Location: 700 S Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA 91754. (626) 282-9998
Date: October 9, 2016
Cuisine: Cantonese Dim Sum
Elite is well known as one of great LA’s top dimsum places and so the Dirty Dozen is heading there on this lovely (hot) Sunday afternoon for a blind Champagne tasting.
The bucket of Champs.
2004 Billecart-Salmon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut Millésimé. Peter says 93 points. Nice BdB bready-yeasty notes, fine, straw, with exceptional elegance, lemon, bosc pear, minerals, chalk, complex, super long, powerful but pretty. Loved this, guessed Comtes BdB ’04.
1995 Charles Heidsieck Champagne Blanc des Millénaires. AG 95. The 1995 Brut Blanc des Millenaires shows just how compelling this often overlooked vintage can be. Layers of lemon, pastry spices, crushed rocks and savory herbs literally jump from the glass in this exquisite, perfumed, beautifully delineated Champagne. The 1995 shows lovely flavor complexity and nuance from its extended time in bottle, yet it also retains plenty of freshness, verve and acidity. This is a great showing from Charles Heidsieck. The 1995 was made before the tenure of the house’s current team, headed by CEO Cécile Bonnefond. It will be very interesting to see what develops at this historic property over the coming years.
Peter, anther attendee says 93 points: Medium burnished yellow/gold; rich, powerful, a touch nutty, berries showing through tertiary notes, very long, complex and great balance. Blind at Dirty Dozen tasting. Guessed ’96 Dom. Would not have guessed a BdB. Curious to know disgorgement date since they have the new bottles/embossed clear labels.
1988 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut. VM 97. After the lackluster 1990, things get back on track quickly with the 1988 Salon, a wine that is absolutely peaking today. From one of the all-time great vintages in Champagne the 1988 Salon exudes power and explosive intensity, with superb balance and pulsating acidity that gives the wine its drive. A host of candied lemon peel, hazelnut, smoke, licorice and anise overtones meld into the super-expressive finish. Disgorged à la volée, with no dosage.
agavin: our bottle was a bit oxed. According to Peter, another of our guests: Quite dark gold color; this seemed very old with a quite strong oxidative nose, nutty aspect, light caramel bits, a touch of a sour tangy finish. Still, very intriguing and enjoyed the burnished aspect of an older Champagne. Drink up now for sure, although this most likely was prematurely oxidized as it shouldn’t have been this developed. Guessed ’90 Krug. Blind at Dirty Dozen tasting.
Halloween version! (actually dipped in its sauce)
2002 Billecart-Salmon Champagne Cuvée Nicolas-François Billecart. VM 94. The 2002 Cuvée Nicolas François Billecart comes across as rich, powerful and opulent. This latest release of the 2002 was disgorged in July 2015 and finished with a Chardonnay-based liqueur whereas the previous release, disgorged in May 2014, was finished with a Pinot Noir-based liqueur. This is a distinctly vinous, almost shockingly raw, visceral Champagne from Billecart-Salmon. There is no shortage of volume or intensity, that is for sure. Stylistically, this year’s release inhabits a whole other world relative to last year’s release. Dosage is 4 grams per liter.
Peter says 91 points: Distinct but subtle berry notes on the nose, slight pinot character with very slight oxidative character; somewhat rougher bubbles after the Heidsieck Millenaires, Billecart BdB and Salon. At first it seemed less fine in the mouth, but coming back to it it seemed very foamy small bubbles. 91-92. I usually like this much more than I did today. Guessed ’02 Blend. Blind at Dirty Dozen tasting.
From my cellar: 2000 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut. BH 96. A wonderfully layered and nuanced nose features an intense yeasty character to the maturing fruit that displays interesting phenolic characters, in particular petrol, along with aromas of apple, pear and soft citrus hints. In contrast to the nascent maturity expressed by the nose the flavor profile is still tight and backward with a genuinely gorgeous texture, all wrapped in a strikingly persistent and highly complex finish. For my taste the 2000 Brut is at an inflection point as the nose does offer enough maturity so that it’s really quite pretty whereas the palate impression is substantially younger. As such it really just depends on how you prefer your Champagne because I suspect that the nose will be very mature by the time the still very youthful flavors attain their majority. For my taste preferences it would be no vinous crime to begin enjoying this now but be aware that this will age for a very long time. The best approach is probably to buy 6, or even 12, bottles and enjoy them over a longer period of time.
Peter says 93 points: This had great vinous character, clear aged notes, apple skin, baked bread, earthy minerals; fine foamy mouth, elegant but powerful and intense, with excellent acidity and very long in the finish. 2nd day drank kinda like a great older Burgundy. Guessed ’96 blend. Blind at Dirty Dozen tasting.
1999 Louis Roederer Champagne Cristal Brut. VM 92+. Light gold. Vibrant, tangy aromas of apple, pear, white peach and minerals. Wound tight right now, only reluctantly offering up flavors of fresh orchard fruits, herbs and pepper. Finishes zesty and long. Seems less deep than the 1997 bottling; is this just in a sullen, youthful stage?
Peter says 94 points: This was a killer–gorgeous complex character, fruit, minerals, yeast, all in perfect balance, savory notes shining through with power and elegance. Guessed ’90 BdB. Blind at Dirty Dozen tasting. My WOTN (with very strong contenders).
1996 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon. BH 97. A distinctly reticent but elegant nose with a purity of expression that is truly impressive to experience as it’s relatively high-toned and while the yeast comes up with air, it’s relatively muted at presence, combining with intense, precise and superbly detailed and complex flavors that culminate in an explosive and wonderfully long finish. This may very well rival the sublime ’90 in time even if it’s not quite as concentrated. This is still a baby so there is absolutely no rush whatsoever.
Singapore noodles. Great version of this classic dish with its yellow curry flavor.
NV Kirkland Signature Champagne Brut. CW 79-81. Light golden yellow color with steady stream of small bubbles; tart peach, baked pear nose; ripe pear, apple, honeyed palate; medium-plus finish.
Peter says 88 points: This had a prosecco-like aromatic floral nose (Not a champagne nose), it was light yellow (contrasting with the darker more intense colors of the other prestige cuvees), and more rustic effervescence and quick finish. Guessed Prosecco or low level young brut. This was fun because it ranked very high when put up against a slew of prestige cuvees. I think maybe because of the nice floral aromatics and bright freshness which may have been refreshing after a lot of older vinous wines? Blind at Dirty Dozen tasting.
1990 Perrier-Jouët Champagne Cuvée Fleur de Champagne. VM 92. Complex, nutty, vibrant aromas of orange peel, lemon oil, and biscuit. Very concentrated and intensely flavored; thick with extract in the style of the best ’90s, but without any heaviness. Lemon and apple flavors really cling to the palate. Finishes very long and thoroughly ripe.
Peter says 91 points: This was just as dark as the ’88 Salon (maybe a bit darker even); Oxidative, nutty, pecan, slight caramelized notes, old tired bubbles, but this really grew on me like a comfortable worn out old leather chair. It seemed a bit older than it was, but fun to drink. 91-92. Blind at Dirty Dozen tasting.
Mango pudding. Love this stuff.
Another awesome Chinese feast. This whole thing was $45 including paying for the winner AND a huge tip. Food was very fresh and on point. A large percentage of my fiends who go to dimsum think it’s the best in the SGV. I personally agree, with next best being King Hua. Certainly Elite, King Hua, and Lunasia are also at the top, but slightly below and there is a tier even slightly below that including Sea Harbor and maybe Shi Hai.
Wines were pretty good. Sadly the Salon and a couple others were over the hill or off (the Dom 96 too which should have been great), and a couple were showing oddly. But still great fun.
One of the best Dirty Dozen meals I’ve been too — particularly because they tend to be at restaurants I don’t like, such as Taylor’s Steakhouse, Del Frisco’s Grille, Locanda Veneta, or Wilshire. They are selected for being accommodating (which they are), but the food at that lot tends to be dated and/or sloppy which isn’t my thing. The next event, however, will be at BOA SM, which while still a steakhouse (I’m not a steak guy unless it’s Yakiniku), is a pretty good place.