Location: 419 Cold Canyon Rd, Calabasas, CA 91302 (818) 222-3888
Date: December 18, 2014
Cuisine: Modern American
Rating: Great ambiance and terrific game oriented food.
Ever year, both in the summer and winter, we Hedonists return to Saddle Peak Lodge. It’s pretty much the perfect venue for both a winter or summer food and wine blast, with gorgeous lodge patio, game driven food, and awesome wine service. For those of you who don’t know, Hedonist events have amazing wines (each diner brings at least one bottle).
Saddle Peak Ranch used to be a game lodge back in the early part of the 20th century. The rich and famous used to come up and hunt Malibu’s finest, such as this poor fellow. Now the deer are just served up on the menu.
Our private room.
2004 Taittinger Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Comtes de Champagne. AG 96. I am thrilled with the way the 2004 Comtes de Champagne continues to evolve in bottle. A few years ago, the 2004 was quite focused and linear, in the style of the vintage, but more recently, the wine has begun to fill out beautifully. The 2004 remains bright, with a full range of citrus, white flower and mineral nuances that dance on the palate. A brisk, saline-infused finish rounds things out beautifully in a Comtes that impresses for its crystalline purity. I expect the 2004 will always remain a bit cool next to the more opulent 2002, but it is still drop-dead gorgeous.
1979 Château Rieussec. Parker 84. A lightweight Rieussec that does not have the intensity and richness of vintages such as 1981 or 1983, it does offer an elegant, well-made, less powerful wine that is light enough to be served as an aperitif.
From my cellar: 1993 Robert Ampeau & Fils Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. Burghound 92. A fully mature and expressive nose of elegant secondary fruit and floral aromas introduces intensely mineral-driven, pure and beautifully well-detailed middle weight flavors that possess excellent depth and fine length. This is drinking perfectly now and should continue to do so without effort for at least another decade. Tasted only once recently.
1988 Remoissenet Père et Fils Richebourg. 84 points. I liked this one even less, or maybe about the same.
1996 Louis Jadot Richebourg. Burghound 92. The nose offers a blast of powerful black fruit and flavors that are dense, intense and amazingly long. This is a big-bodied wine with dusty, muscular tannins and penetrating, potent flavors culminating in a slightly warm though nicely complex finish. Impressively constructed and while this does not offer the refinement and finesse of the best of this range, the unusually concentrated, robust Richebourg character is admirable.
agavin: best of the 3 by a longshot.
1986 Lafite-Rothschild. Parker 100. The 1986 possesses outstanding richness, a deep color, medium body, a graceful, harmonious texture, and superb length. The penetrating fragrance of cedar, chestnuts, minerals, and rich fruit is a hallmark of this wine. Powerful, dense, rich, and tannic, as well as medium to full-bodied, with awesome extraction of fruit, this Lafite has immense potential. Patience is required. Anticipated maturity: 2000-2030.
1999 Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia. Parker 88. Dense ruby-colored, with a tight personality, the 1999 Sassicaia offers up aromas of smoke, vanilla, and red as well as black currants. Medium-bodied, with high tannin and excellent purity, this elegant, restrained, moderately concentrated effort needs another 2-3 years of cellaring. It should keep for 12-15 years. The abundant tannin in addition to a certain austerity may prove troublesome in the future.
2005 Giuseppe Mascarello Barolo Monprivato. Parker 94+. The 2005 Barolo Monprivato is a very pretty, harmonious wine endowed with tons of purity in its fruit. All of the telltale aromas and flavors of Monprivato are there – geraniums, roses, spices and flowers – but backed up by quite a bit of heft and body as well. Today, the 2005 Monprivato is quite tannic, but it should come around with a few more years in bottle. In some ways, the 2005 reminds me of the 1999, another vintage in which the Ca d’Morissio was not produced. Monprivato is typically one of the hardest wines to accurately assess when young, and only time will tell what heights it ultimately reaches. For now, the future certainly seems bright. This is a mysterious, seductive Monprivato that will be fascinating to follow. Mascarello was especially selective with his Monprivato and only bottled about 50% of his production. He also blended in the juice kept separately for the Ca d’Morissio, which in this vintage is about 20% of the final blend as opposed to the more typical 10% in vintages when the Ca d’Morissio is produced. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2035.
1995 Penfolds Grange. Parker 92. An impressive Grange that may ultimately prove to be underrated, like many wines from this vintage, the 1995, a blend of 94% Shiraz and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, exhibits a saturated plum/purple color and a sweet blackberry liqueur nose intermixed with cassis, licorice, and new oak. The wine is textured, jammy, full-bodied, with impressive levels of extract, glycerin, and black fruit flavors. It is long, ripe, with unobtrusive acidity and tannin. Anticipated maturity: 2004-2018.
1996 Penfolds Grange. Parker 96. Deep garnet colored, 1996 Grange is scented with stewed plums, warm cherries and mince meat with hints of Ceylon tea, black olives and Chinese five spice. Medium-full bodied and with a generous amount of flesh on the palate, it gives very crisp acid and a medium-firm level of grainy tannins, finishing long. The layered complexity of this wine is just beginning to emerge, promising better things to come.
1990 Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage la Chapelle. Parker 100. The 1990 La Chapelle is the sexy and opulent. I had the 1990 at the Jaboulet tasting, and again out of a double magnum three months ago. On both occasions it was spectacular, clearly meriting a three-digit score. The modern day equivalent of the 1961, it deserves all the attention it has garnered. The color remains an opaque purple, with only a slight pink at the edge. Spectacular aromatics offer up aromas of incense, smoke, blackberry fruit, cassis, barbecue spice, coffee, and a touch of chocolate. As it sits in the glass, additional nuances of pepper and grilled steak emerge. There is extraordinary freshness for such a mammoth wine in addition to abundant tannin, an amazing 60-second finish, and a level of glycerin and thick, fleshy texture that have to be tasted to be believed.
1995 Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape Hommage A Jacques Perrin. Parker 96. The 1995 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Jacques Perrin reveals a black/purple color, and a huge nose of Provencal herbs, smoked olives, grilled meats, and sweet, jammy black-cherry and black-raspberry fruit. Full-bodied, and oozing with extract and glycerin (nearly concealing the wine’s formidable tannin levels), this blockbuster Chateauneuf du Pape will need a minimum of 10-12 years of cellaring; it should keep through the first half of the next century.
2005 Harlan Estate Proprietary Red Wine. Parker 97. Not unexpectedly, the 2005 Harlan Estate performed slightly better than it did last year. As these wines often do, it continues to put on weight as it is bottled very late by Napa standards, and there is no fining or filtration. The 2005 exhibits a gorgeous thick-looking, ruby/purple color in addition to a beautiful nose of burning embers interwoven with creme de cassis, roasted meats, sweet black truffles, and spring flowers. A hint of lead pencil shavings also emerges from this cuvee, which seems to want to be both a Pauillac and a ripe vintage of La Mission Haut Brion. Full-bodied, dense, pure, and revealing sweeter tannin than I remember, it can be drunk now, but it will no doubt display even greater complexity in 10, 20, and 30 years.
1974 Ridge Zinfandel Monte Bello. Surprisingly intact. It had some kind of nostalgic meaning to Yarom and Ron, and Yarom points out how rare it must be — if there are even any left. The Zin wasn’t a big production wine anyway, and so now 40 years later, not so many.
2005 Verite Le Desir. Parker 99. This blend of 87% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc and 2% Malbec (the highest percentage of Merlot ever used for Le Desir) reveals notes of truffles, mocha, wild mountain berry fruit, crushed rock and coffee. Fabulous fruit, tremendous viscosity and opulence and a full-bodied, voluptuous texture result in a wine that is hard to resist even though it remains an adolescent in terms of development. It should provide pleasure over the next 15+ years.
In magnum, a mega monster!
2003 Giuseppe Quintarelli Amarone della Valpolicella Riserva. AG 93. Kirsch, cloves, leather and licorice are some of the many notes that emerge from Quintarelli’s 2003 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva. Dark, powerful and brooding, the Riserva is a bit less marked by the year than the straight bottling. Here it is the wine’s explosive, full-bodied finish that stands out most. This is a fascinating wine from Quintarelli. I am a bit surprised to see a Riserva in 2003, but it works, and beautifully. When they are on, these wines are utterly hypnotizing, as is the case here.
agavin: had a grapefruit note that was totally odd for an Amarone!
2001 Sine Qua Non Mr K The Noble Man (Chardonnay). Parker 97. While richer, sweeter, and more unctuous than the Iceman, 2001 Mr. K The Noble Man (Chardonnay), a Trockenbeerenauslese look-alike, possesses nervy, vibrant acidity that is hard to imagine in a wine of this mass and richness. The residual sugar is 255 grams per liter, with an amazing 11.1 grams per liter of acidity, and 11.7% finished alcohol.
This was a total blow out event. The food was impeccable and the service warm. We had so much wine we left them a little overwhelmed, but that’s par for the course. Plus we had a really great mix of people and some of the most awesome wines. Tonight was particularly killer in the wine department as you have seen.