Location: 9400 W Olympic Blvd. Beverly Hills, CA 90212. (310) 407-7791
Date: December 4, 2014
Rating: Awesome Food & Wine
Sage Society is a fabulous wine sales business operated by my friend Liz, who has one of the best palettes for food and wine of anyone I know. We also have very similar taste in both and she is a huge lover of Burgundy and interesting and geeky Italians. She periodically organizes dinners for her clients which always combine fabulous wines, great food, and an extremely high level of polish and integration. She really produces (in the film sense of the term) a menu and experience.
Tonight is the annual Sage Society Holiday Dinner.
Our hostess Liz on the left and master chef Mirko Paderno. Paderno is a born and bred Italian chef. Raised in Milan, his love of cooking was originally inspired by his parents and grandmother, who taught him how to prepare traditional dishes from both the Northern and Southern parts of Italy.
After graduating from the Cesare Ritz School in Merano, Chef Paderno worked at the Four Seasons Hotel in Milan under Chef Sergio Mei. Utilizing fresh ingredients and simple accents in his dishes, he developed a style that focused on the flavor of the food above all else. In 1999, Chef Paderno took his osteria-style cuisine to Los Angeles, working at top Italian restaurants such as Primi, Dolce and All’Angelo. After opening the acclaimed Cecconi’s in West Hollywood in 2009, Paderno was appointed Executive Chef at Oliverio inside the Avalon Hotel and tasked with relaunching the concept and menu as an upscale, alfresco Italian restaurant.
In the fall of 2013, Chef Paderno was named Area Executive Chef for Viceroy Hotel Group, adding LIVELLO at L’Ermitage Beverly Hills to his kitchen roster. At both Oliverio and LIVELLO, he showcases what he calls “modern Italian food with regional touches” and fuses Italian flavors with local ingredients.
Liz brought this Oenothèque (renamed P2) which comes in a crazy elaborate display box.
1998 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon P2. AG 95. The 1998 Dom Pérignon P-2 (formerly Oenothèque) is quite reticent today. What else is new? These second -plenitude wines are often very tight when they are first released, which is very much the case here. Still, it is quite evident the 1998 is a bit more tender and pliant than the 1996. Today, the 1998 still hasn’t turned the corner, but it is quite pretty and expressive. This is a terrific offering.
1983 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon. JK 93. Nose was so honeyed and full of crème brulee that it gave a sinful impression. There was a touch of seltzer and minerals, but the 1983 was definitely living in plateau city. To me, this vintage signified crossing that bridge that Bernard alluded to earlier. Bernard was impressed with the freshness of the 1983. The palate had a woodsy edge but was still very smooth and caressing, with good seltzer vim to the finish. I concluded, .In a great spot right now.
The next three courses involved an unusual blind “contest.” We each brought several wines designed to go with specific courses. They were served blind in flights and we attempted to choose not the best wine, but the best “pairing.”
From my cellar: 2000 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage Blanc. IWC 91-95. Honey, hay and herbs on the nose. Dense but bright, and quite spicy in the mouth. Not especially sweet, but chewy and vibrant, finishing with good grip. From Rocoules: Spice, apricot and orange zest on the nose. Silky and spicy, with lovely fat texture, but still with racy grip. This could make a complete Hermitage blanc on its own. Rocoules again: Complex aromas of lemon, spice and blond tobacco. Less sweet than the first Rocoules sample, but also tighter and more obviously structured. Finishes with considerable power. The Chaves had already moved these first components from barrel to tank in order to avoid fatiguing the wine. Rocoules from a barrel (14.8% alcohol): Extraordinarily spicy nose, with malic notes of apple and spearmint. Still showing traces of the fermentation. Lush and deep on the palate, with almost exotic ripeness and a flavor of honeysuckle. As fat as this is, it still has sound acidity and terrific verve, with enlivening notes of orange zest and spice. Very long and fresh on the aftertaste. The ultimate blend should make a terrific bottle.
2002 François Raveneau Chablis 1er Cru Butteaux. Burghound 92. Extremely subtle oak frames expressive and layered aromas of oyster shell, iodine and a lovely mineral component that leads to even more complex flavors that display superb intensity and stunning length. The finish is racy yet completely buffered by the copious sap. A knockout that has reached its peak though it should be capable of holding at this level for up to another decade.
agavin: best wine of the flight (although it still didn’t pair).
Spaghetti bottarga with clams and a TON of caviar. A very salty briny dish. Really quite lovely, but a difficult pairing. The caviar and clams were a last minute addition and we had tried to pair with just the bottarga. Really, the 1983 Dom worked best (not an official pairing) and even it fought with the brine.
2000 Domaine Huet Vouvray Sec Le Mont. A nearly dry Vouvray.
1990 Georges Noellat Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Beaux Monts. 93 points. Brick color, with a nose of game and leather. Decent fruit, with a tannic backbone still showing, similar to other ’90s. This is a very good wine, and will hold for a while.
2002 Alain Hudelot-Noellat Romanée St. Vivant. IWC 93. Dark red. Youthful raspberry and blackberry aromas accented by gingerbread, along with deeper mocha, smoked meat and candied rose accents. Lush, suave and deep, with a bright, zesty mineral quality adding impressive lift and precision to the deep, sweet red and dark berry flavors. Finishes with a liqueur-like raspberry quality and excellent depth and persistence. More alluring today than the 2001 and I suspect that this will drink well earlier, if for no other reason than for its sweetness and supple texture.
agavin: best wine of the flight, although slightly weak in the fruit department — nose was all RSV.
From my cellar: 1970 Bodegas Olarra Rioja Cerro Anon Gran Reserva. 92 points. Surprisingly young. Gorgeous and interesting nose with a slightly weak mid palette and a long pretty sour cherry finish. Most people thought it was some odd pinot noir and had no idea it was so old.
1990 Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne. Burghound 93. This is one of those whites from the ’90 vintage that is trapped in a time capsule as it remains unusually youthful for a 20 year old wine even if no longer young as the nose displays the first hints of sous bois along with dried flower and citrus aromas. The delicious and highly mineral-infused middle weight flavors are racy, intense and beautifully delineated before culminating in a lingering and pure finish. This is in extraordinary condition if well-stored and should continue to drink well for years to come. In a word, impressive.
agavin: really nice Charlie, incredibly fresh, younger than some 2005s I’ve tasted!
But it was also a difficult pairing. None of us (except maybe Liz) properly anticipated the yolk effect, and all the reds, good as they might have been with straight truffles, were just consumed by the yolk. Not unpleasantly mind you, but not exactly harmoniously either. The Corton was the best of the lot (pairing wise), but even it was fairly overwhelmed by the egg.
1994 Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Masseto Toscana IGT. AG 95. The 1994 Masseto is another super-impressive wine in this tasting. The warmth of the year comes through in the super-ripe, dense fruit. There is plenty of underlying structure to ensure another decade of very fine drinking here. This is a stunning Masseto from a long forgotten year.
From my cellar: 1985 Joseph Drouhin Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Les Cazetiers. 88 points. This bottle had a serious barnyard funk on the nose (horse butt as we nicknamed it), but after about an hour it mostly faded. The palette and finish were quite nice though (if you ignored the nose). Quite a bit of fruit still going.
2002 Domaine Dujac Echezeaux. Burghound 90-93. Intense, extremely expressive spicy red fruit aromas lead to wonderfully sappy, mouth coatingly rich flavors blessed with outstanding density and unusually silky tannins plus a certain seductive quality to the subtly complex and persistent finish. This is more refined than it normally is at this early stage of its development and is extremely promising.
agavin: my favorite wine of the flight.
2002 Domaine du Château de Chorey (Germain) Beaune 1er Cru Cuvée Tante Berthe. Burghound 93. This is a massive wine with an incredibly concentrated yet remarkably elegant nose of cassis and plum followed by powerful, robust and firmly structured flavors oozing with sap that completely buffers the big but very ripe tannins. Despite the size, this is astonishingly well balanced and the length just doesn’t quit; I could taste this wine hours later and if you can find any, don’t pass it up as Beaune 1ers of this caliber rarely come along and it will last at least 30 years, perhaps longer.
agavin: this wine caused much consternation blind as it was so purple and powerful that we wondered if it might be a New World Pinot Noir. It had a killer long finish.
These were the most closely paired wines. The Massetto, although lovely, was a total pair fail, but all the Burgundies worked decently. Still, not of them worked so well that we were willing to declare them a “winning pairing.” So we didn’t actually award the Champagne.
Overall, this was another knock out meal. The food was fantastic. Each dish was really fabulous and very generous with the truffles, caviar and the like. Mirko Paderno is a top top Italian chef, one of the best in town (and LA has very good Italian). The wines were also wonderful, some mixed, but the format was a lot of fun and resulted in an enormous amount of wine talk and debate — woe be those few who weren’t serious wine geeks.