Location: 11712 San Vicente Blvd.Brentwood, CA 90049 310.826.9222
Date: March 14, 2013
Cuisine: French Bistro
Rating: Good, but expensive
Through my recent Burgundy aficionado dinners I was hooked up with a series of winemaker dinners that Wally’s Wine and Spirits throws. These seem to be at Bouchon and feature great wines from a particular winemaker as well as an intimate opportunity to meet the winemaker himself.
This particular dinner features Faiveley, which is a solid traditionalist B+ Burgundy house that I buy very frequently as they offer a wide range of wines from all over Burgundy and very good value.
With regard to Bouchon. In the last three-four years there’s been a bit of a French Food revival in Southern California, but the emphasis has been on Bistro fare. Of course this is consistent with the post-recession trend toward less formal restaurants anyway. Bouchon is the small-chain spawn for Thomas Keller, the highly acclaimed chef of The French Laundry.
The NV Brut Rose is a pretty, understated wine graced with notable class and finesse. This is a decidedly feminine, delicate style best suited to drinking as an aperitif. Sweet berries, flowers and spices are layered into the refined, well-articulated finish.
Flight 1: 2011 Whites
These 2011 whites are essentially bottle samples, as they haven’t been released. Bernard (the winemaker) brought them straight from the domain, probably labeled for our pleasure.
88 points. 2011 Mercury Clos Rochette. A perfumed and expressive nose features a pretty mix of various red berries, earth and wet stone. This is one of those wines that is defined by its minerality on the racy, intense and pure middle weight flavors that possess a lovely sense of underlying tension while culminating in a firm but refined finish. Good stuff.
89-91 points. 2011 Domaine Faiveley Meursault Blagny. Bright yellow. Precise aromas of spices, bitter almond and minerals. Juicy, spicy and and a bit metallic, more Puligny in style than Meursault. Conveys a low-alcohol impression and will need more elevage to put on weight. Finishes quite dry, with a hint of bitter lemon. This tight wine is almost dangerously refreshing.
93-96 points. 2011 Domaine Faiveley Corton-Charlemagne. (made from three kinds of grapes, said Hervet: “yellow like Meursault, classic Puligny-type fruit, and green/yellow grapes with a touch of noble rot, like Montrachet”): Soil-driven aromas of apple, mint, anise and menthol, with complicating notes of fresh herbs and white pepper. Dense, saline and seamless; at once very dry and chewy. Conveys a rare impression of glyceral texture without much alcohol (this was actually 12.5% potential alcohol chaptalized to 12.8%). Wonderfully perfumed on the bracing finish, with is dusty with extract. Not at all a fruity style of white Burgundy. But this should make for an utterly compelling wine.
Flight 2: Mature Whites
Burghound 89-93. 2005 Maison Joseph Faiveley Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru White. There is more wood here than I’m used to seeing and enough influence where there is both toast and vanilla notes that presently tussle for dominance on the very ripe orchard fruit and floral aromas. The big-bodied flavors offer impressive richness and a real sense of concentration with ample amounts of dry extract present on the powerful and driving finish. The wood is not subtle and it’s enough that it will bother some and even though the track record of this wine is that it will eventually eat the wood, I suspect this will always show vestiges of it.
Burghound 91-94. 2007 Maison Joseph Faiveley Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru White. Subtle wood sets off more elegant aromas of green apple, floral and wet stone notes that are also reflected by the rich, intense and impressively powerful big-bodied flavors that seem extracted from liquid rock, all wrapped in a palate staining and driving finish. Another aspect worth noting is that this is often a distinctly oaky Corton-Charlemagne but in 2007, thanks to the policy of reducing the wood influence, the oak influence is much more moderate if not invisible.
Burghound 91-93. 2009 Maison Joseph Faiveley Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru White. Moderate wood surrounds the very ripe apricot, peach, spiced pear and mango aromas that are in keeping with the opulent and succulent broad-shouldered flavors that possess imposing size, weight and power while culminating in an extract-rich and palate staining finish. While impressive, I would like to see a bit more depth though there is so much underlying material that it may very well develop once in bottle.
The have good bread here.
Confit de Canard. Duck leg confit, French green lentils, a matignon of root vegetables & red wine vinegar duck jus.
Very tasty. All that duck fat had saturated into the lentils and made them delicious.
Flight 3: 2011 Reds
More early samples of some highlights from the 2011 reds!
Burghound 91-93. 2011 Faiveley Gevrey-Chambertin 1ru cru Les Cazetiers. A background application of wood does not materially diminish the layered and classic Cazetiers nose of humus, earth, animale, stone and cool wild dark berry fruit aromas. I very much like the mouth feel to the tautly muscled, intense and powerful flavors that possess real drive on the very firmly structured but not hard finish that delivers exceptionally good length. This is worth considering.
Burghound 92-95. 2011 Faiveley Corton des Cortons. As is usually the case with this wine when it’s young, the nose is restrained to the point of being almost mute though aggressive swirling liberates aromas of earth, spice, red currant and hints of the sauvage. And instead of the robust and well-muscled mid-palate there is an almost caressing mouth feel to the full-bodied yet refined flavors because while the supporting tannins are definitely firm and dense they are also quite finely-grained. There is excellent length to the moderately austere, tight, focused and linear finish that delivers outstanding persistence.
Burghound 91-94. 2011 Faiveley Echezeaux. An intensely floral nose is notably ripe with notes of plum, spice, black raspberry and cassis in evidence. There is a seductive texture to the solidly well-concentrated medium weight plus flavors that benefit from plenty of structure-buffering dry extract such that this seems more forward than it really is. The tannins are dense but fine and this should significantly reward 12 to 15 years of cellaring.
Burghound 93-95. Faiveley Chambertin Clos de Beze. An exuberantly spicy, cool and airy nose that mixes a variety of wild red berries, humus and earth nuances where the latter component is also well-represented on the solidly well-detailed and powerful medium weight plus flavors that possess superb length. This is a big but not burly Bèze that is actually more a wine of finesse than outsized power and weight.
Truite Grenobloise. pan-roasted Idaho rainbow trout, cauliflower, capers, lemon confit with brioche croutons & beurre noisette.
Poulet Rôti Grand-Mère. roasted chicken with fingerling potatoes, button mushrooms, bacon lardons, pearl onions & chicken jus.
Steak Frites. Herb roasted, caramelized shallots, maître d’hôtel butter or sauce Béarnaise served with French fries.
Flight 4: Red Cortons+
Burghound 92. 1999 Domaine Faiveley Latricières-Chambertin Grand Cru Red. This is right behind the superb ’99 Mazis in quality with its closed and reserved black fruit merging seamlessly into full, firm, structured big-boned flavors that offer terrific complexity and outstanding length. This is sneaky in its intensity and possesses brooding power but it clearly offers grand cru quality flavor precision. This will require at least a decade to unwind and offers excellent aging potential.
Tanzer 88-91. 2000 Domaine Faiveley Corton Clos des Cortons Faiveley. Ruby-red. Deep but rather austere nose of red berries and rust. Large-scaled, chewy and sweet, with good depth of red fruit flavor. Still rather monolithic and oaky but not heavy. The chewy, granular tannins are slightly dry but hit the palate late. A sizable wine but it won’t be in the same class as the ’99.
Burghound 90. 1999 Domaine Faiveley Corton Clos des Cortons Faiveley Grand Cru Red. Big, ripe, intense black fruit aromas followed by rich, relatively dense flavors offering plenty of character and supported by a moderate tannic backbone. The ’99 Clos des Corton is not a bruiser but make no mistake, this is still a big wine. It will clearly require some time to smooth out and resolve the solid tannins but there is good mid-palate density and sève to permit the tannins to soften gracefully.
Burghound 90. 1990 Domaine Faiveley Corton Clos des Cortons Faiveley Grand Cru Red. Black fruit nose that is quite rich and complex with slightly rustic tannins and a long, intense, moderately structured finish. This is still going strong and has developed none of the advanced secondary aromatics that more than a few 90s are displaying, which augurs well for its future development. Still a very big, young wine and this needs another 5 years or so of cellar time before it really comes into its own. Note: this bottle was materially better than another bottle tasted in 2000, which merited a score of 87.
The bread part.
Flight 5: Chambertin
Tanzer 89+. 2000 Domaine Faiveley Mazis Chambertin. Medium red with an amber edge. Complex nose combines plum, cherry, currant, game, cinnamon and menthol. Dense and layered, with sappy, slightly austere flavors of black cherry, licorice and minerals. Lovely intensity without any excess weight. Strong spicy oak gives the persistent finish a slight youthful dryness.
95 points. 1990 Faiveley Mazis-Chambertin. Very intense, almost searing, nose of blood, menthol, red fruit, earth, sous bois, tobacco, and some hot iron. Impeccably balanced fruit, tannin and acidity on the palate. Not as elegant or poised as the Latricieres that preceded it but equally good. My notes are regularly punctuated by the word long – long, lingering nose; long, complete palate impression; long finish of iron and fruit. Again, they end with ‘fabulous’. To me this was Mazis at it’s finest and was drinking perfectly.
Burghound 92-95. 2007 Domaine Joseph Faiveley Chambertin-Clos de Bèze Grand Cru Red. A slightly cooler, distinctly floral and more deeply pitched and much spicier nose offers up reluctant red and black berry fruit aromas as well as game and smoke notes that continue onto the mineral-driven, powerful and well-muscled broad-shouldered flavors that possess another, if small, dimension of depth and length. This is very primary, even backward and will need plenty of cellar time. A most impressive ’07.
Burghound 95-97. 2005 Domaine Joseph Faiveley Chambertin-Clos de Bèze Grand Cru Red. As aromatically complex as the Clos des Cortons is, the Clos de Bèze goes it one better with a dazzling array of spice, earth, mineral, fruit and subtle floral aromas that change every few seconds but continue onto the elegant, pure, transparent and vibrant flavors that possess superb power and striking depth of material on the unbelievably long finish. This is also quite firmly structured but completely balanced and the flavors are the perfect example of the term power without weight. A monument in the making but a wine for the patient.
Burghound 88. 1998 Domaine Faiveley Chambertin-Clos de Bèze Grand Cru Red. Barest hint of oak frames slightly underripe but nicely complex fruit leading to medium weight, intense flavors of moderate richness and firm but not hard structure. There is good if not exceptional material here and the character of the wine is presently on the austere and understated side. I suspect this will always retain a certain reserve, given that the Faiveley style is not given to fruity exuberance in the first place. A wine for the patient.
A very fun evening. I was surprised how good the food was. Not modern or innovative per se (haha) but really very tasty. And there were some great wines plus the interesting opportunity to meet the winemaker and hear his perspective. He was very nice and extremely gracious. There was a bit of a mismatch in that there were far too many wines for the number of courses — but it’s rare for an event to plan on 7+ courses — unless it’s one of mine!