Location: 110 East Union Street, Pasadena, Ca, 911103. 626-683-3310
Date: January 31, 2013
Another week and another Hedonist dinner. We braved traffic to take on Azeen’s Afghani in Pasadena, dominating the restaurant as usual with a giant table.
This 25 year-old white Burgundy had a cork so dry that it popped down into the bottle at the slightest touch of the screw – still, it wasn’t in bad shape for it’s age. Perhaps it was a tad thin, although it opened up nicely in the 10-20 minute (after uncorking) time frame, then shut down again.
From my cellar, Parker 93, “This estate’s Corton-Bressandes is a wine I search out in vintages with good ripeness. It is never huge, muscular, or a blockbuster but can often be sultry, seductive, detailed, and simply lovely. A recently tasted 1990, while at least three years from maturity, was fabulous. The 1996 displays sweet red cherry and Asian spice aromatics as well as a gorgeously refined character filled with candied and delineated cherries. This elegant, sexy, and feminine offering is medium-to-full-bodied, silky-textured, and possesses a long and refreshing finish.”
Parker 94-97, “The saturated ruby/purple-colored 2002 Pinot Noir Three Sisters-Lambing Barn Vineyard reveals a powerful, complex bouquet of blackberry and black cherry liqueur intertwined with notions of framboise, violets, and loamy soil. Plum, fig, and pure red and black fruit aromas soar from the glass of this full-bodied blockbuster.”
Parker sure loves these. It was still too oaked for my Burgundian taste, although smoother than the 2003 we had the previous week. All that oak is hiding some gorgeous fruit.
Parker 94, “Still one of the most backward wines of the vintage, Leoville-Barton’s 1982 is a wine of huge extract, high tannin, and a somewhat ancient style that recalls some of the Bordeaux of the late forties. The color is still a dense, even murky, opaque ruby/garnet. The wine offers up notes of licorice, cedar, black truffles, and sweet currant fruit. I had the wine twice in 2002, and my tasting note was almost identical to the last time I had it, in 1997, showing just how slowly this wine is evolving. The wine is enormous in the mouth, but still has some rather gritty, high tannins. It is a classic St.-Julien, with meat and black currants, great structure, and an amazingly youthful, vigorous feel.”
This wine was really drinking VERY nicely.
From my cellar, Parker 92, “The 1996 Hermitage La Sizeranne exhibits a saturated dense purple color, a classic, smoky, cassis-scented nose, and fresh acidity nicely meshed with the wine’s rich, concentrated black fruit character and high tannin. This full-bodied, muscular, backward La Sizeranne requires patience. It is aged all in cask, of which 50% were new.”
A very nice Syrah. Parker high 90s, “There are 400+ cases of Kongsgaard’s distinctive Syrah. Aged in 50% new French oak, it is fashioned from a special parcel of Hudson Vineyard vines planted in volcanic soils. The wine possesses striking blackberry, ground pepper, fried bacon fat, barbecue spice, and underbrush/composty characteristics that are also meaty and primordial. The volcanic soils may give this wine a more smoky, scorched, meaty character than other Northern California Syrahs. As the wine sits in the glass, notes of melted licorice also emerge. Extremely layered and long. This cuvee always benefits from 2-3 hours of decanting, and a young vintage might even be better if decanted 24 hours in advance. It is unquestionably the most singular expression of Syrah in Northern California.”
Parker 95, “The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, which comes from multiple fruit sources in Rutherford, Oakville, Yountville, Coombsville, Oak Knoll and Carneros, was aged in 100% new French oak. A blend of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, it exhibits an opaque purple color, great intensity and a sweet nose of blue and black fruits intermixed with toasty oak, lead pencil shavings and forest floor. Rich, layered and full-bodied with silky tannins.”
Parker was not a fan, 75 points! “One of the thinner, leaner, more malnourished Cabernet Sauvignons in my tasting, this primarily Cabernet Sauvignon blended with touches of Merlot and Cabernet Franc did not perform well. It is under-fruited and medium-bodied with a short finish.”
I’m always a big fan of old Madeira’s and this didn’t disappoint. Parker has his “technical” opinion below, but this was an extremely enjoyable treat.
Parker 88, “The 1875 Malvasia is showing a little flabbiness on the nose, with smudged notes of brown sugar, nougat and coconut. The palate is sweet and a little saccharine on the entry. It shows good weight and substance, but it feels a little cloying towards the finish. There are better bottles out there and, indeed, returning to the same bottle after two weeks it had gained more composure.”
This was another amazing Hedonist blow out. The food is so tasty here. Afghan is a really delectable cuisine. Middle eastern with a hint of China, Persia, and India. It’s not spicy but is packed with flavor. Growing up, we used to frequently enjoy this cuisine in the Washington suburbs. You can check that out here.
The service at Azeen’s is fantastic. Abdul really makes you feel welcome. And Azeen’s is probably the best kitchen execution I’ve experienced in an Afghan restaurant I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s better than 99% of the places in Kabul.