Location: 633 W 5th St., Los Angeles, CA 90071
Date: September 30, 2016
Cuisine: New American
Rating: Awesome in all ways
Besides being located on the 71st floor (950 feet up!) of the US Bank building, being the highest restaurant west of the Mississippi, and showcasing the food of Chef Vartan Abgaryan, it’s owned and operated by my friend Emil Eyvazoff! And Emil also happens to be a member of my class in the Chevaliers du Tastevin, which bring’s us to this year’s annual “Grand Cru” lunch.
Even the wine commands a view!
2013 Comte Armand Bourgogne-Aligoté. BH 86. A spicy and ultra-fresh nose exhibits notes of green apple and citrus peel. There is fine verve and delineation to the lightly mineral-inflected flavors that exude a subtle salinity on the clean, dry and nicely balanced finish. This is not especially complex but I like the clean style and delivery.
Notice the committee details.
2009 Domaine Larochette-Manciat Pouilly-Fuissé Les Petites Bruyeres. 91 points. Nose of acacia flowers, lemon zest and lemongrass. Extracted lemon, some chalkiness with hints Grass and stone. Very refreshing.
2011 Paul Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Champs-Gain. BH 89-91. A ripe but very fresh nose of spiced herbal tea, white flowers, pear and fennel leads to generously proportioned middle weight flavors that possess both good volume and a suave mouth feel. There is just a touch of austerity to the agreeably dry, pure and well-balanced finish that offers very good if not truly distinguished depth and length. (Drink starting 2018)
2007 Yves Boyer-Martenot Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Le Cailleret. VM 91. Medium, bright yellow. Ripe aromas of peach, butter, clove and grilled nuts, lifted by violet and lavender nuances. Supple and pliant, offering the sweetest impression of Boyer’s crus, but with an edge of pineappley acidity giving the wine an early spiky quality. For all its texture, this shut down in the glass and will need some bottle aging.
2009 Domaine Henri Boillot Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Clos de la Mouchère. BH 95. There is also a trace of reduction and sulfur remnants present on the nose though there is a brilliant purity to the refined and penetratingly mineral-driven flavors that possess outstanding precision and cut on the powerful finish that is quite dry for the vintage with almost painful intensity. A real stunner.
2006 Domaine Michel Lafarge Volnay 1er Cru Clos du Château des Ducs. VM 92+. Good medium red. Captivating aromas of cherry, spices, minerals and flowers. Fat, broad and deeply spicy, with noteworthy depth of flavor and a tactile mouth feel. At once mouthfilling and vibrant; seamless and lively. The very long finish features thoroughly enrobed ripe tannins and vibrant spicy persistence. It will be fascinating to compare this with the 2007 version in six or seven years.
2004 Bouchard Père et Fils Beaune 1er Cru Grèves Vigne de L’Enfant Jesus. VM 90. Medium red. Black cherry and a resiny nuance on the youthfully medicinal nose. The broadest and sweetest of these Bouchard Beaune bottlings, with dark fruit flavors given definition and lift by firm acidity. This has good volume and a chewy texture. Finishes with sweet tannins and very good length, with a piquant note of grapefruit.
Roasted duck with parsnips, dates, and Szechuan peppercorns. The duck was gamey and perfectly medium rare. A really nice piece of fowl. And boldly there was a real Szechuan peppercorn tongue buzz. I’ve almost never seen these used outside of Chinese restaurants.
1998 Domaine Michel Gaunoux Corton-Renardes. BH 92. This is markedly more complex than the ’98 Rugiens with a classic Renardes nose that is intensely sauvage and displaying moderate secondary development along with plenty of spice nuances. There is excellent energy and punch and it’s clear that the supporting structural elements are riper while supporting and shaping the impressively well-detailed and mineral-inflected flavors and finish. This is an excellent ’98 though note that while it could certainly be drunk now with pleasure that it will continue to age for years.
In full swing.
Like on my previous visits the team at 71Above really pulled ahead with great execution. As you can see above the plating is modern but approachable and highly attractive. But the flavor on the dishes is paramount, and really quite excellent, particularly considering their complexity and textural variation. There is a balanced quality between opposite forces in Chef Abgaryan’s cooking that pulls from Chinese culinary theory, while that specific flavors and combinations are largely American/European. It’s both approachable and sophisticated. Bravo!