Location: 624 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036. (310) 362-6115
Date: June 18, 2014
Cuisine: Modern Bistro French
Rating: Nice (loud) space, tasty hip food, great service
Republique is certainly one of LA’s most anticipated recent openings. Taking over the gorgeous old Campanile space, this replacement is helmed by Walter Manzke and Margarita Manzke (of Church & State and Milo & Olive).
Some it seems more and more of my wine dinners are ending up here (probably in no small part due to their first rate wine program). Tonight brings my regular Hedonist group out on the town, this time organized by Larry (Yarom usually does the honors).
Tonight our dinner was in the private room upstairs, but our appetizers began on a little table in the midst of this chaos. I understand the desire to provide a change of venue, but given the pandemonium downstairs, squeezing a cocktail hour for twelve into the narrow entrance to the restaurant is a bit of a stretch.
2004 Taittinger Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Comtes de Champagne. Parker 96. It’s fascinating to taste the 2004 Brut Blanc de Blancs Comtes de Champagne after the 2002, something I have been able to do on a few occasions. The 2004 is all about minerality, precision and tension. It doesn’t have the sheer richness or power of the 2002, but it makes up for that with its crystalline purity and sheer energy. Bright hints of lemon oil, white flowers and crushed rocks are layered into the pointed, vibrant finish.
Eggs on Toast. santa barbara uni, soft-scrambled eggs.
The eggs substantially cut the briny quality of the uni. Although this dish looks the same as the previous times I’ve had it, they seem to have improved it. The toast is thinner (it was a problem biting through it before) and the ratios seem adjusted in favor of the uni which helps the balance.
Our menu for tonight. We kept changing the wines on them and they kept reprinting the menu in realtime. It was impressive. I should also note that every wine had its own glass and they were all stickered with the wine and vintage! Really excellent wine service.
2004 Domaine Michel Niellon Bâtard-Montrachet. Burghound 94. Discreet notes of pain grillé, fennel, dried flowers and apricot aromas introduce rich, full and imposingly powerful full-bodied flavors that are mouth coating, palate staining and hugely long. Like many examples of Bâtard in 2004, this is more elegant than it usually is and while it can’t match the supremely refined Chevalier in this regard, it comes much closer than it usually does. A knockout and worth a special search.
2005 Domaine Michel Niellon Chevalier-Montrachet. Burghound 94. A very deft touch of wood frames the understated and backward nose of white flower and pear aromas that lead to mineral-infused and stunningly intense and precise medium full flavors that culminate in a hugely long yet focused and explosive finish. As one would expect, this scintillates with minerality and this liquid stone quality defines the character of this wine from start to finish. In a word, harmonious. Note that patience will be required.
2007 Domaine Michel Niellon Chevalier-Montrachet. Burghound 95. This is a study in elegance as the positively stunning nose displays breathtaking purity of expression with incredibly complex and airy white flower and ripe green fruit aromas that precede beautifully balanced, harmonious and chiseled, indeed even crystalline middle weight flavors that possess outstanding length and knockout depth. This is class in a glass with terrific vibrancy and the palate staining finish is almost painfully intense and about the only nit is a trace of warmth though this is as much due to the superb transparency as the actual level of alcohol. If you can find it, buy it.
2007 Etienne Sauzet Chevalier-Montrachet. Burghound 96. As with the Bâtard, there is a discreet hint of post-bottling SO2 that is just noticeable – decant. A classic, and radiant, Chevalier nose offers perhaps the purest fruit in the range with a mix of upper and middle register acacia blossom and fresh lemon aromas that are seductively enveloping before sliding seamlessly into strikingly detailed, stony and almost Chablis-like flavors carrying a similar sense of salinity and this is like rolling tiny pebbles around in the mouth, all wrapped in a palate-etching finish of spectacular length. This is breath-taking stuff and the focus and linearity are superb. This should age well for years. Textbook Chevalier.
2010 Louis Jadot Chevalier-Montrachet Les Demoiselles Domaine des Héritiers Louis Jadot. Burghound 95. A gorgeously elegant if highly restrained nose of citrus, acacia blossom and pungent wet stone aromas trimmed in just enough wood to notice is stunning. Not surprisingly, the medium-bodied flavors are much finer than those of the Bâtard or Corton-Charlemagne though not quite as big or powerful. The strikingly intense, lingering and impeccably well-balanced finish radiates minerality and the overall sense of harmony is flat out superb. A knockout, even by the incredible standards of this wine.
Live Santa Barbara Spot Prawn. Chanterelle mushrooms. This was a simple dish, but the sweet freshness of the prawn, the rich buttery sauce, and the almost uni-like mushrooms blended perfectly. Really rather excellent.
It also paired fabulously with all our great Chardonnay. However, we had wine to food ratio problem at the start of the meal as these first courses were light, and separated by a lot of time while we had an enormous lineup of 5 white Burgundies per course!
2004 Bouchard Père et Fils Corton-Charlemagne. Burghound 93. I have not had this since cask and the bottle in question had a tattered label though no apparent seepage. As such, it’s difficult to know whether this bottle was indeed representative as it seemed relatively supple and forward, indeed more or less ready to drink. To be sure, there was no obvious secondary nuances in evidence and still good freshness to the rich, intense and vibrant flavors brimming with minerality on the impressively long finish.
2004 Domaine Jean-Marc Morey Bâtard-Montrachet. Burghound 92. A riper nose that is an interesting combination of citrus, peach, peach and slightly exotic aromas that precede rich, full and powerful flavors that are presently quite focused on the linear and reserved finish. This will need a few years in bottle to really settle down and harmonize as it’s on the awkward side today.
2006 Henri Boillot Bâtard-Montrachet. Burghound 96. This too is relatively restrained with a pretty but reluctant white flower and spice box nose that slides gracefully into fresh, super intense and tautly muscled full-bodied flavors brimming with dry extract that confers a distinctly textured quality onto the powerful and chewy finish. This is a big Bâtard yet for all its size and weight, everything is harnessed and focused as the length just goes on and on with no sense of top heaviness. One of the more impressive examples of Bâtard that I have ever seen because it rarely ascends to territory normally reserved for the likes of Montrachet and Chevalier or the occasional Charlemagne.
2002 Louis Jadot Bonnes Mares. Burghound 94. Always one of Jadot’s best wines and the ’02 is no exception with a deft touch of oak highlighting the remarkably elegant, intense, rich and forward red and black fruit nose that is decidedly less austere than usual merging seamlessly into full-bodied, robust, well structured flavors that feature impressive depth and this finishes with absolutely knockout length. There is a subtle touch of oak on the finish but the underlying material is so good that it shouldn’t be an issue with a few more years of bottle age. In short, this is extremely impressive but will require ample patience.
2008 Rhys Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains. 93 points. Served blind. This was as good, and as Burgundian, as any New World pinot I’ve had. It almost seemed like a Vosne Romanee 1re cru. And it was young.
1996 Faiveley Chambertin-Clos de Bèze. Burghound 86. Earthy, intense and serious aromas lead to somewhat lean and tough flavors underpinned by solidly structured, only moderately ripe tannins framed by a touch more acidity than the fat can completely buffer. In short, while this is not technically flawed, it is disappointing by the usually high standards of a Faiveley grand cru.
1998 Domaine Robert Groffier Chambertin-Clos de Bèze. Burghound 92. Unlike a number of Groffier wines of this era, the nose is not dominated by char or excessively toasty oak and the now maturing fruit is allowed to show through freely. While there are hints of secondary fruit development, the nose remains largely fresh and bright with touches of Gevrey style earth and animale notes that are picked up by the delicious, round and relatively forward medium-bodied flavors that offer excellent complexity and fine if not truly exceptional length. This is not an especially big Bèze but it is balanced and is aging beautifully. More importantly, the tannins do not dominate the finish and with air.
Liberty Duck. Torte au gibier. Duck breast on the right, on the left a pastry filled with French Country Pate (scrambled duck innards). Gross as it seems this treat was utterly divine. Just so meaty and good. Also a great red Burgundy pairing for what it’s worth.
1982 Leoville-Las Cases. Parker 95-100. I have had perfect bottles of this cuvee, but, perplexingly, the bottles from my cellar tend to be broodingly backward and require plenty of coaxing. This huge wine is, in many ways, just as massive as Leoville Barton, but it possesses a greater degree of elegance as well as unreal concentration. Classic lead pencil, cassis, kirsch, cedar, and spice characteristics are abundant in both the nose and full-bodied flavors. The tannins are still there, and, at least from my cellar, this 1982 does not appear to have changed much in the last 10-12 years.
2006 Sine Qua Non Raven Series (Syrah). Parker 96-99. The 2006 Raven Series Syrah, a blend of 93% Syrah, 5% Grenache, and 2% Viognier that spends just under two years in French oak. Offering a dense purple color, gorgeous fruit, and a sweet perfume of graphite, blackberries, blueberries, charcoal, licorice, tar, and new oak, it is a dense, full-bodied, well-endowed, beautifully layered, pure Syrah that should drink well for 10-15 years.
agavin: I must say as enjoyable as these big New World’s get.
Somehow I never get a real dessert here at Republique (and they look great). Instead we had this simple chunk of blue cheese. Nothing wrong with that, I adore blue cheese, but I also could have done with something sweet.
2011 Domaine Marquis d’Angerville Volnay 1er Cru. Burghound 89-91. Here the nose is more deeply pitched with an attractive layering effect to the dark berry fruit aromas that enjoy added breadth from the presence of plum, violet and soft earth nuances. There is the same fine sense of underlying tension and detail to the medium-bodied flavors that possess a silky mouth feel before culminating in an overtly mineral-driven, dusty, linear and persistent finish. If this slightly muscular effort can add a bit more depth in bottle it should merit the upper end of my projected range.
agavin: surprisingly fresh and drinkable at the moment. Lots of berry.
Our Sommelier for evening, Taylor Parsons. As I mentioned before he and his team managed the wine assault flawlessly. Individual labeled glasses for every wine! They got the flights poured out rapidly. We did not want for wine!
Overall, Republique is a first rate place. It updates the classic French fare in a way that is contemporary without being ultra modern. And the whole everything here is so painfully (and I don’t mean in a bad way) contemporary. It just couldn’t be more “in” with the current dining trends. Not that I actually have a problem with that — in fact, my only problems with the restaurant was the volume (almost too loud for conversation) and a seeming total lack of large square or circular tables (I eat out in large groups and hate long skinny tables for more than 6). Most importantly, not only are these fresh takes on the classics, but the cooking is really on point. Even only being three months old this kitchen is executing very well.