Location: 465 S La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048. 310.246.5555
Date: September 23, 2016
Cuisine: Spanish influenced Molecular Gastronomy
Rating: Awesome, one of LA’s best places.
I’m like a José Andrés groupie. I’ve been to every possible variant of his restaurants in LA, Vegas, and many in Washington. I’ve been here countless times, but today return with the Sauvages for a special Rioja lunch.
And LOTS of stems.
From my cellar: 2011 Raul Pérez Rías Baixas Muti. 90 points. Fresh citrus…lemon, lime, grapefruit tinged w/floral notes. Razor sharp base minerality puncuated with clean even finish. Paired with steamed shrimp, oysters on the half. Bottle didn’t last long. Great wine for the summer!
Today’s special menu.
1999 C.V.N.E. (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España) Rioja Imperial Gran Reserva. VM 92. Deep red. Blackberry, cherry and licorice on the nose, plus a strong note of smoky oak. Densely packed and very sweet on entry, then juicy and focused in the midpalate, with lush dark fruit liqueur and oak spice flavors firmed by a mineral spine. This still-youthful wine gains flesh and volume with air and finishes with silky tannins and resonating oakiness. Built for the long haul but should also show well now with enough aeration.
2001 Bodegas Valsacro Rioja Dioro. 90 points. vanilla, lots of oak at the start (this is a baby). plums and dark fruit dominate. minerality is well present in the mid. good finish. modern powerful wine – even with 2 hours in the glass it didnt move much. hard to judge it fully now – but the structure is there and so is the acidity and the fruit. With time this may develop into a beauty.
Organized Caesar. Egg Yolk Sauce, Parmesan. Little caesars rolled up in jicama. Taste pretty much like caesar salad. Not, perhaps, the ultimate Rioja pairing, but a nice dish.
2004 R. López de Heredia Rioja Reserva Viña Tondonia. 91 points. Light ruby, tawny rim. Gorgeous scents of citrus peel and clove. Light to medium weight, just lovely sense of a complete, elegant package. Already complex with background vanilla, leather, tobacco, and a citric twist, gentle tannin. Beautifully balanced.
2005 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial. 94 points. The 2005 Castillo de Ygay Gran Reserva Especial, a classic among classics, is back in top form with the excellent 2005 vintage. It’s produced from a blend of 89% Tempranillo and 11% Mazuelo (aka Carinena), a difficult grape that is in high esteem at the winery (they exceptionally produced a varietal Mazuelo in 2000 to celebrate their 150th anniversary) as they consider it adds acidity and aging potential to the blend and has been selected specifically to make part of the flagship wine’s blend. In 2005, the Tempranillo was harvested on September 30, the Mazuelo on October 3, and fermented separately in stainless steel vats. The Tempranillo ages in American oak barrels and the Mazuelo in French ones, both for a period of 30 months. The wine matures for a further two years in bottle before being released. It’s extremely backward and tight, showing very young, with a balanced nose between spice, tertiary and cherry fruit aromas. It’s a powerful, still young vintage, with plenty of glycerin, body, round tannins. An austere wine (is it the Mazuelo?), it is complex and ever-changing in the palate. It has a sense of harmony that only the best wines have. Very long and elegant. I loved its serious and austere overall feeling. 100,000 bottles produced. This is a true vin de garde which develops complex notes of violet and meat with time in the glass. This is a Gran Reserva greatly marked by the Mazuelo, which should give it great ability to age. At this quality level it represents very good value. Drink 2014-2030
Sauteed Shrimp. Garlic, tomato sofrito, guindilla pepper. A spicy gambas pil pil? A shrimp diablo? Either way, good and a bit spicy.
2001 Artadi Rioja Grandes Añadas. VM 94+. Medium ruby. Penetrating aromas of blueberry, cassis and bitter chocolate. At once fat and firm, with strong acids giving shape and verve to the flavors of roasted blackberry, violet, espresso, nuts and baking spices. This has real power and thrust, not to mention inner-mouth perfume. Finishes with big but sweet tannins and terrific length. Like the Pagos Viejos, this is 100% tempranillo. This special bottling was previously offered only in 1994, 1998 and 1999.
2000 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Único. VM 95. Deep red. High-pitched aromas of redcurrant, dried cherry, potpourri and spicecake. Silky in texture and alluringly spherical, offering seamless red fruit and floral pastille flavors and late notes of blood orange and Asian spices. Nothing heavy or fat here and yet this delivers the impact of a large-scaled wine. The finish is expansive and extremely persistent, leaving notes of rose and sweet red fruits behind. I find this to be drinking extremely well now but have no doubt that it will live a long life on its balance. (I also had the chance to re-taste the 1991 Unico and it is showing superb clarity and finesse, a seamless texture and suave red fruit and floral character. It is delicious now but holds excellent for further development in bottle.
2003 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Único. VM 95. Inky ruby. Highly aromatic scents of ripe cherry and dark berries, singed plum, cured tobacco and succulent herbs, with a vanilla undertone. Sweet, expansive and powerful, offering intense black and blue fruit flavors with smoke and floral accents. Rich and full but surprisingly lively, with excellent finishing thrust and sweet, harmonious tannins adding grip. Shows the ripeness of the vintage to good effect; this is a somewhat approachable and exotic Unico, especially with some air, but it has the concentration to age slowly.
This is presumably the Pan de Cristal.
More Tondonia! 1981 R. López de Heredia Rioja Viña Tondonia. 93 points. A lovely wine, drinking quite at peak. This had a classic Rioja nose, with cigarette smoke and tobacco aromas (somewhat reminiscent of Marlboro menthol lights) around a core of sweet cherry notes, then little drifts of dried herb and dried flowers and fragrant spice all playing against a backdrop of loamy earth – an absolutely beautiful bouquet. The palate had a stunningly youthful brilliance to it, with wonderfully bright, juicy acidity and the silkiest tannins hugging lovely flavours of bright cherries and wild berries. The wine may lack some of the depth that you will find in the Reserva or Gran Reserva, but there was such beautiful purity here. Bright, fresh, lively and absolutely joyous, I really enjoyed drinking this. A streak of metallic mineral and a little waft of cigarette ash and dried herb then stretched into a wonderfully fresh, lengthy finish. A beautifully elegant and graceful Rioja, this was drinking wonderfully on the night
1978 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial. VM 93. Medium red with an amber rim. Highly complex bouquet of fresh and dried red fruits, cherry skin, pipe tobacco, smoky minerals, cigar box and potpourri. Sweet strawberry and cherry flavors stain the palate but are strikingly lithe. Cured tobacco and candied rose flavors emerge with aeration, and the fruit takes a darker turn toward cherry. The tannins have been completely absorbed, allowing the wine’s almost decadent sweetness to come through. Expensive, yes, but this would offer newly minted wine lovers an insight into the personality of aged wine from a great region and a very good vintage for the same price as many newly released Napa or Bordeaux wines.
From my cellar: 1973 Bodegas Olarra Rioja Gran Reserva. 91 points. Clearly shows evolution both color wise and on the nose/palate. A touch of oxidation, cedar, sweet strawberry and some oak. Elegant even if this is not totally focused. Clearly shows younger than its age. The oak is very well integrated. Very nice.
No other restaurant in LA has the combination of ultra modern chic and whimsical playfulness that The Bazaar does — plus everything tastes great and you get to experience an great melange of flavors in one meal. If you haven’t been, or haven’t been recently, you should.
This particular meal was great, mostly importantly for the company, the wines, and the service. The Bazaar staff did a bang up job with our private party and all the dishes we had were very good. But I do prefer the Bazaar in a format where one can taste 15-20+ things, not just 4-5. Plus, being a true glutton I could have eaten easily twice as much!