Restaurant: Il Grano [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]
Location: 11359 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025. 310.477.7886
Date: May 12, 2014
Rating: Awesome night!
About once a year, my Hedonist group heads to Il Grano for a game feast cooked up by master chef Sal Marino. This time, nearly every animal featured was shot by Yarom!
1990 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut. IWC97+. Full copper-gold color. Initially restrained, brooding nose exploded with aeration, showing apple, orange, apricot, honey, iodine, smoke, hazelnut, macadamia and a suggestion of dry oloroso sherry. Dense, full, chewy and rich; an extraordinarily solid Champagne with an intriguing suggestion of Calvados. Broadens toward the back and goes on and on on the echoing aftertaste, with rich, mellow notes of toffee, brown butter and marrow. Like the ’92 Clos du Mesnil, this displays its powerful underlying acidity with aeration (Krug’s wines never go through malolactic fermentation) and should be long-lived.
1998 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut. IWC 94. Bright gold. Ripe orchard fruits, peach pit, toffee, marzipan and dried flowers on the pungent, smoky nose. Broad and fleshy on entry, then tighter in the mid-palate, offering palate-staining pit fruit nectar, apple pie and brioche flavors, enhanced by a toffeed quality. Closes spicy and very long, with resonating smoke and toasted hazlenut qualities.
2004 Louis Roederer Champagne Cristal Brut. IWC 94. Light, bright gold. Spicy citrus and orchard fruit aromas are complemented by chalk, white flowers and a touch of smokiness. Taut, linear lemon and orange rind flavors give way to deeper pear in the mid-palate and pick up notes of honeysuckle and toasted grain with air. Still very young but shows excellent promise. Finishes with good mineral cut and sappy persistence.
agavin: A fruity hedonism that is hard to resist.
Boar tartar, spring red onion, quail egg. Soft and delicious. The egg really upped it a notch.
From my cellar: 1990 Robert Ampeau & Fils Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. Burghound 93. A truly wonderful nose of simply knockout complexity features notes of yeast and baked bread along with now fully mature aromas of a variety of floral notes and spice hints that gives way to mineral-suffused, round, intense and detailed medium full flavors that also offer outstanding depth on the sappy and mouth coating finish. This is drinking perfectly now and I wouldn’t hesitate to open one anytime as there is no further upside to be had. A beautiful effort of real style and grace.
From my cellar: 1966 Maison Roche de Bellene Volnay 1er Cru Santenots Collection Bellenum. 95 points. Wow. A total fruit bomb still, with lots of soft berry and long acidic finish.
Rabbit milanese, shallot-stanwick apricot confit.
1961 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Cèdres. 98 points. Initially, the nose showed a bit of horse/barnyard, but this mostly blew off to reveal a Graves-like expression of dark fruit, ash, smoke and floral notes — complex and incredibly seductive. The taste was equally youthful giving mostly red fruit and mineral with a slight tartness. Mid-weight. Flavors were great, though, through a long, satisfying finish. Brad indicated that this reminded him of 1959 Bordeaux (sadly I can’t comment on the linkage — I’ll just have to trust him). What a special bottle of wine!
Rabbit drumettes! Eat your heart out KFC.
1990 Jacques Prieur Musigny. Burghound 92. I had not had this wine in many years as the last was in 2000 but that bottle showed better than this most recent one that was marred by both brett and some volatile acidity. A note that I believe is more representative follows: A classically styled Musigny with a superb nose of violets, black fruits and incredibly seductive secondary aromas followed by big, rich, structured flavors and a long, textured and velvety finish.
agavin: way better than 92 points.
1990 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Musigny Cuvée Vieilles Vignes. Burghound 89. As long time readers know, I have never thought very highly of this wine and I have had on the order of 3 cases of it without ever finding one that I thought was very good, let alone great. This would include a bottle that was air expressed directly from the domaine so my objections have nothing to do with storage, provenance or shipping. However, the bottle in this tasting displayed the best fruit/acid/tannin balance of any ’90 VV that I’ve yet had and while I would stop well short of according it the accolades that it once received in abundance, it didn’t not display the green finishing tannins and overtly advanced aromas that its predecessors have. In short, a wine of moderate promise and while by no means great, at least acceptable in the context of the extremely high standards of this wine and this vintage.
agavin: started a little closed, but opened up to just wow.
Porchetta, sal’s garden arugula, parmigiano.
1994 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche. Burhound 95. This too is sublime in its subtlety and grace with ineffably pure aromas and it strikes a balance between the opulence of the RSV and the restraint of the GE with an expressive yet ultra fine nose of rose petals, violets and seductive spice notes that introduce unbelievably refined flavors that seem crafted from silk and lace, culminating in a linear, mouth coating finish that detonates like a bomb and lasts and lasts. At present, this is taut and precise with the lithe muscularity of a world class gymnast yet it is not lean or unduly tight as there is a generosity to the mid-palate that serves to buffer the underlying tannic spine that will permit this to age for decades. This is clearly a great wine that epitomizes the concept of power without weight.
agavin: Typical of 2004 with that greeny pepper taste.
More greens for the vegetarians.
2002 Domaine Michel Lafarge Beaune 1er Cru Grèves. Burghound 89-91. Very ripe red cherry, strawberry and pinot fruit aromas explode from the glass and introduce exceptionally fresh and exuberant, sappy and pure medium weight flavors underpinned by dusty, textured tannins and plenty of finishing velvet and silk. There is an utterly seductive inner mouth perfume and the length is most impressive. As good a young Lafarge Grèves as I can recall at this stage.
White pizza, venison sausage, ramps. Not sure I’ve ever had deer pizza, but it was awesome.
1996 Chapoutier Ermitage l’Ermite. Parker 99. One of the candidates for France’s wine of the vintage is unquestionably Chapoutier’s 1996 Hermitage l’Ermite. In October, 1997 I reported that this was a virtually perfect wine made from a small parcel of vines, believed to be over 100 years old, located close to the tiny white chapel owned by the Jaboulets on the highest part of the Hermitage Hill. Yields were a minuscule 9 hectoliters per hectare. Now that this wine is in bottle, it is unbelievable! Unfortunately, only 30 cases were exported to the United States. The wine boasts a saturated black/purple color, as well as a phenomenal nose of rose petals, violets, blackberries, cassis, and pain grille. In the mouth, it is phenomenally rich, with a viscous texture, and a multidimensional, layered finish that lasts for over a minute. Its purity, perfect equilibrium, and unbelievable volume and richness are the stuff of legends. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2050.
1990 Guigal Cote Rotie la Landonne. Parker 100. The 1990 La Landonne is a perfect wine! Fortunately, more than 800 cases were produced. It possesses an opaque black color, and a huge, truffle, licorice, cassis, and peppery-scented nose. While it is one of the most concentrated wines I have ever poured across my palate, it is perfectly balanced, with adequate underlying acidity, huge extraction of ripe fruit and tannin, and a phenomenal 70-second or longer finish. This is the essence of Syrah!
agavin: oh, yeah!
Pheasant breast, fava, fava tendrils.
1993 Guigal Cote Rotie la Landonne. Parker 88. The great glories of this house are its Cote Roties, of which there are now five separate offerings. The 1993s, which have just come on the marketplace, are from a troublesome vintage for everyone in Cote Rotie, rivaling 1984 in difficulty. Nevertheless, the single-vineyard wines have turned out well. As for the single vineyard wines, they are all excellent in 1993, but more herbaceous and clearly marked by the green pepper smells of slightly underripe Syrah. The most tannic of the three famous single vineyards is the 1993 Cote Rotie La Landonne. It is amazingly powerful and rich for the vintage, and reveals more fruit and intensity than it did prior to bottling. It exhibits a saturated ruby color, and copious amounts of pepper, tar, olives, licorice, and black cherry fruit in the nose. It remains the most muscular and structured of the three wines, and has managed to avoid the hollowness and vegetal character that plague so many 1993 northern Rhones. This Cote Rotie should age gracefully for a decade or more.
An the boring sans pheasant version.
2000 Guigal Cote Rotie la Landonne. Parker 93. 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, it should hit its prime in 2-3 years, and last for 14-15.
Pappardelle pheasant veneziana. I love this kind of wintery game pappardelle.
2007 Domaine de la Janasse Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Vieilles Vignes. Parker 100. The perfect 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes (tasted on four separate occasions) is composed of 85% Grenache, 10% Syrah, and the rest Mourvedre and other authorized varietals from 60- to 100+-year-old vines. The wine is aged in both tank (75%) and small oak barrels (25%). Its inky/purple color is followed by a phenomenal nose of spring flowers, creme de cassis, blackberries, boysenberries, licorice, truffles, and spice. Displaying massive body, incredible freshness, laser-like focus from the excellent acids, and a finish that goes on well past a minute, this prodigious Chateauneuf du Pape is the most extraordinary wine yet made at this estate. While accessible (as most 2007s are), ideally it needs 4-5 years of cellaring, and should keep for three decades.
agavin: can we say fruit bomb? yes, but in a great way!
1995 Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape Hommage A Jacques Perrin. Parker 96. The two limited cuvees of Chateauneuf du Pape Hommage a Jacques Perrin are spectacular in both 1994 and 1995, but each will require 10-15 years of cellaring. Less than 300 cases were made in each vintage. The textbook blend of 70% Mourvedre, 15% Syrah, 10% Grenache, and 5% Counoise was utilized in 1989, 1990, and 1994, but in 1995, the Mourvedre component was reduced, with the amount of Counoise and Syrah increased significantly. The 1995 reveals more of an aged beef, smoked duck-like component, no doubt because of the higher percentage of Counoise and Muscardin. Although there is less Mourvedre in this cuvee, it still possesses the massive richness, opaque purple color, and sweet, earthy fruit that oozes over the palate with extraordinary intensity and purity. The change in the 1995’s blend gives the wine a more spice-driven, animal character, with the distinctive aged beef/Asian spice/smoked duck characteristics more exaggerated. This wine needs 12-15 years of cellaring, and should last 40-50 years. It is a modern-day classic. No Hommage cuvee was produced in 1996.
Pea pasta lamb Bolognese. Yum!
2001 Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape Hommage A Jacques Perrin. Parker 99. The 2001 Chateauneuf du Pape Hommage a Jacques Perrin is a blend of 60% Mourvedre, 20% Grenache, 10% Counoise, and 10% Syrah. Full-bodied, excruciatingly backward, and nearly impenetrable, it boasts an inky/blue/purple color in addition to a promising nose of new saddle leather, melted asphalt, camphor, blackberries, smoky, roasted herbs, and Asian spices. A huge lashing of tannin as well as a formidable structure result in the antithesis of its more flattering, forward, and voluptuous sibling, the classic Beaucastel. Readers lucky enough to come across this cuvee should plan on waiting at least a decade before it begins to approach adolescence. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2040.
agavin: a brooding monster
A pomodoro pasta for the meat challenged.
1985 Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia. Parker 100. I had this wine in a blind tasting – I have had it frequently, and have never failed to give it a perfect rating. At the same time, I have often mis-identified it in blind tastings as the 1986 Mouton-Rothschild. In this tasting, the wine was phenomenal. The color remains an opaque purple. The bouquet is beginning to develop secondary aromas of cedar and truffles to go along with its intense cassis, black-raspberry, blackberry, tarry, toasty personality. Exceptionally dense, concentrated, and full-bodied, this wine possesses layers of concentrated fruit that are beautifully balanced by the wine’s sweet tannin and well-integrated acidity. The finish lasts for nearly a minute. A monumental Cabernet Sauvignon, it is one of the greatest wines made this century. Tasting after tasting continues to confirm this wine’s surreal level of quality. Despite being 11 years old, it remains youthful. My best guess for when it will reach full maturity is between 2000-2025. What a wine!
Boar piccata. Like old school veal piccata, but boar!
1961 Chateau d’Yquem. Parker 84. The year 1961 was only a mediocre vintage for Barsac and Sauternes; however, the sales of these wines have long been helped by the greatness of this vintage for the red wines of Bordeaux. I have consistently found Yquem’s 1961 to be a muscular, out of balance wine, with a burnt character to the bouquet, and overly oaky, aggressive flavors that lack this estate’s ripeness and great richness. The wine is now beginning to dry out and become more awkward. Drink it up.
agavin: It might be a mediocre year and a deep color, but it was pretty fun.
Boar ribs! You have to love these suckers. Plus, you can club your rivals over the head afterward.
This was another knock down great evening and it was fun to see Sal cook in a different style. He really rose to the occasion and treated the game just right. And the wines! Wow, everyone really stepped up and we had some real gems!
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