Location: Near Pasadena
Date: November 4, 2015
Cuisine: Modern French
Chef Laurent Quenioux grew up in Sologne, France, where he developed a passion for food. As a young boy, Quenioux and his father would hunt duck, partridge, and rabbit. Then, he and his mother would prepare her favorite recipes in the kitchen. Eventually, Quenioux left home to embark on an apprenticeship where he trained in some of Europe’s finest kitchens. Quenioux spent time at Maxim’s, Bistro De Paris and La Ciboulette in Paris, before moving on to Negresco in Nice and LaBonne Auberge in Antibe.
In the early 1980s, Quenioux made a move to the United States with a team from L‘Oasis at La Napoule to open The Regency Club in Los Angeles. In 1985, he introduced the celebrated and award-winning 7th Street Bistro in downtown Los Angeles. In the early 2000s, Quenioux debuted the cozy Bistro K in Pasadena and in 2009, Bistro LQ in Beverly Hills. At Bistro LQ, Quenioux set new standards for cuisine in Southern California with his Farmer’s Market-driven kitchen and an emphasis on value and fun.
Returning to Pasadena, Quenioux continues to delight patrons and critics alike in his role as Executive Chef at Old Pasadena’s celebrated Vertical Wine Bistro.
Will brought: 1998 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut. VM 94-5. Bright gold. Ripe orchard fruits, peach pit, toffee, marzipan and dried flowers on the pungent, smoky nose. Broad and fleshy on entry, then tighter in the mid-palate, offering palate-staining pit fruit nectar, apple pie and brioche flavors, enhanced by a toffeed quality. Closes spicy and very long, with resonating smoke and toasted hazlenut qualities.
From my cellar: 2006 Krug Champagne Brut Grande Cuvée. AG 94. Mint, white flowers, pastry and yellow orchard fruit meld together in Krug’s NV Grande Cuvée. This is one of the very best versions of the Grande Cuvée I can remember tasting in recent years. The impression of total silkiness on the palate is classic Krug. Even though this release is exceptional today, I would be tempted to cellar a few wines for the future, as the best Grand Cuvées age effortlessly. This release is based on 2006 and includes wines from 11 vintages going back to 1990.
From my cellar: NV Billecart-Salmon Champagne Brut Rosé. VM 92. Pale orange. High-pitched red berry, orange zest and jasmine aromas, with suave mineral and smoky lees notes adding complexity. Spicy and precise on the palate, showing very good punch to its strawberry and bitter cherry flavors. Opens up smoothly with air and picks up a bitter rhubarb quality that lingers onto the long, tightly focused finish. This bottling showed more brawny character than many past renditions of this cuvée, but with no lack of vivacity.
On the left, Buckwheat truffle blinis, ankimo, caviar de Sologne, wagyu.
On the right, Bone marrow, sopes, hutlacoche, truffles.
Mark brought: 1983 Louis Latour Montrachet. BR 95. Golden. Deep and sweet nose with butterscotch and lanolin. The palate is intense without weight. Very nice acidity though lower than some – but that doesn’t seem to have harmed it. Overall a very impressive wine that has depth and still plenty of ripe fruit, but just missing an extra zip for the absolute top prize.
“La ratte” potatoes, melted 24 months Comte cheese, H8 vinaigrette, truffles.
Will brought: 1990 Domaine Michel Niellon Bâtard-Montrachet. Burghound 96. Wonderfully expressive, ripe, forward and complex white fruit and honeysuckle aromas explode from the glass leading to incredibly rich and powerful, massively proportioned flavors of simply incredible depth and awesome length. One of the greatest examples of this vineyard I have ever had and it should be capable of living for a long time to come. A genuinely terrific wine of uncommon breed, class and power.
Will brought: 1991 Domaine Michel Niellon Bâtard-Montrachet. Burghound 88. Fully mature aromas of honey and a lovely roasted bread quality lead to fat, rich, slightly heavy flavors of good length if not necessarily the best balance. To be sure, a perfectly good wine that is drinking perfectly now and should probably be drunk over the next 5 years.
Maine diver scallops crudo, bottarga, chanterelles, escabeche.
Veal tartar, sun choke chips, pickled onions, truffles brioche, celery leaves.
Trish brought: 1999 Domaine Ramonet Chevalier-Montrachet. Burghound 96. This is now knocking on the front door of its full maturity with the classic white flower, green apple and limestone aromas all framed by a touches of citrus and spice components as well. The flavor profile combines intense minerality and marvelous detail plus fantastic depth and breadth, all wrapped in a hugely long and powerful finish. This just oozes class and while it could be approached now because of the superb mid-palate fat, for my tastes, I would give this another 2 to 3 years in bottle and then drink over the next 10+. Note that I have upgraded my score as the wine has added notably more depth than I originally envisioned.
From my cellar: 2001 Domaine Leflaive Bâtard-Montrachet. Burghound 93. Big, rich and muscular yet this offers excellent definition with explosive fruit trimmed in obvious anise notes and luxuriant, sappy, dense flavors of uncommon depth and complexity. The finish is rather linear presently yet offers wave after wave of mouthwatering extract, all beautifully framed by more than sufficient buffering acidity. A Bâtard worthy of the name and a great success for the vintage.
Truffle congee, poached hen egg, crispy basil snails Karaage, uni.
Celery root risotto, king crab, truffle air, aged parmesan, uni.
From my cellar: 2000 Domaine Jacques Prieur Montrachet. VM 93. I tasted a sample of this wine from tank; the real bottling was scheduled for the next day) Bright but reticent aromas of iodine, clove and nutty oak. Fat, round and silky, with superb weight and volume. By far the richest and longest of this set of wines, with the most volume. Very suave and mouthfilling, but with plenty of underlying backbone and power. Very tightly wound but also very long on the aftertaste.
agavin: I was nervous since I had a corked bottle at the Locanda dinner, but this bottle was a stunner. Incredibly powerful.
Trish brought: 2002 Marquis de Laguiche (Joseph Drouhin) Montrachet. Burghound 94. The bottle in the tasting displayed definite notes of premature oxidation. I last tasted this in 2011 and that note is: Astonishingly pure fruit aromas of very ripe pear, peach, honeysuckle and lovely green fruit are nicely complemented by a subtle hint of oak spice that merges seamlessly into powerful yet exquisitely delineated, strongly mineral laden flavors of incredible length. This has an amazing depth of sève and it completely stains and coats the palate. This combination of a silky palate impression yet driving intensity makes this an extremely impressive and very classy effort. For my taste this has just arrived on the front end of its peak drinkability and this beauty should be capable of holding at this level for years to come.
Pacific lobster, Malaise, Truffle vichyssoise, nest.
Santa Barbara prawn, truffle creme brulee, brussels sprouts, xo.
Amanda brought: 1991 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Bonnes Mares. Burghound 92. Big, rich and explosive, still very primary fruit nose that displays only the barest hints of secondary development followed by big, powerful, classically robust and structured flavors that offer superb depth and exceptionally good length. Still youthful, this should benefit from another 3 to 5 years of cellar time but live for a long time after that. A first-rate effort that will probably always possess a slight tannic edge to the finish yet the power and depth make it easy to overlook this.
Larry H brought: 2005 Domaine Robert Groffier Bonnes Mares. Burghound 94. I was frankly shocked to find that the aromatic profile here was even more elegant and arguably finer than that of the Amoureuses with its bright red and blue pinot fruit, minerals and spice notes, particularly anise that complement to perfection the sleek, taut, brooding and focused flavors that explode on the hugely long and deep finish. This is an impressive wine that has that ‘wow’ factor.
Halibut, truffle granola, hazelnuts, chanterelles, brown butter vinaigrette.
Larry H brought: 2000 Château d’Yquem. Parker 90. The millennial 2000 Chateau d’Yquem is a valiant effort in one of the most challenging Sauternes vintages in recent memory. The 2000 is quite deep in color. The nose is crisp and well-defined but not the most complex, as you would expect from a truly challenging growing season in Sauternes. It is pleasant in its own way with delicate scents of tangerine, yellow flowers and Mirabelle. The palate is well-balanced with marmalade tinged opening. I like the acidity here, an Yquem with good race, although it does feel a little tapered toward the finish. Drink now-2025.
Corn veloute, apple wood bacon, foie gras, truffle Soubise.
Pintade hen, crispy truffle potato crust, salsify, quince.
Amanda brought: 1995 Domaine Dujac Echezeaux. Burghound 90. Beautiful black fruit aromas laced with Vosne spice leads to medium weight, elegant, sappy and quite dense flavors that offer beautiful complexity and terrific length. What it isn’t at this point is especially complex but the tannins are well-integrated and this should drink well for all its life. I would give it another 10 years and drink over the next 10. Really pretty juice of evident class.
Liberty duck breast, figs, vinegar jus, truffle confit rutabaga.
From my cellar: 1989 Domaine Leroy Nuits St. Georges Aux Lavières. 94 points. Absolutely beautiful bottle. Floral scents with violets and roses, a lovely earthy underbrush tone on the nose. Bright red toned fruit, cinnamon and spice with a cherry backbone. Just got better and betterover time. Perfect balance, luscious fruit and a long finish. Plush yet sharp. A terrific effort.
Amanda brought: 1991 Domaine Leroy Pommard Les Vignots. 93 points. tart red cherry, candle wax, sl spice nose; full bodied, red raspberry, red pie cherry flavors, body matches promise of the nose; tannic, oaky in a new world way, finish all about barrels, not fruit; need rich sauce, meat to cover the tannins in the finish.
Veal sweetbreads, porcini, carrot emulsion, truffle.
Amanda picked up these two old Italians in order to replace some we had lost in a “guest shuffle.”
1958 Oddero Barolo. LF 94. This was sauvage and untamed as a Barolo I’ve experienced. This was all black tar, dark cherry/berry fruits and a little horse on the nose with some macerated flowers and rotting forest floor. Lovely deep, sauvage nose. Sauvage Piedmont style though. The palate was big and concentrated. Apparently alot of the fruit that went into this was from Vigna Rionda which would explain the massive palate presence still at forty plus years old. This really opened up and became much more of a complete wine after around an hour. Definetly a bit less finesse than the Fiorina but compelling in a differnt way for itas singular character within the context of Barolo. Fantastic wine that really seemed four or five years away from full maturity.
1971 Gaja Barbaresco. VM 93. Angelo Gaja’s 1971 Barbaresco, takes a few hours to open up, but when it does it is fabulous. Still deep and quite intense, the 1971 is a testament to how well Nebbiolo can age.
Painted Hills Beef Hanger, vadouvan, eggplant mole, truffles.
Emil brought: 2003 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Richebourg. Burghound 93. his too is very aromatically reserved with only glimpses of spicy and exotic perfume that speak of very ripe, even slightly surmature crushed berries, plum and spice because even though the nose is reticent, the intensity of the fruit is magnificent. The flavors are opulent and sumptuously proportioned with massive amounts of sap and dry extract that completely stains and coats the palate before exploding on the hugely long finish. Yes, this is a big, indeed enormous wine but one that never loses its sense of balance and the velvety backend largely buffers the very firm tannins. There is not necessarily great complexity yet but this is the one wine in the range that could easily surprise to the upside as the raw material here is exceptional and while the style is clearly particular relative to what it normally delivers, it has that “wow’ factor.
Erick brought: 1990 Gros Frère et Sœur Richebourg. JG 92. Starts off a bit meaty and sweaty but breathes up beautifully. Almost looks like an aged DRC with all of its hoisin and soy action. It has notes of mushroom and meat. It is full, rich and intense with acidity that is gentle and length that is superb.
Scottish wild Hare ravioli, chestnut truffle nage, pecorino.
Vacherin cheese, truffle honey.
From my cellar: 1977 Dow Porto Vintage. 95-100 points. Wonderful dusty cherry, prune/plum, and raisin aromas. Generous on the palate with more fruit and subtle, tawny-like carmel. Long finish.
Chocolate Marquise, Thai basil, mango, macaron.
Tonka Cremeux, butter ice cream, caramel, granola.
Overall, this was one of those supremely epic dinners. The food was totally over the top, and delicious at that. Lots and lots of truffle. Not every dish was perfect, but many were very very good. Standouts include the congee, the lobster, the sweetbreads (I have a hard time saying it), and the foie.
The wine was particularly great. Almost all the whites were superb and many of the reds stellar like the Dujac, the Leroys, and both Richebourgs. The Krugs and dessert wines were no slouch either.
Certainly worthy of being called epic.