Location: 7274 Melrose Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90046. (323) 930-7900
Date: January 14, 2016
Rating: Good “New American” Spanish
After a year’s absence, the Hedonists return to Smoke Oil Salt for some more creative Spanish food — particularly given that they have a new chef.
Owner Stephen Gelber was on hand making sure we didn’t get into too much trouble!
Bonus bottle from my cellar: 2011 Raul Pérez Rías Baixas Muti. 90 points. Fresh citrus…lemon, lime, grapefruit tinged w/floral notes. Razor sharp base minerality puncuated with clean even finish. Great wine for the summer!
2006 Domaine Ponsot Morey St. Denis 1er Cru Clos des Monts Luisants Vieilles Vignes. Burghound 90. A ripe, pretty and spicy green fruit nose leads to textured, sweet and seriously intense flavors underpinned by firm acidity and evident minerality, all wrapped in a linear, long and precise finish. Impressive if not overly complex at present yet this wine always requires time in bottle to deepen as well as flesh out.
Frank brought: 2012 Marchand & Tawse / Pascal Marchand Clos de la Roche. Burghound 91-94. This is aromatically similar to the Clos St. Denis except for the presence of plenty of sauvage character and a more pronounced earthiness. As one would reasonably expect there is more size, weight, richness and power to the big-bodied flavors that possess very solid volume on the balanced and impressively persistent finish. There is fine depth and this should amply repay medium to longer-term cellaring.
Brian brought: 2005 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial. Parker 96. The 2005 Castillo de Ygay Gran Reserva Especial, a classic among classics, is back in top form with the excellent 2005 vintage. It’s produced from a blend of 89% Tempranillo and 11% Mazuelo (aka Carinena), a difficult grape that is in high esteem at the winery (they exceptionally produced a varietal Mazuelo in 2000 to celebrate their 150th anniversary) as they consider it adds acidity and aging potential to the blend and has been selected specifically to make part of the flagship wine’s blend. In 2005, the Tempranillo was harvested on September 30, the Mazuelo on October 3, and fermented separately in stainless steel vats. The Tempranillo ages in American oak barrels and the Mazuelo in French ones, both for a period of 30 months. The wine matures for a further two years in bottle before being released. It’s extremely backward and tight, showing very young, with a balanced nose between spice, tertiary and cherry fruit aromas. It’s a powerful, still young vintage, with plenty of glycerin, body, round tannins. An austere wine (is it the Mazuelo?), it is complex and ever-changing in the palate. It has a sense of harmony that only the best wines have. Very long and elegant. I loved its serious and austere overall feeling. 100,000 bottles produced. This is a true vin de garde which develops complex notes of violet and meat with time in the glass. This is a Gran Reserva greatly marked by the Mazuelo, which should give it great ability to age. At this quality level it represents very good value. Drink 2014-2030.
From my cellar: 2007 Spectacle Vins Montsant Espectacle. Parker 98. The 2007 Espectacle is 100% Garnacha sourced from 120-year-old vines located at La Figuera on the northern edge of the Montsant DO. The vineyard is managed by Rene Barbier’s Clos Mogador team and is aged in one 4000-liter vat at Celler Laurona. The 2007 Espectacle reveals a sexy bouquet of mineral, Asian spices, incense, truffle, and black cherry compote. This leads to a full-bodied, plush, succulent, impeccably balanced wine which admirably combines elegance and power. It will evolve effortlessly for several more years and have a drinking window extending 2013 to 2022 if not longer. It is Montsant’s benchmark wine and a world-class expression of old-vine Garnacha.
Kirk brought: 1997 Clos Mogador. 91 points. Clos Mogador’s 1997 boasts a saturated ruby/purple color, a fat, dense, concentrated, black currant, mineral-infused character, full body, layers of concentration, sweet tannin, and a 35-second finish. Impressive and pure, with nicely integrated toasty oak, it will drink well for 10-15 years.
Sebastian brought: 2001 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf du Pape. Parker 93. The 2001 Chateauneuf du Pape La Crau is gorgeous, structured, impressive. Full-bodied and backward, with great depth, purity, and heady aromatics, this 20,000-case blend of 60% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah, and 15% miscellaneous amounts of the other permitted varietals will easily rival the 1998. A deep ruby/purple-tinged color is accompanied by a sweet perfume of salty sea breezes, seaweed, melted licorice, kirsch liqueur, creme de cassis, and iodine … a classic Vieux-Telegraphe aromatic display. Powerful as well as firmly structured, this is a wine to lay away for 4-5 years. It should prove to be uncommonly long-lived, lasting a minimum of two decades. It gets my nod as the greatest Vieux-Telegraphe since the 1998.
Larry brought: 2000 Clos des Papes Chateauneuf du Pape. Parker 95. The Burgundian-styled 2000 Chateauneuf du Pape is drinking at point today. Possessing beautiful notes of forest floor, truffles, spice, garrigue and sweet cherry and kirsch like fruit, this beauty has notable freshness and purity, medium to full-bodied richness, fine tannin and a layered, integrated texture that keeps you coming back to the glass. There’s no need to delay gratification here and I’d enjoy bottles over the coming 4-5 years.
Arnie brought (again :-)): 2007 Alban Vineyards Syrah Reva Alban Estate Vineyard. Parker 96-100. The 2007 Syrah Reva is dazzling. It possesses striking inner perfume and beautifully delineated fruit. Blackberries, blueberries, freshly cut white flowers, licorice, tar and asphalt are some of the notes that take shape in the glass. Alban gave the 2007 Reva 44 months in untoasted French oak barrels. Anticipated maturity: 2017-2027.
Lana brought the Ornellana: 2008 Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Ornellaia. Parker 97. The 2008 Ornellaia continues to blossom in the bottle. Dark cherries, chocolate, espresso, blackberries and mocha are just some of the many notes that explode from the glass. A rich tapestry of licorice, tar and camphor notes develop in the glass, adding considerable complexity. The 2008 is a huge, structured Ornellaia endowed with massive structure. It has come together beautifully since the early days when it was a tannic beast. Readers who can be patient will be rewarded with a spectacular bottle of wine. This is a fabulous showing. Anticipated maturity: 2018-2033.
2005 Gruaud Larose. Parker 90. The 2005 Gruaud Larose has a deep ruby/purple color, excellent concentration, and clean, pure black and red currant fruit, licorice and spice. It is medium to full-bodied, lush, and very soft and round. I’m surprised how drinkable it is already, although it is certainly capable of lasting 15 or more years.
All in all another great evening of pure hedonism. SOS is rocking on even minus the original chef. The dishes are largely similar in style, with some being even better, a few more middling (like the short-rib rice). It is right in there in the current “wood table, paper menu, small plates, loud room” thing that dominates new restaurants in LA right now. The food is quite Catalan/Valencian and very good. It’s quite salty, sometimes a little too much. Not crazy salty (like I’d sometimes get in Japan), but noticeable. Flavors are very strong (a good thing IMHO). The service was 11 out 10. Everyone pulled out all the stops.