Location: 2311 Cotner Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90064 Tel. 310-231-0316
Date: July 14, 2017
Cuisine: Modern Tapas
Rating: Bright flavors and a lot of options.
Upstairs 2 is located just above the Wine House on Cotner. The main room serves an eclectic tapas menu, but as this was a special Sauvages du Vin lunch (always a lunch, always Friday) we gathered upstairs in the private room for a special menu and flights of themed wine. This time around Grand cru Red Burgundy from the village of Gevrey-Chambertin, vintages older than 2006.
The group gathers in the private room.
2012 Christophe et Fils Chablis 1er Cru Mont de Milieu. 92 points. Just a beautiful mix of salt water and citrus elements in a light to medium weight wine. Not as heavy feeling and much more lively than some 2012s. Very, very nice. I continue to be impressed by the Christophe line up for its classicism and purity.
1996 Jean Raphet et Fils Charmes-Chambertin. 95 points. Medium ruby red color with a subtle 5mm bricked margin. Slow-O for 2 hours before serving. Drank 1 glass over an hour. This really was everything I had hoped for. The combination of maturity, depth and elegance is hard to beat. Great nose with cherry, earth, dried forest floor, and spice notes. The palate is resonant, with sublime red fruits of berry and more subtle cherry here, well delineated, intense forest floor, lifted, great balancing acid, mushroom, mineral, and a burst of spice on the long finish. Everything is right where I want it to be. This is at peak now. I only wish I had more left….
1995 Claude Dugat Charmes-Chambertin. VM 94. Brilliant ruby color. Blueberry, violet, smoky oak and floral aromas convey an almost syrupy sweetness. Dense and extremely concentrated; this shows an almost painful intensity today yet has no rough edges. Pure Pinot sap. Totally convincing grand cru. Builds and builds on the palate and aftertaste.
Grilled beef tenderloin skewers. Blue lake beans. Heirloom cherry tomatoes. Castelvetrano olives. Capers. This wasn’t the best dish at all. The salad was a bit limp and the beef tasted like “home beef” rather than restaurant beef.
1996 Dominique Laurent Charmes-Chambertin. VM 92-95. Very good deep red-ruby color. Highly perfumed game, coffee and rose petal aromas; this to me is far more typical of Charmes terroir than the serie rare example from Mazoyeres. Terrific intensity in the mouth; supple, stony, powerfully structured. Again, one senses the soil behind the grapes. Fabulous authoritative finish. This will be a real vin de garde for the vintage.
1999 Dominique Laurent Chambertin-Clos de Bèze. VM 94-97. Deep ruby-red. Noble, wonderfully complex, slightly liqueur-like aromas of framboise, cranberry, blueberry, rose petal and violet. Liqueur-like fruit and velvety texture on the palate; already shows compelling inner-mouth perfume. Like an essence of pinot noir, confectionery but not at all heavy. The longest of Laurent ’99s to this point. Finishes with great verve and grip. “Like the ’96, except that the ’96 was more closed at a similar stage,” notes Laurent.
From my cellar: 1998 Dominique Laurent Mazis-Chambertin. 95 points. Showed good complexity and depth, excellent balance, and a medium finish. Flavors of black raspberry, cherry, spices, dried leaves, and forest floor all emerged after a time. The acidity held everything together nicely. Good freshness of flavor both on the nose and palate. I think this is nearly at peak or plateauing nicely.
Pappardelle pasta, wild mushroom ragu, roasted garlic & thyme cream sauce. This was the best of the dishes. Didn’t look like much, but a nice rich pasta.
2002 Bernard Dugat-Py Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Lavaux St. Jacques. BH 91-94. This resembles the 1er but this is a complete wine, combining power, concentration and stunningly elegant aromas and flavors into a harmonious whole. The acidity is higher as is the sense of minerality yet this retains a velvety, indeed silky quality to the round, fresh, focused flavors. This is indisputably of grand cru quality with complexity to burn. A great effort.
2001 Camille Giroud Chambertin. BH 92-95. As with the Malconsorts and Romanée St. Vivant, there is another dimension here and the complexity is nothing short of staggering and I use this word advisedly as it was frankly difficult to believe that so much nuance and depth could be crammed into the nose of an as yet unfinished wine. Very ripe, pure, blackberry fruit nose leads to massive, hugely forceful, vigorous, solidly structured flavors that epitomize what the finest Burgundies seem to do, e.g. manage to deliver power without weight and the finish here goes on and on for minutes. This should really be something to see when it attains its majority and I would not be at all surprised if my score is ultimately found to be conservative.
2002 Hubert Lignier Charmes-Chambertin. BH 91. A wonderfully exuberant, expressive and generous nose of ripe, earth and elegant red pinot fruit aromas blend into sizeable, rich, intense and palate staining flavors that are both energetic and opulent. This is quite powerful but retains an elegance and subtle reserve that is most appealing, especially on the long, exacting, classy finish. If there is a nit, it’s that this is more about pure pinot fruit than profound complexity but to be clear, this is nonetheless a beautiful and altogether elegant wine.
2002 Domaine Joseph Roty Charmes-Chambertin Très Vieilles Vignes. BH 95. A heavily toasted nose with spice, wood and tar nuances frames ripe but fresh black pinot fruit and cassis aromas that also display an extraordinary panoply of secondary nuances, including earth, underbrush, leather, soy and spice. The powerful, rich and utterly delicious big-bodied and very concentrated flavors coat and stain the palate and completely buffer the now softening tannic spine on the superbly long finish. In short, this is flat out incredible juice and while it’s clearly quite oaky, the wood somehow works quite well with the wine even though it’s far from invisible. As to drinkability, I would probably opt to hold the ’02 Charmes for a few more years but it could easily be drunk now with pleasure.
Spice Rubbed Pork Belly. Sauteed Baby Spinach. Creamy Polenta. Red Wine demi. Nice course. Like a rich slab of sorta bacon.
2005 Dupont-Tisserandot Mazis-Chambertin. BH 95. A background touch of wood spice surrounds red, violet, animale and earth tones that are more complex still and this depth continues on the earth-inflected, sappy and moderately concentrated but gorgeously balanced flavors that possess real character and excellent power on the impressively long finish. This has both style and personality and it is very Mazis in both style and character plus it will age for decades. A classic Mazis in the making.
2005 Lucien Le Moine Mazis-Chambertin. BH 94-96. An explosive nose of red berry pinot fruit of fantastic breadth and depth features the ripe and classic sauvage and animale character that continues onto the wonderfully intense, driving and energetic big-bodied flavors that retain a beautiful sense of delineation on the layered, sweet and mouth coating finish. This is a big but balanced wine that carries the weight and power with effortless grace.
2003 Louis Jadot Chambertin-Clos de Bèze. BH 91-94. The incredibly rich, powerful and complex flavors are introduced by classy, pure, spicy and ripe aromas of dark pinot fruit notes and obvious earth nuances all framed by an interesting hint of sandalwood. There are buckets of pinot sap that coat and stain the palate and all but completely hide the very firm tannins that presently dominate the finish yet already seem perfectly integrated. The acidity is on the low side the explosiveness of the finish is more than just impressive, it has the ‘wow’ factor and this should age for two decades or more.
Because there was no dessert — or even cheese — I brought a pair of gelati. On the bottom is my pistachio with nuts from Bronte Sicily. On the top is coconut sorbetto (coconuts from Thai land) with home-made coconut caramel!
Overall Upstairs 2 did a solid job with this lunch. Wine service was good and the food was good, but not as good as last time we came (that salad was just so-so). Wines were awesome and a lot of great showings from Gevrey, particularly the 90s wines. Sauvages is always a great time.