Restaurant: Valentino Santa Monica [1, 2, 3, 4]
Location: 3115 Pico Blvd Santa Monica, CA 90405. (310) 829-4313
Date: February 3, 2015
This dinner is the first part of the annual White Burgundy Premox test series, hosted by Burg-meister Don Cornwell. This dinner covers 2007 Chablis, Meursault, and Corton Charlemagne. 2005 White Burgundy Dinner series Part 1 can be found here. You can also read about last year’s 2004 Red Burgundy dinner and 2006 White Burgundy tasting.
2007 was a vintage was cool and acidic, but with promise in reds.
This particular dinner is at Valentino, which has been a mainstay of the LA fine dining scene for decades. I first started coming here in about 1995 and it was a mind blowing change from the usual trattoria and red-sauce style Italians. Valentino is much closer to Michelin 2 star restaurant in Italy, although not as modernist as some of those are in recent years. If food in Italy turns you on, check out my Eating Italy segment.
Our private room. Notice the large table with a lot of space. This is important when you have 29 glasses a person!
Notice the awesome array of glasses in the background. Only about half of them are visible. Few restaurants can handle this sort of thing, as they need over 400 stems of the same type and a dedicated Sommelier with sufficient experience and skill. Ours tonight handled the whole wine service with extreme professionalism and personality.
Flight 0: Champagne
1996 Henriot Champagne Cuvée des Enchanteleurs Brut. IWC 94. Vivid yellow-gold. Kaleidoscopic aromas of citrus fruits, poached pear, mango, lees and licorice, with slow-building florality. Supple, palate-coating orchard and exotic fruit flavors are complicated by notes of herbs and buttered toast, with a smoky quality in the background. Seems younger than it did last year, showing excellent finishing clarity and persistent smoke and spice character. This really won’t let go of the palate, which is fine by me.
agavin: We had two 750ml bottles of this and I only tasted the first. It was a bit oxidized and short, and leaned heavily on the acidity. Supposedly the second bottle was better.
Diamonds of Mushroom Polenta. I’m not a polenta fan.
Arancinette of Seafood. These are very pleasant fried rice balls with a hint of seafood.
Taleggio Flatbread and Black Truffles. This was very nice and cheesy with a bit of an almost blue cheese flavor.
A word about tonight’s format. Every bottle was served blind, except we were aware of what flight it was and what was in the flight, just not of which wine was which. The reveal was held until the end of the entire evening so that we could vote on favorite wines without bias.
Personally, I’d prefer a reveal halfway through each flight for a number of reasons. True, this would compromise the voting a bit, but that’s not super important to me. I’d prefer to be able to taste the wines both not knowing which was which and knowing, so that I can continue to build up my subjective memory for each house style. I also find it very difficult to remember back across multiple flights for “best” comparisons. I took notes and marked my favorites of each flight and compared those, but I’m not even really sure it’s fare to compare a Chablis to a Corton.
Flight 1: Chablis
2007 François Raveneau Chablis Grand Cru Blanchot. Burghound 94. It seems that each succeeding wine is more aromatically elegant than the prior wine and again, the nose here is incredibly pure, layered, airy, indeed almost lacy with perfumed notes of dried white roses, salt water, oyster shell and iodine that complement to perfection the classy, refined and textured flavors brimming with both minerality and dry extract that buffers the firm acid spine on the strikingly long finish. This is not as powerful as the Montée de Tonnerre but it’s finer, in fact to the point that the Raveneau Blanchots is a wine of finesse, indeed even delicacy in 2007. In a word, wonderful.
agavin: my favorite of the flight. a little reduced at first, blew off. Then nice nose. lots of minerals and tons of acid on the finish with some real zingy weight.
2007 François Raveneau Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos. Burghound 95. An equally elegant but ever-so-slightly more complex nose that is also ripe, pure and airy complements perfectly the rich, supple and beautifully intense palate staining and mouth coating broad-shouldered flavors brimming with intensity and oyster shell nuances on the penetrating, delineated, austere and gorgeously precise finish. The underlying sense of tension here is palpable and this too has so much dry extract that it will require the better part of a decade to fully mature. A classic Les Clos.
agavin: nose a little less at first, but still nice. Long acid on the finish, a little hotter than the Blanchots.
2007 François Raveneau Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre. Burghound 93. This offers a step up in aromatic elegance with acacia blossom, quinine, citrus peel and sea shore aromas that are framed by a gentle touch of wood, which is also reflected by the intense, powerful and quite serious big-bodied flavors that ooze dry extract that confers a silky and sappy mouth feel to the seductive and long finish. Still, this will require at least 6 to 8 years to really be at its best and it should live for years after that.
agavin: white flower on the nose? palette reserved at first. short finish of sour apple.
2007 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru Valmur. Burghound 94. An extremely deft dash of wood is barely noticeable and merges seamlessly with highly complex if discreet aromas of limestone, lemon, oyster shell, sea breeze and white flowers. This is a big, powerful and incredibly precise wine with magnificent flavor authority and seemingly endless reserves of sappy extract. Tightly wound and still very youthful but the extract buffers the intense acidity and completely coats and stains the palate on the hugely long and intense finish. A knockout Valmur.
agavin: our only corked bottle. disgusting unfortunately.
2007 François Raveneau Chablis Grand Cru Valmur. Burghound 94. Here the nose is every bit as elegant if not more so but it’s distinctly cooler and somehow more distant yet the strong Chablis character is immediately evident as the nose is a classic combination of green fruit, warm stone, iodine and distilled extract of sea water and this intense saline quality continues onto the equally cool, brilliantly defined and stunningly well balanced flavors that are crystalline in their purity on the driving finish. This does a slow but steady build in intensity from the mid-palate on back and the length is flat out amazing.
agavin: sulfur and porta potty on the nose at first. reduction on the palette, but not unpleasant with a soft acid finish. Opened up and some of that reduction blew off later.
From my cellar: 2007 Dauvissat-Camus Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos. RJ wine 93. Light medium lemon yellow color; nutty, ripe lemon, light lanolin, tart apple nose; tasty, complex, very tart apple, mineral, almond, light hazelnut palate with medium acidity; could use 3 years yet; medium-plus finish 93+ points.
agavin: darker in color than most of the flight. reserved minerality and apple juice on the nose. acidic apple on the palette.
2007 Vincent Dauvissat (René & Vincent) Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses. Burghound 94. Initially this is still restrained but after only 10 minutes or so it becomes quite expressive with a nose that is airy, ripe, elegant and strikingly pure as it combines plenty of Chablis character that includes sea breeze, citrus and green fruit aromas that precede the delineated and equally pure flavors of stunning depth and intensity, all wrapped in a hugely long finish. Like the nose, the minerality seems subdued at first yet arrives in a real rush on the finale. A genuinely great wine that is a study in harmony and grace as well as one that should age effortlessly for many years. I have advanced the suggested drinking window by one year as this can already be drunk with pleasure even though it is still on the way up. In a word, stunning.
agavin: darker color then most in the flight. white flowers or stone fruits on the nose. rich on the palette with a somewhat heavy long finish.
2007 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos. Burghound 96. I had a chance to retaste this side by side with its 2008 counterpart and the ’07 matches the brilliant quality albeit in a different style due to the vintage characteristics. As such, I am raising my rating slightly. An aggregator is how I would describe this nose as the range of aromas and subtle nuances is genuinely amazing with a purity of expression that is nothing short of riveting with the classic assertive mineral reduction character that suffuses the character of this wine from the incredibly detailed nose to the wonderfully long, palate staining finish. The big, rich, powerful, detail and superbly focused flavors are supported by a very firm acid backbone that confers a bone dry quality to the finish that I could still taste hours later. In brief, at the moment this is more extract of Kimmeridgian stone than wine but it’s breathtakingly good. Don’t miss it.
agavin: very bright color. reduction and rubber on the nose. palette was reduced but pleasant, with a soft acid finish.
From my cellar: 2007 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses. Burghound 95. This is every bit as elegant as the Valmur with nuanced, highly layered, discreet and very pure aromas of understated green fruit and almost pungent tidal pool aromas that are followed by rounded, focused and incredibly complex flavors displaying notes of warm stone and oyster shell. The texture and mouth feel of this are positively seductive as the finish is a liaison of richness and delicacy with that silky yet explosive finish that all the great examples of Preuses seem to possess. A wine of crystalline purity that is pure silk and class. A don’t miss Fèvre ’07.
agavin: completely closed on the nose at first, opened after some time to white flowers and spearmint. Nice green apple taste. Long balanced soft acid apple finish.
Crudo di pesce with salmon, ahi tuna, yellow tail with citrus and colatura. This was a lovely salad with very nice fish and a great sweet and citrus quality to it.
Flight 2: Meursault
This flight included all the Meursaults that were not Perrieres.
2007 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault 1er Cru Les Genevrières. Burghound 93. By contrast with the expressiveness of the Goutte d’Or, this is much more reserved and with a different aromatic profile more given to seductive and slightly exotic spices, citrus blossom and orange peel that leads to classy, rich, full and naturally sweet palate coating flavors as the dry extract is every bit as impressive. Like all of the Lafon ’07s, it is the impeccable balance that really sets these wines apart and the Genevrières is a wine of perfect harmony, particularly on the linear and explosive finish.
agavin: detergent on the nose to start. sweet taste with a hint of banana. rice nice finish.
2007 Domaine Roulot Meursault 1er Cru Les Poruzots. Burghound 90-92. A mildly rustic green fruit and roasted nut nose slides into big, rich, powerful and robust full-bodied flavors that possess impressive size and volume before culminating in a tautly muscled, mouth coating and palate staining finish. This is no model of elegance but there is no doubting the intensity and flavor authority.
agavin: nose closed at first. Rich palette with searing (good) finish.
2007 Domaine Roulot Meursault 1er Cru Charmes. Burghound 92. This too is extremely fresh, bright and pure with superb elegance on the restrained nose of acacia blossom, hazelnut and brioche that merges seamlessly into detailed, textured and silky medium-bodied flavors that are not as dense as those of the Poruzots or as refined as those of the Bouchères yet there is more depth and length. In short, overall this is a more complete wine of lovely harmony.
agavin: weird nose at first. Reduction and green apple on the palette. Weird odd finish too.
2007 Coche-Dury Meursault. IWC 92. Bright, pale yellow. Tangy aromas of orange, peach and spices. Broad and lively, with intense fruit lifted by a near-perfect sugar/acid balance. Finishes with excellent cut. This is awfully good for a wine from seven-year-old vines.
agavin: tons of stone fruit on the nose. Rich, reduced taste with strong notes of sour peach. Long soft acid finish. My favorite of the flight.
2007 Coche-Dury Meursault Les Rougeots. Burghound 92. A beautifully fresh, perfumed and intensely floral nose also speaks of citrus and hazelnut nuances that give way to delicious, round and intense medium-bodied flavors that possess excellent detail on the impressively long and impeccably well-balanced finish. However the aspect that really sets this apart from most villages-level wine is the excellent complexity. Overall, this seductively textured effort is still on the way up and I would be inclined to give it another 3 to 4 years of cellar time first.
agavin: fruit and acid on the nose. A rich balanced palette and a long finish.
2007 Hospices de Beaune Meursault 1er Cru Les Genevrières Cuvée Baudot Jean-Marc Roulot. 91 points. Very pretty but reserved nose. Nice acidity framing a bit of sweet oak. Light and pretty. Quite good.
agavin: more reserved on the nose but with a rich middle.
Pan Seared Scallops with Sweet Pea Sauce and Couscous. The scallop itself was nice but I found the couscous and pea sauce to be fairly flavorless.
Flight 3: Meursault Perrieres
2007 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. Burghound 93. A bit of unintegrated SO2 does not impede the expressiveness of the ultra elegant citrus-infused nose of mostly floral notes that merges into spicy, pure and strikingly detailed flavors that possess excellent size and weight plus plenty of dry extract on the punchy, long and serious finish that seems to be constructed of liquid rock. Like the Genevrières, this is an explosive yet fine wine that exhibits a discreet, but unmistakable, sense of class and grace.
agavin: one of my favorites of the flight. reserved on the nose at first. Lots of stone fruits on the palette and a great long finish. Really a zingy wine once opened.
2007 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault 1er Cru Charmes. Burghound 94. This is more expressive and a bit riper with ultra pure aromas of peach, apricot, pear and spiced white peach leading to ripe, concentrated and superbly precise flavors that display plenty of mid-palate fat and ample minerality that this part of Charmes always seems to impart to the wines and overall, this is a stunningly harmonious wine of finesse.
agavin: nothing on the nose at first and perhaps a bit advanced on the palette
2007 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. Burghound 95. Despite several years of bottle age, this remains backward, tight and not revealing much aromatically beyond wonderfully pure white flower, pear and spice aromas. The rich, full and strikingly powerful flavors possess superb depth of dry extract and huge length on the detailed, focused, beautifully balanced and penetrating finish that seems to be extracted directly from liquid rock. This very classy effort is a potentially great Perrières as everything necessary is here and this should age extremely well. The word Zen comes to mind.
agavin: reduction and peach on the nose. Peach flavor with a medium finish.
2007 Domaine Roulot Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. Burghound 94. A very subtle trace of wood frames a green fruit and high-toned spiced floral nose that is still tight and reserved but ultra pure with detailed, stony and gorgeously vibrant middle weight flavors that possess a pungent limestone character and this finishes with a palate staining finale of stunning length. Like the best examples of Roulot’s Perrières, the ’07 is a wine of impeccable balance and perfect harmony of expression.
agavin: voted the wine of the night by most people. Tons of stone fruits on a crazy good nose. A bit of reduction on the palette at first, but tons of weight too and a crazy good finish.
2007 Domaine Matrot Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. Burghound 94. As it almost always is, this is the class of the Matrot cellar with discreet wood framing a reserved but ultra elegant, airy and exceptionally pure white flower and pungent limestone nose that marries seamlessly into fine, precise and intensely stony flavors that finish bone dry and with a vaguely saline quality on the cuts-like-a-knife finale. This is built to age and should provide at least 6 to 8 years of upside development. Highly recommended.
agavin: apple cider, apple cider, apple cider. Smelled and tasted like alcoholic dry Martinellis. Probably a bit advanced. Some sherry notes too after a while.
2007 Bouchard Père et Fils Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. Burghound 94. A less expressive but even more complex nose features acacia blossom, pear and citrus aromas nuanced by an almost pungent minerality that continues onto the pure, detailed and almost painfully intense flavors that possess serious delineation on the notably ripe and sappy finish. I was knocked out by this textbook Perrières. Highly recommended.
agavin: reduction and stone fruits.
2007 Coche-Dury Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. Burghound 94. Mild reduction initially reduces the expressiveness of the otherwise fresh and impressively complex lemon, stone and acacia blossom-infused nose that leads to equally complex and beautifully delineated middle weight flavors that ooze a fine minerality before culminating in an overtly austere but explosive, linear and compact finish of superb length. While this could of course be drunk now, for my taste it is still much too young. However, if you’re going to try one out of curiosity, I would strongly advise decanting it for at least 30 minutes first as the flavors take their timing opening up. Tasted twice recently with one bottle being a bit more forward than the one described above.
agavin: we all guessed it was the coche MP because there was so much of that characteristic reduction. Potty on the nose at first, but blew off. Reduction on the palette too. Only beginning to shake off 2 hours later. But nice nonetheless.
Maine Lobster Risotto. Always a favorite. A very nice risotto, although not cheesy. Last year we had two portions, we could have used that this time!
Flight 4: Corton Charlemagne
2007 Bouchard Père et Fils Corton-Charlemagne. Burghound 96. A cool, airy, complex and gorgeously elegant nose is more restrained than these Puligny-based grands crus while offering up notes of green apple, pain grillé, stone and very subtle spice notes that merge into rich, full and impressively powerful flavors that possess perhaps the best dry extract levels of any wine in the range as they really stain the palate on the intense, long and bone dry finish that seems to have no end. There isn’t quite as much overall depth here as in the Montrachet but otherwise, this succeeds in going to toe to toe, which is not small feat given how good the prior wine is.
agavin: kinda lot with a long searing finish
2007 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Corton-Charlemagne. Burghound 94. A barely perceptible touch of SO2 does not overtly mar the airy, ultra fresh and impressively refined nose of white flower, citrus, green apple and wet stone and it is this pungent minerality that is really on display with the intense, detailed and tight big-bodied and well-muscled flavors that positively brim with a distinct salinity that is more in keeping with a classic Chablis than a classic Corton-Charlemagne. Still, this is a brilliant effort by any measure and the finish is like a vinous bomb. In sum, this is a dramatic but balanced wine that should age well for many years to come.
agavin: very reduced on the nose with some weight and a long finish
2007 Faiveley Corton-Charlemagne. Burghound 91-94. Subtle wood sets off more elegant aromas of green apple, floral and wet stone notes that are also reflected by the rich, intense and impressively powerful big-bodied flavors that seem extracted from liquid rock, all wrapped in a palate staining and driving finish. Another aspect worth noting is that this is often a distinctly oaky Corton-Charlemagne but in 2007, thanks to the policy of reducing the wood influence, the oak influence is much more moderate if not invisible.
agavin: reduced at first, with some malo and real weight in the middle, then lingered
2007 Louis Jadot Corton-Charlemagne. Burghound 94. A strikingly complex nose that possess excellent breadth to the ripe, pure and airy aromas of white flower, spice, green apple and subtle pear aromas that complement to perfection the big-bodied, rich and mouth coating flavors built on a base of fine minerality, all wrapped in a sappy and mouth coating finish that oozes dry extract. This is really a lovely effort with a chiseled and driving finale of superb persistence though note that while patience will be required, there is sufficient mid-palate sap that the finishing austerity is not forbidding. A “wow” wine.
agavin: perhaps a little advanced, but drinking nicely now. hot with strong apple qualities.
2007 Henri Boillot Corton-Charlemagne. Burghound 96. Seemingly like all of Boillot’s wines in this vintage, a strikingly pure nose of green apple, white flower and spice aromas complements perfectly the delicious, intense and stony flavors that are among the ripest in the range yet remain wonderfully vibrant and gorgeously detailed on the taut, transparent and bone dry finish that bathes the palate in dry extract. This is beautifully balanced and among the best wines of the vintage from Corton. In a word, brilliant.
agavin: also probably advanced. sherry and apples. Apple brandy? hot on the finish.
2007 Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne. Burghound 93. A wonderfully elegant, pure and high-toned nose that is quite floral with a pronounced citrus influence to the green apple and wet stone notes that border on a mineral-reduction character, which continues onto the detailed and equally pure flavors that possess a cuts-like-a-knife linearity on the bone dry and palate staining finish. This is like sucking on pebbles and while the flavors are distinctly austere at present, the balance is impeccable and this should make for a first-rate vintage for this wine in time. Note however that patience will be required.
agavin: very pale color. Long acidic finish.
2007 Simon Bize Corton-Charlemagne. Burghound 91-94. A deft touch of wood sets off an even more restrained and more elegant nose that is ultra pure and though reserved, aromas of green fruit and white flower nuanced by hints of spice and orange peel can be found. And the purity and transparency of the nose continues onto the muscular and big-bodied flavors that offer up minerality to burn on the very firm and gorgeously long finish. This is a block of stone and it will require the better part of a decade’s worth of patience for the full potential of this beauty to fully express itself. In a word, brilliant.
agavin: Tropical nose, maybe some advanced notes? tropical fruits on the palette. An oddball in the flight as this was so tropical.
2007 Domaine / Maison Vincent Girardin Corton-Charlemagne. Burghound 92-95. A highly complex lemon and orange peel, white flower and green apple nose introduces substantially bigger and richer if less refined broad-shouldered flavors that are quite dense and I like the mouth feel before the flavors slide away into a notably dry, intense, extended and punchy finish. This is a big wine with plenty of extract that really stains the palate.
agavin: great wine. Rich, powerful, long. Extremely Corton Charlie. One you keep coming back to. my (and many others’) favorite of the flight.
Pan Roasted Napa Quail with Pancetta and Sage. The Quail itself was tasty, as was the jus. The asparagus didn’t go with white burgundy and the dish was a bit of work to eat because of the bones.
Flight 5: Dessert
1971 Chateau d’Yquem. Parker 97. Served from an ex-chateau bottle. I have always stood by the 1971 Chateau d’Yquem as being one of the most seriously underrated vintages of that decade. I feel completely vindicated in this view as I batted away the 1967 Yquem when tasted at the chateau and entranced its audience. This great Yquem was born during 10 days from October 6, when warm and humid conditions caused an outbreak of botrytis. It was a small crop of just 228 barrels. Slightly deeper in color than the 1982 Yquem tasted alongside, it is blessed with a truly spellbinding nose that has such energy and frisson that you don’t know where to look. You can detect Mirabelle, ripe Satsumas, citrus peel and beeswax. The palate is vibrant, animated and simply electrifies the mouth upon entry. The 1971 has immense concentration, while the almost Tokaji Aszu-like finish is beautifully poised. This is simply an outstanding Yquem that shows absolutely no sign of reaching the end of its drinking plateau.
agavin: awesome! Really all you could expect in a fully mature D’Yquem. Like apricot nectar.
Seasonal Fruit Tart with Gelato. This was a pleasant traditional dessert.
And the full array of revealed bottles.
That’s more or less one person’s glasses!
There is a lot to say about this tasting. First of all, Valentino did a good job as usual. The wine service was impeccable, and this is a difficult task (pouring lots of big blind flights). Overall service is absolutely first rate. It’s a large quiet room, and the staff was highly attentive. The food was solid, although not as good as last year. The decor and food are a tad dated now, very very 90s — and not even as good as I remember back in the 90s.
2007 as a vintage was quite good. We had one corked bottle and 3-4 advanced bottles. No totally premoxed bottles like with 2005. The vintage character is very acidic, with a high frequency of green apple. Chablis remains tight. The richer wines, particularly Meursault Perrieres were very impressive. Some really nice wines there.
The top six wines of the night by group ranking/voting were:
1. Roulot MP
2. Bouchard MP
3. Ringer No. 1 — Coche-Dury Meursault AOC [Chaumes de Perrieres]
4. Colin-Morey MP
5. Coche-Dury Meursault Rougeots
6 (tie). Coche-Dury MP
6 (tie) Faiveley Corton Ch
Don’s reviews of each wine can be found here.
Other big tasting dinners from this dinner series:
Flight 6: Second Dinner
After the main event, a bunch of us were still hungry and so we bought a bottle of Red Burgundy from the Valentino wine list and ubered over to Ramen-ya down the street.
1993 Marc Rougeot-Dupin Richebourg. 90 points agavin. This wine was incredibly reasonable on the Valentino wine list and so we bought a bottle “to go.” Very strange Richebourg, all meaty and funky with a gamey bloody quality. I liked it though, and it was getting better over an hour in the glass. Well worth the price of admission.
Fried chicken cartilage. That triangle-shaped bit in the chicken breast — fried!
Shoyu-Ramen soy sauce soup ramen with roast pork, bean sprouts & bamboo shoots and wontons.
This all certainly qualified for “late night fatty carbs”!!sharethis_button(); ?>