Restaurant: Phong Dinh [1, 2, 3]
Location: 107 E Valley blvd, San Gabriel, Ca, 91776. (626) 307-8868
Date: December 9, 2014
My Hedonist club has hit up Phong Dinh several times before, once in their old location and once in this newer one — albeit in a nearby San Gabriel Valley spot. This authentic Vietnamese continues to serve up interesting stuff — plus they’re happy to take some of Yarom’s “do it yourself” meats, like both boar, deer, and pheasant he shot recently.
René-Henri Coutier Champagne Brut Millésimé Clos d’Ambonnay. Champagne to start.
From my cellar: 2007 Simon Bize Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru Aux Vergelesses. Burghound 90. As would reasonably be expected, there is just more here in every dimension with a more complex and more elegant nose that is layered and very fresh and this refinement continues onto the nicely concentrated middle weight flavors that display evident minerality on the sappy, intense and mouth coating finish that lingers and lingers. This is a terrific Savigny blanc and recommended.
2012 Gilbert Picq & ses Fils Chablis Dessus La Carriere. Burghound 89-92. This is slightly riper, in fact sufficiently so to display hints of the exotic though they are background nuances to the mineral reduction, floral and oyster shell aromas. There is excellent richness and volume though perhaps a bit less minerality than usual, all wrapped in a punchy and appealingly complex finish. This should be excellent as it offers plenty of Chablis character and lovely balance.
Snails in coconut curry. This spicy coconut curry cream sauce was amazing. You had to suck the meat out of the snails, which was cool, and there was plenty of sauce to drip over rice or noodles.
This time, the sauce was a little thiner than the first time (and although it tasted about the same, the thicker was a little better). The snails themselves were pretty awesome.
2004 Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Spätlese. IWC 92. Mesmerizing aromas of papaya, sweet herbs and spearmint. Intense but discreet cherry fruit rises from the mid-palate, accompanied by brilliant acidity. The riveting finish is animated and spicy. One of the finest spatleses of the vintage in Germany.
1990 Zind-Humbrecht Gewurztraminer Heimbourg Vendange Tardive. 95 points. Wow. Intense, intense, intense. Sugar, sweet, lychee, a little cayenne. Very hard to describe. The finish goes into the next day. Great pairing with Northern Thai food. A very special, unique wine.
1999 Zind-Humbrecht Riesling Brand. IWC 93. Knockout nose of fresh and dried fruits, honey and white flowers. Delicious fruit salad and citrus skin flavors complicated by spices and honey. Lovely ripe acidity leavens the 22 g/l residual sugar. Very rich and dense, and much easier to taste today than the Rangen. I like the balance here.
Crab in tamarind sauce. Delicious. Sweet and sour.
2011 Weingut Jäger Grüner Veltliner Federspiel Ried Klaus.
Roast boar. This scrumptious dish had a ton of flavor. The meat had this char broiled and spiced thing that was spectacular.
2012 Seven of Hearts Pinot Noir Curmudgeon Cuvée Armstrong Vineyard. IWC 92. Dark red. Delicate, focused aromas of red berries, potpourri and Asian spices, with a bright mineral nuance adding lift. Fresh and lively on the palate, offering tangy raspberry and strawberry flavors that show very good energy, lift and cut. A fresh, elegant, weightless pinot that finishes with very good energy and drive and silky tannins. This racy, balanced wine puts on weight with air but maintains a sense of elegance and restraint.
2012 MacMurray Ranch Pinot Noir Estate Vineyards Russian River Valley. 89 points. Nice balance and structure, ready to drink as an infant. Some wood and spice on the nose, strawberry/raspberry palate.
Ground deer. Delicious too with a nice crunch to it.
From my cellar: 1995 Louis Jadot Echezeaux. 90 points. Impressive deep ruby-red. Perfumed, slightly candied aromas of red berries and smoky, charred oak. Supple and sweet, but a wine of only moderate intensity. Finishes with slightly dry tannins.
agavin: I bought a bunch of these because they were “cheap.” I.e. even though it’s a grand cru (although a spotty one) I bought it for my “premier crus that are drinking well now” slot. It turned out quiet decent, although there was a touch of barnyard on the nose. Several thought it was the wine of the night. I actually agree as reds go — but the competition was flaccid.
2000 Château Chauvin. Parker 92. A superb wine, this opaque purple-colored effort boasts a vividly pure nose of graphite, melted licorice, creme de cassis, espresso, and wet stones backed up by subtle, high quality, spicy, new oak. Multi-layered, full-bodied, dense, concentrated, and pure, with sweet tannin and superb length, this future classic will be at its best between 2008-2019.
1997 Greenock Creek Cabernet Sauvignon. Parker 92. One of my weekly Cabernet Sauvignons for a number of years was Greenock Creek’s 1997. It was released at a very reasonable price, and, again, I did not know what to expect as this estate is not associated with Cabernet Sauvignon as much as Grenache and Shiraz. This 1997 is still a killer wine. Its dark plum/purple color is accompanied by aromas of spice box, cedarwood, sweet licorice, and black currants. Full-bodied, velvety-textured, and gorgeously proportioned, it is a sexy Cabernet Sauvignon that should continue to evolve for 5-10 years.
Fish sauce. Tasty and salty. Two kinds.
There are various condiments. Mint and basil.
And these rice paper “pancakes” that are softened in hot water. Not pictured are two kinds of fish sauce and thin rice noodles (you can see them below).
You put all this together with the fish as you like and do your best to roll into a pancake. It’s scrumptious, absolutely delicious, but messy.
2001 Oriel Priorat Alma de Llicorella. 88 points. Burnished dark garnet red. Red lifesavers candy, roses, and earth nose. Medium bodied, cranberries, sweet ‘n’ sour cherries, good acid, fully integrated tannins.
Spicy boar. Another boar dish made from Yarom’s animal. This one was flavorful with a real slow powerful heat.
2007 Nazar Spray. Not listed on CT.
Pheasant curry. Absolutely delicious, particularly with some of the noodles.
1987 Diamond Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Volcanic Hill. IWC 84. Full red. Weedy, green, vaguely chemical nose. Thick and dense but rustic. Has more density of material to stand up to its strong green component than this winery other two ’87s. The best of the trio in terms of texture and ripeness.
2000 Giscours. Parker 92. Probably the finest Giscours made since the 1975, this black/purple-colored 2000 offers up terrific notes of camphor, creosote, blackberry, and cassis jam intermixed with notions of smoke and earth. Spicy, with low acidity, a big, rich, fleshy, full-bodied palate, outstanding texture, and a long, pure finish, it is, to reiterate, one of the best Giscours produced over the last 25 years. A sleeper of the vintage, it is still available for a realistic price.
agavin: my second favorite red.
Goat stew. You add in the noodles and greens below. The broth was actually very flavorful, if terribly ugly. The goat itself was kinda stewed.
2012 MontGras Carménère Reserva. 85 points. Deep purple, vegetal and slight cedar smell. Taste of leather and green pepper, dry but soft short finish.
2000 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial. 90 points. Medium red. Moderately ripe cherry and red berry aromas are complicated by tobacco, mint and musky underbrush. Medium-bodied and a bit loose-knit, with low-key, gentle red fruit and cured meat flavors that are nicely firmed by a dusty mineral tone. Gains sweetness on the finish, picking up vanilla and floral oil notes. Understated and rather elegant Rioja but lacking real oomph; was this really deserving of the fancy Gran Reserva Especial treatment?
Crispy noodles with miscellaneous stuff. A lot like the Cantonese dish.
2008 Domaine du Pegau Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Reservee. Parker 89-91. The 2008 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Reservee was about to be bottled at the time of my visit, and it will certainly be one of the better wines of the vintage. By the standards of Pegau, it is not a massive wine nor will it be terribly long-lived. However, this estate has an incredible track record in off years, so I would not be surprised to see this wine exceeding readers’ expectations in 10-12 years. Tasting through the three remaining lots that will be blended together, I rated them between 89 and 92. That makes it one of the better wines of the vintage. Medium to full-bodied, chewy and very evolved, the wine exhibits lots of earth, lavender and foresty/mossy notes intermixed with kirsch, peppery black currants and Christmas fruitcake spices. It should drink nicely for 10-12+ years. Laurence calls it a very “traditional” style that she believes will be as good as their 2006.
2003 Williams Selyem Gewürztraminer Late Harvest Vista Verde Vineyard. IWC 91. Deep gold. Classic gewurz bouquet of rose, peach and smoke, with an exotic overlay of baking spices. Sweet and round, with concentrated pit fruit and melon flavors showing impressive energy and focus. Finishes on a spicy note, with excellent depth but no undue weight. I like the absence of cloying notes here and would love to serve this with funky or blue cheeses.
1970 Château Guiraud. 87 points. Gorgeous fresh nose, with apricot and peaches (A-). Somewhat light palate with limited sweetness (B++).
agavin: on the internet, this wine sometimes gets wonderful reviews (95+!). Our bottle was sadly not in such great shape.
Coconut gelatin dessert (green) and coffee flavored of same (brown). Cool and refreshing.
Overall, another epic Hedonist Asian adventure. Good food, great prices, fun wines, and a whole lot of us. What more could you ask for?
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