Restaurant: Alexander’s Steakhouse
Location: 111 N Los Robles Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101. (626) 486-1111
Date: August 28, 2017
Rating: Asian fusion & some of the best steakhouse I’ve had
Charlie brought: NV Krug Champagne Brut Grande Cuvée Edition 164eme. JG 95. The 164th Edition of Krug “Grande Cuvée is absolutely brilliant and one of the best iterations of this iconic wine that I have ever had the pleasure to taste. This is not surprising, as it is from the base year of 2008, though the team at Krug utilized reserve wines all the way back to 1990 in this version. The final cépages is forty-eight percent pinot noir, thirty-five percent chardonnay and seventeen percent pinot meunier, with the wine spending eight years in the Krug cellars sur latte. The beautiful bouquet wafts from the glass in a blend of apple, white peach, fresh-baked bread, very complex soil tones, white flowers, incipient smokiness and just a hint of the caraway seed to come with bottle age. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied and seamlessly balanced, with a great core, utterly refined mousse, superb focus and grip and a very, very long, complex and zesty finish. The vibrancy of the exceptional base year of 2008 is very much in evidence here and this is destined to be one of the all-time great Grande Cuvées.
Ron brought: NV Krug Champagne Brut Rosé. BH 94. Medium rosé hue. A cool, restrained and highly complex nose that is not especially fruity displays a moderate yeast character along with slightly exotic aromas of mandarin orange and Asian tea, all wrapped in an enveloping array of beguiling rose petal scents. There is very good richness with a relatively firm supporting mousse that adds to the impression of richness to the superbly complex and highly textured flavors, indeed one could aptly describe this as more wine that Champagne. As such this is indeed a sumptuous Krug rosé that is difficult to resist already though it should reward extended keeping if desired. As I noted in the original 750 ml review, that while I am not always wowed by the Krug Rosé, this latest incarnation in magnum is strikingly good.
Charlie also brought (blind): 2000 Arcadian Chardonnay Sleepy Hollow Vineyard. JG 92. This was my first introduction to the wines from Joe Davis at Arcadian and I was very, very impressed with what I tasted. While the 2000 Sleepy Hollow chardonnay is not the current release from the winery, the estate’s philosophy of holding back their wines several years prior to release obviously is a testament to their commitment to producing truly cellar-worthy wines. This 2000 chardonnay is drinking beautifully and is at its apogee of peak maturity, offering up a deep and complex nose of pears, acacia blossoms, a touch of beeswax, lemon curd, a very pretty base of soil, citrus oils and buttery oak. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and still quite zesty, with a great core of fruit, excellent focus and balance, fine structure and a long, complex and tangy finish that closes with a bit of citrus peel. This is a lovely bottle at its apogee, but still with plenty of life ahead of it. Impressive juice.
Emil brought: 2009 Bouchard Père et Fils Corton-Charlemagne. BH 93-96. A cool, fresh and densely fruited nose of crushed citrus, green apple and mineral reduction gives way to seriously concentrated and overtly muscular flavors that possess a suave and silky mouth feel yet do not lack for an underlying reserve of power. This isn’t as fine as the Montrachet but it’s even longer, at least at present with a chewy character that provides evidence of the massive levels of extract. Even so, don’t buy this with the intention of drinking it young as it will require plenty of cellar time, at least if you want to see its full potential realized.
Ron Brought: 2009 Philippe Colin Chevalier-Montrachet. BH 90. This is aromatically quite similar to the Demoiselles though the medium weight plus flavors are bigger, richer and more powerful with even more dry extract that are given lift by the solid minerality though again, the finish is distinctly sweet. To be sure, there will be some who appreciate that sweetness but it’s too much for me.
(blind): 1996 Domaine Heresztyn/Heresztyn-Mazzini Clos St. Denis. 94 points. Beautiful and perfumed: spicy and sweet, baking spices, nutmeg, cinnamon, some meaty and savory. Somewhat similar to the nose on the palate – savory, meat, sweet spice, lots of 96 acid: tart but still enough perfume and depth. Finish is tart cherry and spice.
Vahan brought: 2000 Emmanuel Rouget Echezeaux. BH 92. A gorgeously scented and wonderfully complex nose of black fruit, spice and warm earth aromas introduce forward, complex, intense and seductive medium-bodied flavors that display excellent power, all wrapped in a sappy and largely, if not completely, resolved finish of excellent length. This is lovely juice that is could either be approached now with pleasure or held for a few more years in the cellar first as it has only just arrived at the front edge of its drinkability. Tasted several times with consistent notes.
1973 Mount Eden Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Estate. JG 93. The 1973 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon was the second vintage crafted by the Richard and Peter Graff here at Mount Eden, and the wine is really very lovely and still right in its prime fully forty-three years out from the vintage. This was a small crop that was picked between October 7th and 12th and the wine was fined, but not filtered prior to bottling. The wine is showing beautifully today, offering up a deep and tertiary bouquet of cassis, cigar ash, complex, dark soil tones, menthol, woodsmoke and a touch of red curry in the upper register. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and at its absolute apogee, with a good core, a wide open and inviting personality, lovely focus and balance and a long, velvety and very pure finish. Just a lovely vintage of Mount Eden cabernet in its prime.
The next bottle Vahan brought blind:
Vahan brought (blind): 1970 Cheval Blanc. 90 points. The ’70 Cheval Blanc has moved into the latter stages of its useful life, and while it remains a reasonable mouthful of wine, it has begun to drop a bit of its fruit and is more defined by its smoky and earthy characteristics today. The nose offers up a rather flat blend of anonymous black fruit, menthol, charred wood, tobacco smoke and damp earth. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, smoky and earthy, with solid mid-palate depth, but a rather flat personality that could do with a bit more acidity, but solid length on the rather tobaccoey finish. Flavor-wise, there is not much fruit left here, but the wine is not fraying or collapsing as of yet, but simply dominated by its smoky and damp earth character.
With the jus.
AURORA ANGUS FILET MIGNON 8OZ. illinois black angus / negi salad. A nice filet. Filet is contentious among the carnivores. I have always liked it, but I’m not a steak guy. Some others prefer a gamier bit of meat.
ERYNGI MUSHROOMS. roasted garlic / thyme / lemon vinaigrette. Solid buttery mushrooms.
From my cellar: 1985 Leoville-Las Cases. RP 94. The 1985 is a gorgeously open-knit Las Cases with a sweet nose of lead pencil, sweet black cherries and currants, and a hint of underbrush and new oak. Medium to full-bodied with expansiveness, supple tannins, and outstanding concentration, this is a beautifully made wine that still tastes like it is an adolescent and may even have an even greater upside as it continues to age in bottle. The low acidity and sweet tannin, however, suggest it has entered its plateau of maturity. Anticipated maturity: Now-2018.
Michael brought: 2002 Palmer. RP 93-95. A successful wine for the vintage, this blend of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 8% Petit Verdot boasts complex notes of menthol, black currants, plums, licorice, and a hint of cappuccino in its stunning aromatics. Dense, medium to full-bodied, with high levels of tannin in a big, full-bodied style (much in the spirit of such classic Bordeaux vintages as 1966, 1986, and 1996), this wine possesses superb purity and serious length, but should be purchased only by those with considerable patience and a good, cold cellar, since it will need plenty of time.
2000 Chapoutier • Chateauneuf du Pape Barbe Rac. RP 95. There are approximately 500 cases of this wine. It is a large-scaled Chateauneuf du Pape that represents the antithesis of La Bernardine. This wine has been spectacular, and I have been a frequent buyer and consumer of this wine since the first vintage Michel Chapoutier made, 1989.
2000 Domaine du Pegau • Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Reservee. RP 92. Fully mature, with a ruby/amber color that shows some lightening at the rim, it offers classic Pegau garrigue, olive tapenade, beef blood and wild herbs to go with a medium to full-bodied, seamless and resolved profile on the palate. It still has a core of sweet fruit and is drinking nicely now, so don’t make the mistake of waiting too long on this. It should be consumed over the coming couple of years.
Larry brought: 1998 Domaine de la Janasse • Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Vieilles Vignes. RP 96. A bigger, richer wine than the Cuvee Chaupin, the 1998 Chateauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes is full-bodied, rich and silky on the palate, with classic Janasse notes of barbecue smoke, licorice, peppery herbs and smoked black fruits. I’ve been lucky enough to have multiple bottles of this recently, all of which have shown beautifully. There’s no upside, but it will continue drinking nicely through 2023.
Chris brought: 2004 Henri Bonneau • Chateauneuf du Pape Reserve des Celestins. RP 95. Classic Bonneau with its knockout perfume of sweet kirsch, blackberry, saddle leather and roasted herbs, the 2004 Chateauneuf du Pape Reserve des Celestins is medium to full-bodied, supple and elegant, with fine, sweet tannin on the finish. Showing more depth and richness than just about any other wine in the vintage, with a fantastic mix of aromatic complexity and textural richness on the palate, it’s drinking beautifully now, and should continue to shine for another decade.
And look how marbled it is!
Overall, an amazing meal.
Service was knock down, drag out awesome. The manager and the maitre d’ took care of us personally, they helped design the meal, and really made sure we had an incredible time.
Food was really fabulous. I can’t really evaluate steak vs other good steakhouses as I’m not a steak guy, but they seemed up there with the best, but the appetizers and sides were both different and interesting (with their Japanese fusion) and extremely well executed. Every dish was pretty much awesome. Not all your typical American steakhouse stuff either.
Wines were great. Only major flaw was the premoxed Cali Chard (which I still enjoyed), and maybe a little bret on 1-2 of the Rhones. I like that we had old stuff. I’ve had too many of the giant young cabs recently. Nice progression too and well timed with our 6-7 waves of food.
Ordering (Emil and I did it) was spot on if very slightly too much. We reordered foie (even if it was great), ate a bit too much awesome bread, and maybe had 1-2 too many steaks — so there was no room for dessert. But better a bit too much than going out for ramen later! Price was even quite reasonable considering what we had, the service, and all that A5 (which has a steep premium).