Location: Beverly Hills
Date: July 24, 2015
Cuisine: New American
My Sauvages group returns to Jim’s gorgeous Beverly Hills backyard for its annual gather. Food is again by Chef Kevin Meehan of Kali Dining. The wine theme is Cali Cabernet.
The setting is lovely enough, and the company good enough to entice me to a California wine lunch!
We dine under these awnings.
The starter wines while we assemble.
Flight 0: Introduction
NV Château Miraval Côtes de Provence Rosé.
2012 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Saint-Aubin Le Banc. Burghound 88. There is a trace of post-bottling SO2 along with a touch of reduction so I would suggest decanting this if you’re going to try a bottle in the next year or so. The equally well-detailed middle weight flavors possess a lovely mouth feel before concluding in a dry, clean, linear and saline-inflected finish. This is really quite good for a St. Aubin villages and worth considering for value; in fact this would make for an excellent house white.
1992 Domaine Francois et Antoine Jobard Meursault 1er Cru Les Genevrières. Burgound 87. This is now fully mature with ample notes of honey and sweet secondary notes on the nose that are followed by rich medium-full flavors that deliver a nicely complex finish of moderate length. There is no benefit to further cellar time and when the decline begins, I suspect that it will be relatively rapid. I would suggest drinking this now and over the next few years as it presently lacks a bit of vibrancy and this will only become more pronounced with age. Tasted twice with consistent notes.
1991 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. 93 points. Very dark red color, no bricking, slightly clear 1mm margin. PNP, drank 1 glass over 2+ hours. Ohhh this is glorious! Fabulous all the way around. The nose sings with a perfume of damp earth, pencil lead, saddle leather, florals, mint, red fruits, cassis, and tobacco. The palate is seductive and alluring with a brilliant texture, silky and perfectly balanced, intense on the attack and the mid palate with forest floor, cassis and cherry fruit, fine grained tannins, tobacco, leather, well integrated oak, all of which follows into a very, very long 60+ second finish. You’d never guess this was 23 years old. I agree with Jeff Leve’s recent note as this is a dead ringer for classic, world class Bordeaux. Classic Napa at its finest. This is what Napa needs to strive for.
1987 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. VM 90+. Very good full medium ruby. Currant, black cherry, roast coffee, cedar, leather, tobacco, truffle and black olive on the flamboyant nose. Sappy, youthfully tight flavors of currant and tobacco leaf, with a faint gamey nuance. Very ripe and rich but adamantly dry. Strong finish features big, ripe tannins. A superb bottle, far closer in character to my memory of this wine than the more politely styled example shown at the group tasting.
From my cellar: 1991 Dominus Proprietary Red Wine. Parker 99. In a blind tasting, both the 1990 and 1991 wines were identified as being French by all eight tasters. I pulled these wines from my cellar to insert as ringers, so I was particularly miffed at not getting their origin correct. The 1991 is the finest Dominus to date, although the 1994 may eventually rival it. The wine is incredibly expansive, rich, complex, fragrant, concentrated, and compelling in all respects. The opaque ruby/purple color is followed by huge quantities of sweet jammy fruit nicely touched by tar, licorice, and earthy scents reminiscent of the aroma of fresh black truffles. The wine is extremely concentrated, opulently-textured, and voluptuous, with huge reserves of juicy fruit. It is a marvelous Pomerol-like wine of exceptional purity and harmony. Although approachable, it requires 2-4 more years of cellaring; it should last for 2-3 decades.
agavin: I’m biased, but it was my favorite wine of the day.
1974 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Napa. 87 points. Nice dark maroon color, going a little bronze at the edge, with not much sediment or cloudiness. Black cherry fruit, earth and mint flavors. Still some drying tannins on the finish, which shows a bit of mocha/coffee. Very nice, aged Oakville Cabernet.
Hamachi crudo with radich and a kind of pesto.
1994 Joseph Phelps Insignia Proprietary Red Wine. Parker 98. The 1994 boasts an inky/purple color along with a glorious nose of black raspberries, blackberries and black currants that is still somewhat primary despite nearly 18 years in bottle. The Phelps team kept this cuvee in 100% new French oak for 28 months. Its magnificent structure, intensity and purity of fruit, ripeness, balance combined with authoritative power and the magnetic appeal of this full-bodied, Bordeaux-styled wine are extraordinary. This amazing effort is just coming into its best years, and should drink well for at least another 15-20 years.
agavin: corked bottle but swiftly replaced by:
2002 Joseph Phelps Insignia Proprietary Red Wine. Parker 100! The 2002 boasts an inky/purple color along with notes of graphite, violets, blackberries, creme de cassis and hints of charcoal and barbecue in addition to a full-bodied, multilayered mouthfeel that builds incrementally with great purity, staggering fruit concentration, and a long, velvety, 50+-second finish. This prodigious effort should continue to drink well for 20+ years.
agavin: a blockbuster of superb juice.
1997 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon Estate. Parker 98. There are 10,200 cases of the remarkable 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate. Opaque purple-colored with a dense, chewy, full-bodied personality, it displays abundant cassis, mineral, and earth notes. This brilliantly made, super-concentrated, pure, blockbuster possesses sweet tannin as well as a terrific finish. Having added additional weight since last year, this sumptuous, multilayered, profoundly concentrated Cabernet contains 14% alcohol. It is a candidate for 25-30 years of longevity. Anticipated maturity: 2003-2030.
1994 Groth Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. Parker 89. The luxury-priced 1994 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve reveals a dark plum/purple color, and lavish quantities of toasty new oak in the smoky, vanillin, and cassis-scented nose. This forward, soft, medium to full-bodied wine possesses very good to excellent concentration, but the abundant wood flavors push the taster’s tolerance to the limit. While this Reserve offering is undoubtedly excellent, I did not detect the depth or concentration necessary to support aging beyond a decade.
1996 Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red Wine. Parker 95-97. The 1996 Proprietary Red (a blend of 73% Cabernet Sauvignon with the balance Malbec, Petit Verdot, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc) is not a very weighty (14.3% alcohol) offering. It has become more delineated with a year of bottle age, offering up classic creme de cassis, smoked meat, coffee, prune, and toasty new oak scents. Concentrated, with fabulously high extract, sweet tannin, and full body, this wine has an elegant feel on the palate, but is still a blockbuster. Anticipated maturity: now-2025.
Black garlic risotto with parmesan crisp. An awesome wine food.
Here is some of the black garlic — which is just fermented garlic.
2001 Ridge Monte Bello. Parker 99. A resoundingly great effort from this iconic producer, Ridge’s 2001 is a spectacular, still young but promising wine. Interestingly, 60% of the production from the winery’s 108 acre Monte Bello Vineyard made it into the 2001’s final blend (their 40th anniversary, by the way). The unusual blend is 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, a whopping 36% Merlot, and 8% Petit Verdot. It also carries 14.2% alcohol, which is high for this estate. On the back label, the conservative Paul Draper writes that “5-8 years of bottle age will bring generous rewards, and 20 years will bring full maturity.” At age 10, it is still an infant in terms of development, and I would not be surprised to see this 2001 last 40 years. A dense ruby/purple color is accompanied by extravagant, generous aromas of pen ink, lead pencil shavings, spice box and black fruits. The wine is full-bodied and silky textured, but secondary nuances have not yet begun to develop as it is still very primary, tasting more like a 3-4 year old Monte Bello than one that is ten years of age. Nevertheless, it reveals spectacular concentration, a voluptuous texture, a rare opulence for a Ridge Monte Bello, and an incredible finish. The upside is enormous and this cuvee may prove somewhat atypical due to the huge percentage of Merlot in the final blend and the higher than normal alcohol. But make no mistake about this Monte Bello – it is a great wine. Anticipated maturity: 2020-2040.
2001 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve. Parker 97. Production: 10,000 cases; Alcohol: 14.2%; Blend: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon; Harvest Dates: September 4 to October 10. The 2001 was produced from six vineyards, Chabot, Home, Bancroft Ranch, Rancho del Oso, Quarry and Tre Colline. An early spring with both frost and heat spikes gave vignerons a roller coaster ride early on, but a torrid May and June were followed by a surprisingly cool August and fabulous weather in September and October. The harvest started early for the more precocious terroirs and finished relatively late for the cooler ones. A spectacular effort, the 2001 exhibits a youthful opaque purple color as well as great fruit concentration and intensity. There is a more complete tasting note printed elsewhere in this issue in the article on the 2001 California Cabernet Sauvignons.
2000 Jones Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Parker 90. This winery continues to fashion brilliant Cabernets, as evidenced by their successful, strong, powerful 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon. It boasts great fruit along with loads of black creme de cassis notes intermixed with melted licorice, all offered in a medium to full-bodied, supple-textured style.
1999 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon. Parker 98. The sumptuous 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon is a dark ruby-colored wine with mouth-watering aromas of highly expressive blackberries awash in toasted oak and roasting spices. Medium to full-bodied, thick, concentrated, and exquisitely balanced, this mouth-coating tour de force is densely packed with jammy black fruits and cassis liqueur. It combines elegance with power in a manner reminiscent of Chateaux Margaux’s prodigious 1990. This velvety-textured wine is complete, with magnificent depth of fruit, a profound personality, and the requisite structure for long-term cellaring. Bravo! Projected maturity: 2006-2020.
Duck breast and foie gras with black figs. Super combo between the fatty foie and those soft sweet figs.
2004 Pride Mountain Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. Parker 96. The two flagship wines of this brilliant estate, which straddles the Sonoma and Napa county lines at the top of Spring Mountain, include the 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve (98% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Petit Verdot). Sixty-eight percent of the fruit comes from Sonoma and 32% from Napa. It exhibits classic notes of creme de cassis, licorice, cedarwood, incense and a hint of toasty oak in the background. Full-bodied, opulent, profound deep, rich and full with velvety edges, the tannin can be detected, but it is wonderfully integrated in this mountain-styled Cabernet. It continues Pride’s impressive track record with these special cuvees. The 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve can be drunk young or cellared for two decades or more. More nuances and complexity will undoubtedly emerge over the next 4-5 years.
1997 Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red Wine. Parker 98. The finest proprietary red produced by Pahlmeyer to date is their 1997 (a blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, and the rest Petit-Verdot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec). Production is 3,300 cases, and the wine tips the scales at 14.7% alcohol. A super-rich, blockbuster effort, it exhibits an opaque purple color in addition to a fabulous bouquet of black fruits, espresso, cocoa, mocha, and flowers. A prodigious red, with low acidity, spectacular concentration, and fabulous purity as well as overall symmetry, it can be drunk now, but promises to last for 20-25 years.
2004 Harlan Estate The Maiden. Parker 92-95. I was blown away by the 2004 The Maiden, which out of bottle is even better than it was from barrel. This wine exhibits a rather flamboyant scorched earth, lead pencil, incense, licorice, and blackberry and cassis-scented nose and flavors. The wine has superb concentration and is opulent, fleshy, and very much in keeping with the style of the vintage. Despite its accessibility, I suspect this wine will drink well for at least two decades.
2004 Diamond Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Red Rock Terrace. Parker 94+. The 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Rock Terrace comes from a 7-acre parcel on Diamond Mountain originally owned by the late Al Bronstein and his widow, Boots. The wine exhibits a dark ruby/purple color, beautiful density and richness, impeccable balance, wonderful purity and depth, a full-bodied mouthfeel, and a striking elegance. Still young and vigorous, it should hit its peak in 5-6 years, and should last 20-25 years thereafter.
Beef tenderloin with potatoes and charred leeks — black garlic sauce. Really nice meat.
Flight 5: Dessert (wine)
1967 Rieussec. Parker 84. Rieussec made a very fine 1967. Not having tasted it for some time, I suspect this wine has been fully mature since the mid 1970s. It is lighter in style and body than some of the more recent vintages of Rieussec, but richly fruity and spicy, with a roasted, grilled nut aroma.
agavin: Totally disagree with Parker as our bottle was drinking nicely, I’d probably give it a 92.
The wine lineup.
Some of the gang.
Bonus wine after lunch. 1988 Domaine de Trévallon. 86 points. A bit cloudy and thin.
Overall, a delicious afternoon — food and wine both! I’m not much of a Cali Cab fan, but because most of these were 15-20 years old they were drinking pretty well.