Restaurant: Elite Restaurant [1, 2, 3, 4]
Location: 700 S Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA 91754. (626) 282-9998
Date: November 21, 2015
Cuisine: Cantonese Banquet
Elite is well known as one of great LA’s top dimsum places, but less well known is how great a Cantonese banquet place it is.
But Charlie chose it as the site for his legendary birthday feast, not only because of how good the food is (and it is good), but because they have a nice private room, great service, and are very Burgundy friendly.
They actually have a couple private rooms, but this time we had the small one, although it was certainly big enough for the 10 of us.
NV Jacques Selosse Champagne Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut V.O. 2006 disgorgment. VM 95. The NV V.O. (Version Originale) presents slightly darker, more burnished tonalities of Chardonnay. Almond, marzipan, dried rose petals, spices and anise blossom in an ample, generous Champagne built on volume, but supported by insistent veins of minerality. Hints of trademark Selosse oxidation make the V.O. a bit more eccentric, especially for readers who might not be familiar with these Champagnes. V.O. emerges from parcels in Avize, Cramant and Oger, all Grand Cru villages. The vintages are 2006, 2005 and 2004. This bottle was disgorged on October 15, 2013 and bottled with no dosage.
agavin: delicious. Super rich and tasted more like a 90s Champ.
Peanuts on the table is a Chinese staple.
2001 François Raveneau Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos. Burghound 93. This is a big step up in power and weight with a gorgeously complex nose of minerals, white flowers and minerals that leads to pure, muscular, fantastically detailed and precise flavors just oozing with sappy extract. This is quite concentrated and there is a certain regal classiness that separates this from all of the prior wines plus the length and vibrancy are simply incredible. This will require a few years of bottle age to completely integrate as the finish is very firm and quite dry for an ’01 but all of the requisite material is here for this to evolve into a superb Les Clos.
agavin: a little closed and reductive at first, but opened up into a green apple monster.
Suckling pig. We preordered this little fellow. He’s kinda sad, but he sure tasted great. Really just a fabulous bit of pork and cracklings. The sweet sauce on the side is great too.
After we ate all the easy bits they took away the pig face and limbs and chopped them up for sort of a “piglet: the return” dish. A little too boney and nasty for me.
Charlie brought: 1995 Coche-Dury Puligny-Montrachet Les Enseignères. Burghound 88. Golden color though with no hints of browning. As one would reasonably expect, the nose has now gone completely secondary fruit though there is no sous bois or undue exotic notes in evidence and introduces flavors that are classic Puligny in style with their understated, delineated and pure character and clear minerality that shapes and defines the mid-palate plus a crisp, intense and fine finish for a wine of this level. This has always been a somewhat lean effort for a ’95 and it remains that way and to my taste, should be drunk up over the next few years as the acidity may begin to dominate the finish if held for much longer. To be clear, there is no danger of this falling over the edge, just that the balance may become compromised in time.
agavin: our bottle was a bit oxidized. Old enough not to be premoxed, but heading downslope. Still, it had a lovely complexity and brulee.
We also went all out tonight and got the giant crab! Here he is alive!
From my cellar: 1996 Coche-Dury Meursault Les Chevalières. Burghound 91. Coche always seems to be able to coax another dimension out of his array of villages level vineyards and the Chvalières is no exception with its completely mature nose of hazelnut, orchard fruit and hint of reduction that doesn’t carry over to the precise and mineral-driven middle weight flavors that offer a fine sense of focus and energy on the punchy and lingering finish. This is lovely juice that has arrived at its apogee but should remain here for at least another decade.
agavin: Charlie opened a bottle of this exact wine at his birthday 2 years ago and I immediately bought some. Expensive, but a total stunner then and now. Reductive, with a staggering nose and real depth. Most in the room agreed it was one of the two best whites of the night.
And in his first prep: Garlic fried ginger crab. Leg sucking yummy.
2002 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier-Montrachet. Burghound 94. A supremely elegant nose of white flower and limestone notes are followed by sweet, pungently mineral and ultra precise middle weight flavors that offer simply incredible focus with an almost painfully intense, stunningly long finish. This\nhas just now arrived on the front edge of its peak drinkability though some may prefer a few more years in the cellar first. In sum, this is really lovely juice that should age gracefully for several decades.
agavin: a young monster, but fabulous.
But nothing compared to prep 2: Garlic steamed crab. This was incredible. Just plain 15 minute old crab steamed with garlic. Oh so good.
2008 Domaine Leflaive Bâtard-Montrachet. Burghound 96. Here the nose is notably tighter and more reserved with aromas of citrus blossom and zest, spice, smoke, fennel and hints of acacia that introduce big, muscular and wonderfully complex broad-scaled flavors that culminate in a long, focused and explosive finish of breathtaking length and intensity. This should reward at least a decade in the cellar and drink well for a similar period thereafter. This too is terrific and very Bâtard and like the Combettes, the ’08 version is one of the very best young examples from Leflaive that I have ever seen.
agavin: The group joked that this was premoxed. But no, it was nice, young and fresh but dominated by reduction and will almost certainly be even better in a few years.
And version 3: King Crab Head Custard. This crab gave great head. The custard was amazing, soft and tofu-like with bits of crab mixed in. About as perfect a white Burgundy pairing as exists.
Fred brought: 1996 Domaine Roulot Meursault 1er Cru Charmes. Burghound 94. Ultra pure and refined white flower and hazelnut notes introduce crisp, delineated and wonderfully refined, linear and nuanced middle weight flavors that culminate in a bright, racy and extended finish. This is incredibly youthful at 9 years of age and should age for 25 years. A great, great ’96 of uncommon elegance for Charmes.
agavin: another stunner. Got better and better through the night too.
Then garlic fried lobster. A truly great lobster prep. Crunchy, salty, and oh so garlicky.
Amanda brought: 1996 Domaine Ramonet Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet. BH? In its youth and up to 2003 or so, this was a brilliant wine and one of the best examples of Bienvenues that I have ever tasted chez Ramonet with an almost painful intensity and superb cut and detail. However, the last 4 bottles that I have tried, and from multiple sources have all displayed unacceptable levels of oxidation and were essentially undrinkable. It’s not clear whether good bottles exist or not but my luck with it has not been good.
agavin: well, our experience jives with Meadows because this was super oxed. 🙁
Another super special. Winter melon soup. Served fresh in the winter melon!
This doesn’t necessarily look like much, but it was an amazing mild soup. I had 2-3 bowls of it. Delicate lovely broth, and all sorts of bits of goodness in there. More like one of those traditional Japanese soups. There was pork, chicken, seafood bits, crab from our crab of course, mushrooms, and this fibrous soft yummy thing that might have been melon. Hard to say.
Amanda brought: 1969 Camille Giroud Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Les Pruliers. 93 points. A late release from the domaine. This was showing quintessential Nuits, with a simply massive dose of rustic earth on the nose and palate. The mushroom note was also quite prominent, though I think it’s more reasonable to chalk that up to its age. This was showing amazingly fresh for its age thanks to some bright acids. I’d never be able to call this as an almost-50-year-old wine blind. The ripe and prominent fruit makes this taste a lot younger than it is.
agavin: very fresh for its age. Browned out in the glass after about an hour.
String beans with sausage. A richer version of the usual prep.
1996 Domaine Robert Arnoux / Arnoux-Lachaux Romanée St. Vivant. VM 94. Deep red-ruby. Knockout nose combines raspberry, violet, coffee, licorice, spice and smoky oak. Superb richness and volume without excessive weight. Thick for a ’96, but kept bright by tangy Oriental spices and a lively floral nuance. Extremely long on the aftertaste, with noble tannins. Classy juice.
agavin: good stuff. Very much in the house style.
Roast squab. Succulent little birds, heads and all.
Erick brought: 1990 Domaine Dujac Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Aux Combottes. Burghound 92. A beautiful and now fully mature, complex and pure red berry fruit nose that has taken on secondary nuances is trimmed in noticeable oak that continues onto the supple, rich and still fresh middle weight flavors that offer excellent detail and plenty of finishing vibrancy. This is carrying a bit more oak than I personally like but there is no question that this is a quality ’90 that delivers a high quality drinking experience and should continue to do so for another decade, perhaps longer.
agavin: very nice, but at a sufficient level of maturity (bricking) that I’d drink up.
French style beef. Good with the reds.
2005 Domaine Marquis d’Angerville Volnay 1er Cru Clos des Ducs. Burghound 96. The magnificently pure and airy essence of notably ripe dark pinot fruit, cassis and menthol remains reserved and cool with its exceptionally rich, classy, sweet and vibrant mineral-driven and large-scaled flavors that are shaped by powerful if buried tannins. While magnificently long, this stunning Ducster is completely shut down at present and it would be a vinous crime to open one at this very early point in its development as the ’05 is built for the very long haul, indeed 20 years may be too soon. In my view, the ’05 Ducster is destined to take its place alongside the greatest vintages of the past, and while the words “best ever” are presumptuous in a wine with such a distinguished history, the mere fact that it has the potential to be among the very best ever is praise enough.
agavin: we decanted for a while. Even so, while there was tons of fruit, there was so much tannin that it needs AT LEAST another ten years.
Pea greens. Not the pea tendrils, but the older version of the same. With garlic of course.
1994 Vega Sicilia Unico. Parker 96-98. The 1994 Unico is a blend of 80% Tinto Fino, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot (presumably 2% is unknown varieties) that was picked from September 28. It is very intense with notes of raspberry, wild strawberry and mulberry with sensational minerality and vigor. There is a Margaux-like florality to the 1994 that blossom with aeration. The palate is rounded and supple on the entry with great weight and backbone. There is real substance here, similar to the 1996. It expands in the mouth with ravishing notes of blackberry, strawberry, citrus lemon, orange peel and a touch of cedar. There is enormous weight on the finish, a behemoth of a Unico. This is very potent, but it still requires several years in bottle. 96,280 bottles produced. Drink 2019-2040.
agavin: We decanted, very nice.
Dried scallop fried rice. Salty with a lot of umami.
1983 Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. Parker 90-94. A stunning wine, Pichon-Lalande’s 1983 has been gorgeous to drink for a number of years. It is one of the finest 1983s, especially for a northern Medoc. The color remains a dark ruby/purple, with slight lightening at the edge. The knock-out nose of roasted herbs, sweet, jammy black currants, and pain grille is followed by a full-bodied, gorgeously concentrated and well-proportioned wine with low acidity, plenty of glycerin, and a savory, highly extracted, fleshy mouthfeel. This has always been one of the stars of the vintage. Anticipated maturity: Now-2008.
agavin: in really great shape and lovely
Seafood chow mein. I love these crispy noodles.
The sauce soaks into them and softens them up. Oh so good.
1991 Domaine Bertheau (Pierre et François) Bonnes Mares. Burghound 87. Bricking now though still showing a bit of elegant cherry/berry fruit influence on the nose leading to slightly sweet, somewhat light flavors that offer good complexity but not much density. There is good complexity and overall, this is pretty rather than profound and performs more like a good but not special premier cru rather than a big grand cru like Bonnes Mares. In short, this is perfectly good but frankly a bit disappointing for a wine at this level.
agavin: a third bottle left over from the night before.
Dessert buns. These fluffy buns are shaped like peaches, which have traditional happy symbolism in China. They had a bit of sweet paste inside. Perfectly nice (for Chinese desserts).
Another awesome Chinese feast. A lot of these dishes were stunning, like the pig and all the crab dishes. The private room was great and we had a stunning lineup of (mostly) Burgundy. Only one wine had any serious issues (the 96 Ramonet) and this dinner showed the power of high quality producer Burgundy — particularly in context of a dinner without too many big reds (only really the Unico and older Bordeaux). I feel that Burgundy shows off by far at dinners where it dominates (although it can mix fine with Champy). You can’t easily go back and forth between the big extracted wines and the more subtle Burgundy.
Fu really knows how to celebrate!