula.
Summer golden corn agnolotti, roasted garlic, broccoli di ciccio, fennel pollen.
Caesar salad, romaine, garlic croutons, shaved parmigiano-reggiano.
Oh, and white anchovies!
1999 Henschke Shiraz Hill of Grace. Parker 98. Deep garnet-purple in color, the 1999 Hill of Grace presents fragrant notes of warm blackberries and black cherries with hints of menthol, dried thyme and sage, licorice, dark chocolate and black olives. Full-bodied, rich and powerful, it has firm, chewy tannins, crisp acid and a long finish. It is still very youthful in the mouth with lots of flavor layers. It is drinking well now and should continue to cellar through 2035+.
1999 Greenock Creek Shiraz Roennfeldt Road. Parker 98. There are 236 cases of the 1999 Shiraz Roennfeldt Road (also from 65-year-old vines). Although it pushes ripeness to the limit, it does not reveal any raisiny/pruny characteristics. It offers wonderful freshness, good acidity, superb intensity, and copious quantities of blackberry, cassis, crushed rock, floral, and spicy new oak notes. Massive and concentrated with perfect equilibrium, it can be drunk now and over the next 25 years. Kudos to one of the world’s finest wine producers!
1988 Penfolds Grange. Parker 91. A blend of 94% Shiraz and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, this was considered to be “an uncharacteristically soft, fruity Grange.” Everyone at the tasting agreed with those comments. This wine shows a syrupy creme de cassis, earthy note, some pepper, and caramel. It is somewhat soft and accessible for such a relatively young Grange, but there is plenty of structure and tannin in the finish. It is certainly perfumed and more evolved than some of its siblings that are actually older, chronologically speaking. This wine has sweet, full-bodied, plum, cherry, and cassis flavors, with some distinct truffle and asphalt notes. Anticipated maturity: 2003-2016.
agavin: I loved this wine. Very balanced.
1995 Penfolds Grange. Parker 92. An impressive Grange that may ultimately prove to be underrated, like many wines from this vintage, the 1995, a blend of 94% Shiraz and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, exhibits a saturated plum/purple color and a sweet blackberry liqueur nose intermixed with cassis, licorice, and new oak. The wine is textured, jammy, full-bodied, with impressive levels of extract, glycerin, and black fruit flavors. It is long, ripe, with unobtrusive acidity and tannin. Anticipated maturity: 2004-2018.
Taylor Preston Farms lamb Rack.
Durham Ranch bison T-bone steak, chimichurri sauce.
Prime bone in cowboy ribeye chop.
Chef’s Game Trio (details to follow).
And new this visit, the Chef’s Game Quartet. 1/3 better than the trio!
Australian Kangaroo Loin, Curry Cauliflower, eggplant, raisin condiment, pomegranate.
Amaroo farms emu strip, morels, white asparagus, pinot sauce, almond coffee.
Barbeque Braised Buffalo Short Rib, pommes puree, glazed baby vegetables.
New Zealand Wapiti Elk tenderloin with berry reduction.
Just a few sides.
Brussel Sprouts, garlic, apple cider.
Jumbo asparagus, béarnaise, ham.
Blackened shishito peppers, soy, sesame. loved these!
Heirloom tomato, burrata, mint, onion.
Sauteed wild shimeji mushrooms.
Buttermilk biscuits, honey butter. Oh yes!
Brown butter yukon potato puree.
Four cheese mac & cheese gratin.
Truffled french fries, parmigiano.
Portabella fries, sherry & thyme aioli. These were awesome.
The dessert options. We were so full we didn’t go whole hog on desserts.
We had enough wine left that we didn’t actually open this, but I put it here because we could’ve :-).
1983 De Suduiraut. Parker 87. This looks to be a good Suduiraut. A medium golden color, with a very honeyed, rich, floral bouquet, this full-bodied wine is not as profound as the other 1983s. Sweet, with fine honeyed flavors, this is an elegant, graceful Suduiraut with plenty of character. However, given the vintage, I had expected even more. Anticipated maturity: Now-2005.
But we did get a cheese plate.
Vanilla panna cotta, frog’s hollow peaches, brook’s cherries, honey & pistachio granola.
Banana huckleberry croissant bread pudding with white chocolate ice cream.
Trio of house-made sorbets. Guava, apricot, strawberry.
This was a total blow out event. The food was impeccable and the service warm. We had so much wine we left them a little overwhelmed, but that’s par for the course. Plus we had a really great mix of people and some of the most awesome wines. The vibe outside on the lovely warm Malibu evening was perfect too.
A note on the wines. The flighting really helped, and even helped me enjoy the New World’s better because they drink much better amongst their own kind. I enjoyed the Australian flight a lot, particularly that 88 Grange.