Restaurant: Izakaya Akatora
Location:115 W Main St. Alhambra, CA 91801. (626) 943-7872
Date: January 22, 2015
Cuisine: Japanese fusion
Rating: Tasty culinary mashup
Us Hedonists are pals with Michael Cardenas and so when he opened this new Izakaya (Japanese for “there is beer here”) in our home turf (the San Gabriel Valley) we zipped right on out for a big dinner.
NV Jérôme Prévost La Closerie “Fac Simile” Les Beguines. AG 94+. Layers of delicately scented, perfumed fruit caress the palate as the NV (2009) Extra Brut Rose Les Beguines Fac-Simile shows off its incredible textural finesse and pure pedigree. Mint, sweet spices and red berries are some of the many notes that are woven together in a fabric of nearly indescribable elegance. Prevost’s Rose is at times a powerful wine, but the 2009 is all about delicacy and understatement. If you haven’t guessed, I loved it. Prévost makes his Rose by adding one barrel of Pinot Meunier vinified on the skins to his blanc cuvée. Disgorged October 2011.
NV G. H. Mumm & Cie Champagne Mumm de Cramant. IWC 90. Limpid yellow. Vibrant minerally, floral lemon and orange scents, with deeper pear and melon nuances coming up with air. Tangy and precise on entry, then fleshier in the mid-palate, offering sappy orchard and candied citrus fruit flavors with notes of chamomile and anise adding complexity. Closes smooth and long, with lingering toastiness and a hint of sweet butter.
From my cellar: 2002 François Raveneau Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre. Burghound 93. This too is very opulent with a richness and breadth of aromas that is dazzling in their sheer range. Big, powerful, very masculine and exceptionally intense flavors blessed with huge extract but despite the size and weight, this also has the best acid/fruit balance of any of these 1ers plus this absolutely coats and stains the palate. In fact, there is an interesting textural quality by virtue of all the sap yet the finish is quite dry. A great effort that explodes on the backend and lingers for minutes.
2003 Dönnhoff Oberhäuser Leistenberg Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel. IWC 94. Chartreuse-like herbal essences and citrus aromas. Lemon-lime sorbet on the pure, polished, elegant palate, which today is slightly dominated by sheer youthful sweetness. Inner-mouth aromas of honey and flowers. Offers superb length, with the refinement of fruit and subtle wet stone character typical of the best slate-grown riesling.
2013 Guy Saget Vouvray Marie de Beauregard. 89 points. Understated notes reminiscent of off-dry Rieslings. On the palate I get flavors of citrus, sponge cake, and lime with a hint of rind; long, sweet finish, somewhat akin to sweet lemonade perhaps. Medium acidity. Better served somewhat chilled than at room temperature; seems to get a bit flabby as it warms up.
2008 Rhys Pinot Noir Alpine Vineyard. Burghound 93. Like all of the Rhys ’08s, the aromatic complexity of the Alpine is more than just admirable, it’s distinctive as it offers a lacy and pure mélange of cherry and blue berry fruit aromas cut with floral and mild wood notes that precede the backward and moderately austere flavors that are underpinned by firm but not aggressive tannins and excellent length on the balanced finish. While the Alpine is also built to age, it appears that it may come around a bit sooner.
2012 Domaine Eden Pinot Noir. AG 88. The 2012 Pinot Noir is a pretty, silky wine with plenty of near term appeal. Sweet red berries, flowers and spices meld together nicely in the glass. Overall, the Domaine Eden Pinot is forward, bright and nicely done.
2002 Gary Farrell Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County Selection. 88 points. Still lots of acidity, which was a surprise. I would hold for a few years if it’s been temp controlled. Post- a decant, it’s apparent this is quality juice, but there wasn’t anything memorable. Lacks identity.
2003 Château Rieussec. IWC 92-95. Medium yellow-gold. Reticent but pure aromas of fruit salad, spices and vanilla, lifted by floral and mineral nuances. Wonderfully honeyed, fat fruit flavors are complemented by cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. The sexy oak treatment gives lift to the wine. A bit youthfully aggressive but very long on the back end, showing vanillin oak and a bit of warmth. But this one offers superb potential.
Overall, Akatora was a really fun night. Service was amazing (friends of the chef and manager and all — haha) and the food was quite good. It leans a little on uni, but I’m not complaining. Everyone loved it so much we already have a second dinner scheduled.