Restaurant: Taylor’s Steakhouse
Location: 3361 West 8th St., Los Angeles, CA 90005. (213) 382-8449
Date: October 1, 2014
Rating: Old School
About a month ago my Hedonist group started up a new concept, a sort of club within a club of high end blind tasting diners. The deal is everyone brings a bottle (and backups) blind. We eat drink and try to guess at what they are. The group is know as the “Dirty Dozen” (for being 12). Oh, and we have an official Dirty Dozen T-shirt which is required attire.
Tonight is actually the second “meeting”, but I couldn’t make the first. Both time’s it’s been at Taylor’s Steakhouse, oddly located in Korea Town. Except when Taylor’s was founded in 1955, there was no K-Town!
From my cellar: 2007 Lur-Saluces “Y”. Parker 94. The 2007 Ygrec has a light, fragrant nose with apple-blossom, pink grapefruit, citrus lemon and just a touch of cold granite. Good definition. The palate is bright and lively, a lot of energy packed into this Ygrec, with citrus lemon, green apple, a touch of lemongrass, very harmonious and smooth towards the finish that display superb persistency, a hint of fiery lemongrass lingering in the mouth.
agavin: for those that don’t know, this is the secret dry wine of Chateau d’Yquem, world’s most renowned maker of sweet wine.
A note about the wines before jumping in. We organized them randomly into four flights of three, all served blind. We discussed each flight and opened them at the end of the flight before moving onto the next. This worked pretty well. It eliminated the free-for-all madness and shortened the time between tasting and finding out, so you could connect the taste with the information. This is important, because it’s hard at the end of the evening to remember back to the first wines. I had labeled the bottles with people’s names so we could tell them apart. Next time, we should use numbers or letters to eliminate the “Andy likes French” type biases. But some label is needed. We also might try out having one person (maybe even a “guest”) look at the wines and organize them into coherent flights.
From my cellar: 1986 Gruaud Larose. Parker 96-97. the dense, garnet/purple-colored 1986 Gruaud-Larose is evolving at a glacier pace. The wine still has mammoth structure, tremendous reserves of fruit and concentration, and a finish that lasts close to a minute. The wine is massive, very impressively constituted, with still some mouth-searing tannin to shed. Decanting of one to two hours in advance seems to soften it a bit, but this is a wine that seems to be almost immortal in terms of its longevity. It is a great Medoc classic, and certainly one of the most magnificent Gruaud-Larose ever made.
Avi brought: 2002 D R Stephens Cabernet Sauvignon Moose Valley Vineyard. Parker 90. A sleeper of the vintage, this 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon Moose Valley Vineyard appears to have reached full maturity. It offers an attractive, jammy nose of red and black currants, damp earth, roasted espresso, cedar and spice box. Medium to full-bodied, lush and seductive with low acidity, ripe tannin and a fleshy, round, opulent mouthfeel, it will offer plenty of pleasure for 6-7 more years.
Kirk brought: 1999 Miani Friuli Merlot. AG 97. The 1999 Merlot marries power to elegance in a style that foreshadows the wines of recent years. This is simply an awesome bottle of wine, that’s all there is to it. Everything is right there in the glass; inner perfume, ripeness and complexity all come together in a profound Merlot of the highest level. This three-dimensional Merlot should continue to drink beautifully for at least another decade, perhaps longer. The 1999 is the first wine that shows a more enlightened approach to vinification, and it is marvelous juice.
agavin: really a pretty profound “new Italian.”
The Molly dinner salad. Wedge of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, onions, blue cheese. I was pleasantly surprised by this salad. It was DROWNING in blue cheese dressing, which actually, I like. It would have been even better with bacon though.
Stewart brought: 1982 Château Smith Haut Lafitte. Classic bordeaux nose with tons of earth in the beginning. After some decanting as the earth notes die down nice soft dark fruits emerge and provide balance. Medium body with firm acidity and mellowed tannins. Definitely has more years left. Deep purple with only light bricking. Overall very nice and enjoyable.
Yarom brought: 1984 Heitz Cabernet Sauvignon Martha’s Vineyard. Parker 92. With coaxing, a surprisingly tight bouquet offers up damp, woodsy aromas intermixed with scents of mint and ripe cassis. Full-bodied, firm, and admirably concentrated, with a wonderful layered palate, this impressively-endowed wine requires another 4-5 years of cellaring. The wine may be going through a closed stage of development as this bottle was less impressive than past tastings.
Arnie brought: 2002 Paul Hobbs Cabernet Sauvignon. Parker 91-94. It is obvious Paul Hobbs prefers the influence of Taransaud cooperage on his Bordeaux varietals because they tend to give the wines a chocolatey character, and that is seen in the 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa (3,120 cases), a Cabernet Sauvignon with terrific concentration, remarkable opulence, and layers of cassis- and licorice-infused tobacco leaf notes that just cascade over the palate with an unctuous texture. The wealth of fruit and concentration hides some relatively serious tannin in this large-scaled wine.
Culotte. The most tender cut of top sirloin. Only two per steer. Pretty darn good straight up steak. Thick and tender like a filet. One huge block of meat too, with no gristle. The baked potato was very good too. I mean, it’s still a classic baked potato, but it was a good one.
John brought: 1998 La Mission Haut Brion. Parker 98. A candidate for the wine of the vintage from this somewhat forgotten year, consumers should be seeking out wines from the Right Bank and Graves as 1998 was a great vintage in those appellations. La Mission’s 1998 exhibits a healthy, opaque blue/purple color with no lightening at the edge. Thirty minutes of aeration brings forth a sensational bouquet of chocolate, cedar, truffles, graphite, blackberries, cassis and incense. La Mission’s so-called scorched earth/charcoal/hot rocks characteristic has not yet appeared. Full-bodied with superb purity, a multilayered texture, sweet tannin, good acidity and a fabulously long finish, this great, young La Mission-Haut-Brion’s finest days are yet to come.
Trish brought: 2004 Angelo Gaja Sperss. Parker 96. Gaja’s 2004 Langhe Sperss is an infant. Still incredibly primary, it exudes the essence of Serralunga black fruits, smoke and tar. The new oak is still very evident here and the wine seems to be at an awkward phase of its development. Still, it offers stunning concentration as well as length, with soft, caressing tannins that frame the fruit all the way to the long finish. This wine is in need of serious bottle age and may very well merit a higher score once it emerges from its temporary period of dormancy.
Larry brought: 1983 La Mission Haut Brion. Parker 90. This was the first vintage made under the administration of Jean Delmas. The most notable and dramatic change made at La Mission-Haut-Brion since 1983 became a more refined, polished, sophisticated style without the pure mass of older vintages, but also without the excesses of tannin and volatile acidity that sometimes plagued ancient vintages. The 1983, a very good vintage in the southern Medoc and Graves, is a relatively lightweight La Mission (particularly compared to the 1982) that is fully mature. Complex notes of smoked herbs, cigar tobacco, black currants, sweet cherries, damp earth and spice box jump from the glass of this dark garnet-colored wine. Medium-bodied with silky tannins, well-integrated, low acidity and abundant perfume, this fully mature 1983 should be consumed over the next decade.
agavin: this was voted wine of night (although close with the CNDP below)
Mushroom bordelaise. It was okay. Nothing like Cut’s amazing version though.
Robin brought: 2003 La Mondotte. Parker 96. A killer wine (I’m so sorry I didn’t buy any), the 2003 La Mondotte is clearly one of the superstars of the vintage. An intriguing perfume of licorice, Asian soy, black currant jam, ripe cherries and subtle toast emerges from this extravagantly rich, voluptuously textured, opulent, full-bodied St.-Emilion. Just coming in to full maturity, it is pure, rich and full. Drink it over the next decade or more.
Dave brought: 2007 Robert Foley Vineyards Claret. Parker 98. The extraordinary 2007 Claret, which is a Cabernet Sauvignon-based wine, displays inky notes of lead pencil shavings, pen ink, creme de cassis, blackberry, incense, and licorice. The wine is super-pure and super-rich, an extraordinarily full-bodied powerhouse of a Cabernet Sauvignon that should evolve for 15 or more years. Its sweetness of tannin and headiness already make it accessible.
Adam brought: 1998 Les Cailloux (Lucien et Andre Brunel) Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Centenaire. Parker 97-100. The 1998 Cuvee Centenaire is an awesome Chateauneuf du Pape. Made from extremely old vines, this is the essence of both Chateauneuf du Pape and the Grenache grape. The wine boasts a deep ruby/purple color as well as an extraordinary bouquet of melted, jammy black cherry, raspberry, and currant fruit mixed with pepper and spice box. In the mouth, it is rich, full-bodied, and unctuously-textured, with extraordinary purity, and laser-like definition for a wine of such massive concentration and depth. The finish lasts for nearly a minute. This spectacular, youthful, amazingly accessible offering is a tour de force in winemaking, and a tribute to just how great Chateauneuf du Pape can be.
agavin: a really great wine, and more or less tied in my mind for WOTN.
Overall, this was an incredibly fun night with some really good wines. Our room and the blind format worked out great.
As to Taylor’s and the food? I was pleasantly surprised, although not blown away. The atmosphere is fun in a retro way. The service is friendly but nothing on par with a more modern higher end steakhouse. The food is really old school. The salads were pretty good and the steaks themselves actually quite fabulous. But I’m not a huge steak fan and the extras just aren’t nearly as yummy as at a place like Mastros or even Boa or STK. Because for me, it’s not all about the meat (in fact, at a place like Mastros I drown the meat Oscar style in creamed seafood), I’m not as jazzed. The desserts were first rate though. But I like those new-style over-the-top sides like “king crab truffle gnocchi”, “Gorgonzola mac & cheese” and “lobster mashers.”
Oh, but it is about 50-60% of the price. Our per person tab, including tax and tip, was $85! Mastros could be twice that.