Restaurant: Saddle Peak Lodge [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
Location: 419 Cold Canyon Rd, Calabasas, CA 91302 (818) 222-3888
Date: December 27, 2012
Cuisine: Modern American
Rating: Great ambiance and terrific game oriented food.
For the last Hedonist dinner of the year, we return to Saddle Peak Lodge. It’s pretty much the perfect venue for a winter food and wine blast, with charming lodge interior, a crackling fire, game driven food, and awesome wine service. For those of you who don’t know, Hedonist events have amazing wines (each diner brings at least one bottle) and this event has several 100 point blow out wines.
Saddle Peak Ranch used to be a game lodge back in the early part of the 20th century. The rich and famous used to come up and hunt Malibu’s finest, such as this poor fellow. Now the deer are just served up on the menu.
The gamey interior has a lot of charm.
Our lovely little private room. The menu can be found here.
We open with this champagne. The NV Brut Rose is a pretty, gracious wine. Freshly cut roses, red berries and spices take shape nicely in the glass as the wine shows off its understated, timeless personality. Billecart-Salmon’s NV Brut Rose is a reliably tasty wine.
Carrot soup. Tons of cream, which gave it a fantastic richness like a lobster bisque.
A bit of salmon on blini with creme fraiche and caviar.
Burghound 91-94, “Power, size and weight to the concentrated and mineral-driven broad-shouldered flavors that possess excellent length on the bone dry and overtly austere finish. This should be a classic Latour Corton-Charlemagne in time.”
Pan seared Maine scallops with Nueske ham, sautéed brocolini, leek-potato cream, parsley gremolata and sweet potato crisps. The ham and cream factor added some serious richness to this dish.
First in a pair of top flight red Burgundies.
Parker 93-95 and Burghound 91-93, “The 1999 Clos de Tart is certainly outstanding and potentially exceptional. It displays a gorgeous nose of rich plums, sweet black cherries, candied blueberries, and loads of spices. Medium to full-bodied and opulent, this is a lush, deep, and fresh wine. Its velvety-textured flavor profile is crammed with blueberries, red cherries, and blackberries that seem to burst in the mouth, revealing their sweet, refreshing juices, in a way not dissimilar to the finest 1996s. It also displays complex nuances of spices, oak, and hints of orange zest. This marvelous wine should be at its peak of maturity between 2005 and 2012. Bravo!”
Caesar Salad with garlic croutons and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
From my cellar: Parker 94, “The profound Echezeaux is one of the best examples I have tasted from this grand cru vineyard, which has a tendency to turn out light wines. This 1990 displays a super nose of sweet black-raspberries, toasty new oak, and violets. In the mouth, there is full body, a generous yet gentle, expansive richness, an unctuous texture, and an explosively long, lovely, impeccably well-balanced finish.”
Belgian endive salad with roasted Pink Lady apples, St. Agur blue cheese, shallots, candied pecans, watercress and white balsamic vinaigrette.
From my cellar, the 1973 Mouton Rothschild. The year Mouton was officially made a “first-growth” was celebrated by a beautiful label done by Pablo Picasso. This is an example as to storage variation and rating. Parker considers this wine long gone, but I found two bottles from the same original cellar at an event where we were tasting one of them. That bottle was excellent so I took a chance on this, which was pretty fantastic too. This isn’t a blockbuster, but had moved into that really interesting secondary stage that characterizes fully mature Bordeaux. Very enjoyable.
Roasted butternut squash soup with maple mascarpone, micro basil and brown butter brioche croutons.
Brown butter yam agnolotti with toasted pine nuts, sautéed purple kale and cranberry white port sauce.
A much younger mature first growth, the 1993 Haut Brion, Parker 90-93, “Quite a surprise in a difficult vintage, a strict selection and the superb terroir of Haut Brion triumphed over a very challenging year that produced many hard, relatively herbaceous wines. The color is a surprisingly saturated deep plum/ruby. Some sweet berry fruit intermixed with menthol, graphite, damp earth, and a hint of mushroom emerges in this medium-bodied, very elegant Haut Brion that is still firmly structured but has sweet tannin and surprising length and ripeness. The wine will always represent a sleeper style.”
Ahi tuna sashimi with Hawaiian papaya, cilantro, red onion, mango, avocado, orange-ginger and pea tendrils.
Because of the next course we cracked this wonderful example of aged Chenin-blanc. Sweet without being cloying, it revealed all sorts of interesting notes.
Fatted liver of a certain fowl, rumored to be on the endangered list. With brioche and black cherry reduction. Yum!
Parker 90-93, “A charming, lush, round, generous Lynch Bages, the 1999 offers plenty of sweet black currant fruit, damp earth, licorice, cedarwood and spicy herb-like characteristics. Medium-bodied, savory and broad in the mouth with no hard edges, this fully mature effort is a somewhat underrated vintage for this estate.”
New Zealand elk tenderloin with brandied cherries, braised cipollini onions, stuffed crimini mushroom and vanilla butternut squash.
Now to go with the meat, two amazing Syrah based wines. This one is one of the best out of the Rhone Valley in France.
From my cellar, Parker 100! “This is a Le Pavilion of mythical proportions. Produced from extremely old vines, some dating from the mid-nineteenth century, with yields averaging under 15 hectoliters per hectare, this is the richest, most concentrated and profound wine made in Hermitage. The 1991 Ermitage Le Pavilion follows the pattern of the 1989 and 1990-it is another perfect wine. The saturated black/purple color is followed by a compelling bouquet of spices, roasted meats, and black and red fruits. Enormously concentrated yet with brilliant focus and delineation to its awesomely endowed personality, this extraordinary wine should age effortlessly for three plus decades. Very powerful and full, yet displaying silky tannin, this is a seamless beauty!”
Grilled Australian lamb racks with Swiss chard, Nueske bacon, golden raisins, piquillo pepper and pommes aligot.
And Ron brought the magnificent 1981 Penfold’s Grange Hermitage. Parker 97, “The 1981 stood out as slightly superior. Winemaker John Duval always felt this was a tannic style of Grange, but the wine has shed its tannins, and this is one of the few vintages where the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon was above 10%. Sweet notes of creme de cassis, cedarwood, charcoal, and barbecue spices are followed by a full-bodied, opulent wine displaying heady amounts of alcohol, glycerin, and density in its full-bodied, skyscraper-like texture. I was drinking this wine with great pleasure in the mid-nineties, yet here it is nearly 15 years later, and the wine does not appear to have budged much from its evolutionary state. This is a testament to how remarkably well these wines hold up, and age at such a glacial pace.”
Wild Game Trio – the Chef’s sampling of three different, game meats with individual accompaniments.
Parker 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.”
Grilled buffalo New York with creamed kale vol a vent, bacon-gruyere-potato terrine and horseradish crème.
Parker 98, “this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon exhibits a brooding black/purple color as well as strong aromas of forest floor, creme de cassis, blackberries, vanillin and barbecue smoke. Rich and full-bodied, with a flawless integration of acid and tannin, this amazing wine was aged nearly 30 months in 100% new French oak, all of which is well-concealed.”
A private label version of the Harlan 2007. Parker 100! “The prodigious 2007 Harlan Estate reminds me of a hypothetical blend of the 2002 with a touch of the controversial 1997. Dense plum/purple-colored with sweet aromas of barbecue smoke, blueberries, blackberries, cassis, licorice, hot rocks and subtle oak, it is a splendidly opulent, pure wine with a skyscraper-like texture as well as stunningly deep fruit that expands gracefully across the palate. The finish lasts nearly a full minute. Because of its overwhelming richness and sweet tannins, this brilliant wine seems to be approachable now, but I suspect further nuances and complexity will emerge after 4-5 years in the bottle. This wine will still be going strong at age 25-30. Like the offerings from its sister estate, Bond, these Harlan Estate offerings are uncompromisingly brilliant examples of Napa viticulture and winemaking at its finest. Kudos to proprietor Bill Harlan.”
Apple cinnamon bread pudding served with salted caramel ice cream.
Farmer’s market caramelized pear beignets with crème anglaise.
Daily selection of house made sorbets served on ice. Coconut, Chocolate, and Banana.
And a little liquid black jelly bean to finish.
Chocolate molten whiskey cake with Guinness ice cream and Bailey’s whipped cream.
They juiced it up with this flaming brandy cherry sauce.
A lineup of just some of the empty bottles!
This was a total blow out event. The food was impeccable and the service fantastic. Plus we had a really great mix of people and some of the most awesome wines. Not one was even mediocre, it was one blockbuster after the next with the dueling mature Syrah’s (Penfold’s and Chaputier’s) as my standout favorites.
What a way to end the year!
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