Location: 10610 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064.
Date: May 15, 2013
Cuisine: Japanese Yakiniku
Rating: Best beef in town!
This time we “bought out” the whole restaurant, bringing 28 people and well over 30 wines of incredible quality. So popular is this event that at least 5 people had to be turned away for lack of space. Everyone brings a wine vetted by the group and the standard is very high at this event, basically close to 100 points, high pedigree, age, or some combination thereof. As you’ll see, we really tore it up and in terms of scale and wine this was the most epic Hedonist event yet.
The outside is basically a shell. The “Teriyaki House” has nothing to do with the food within, and the phone number is incorrect. The place is like a beef speakeasy!
2005 Agrapart & Fils Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Venus. Parker 96. The 2005 Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Venus is breathtaking in this vintage. It shows stunning depth, power and richness, all while retaining tons of freshness and minerality. Layers of flavor saturate the palate in this moving, vivid Champagne. The 2005 Venus may be the very best Champagne I have ever tasted from Agrapart. Venus is made from a tiny 0.3 hectare parcel in La Fosse originally planted in 1959. This vineyard has never been worked mechanically. Today it is farmed by hand and with the help of Venus, the horst for which the wine is named. The 2005 was fermented in 600-liter barrels and bottled with no dosage. Disgorged July 2011.
NV Billecart-Salmon Rose. Parker 90. 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.
Shrimp on radicchio with caviar.
1978 Chateau Margaux. Parker 92. Although the 1978 is a more powerful, fuller-bodied style of Margaux, it is less charming and fruity than the 1979. The 1978’s nose has moved from one of ripe fruit and spicy oak, to tarry, truffle, earthy aromas that come across as slightly too masculine and meaty. Nevertheless, this is a rich, full-bodied, concentrated Margaux that only suffers in comparison with the great vintages produced under the Mentzelopoulos regime. Some of its rusticity may be due to tannins that were not totally ripe during the harvest. In any event, it remains one of the few great wines from the 1978 vintage. While I initially thought it would be fully mature within two decades of the vintage, it could still benefit from another 3-4 years of cellaring.
1966 Beychevelle. Parker 87. I have always felt this wine to be one of the more successful Medocs from the 1966 vintage. At a tasting in November the wine exhibited attractive cedary, herb, and cassis scents, medium-bodied, ripe flavors, fine balance, and soft tannin in the sweet, elegant finish. It is fully mature and unlikely to get any better – so why wait?
1986 Mouton-Rothschild. Parker 100! Deep garnet-black colour. An incredible array of aromas on the nose: blackberry, black cherry, tobacco, espresso, leather, black olive and loam. The palate is absolutely seamless from first impression to finish, effortlessly building layers of complexity in the mouth and leading to a very long, earth and spice finish. I can’t see how this could possibly be improvement so have no alternative but concede perfection.
One of the wines of the night — as it should be.
1990 Haut Brion. Slumming at a mere Parker 98. In terms of the brilliant complexity and nobility of the aromatics, scorched earth, black currants, plums, charcoal, cedar, and spices, the 1990 offers an aromatic explosion that is unparalleled. It is always fascinating to taste this wine next to the 1989, which is a monumental effort, but much more backward and denser, without the aromatic complexity of the 1990. The 1990 put on weight after bottling, and is currently rich, full-bodied, opulent, even flamboyant by Haut Brion’s standards. It is an incredible expression of a noble terroir in a top vintage. While it has been fully mature for a number of years, it does not reveal any bricking at the edge, and I suspect it will stay at this level for another 10-15 years … but why wait? It is irresistible now.
Two kinds of beef sashimi, eaten nearly raw. On the left beef tataki (rib eye) and on the right (in the cup) beef throat sashimi. Also on the plate is a bit of Korean style hot sauce (the red stuff), some intensely strong garlic (yum) and micro julienned ginger.
The throat was very chewy, more about texture. The rib eye soft and more flavorful. All went well with the garlic and ginger — I particularly liked the garlic.
1990 Angelus. Parker 98. Very deep garnet colored, this has quite an exotic nose of Chinese five spice and Chinese dried plums with underlying hints of black olives, licorice and sandalwood. The palate is full bodied and richly fruited with firm, fine tannins, crisp acid and a long finish.
2001 Angelus. Parker 93-94. A brilliant performance by Hubert de Bouard, the 2001 Angelus (6,250 cases) is a more restrained and delineated version of the 2000. It has shed much of its tannin, and seems far more evolved and open-knit than I thought prior to bottling. Its deep purple color is followed by a rich nose of creosote, charcoal, blackberries, plums, cassis, and espresso roast. Elegant, medium-bodied, and rich, with a measured ripeness and moderate structure in the pure, nicely proportioned finish, it is less massive than either the 2000 or 2003, yet is also beautifully put together.
A raw beef dish. Marinated raw beef is seen here with ginger, raw egg, cucumber, daikon, pine nuts, and something orange. Apparently, this is a Korean dish called Yukhoe. Actually, I’ve had it at Korean places, but in any case it’s delicious.
1983 Grace Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. 95 points. Very youthful fresh exciting. Great nose lengthy finish and soft tannins. It has aged wonderfully. Cork was in incredible shape and came out in one pull. amazing. Very little sediment.
1995 Cos d’Estournel (in magnum). Parker 95. A wine of extraordinary intensity and accessibility, the 1995 Cos d’Estournel is a sexier, more hedonistic offering than the muscular, backward 1996. Opulent, with forward aromatics (gobs of black fruits intermixed with toasty pain grille scents and a boatload of spice), this terrific Cos possesses remarkable intensity, full body, and layers of jammy fruit nicely framed by the wine’s new oak. Because of low acidity and sweet tannin, the 1995 will be difficult to resist young, although it will age for 2-3 decades.
1994 La Mission Haut Brion. Parker 92. This vintage again demonstrates what an extraordinary terroir La Mission-Haut-Brion possesses. It was not an easy year, with rain, flowering issues and uncooperative weather in the critical months of August and September, but the vineyard’s superb drainage and La Mission’s ability to produce fascinating aromatics even in difficult vintages triumphs again. Classic Graves aromas of charcoal, scorched earth, red and black fruits, truffles, graphite and melted tar emerge from this dark garnet/plum-colored 1994. In the mouth, there is some angularity and rustic tannins remaining, but they are not out of balance. With medium to full body as well as more depth than many of its peers, the wine appears to be close to full maturity. However, with this level of acidity and tannin, it is not likely to fall apart any time soon.
We switch up to Syrah with one of my favorite producers, Chapoutier.
1999 Chapoutier Cote Rotie la Mordoree. Parker 95. Chapoutier’s La Mordoree cuvee is produced from 75-80-year old Syrah vines planted in both the Cote Blonde and Cote Brune, aged in 100% new oak casks, and bottled with neither fining nor filtration. The 1999 Cote Rotie La Mordoree is the finest he has produced since the 1991 (two bottles drunk over the last six months confirm this fabulous wine’s potential as it is just now beginning to emerge from a cloak of tannin). The 1999 has closed down since its pre-bottling tasting. The color is an inky purple, and the wine is dense and powerful, with notes of smoky blackberries, creosote, and espresso. Concentrated flavors reveal high levels of tannin (surprising in view of last year’s report), and a rich, long, 45-second finish.
BBQ to perfect, and add a bit of scallions, then dip in lemon juice and enjoy. This is about the most tender tongue I’ve had (and I’ve had plenty). It’s still a dense slightly rubbery texture, but delicious.
Even bigger and better is Chapoutier’s flagship, and one of my favorite wines.
1997 Chapoutier Ermitage le Pavillon. Parker 96-98. The 1997 Hermitage Le Pavillon displays a saturated purple color, and a fabulously intense nose of blackberry liqueur intermixed with floral scents, smoke, licorice, tar, and Chinese black tea aromas. There is wonderful concentration, massive body, and a monster finish in this decadently rich Hermitage. It possesses low acidity, but lots of concentration, extract, and length.
2004 Chapoutier Ermitage le Pavillon. Parker 91-94. All of the single vineyard Ermitages turned out as good as I had hoped, possibly even better. In short they are among the strongest wines one could hope for in this vintage. The 2004 Ermitage Le Pavillon is outstanding, but certainly not one of the most compelling wines Michel Chapoutier has made. It is dense, dark ruby/purple, and seems more austere and backward than the Le Meal, but I still think these are 15- to 20-year wines as opposed to the normal 50+ that the top vintages of these single vineyard Ermitages produce. Dense with black currant fruit intermixed with licorice, sweet blackberries, and white chocolate, this is an elegant, mid-weight Pavillon.
Then we move on to a five-some of Guigal Cote Rotie’s including a full trio of the 1996s!
1987 Guigal Cote Rotie la Mouline. Parker 95. Guigal’s 1987 La Mouline is sensational. Considering the vintage, this must be the greatest wine produced in France in 1987. The color is a youthful purple, and the nose offers up sweet, pure aromas of jammy black raspberries, smoke, and honeysuckle, and vague whiffs of apricots. Thick, rich flavors coat the palate in a seamless, velvety-textured manner. This medium- to full-bodied, marvelously concentrated wine has no hard edges, and is the epitome of voluptuousness and sumptuousness. This has been a glorious La Mouline to drink since its birth, and it shows no signs of age.
2000 Guigal Cote Rotie la Landonne. Parker 93-95. The 2000 Cote Rotie La Landonne is the most powerful and primordial of the 2000 La La’s, not surprising given this cuvee’s telltale earthy, leathery characteristics that are intermixed with notes of truffles, licorice, blackberries, and pepper. Medium to full-bodied, with moderate tannin and good density.
1996 Guigal Cote Rotie la Landonne. Parker 95-96. The 1996 Cote Rotie La Landonne is a wine with tremendous intensity and tannin, as well as a pronounced roasted herb, smoked meat, and Asian spice-scented nose with tell-tale black fruits, melted tar, and truffle notions in the background. Rich, powerful, and massive.
From my cellar: 1996 Guigal Cote Rotie la Turque. Parker 95-100. The 1996 Cote Rotie La Turque possesses a dark, saturated ruby/purple color, aromas of caramel, vanillin, and smoked cherry jam, medium to full body, outstanding ripeness, a plush, surprisingly soft finish, and loads of glycerin.
1996 Guigal Cote Rotie la Mouline. Parker 93-96. The 1996 Cote Rotie La Mouline possesses the highest percentage of Viognier (17-18%) Guigal has ever included in this offering. The deep ruby/purple color is accompanied by a superb bouquet of spice box, cedar, leather, honeysuckle, and jammy black fruits. It is remarkably tender and soft for a vintage that produced high acid wines. Medium-bodied, elegant, and complex, it is one of the more forward and evolved La Moulines.
Overall, the Turque was probably the best with the Landonne being a little over structured and the Mouline the softest. Still, all three were delicious.
2004 Clos des Papes Chateauneuf du Pape (in magnum). Parker 95. The 2004 Clos des Papes Chateauneuf du Pape has turned out to be one of the finest wines of the vintage, tipping the scales at just over 15% alcohol and actually coming a few tenths of a degree within the 2003 and 2005 in terms of power and alcoholic degrees. The wine displays gorgeously sweet black raspberries, kirsch liqueur, and resiny, loamy soil notes. Medium to full-bodied, this blend of 65% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah, and the rest some of the other red varietals that are permitted, is performing beautifully and is certainly one of the vintage’s superstars. The wine is full-bodied, powerful, rich, and as accessible as the 2003, but slightly fresher and not as muscular and thick. Nevertheless, this is a top effort from the father and son team of Paul and Vincent Avril.
2009 Delas Freres Cote Rotie la Landonne. Parker 98+. As I reported last year, the black/purple-tinged 2009 Cote Rotie La Landonne is an extraordinary effort. Made in a more open-knit, exuberant, flamboyant style, it possesses many of the same characteristics as the 2010, but with silkier tannins and lots of glycerin, smoked meat, violet, black currant, licorice, pepper and charcuterie characteristics. With super intensity, a full-bodied mouthfeel, lower acidity than the 2010 and sweeter tannin.
The outside rib eye on the grill.
2006 Sine Qua Non Raven Series (Grenache). Parker 98. 2006 Ravens Series (# 6 and 7 Grenache): This blend of 90% Grenache and 10% Syrah, largely from the 11 Confessions Vineyard, with a small amount from Bien Nacido, spent 21 months in barrel. It is really strutting its stuff now, and showing even better than my original note predicted in August of 2009. The wine has loads of meat, licorice, smoke, charcoal and graphite, as well as huge peppery, blackberry and black cherry notes. Full-bodied, with great acidity, nicely integrated tannin, an admirable mouthfeel and tremendous length.
2007 Sine Qua Non Labels (Syrah). Parker 98+. The recently released 2007 Syrah Labels (89% Syrah, 7% Grenache, and 4% Viognier) comes from the 11 Confessions Estate Vineyard (57%), a small amount from the home estate vineyard in Oak View called Cumulus, and the rest from purchased fruit grown in the White Hawk Vineyard in Los Alamos and the Bien Nacido Vineyard in Santa Maria. A sensational effort, it is performing even better out of bottle than it did from barrel. An opaque purple color is accompanied by beautiful notes of charcoal, acacia flowers, blueberries, blackberries, graphite, and subtle smoke. With great fruit, tremendous texture, and full-bodied power, it is locked and loaded.
2002 Shafer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select Stags Leap. Parker 100. One of the world’s greatest wines year in and year out is Shafer’s Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select. The 2002 was a candidate for perfection the first time I tasted it. The estate keeps this cuvee 32 months in 100% new French oak, so I had a number of chances to see it from barrel. Moreover, I purchased the wine for my own cellar and have had it at least a half dozen times since bottling, and it just gets more profound with each sip. This wine is beyond belief for how it balances its extraordinary richness, purity of personality, and the elegance and finesse of the Stags Leap District with massive cassis fruit, spring flowers, toasty oak and earth. The wine is fabulously concentrated, multidimensional and built like a skyscraper, yet nothing is out of place. The wood, alcohol, acidity and tannin are all in perfect balance. This offering is a tribute to the greatness of Napa Valley, which was recognized by men and women hundreds of years ago, and to the modern day genius of the Shafer family. This 2002 has 50 years of life ahead of it – but why wait!
2003 Shafer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select. Parker 95. Celebrating 30 years of consistent quality and both critical and commercial success, this family run winery remains one of the most admirable operations in California. The Shafers have had tremendous success with their Relentless, which was first released in 1999. A blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Petite Sirah that spends 32 months in 100% new French oak, it is a remarkably consistent offering that rarely displays much oak. The Syrah is from Napa’s cool-climate Oak Knoll sector. One of the world’s most prodigious Cabernet Sauvignons is Shafer’s 2,000-case cuvee called Hillside Select. Always 100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged in 100% new French oak for a whopping 32 months, it boasts a gorgeous track record dating back to the early nineties, and just about every recent vintage has flirted with perfection.
2010 Page Springs Cellars Syrah Clone 99 Colibri Vineyard. 89 points. Lots of earth, bramble and spice with white pepper as advertised. Definitely a bold wine that could benefit from some cellar time. Decanted and enjoyed over the course of about 6 hours. Every glass offered something different. Killer finish… I could go quite a while without taking another sip because I was still tasting it for so long after I swallowed. Overall this is a wine with incredible depth and great evolution. Wish I had another bottle. Sold out!
1996 Henschke Shiraz Hill of Grace. Parker 92. Deep garnet-brick in color, the 1996 Hill of Grace reveals a nose redolent of cherry pie, incense, Chinese five spice, soy and cigars. Very spicy in the mouth, it has balanced acid and a medium level of chewy tannins before finishing long. It is mature now but no rush to drink.
1996 Clarendon Hills Astralis (Shiraz). Parker 97. The blockbuster 1996 Astralis Syrah is the most Hermitage-like. Its dark plum/purple color is followed by a big, sweet kiss of roasted meats, creme de cassis, blackberries, pepper, and forest floor. Dense with superb purity, full-bodied power, and beautiful balance, it is the only Astralis we tasted that exhibited a strong tertiary/secondary aromatic development.
And finally for desert, the 1951 Massandra white port. An unusual dessert wine from the town of Massandra in the Crimea which was an ancient Greek settlement. The Tzar had a palace here and for centuries they made special wine for the royal family. Raisin in a glass, this particular vintage must have been served up to Stalin!
So chaotic was this giant night that they brought out all five flavors on each plate and just placed them about the tables. I like the ice creams better than the sorbets here. The white chocolate was fantastic. Still, it’s all great.
Chef/Owner Kaz Oyama on the left, Hedonist organizer Yarom on the right. Observe the white haze of smoke.
And this place IS all about the beef, which is arguably some of the best I’ve ever had. Certainly the best yakiniku/Korean BBQ I’ve ever had. There is a perfect tenderness to every cut that’s fairly transcendant. I’m not even that much of a steak fan — but I’d take this stuff any time over even a spectacular cut from Mastros or Cut. The food here does not vary much from visit to visit. There is no menu. The quality however is utterly consistant. So while it isn’t an everyday sort of dining experience, perhaps once every 6-9 months, I love to return for my fix.
This was a spectacular evening — really, truly, deeply epic. It was about 5 hours of mind boggling wines and crazy beef.