Restaurant: Private Chef, David Slatkin
Location: Bel Air
Date: July 27, 2019
This particular entry in my series of Friday afternoon wine themed Sauvages lunches was set at…
Member Jeff’s lovely backyard and features food by private chef David Slatkin.
We dined at this lovely table — it would be romantic except this is about a dozen old winos :-).
Even Hercules, the dog, knows how to have a good time.
NV Billecart-Salmon Champagne Brut Rosé. VM 92. We started with a demi-bouteille of Billecart-Salmon Rosé: a safe option, but it does the job, even though I would say that a full bottle is better.
Ceviche “tacos.” Food notes are a little sketchy because I don’t have a menu and am writing this up weeks later.
Beet and goat cheese skewers. “Classic,” but still delicious.
From my cellar: 2004 Taittinger Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Comtes de Champagne. VM 96. I am thrilled with the way the 2004 Comtes de Champagne continues to evolve in bottle. A few years ago, the 2004 was quite focused and linear, in the style of the vintage, but more recently, the wine has begun to fill out beautifully. The 2004 remains bright, with a full range of citrus, white flower and mineral nuances that dance on the palate. A brisk, saline-infused finish rounds things out beautifully in a Comtes that impresses for its crystalline purity. I expect the 2004 will always remain a bit cool next to the more opulent 2002, but it is still drop-dead gorgeous.
Beef tartar on polenta.
2015 Château Cos d’Estournel Blanc. VM 91. Jeff gives it 92 points. A bright, juicy, fresh blast yellow citrus with a hint of lime. Quite vibrant and fruity. Drink now, or age it for a few more years.
2004 Y de Yquem. 93 points, Jeff says: Bright, peppy, energetic blast of grapefruit, lemon and honeysuckle with loads of fresh, yellow citrus with just a hint of honey in the finish. This is drinking in its sweet spot today.
Sea bass with basil, beans, and bacon. Bacon makes everything better.
1986 Château Lafite Rothschild. VM 96. The 1986 Lafite-Rothschild is a great wine although over several recent encounters it is never a convincing “perfect” wine. This mirrors the bottle I tasted at the property in 2016: blackberry and graphite on the nose, gawky at first, but coalescing with time. The palate is well balanced with firm tannins, strong graphite scents unfolding with time, superb energy if not delivering quite the finesse and precision that the very best Lafite-Rothschild will bestow. This is a wine that benefits from long decanting, say five or six hours, though it never quite reaches the ethereal heights that it could have done. Tasted at the International Business & Wine First Growth Dinner at the Four Seasons.
1982 Château Lynch-Bages. VM 92. Dark red with a hint of garnet. A floral element lifts the very ripe aromas of kirsch and spicecake. Smooth, juicy, balanced and clean, with flavors of raspberry jam, graphite and tar exhibiting very good sweetness. Lively, balanced acidity confers precision and cut to this easygoing midweight. Finishes linear and long, with plenty of charm.
1982 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. 96 points. Deep red-ruby color. Liqueur-like aromas of currant, cedar, lead pencil, truffle and smoked meat. Magically sweet and silky in the mouth, with superb depth of flavor and a complete absence of rough edges. A huge wine with utterly compelling sweetness and great terroir character. Powerful if somewhat unrestrained. Finishes ripely tannic, long and sweet. Many tasters still rank this among their two or three favorites of the vintage. Drink now to 2015.
Gnocchi with lobster and morels. Probably my favorite savory dish, but I do like pasta and mushrooms — particularly morels.
2000 Château Léoville Poyferré. VM 90. Good full medium ruby. Subdued, slightly roasted nose combines cassis, cherry and chocolate mint. Chocolatey-sweet but less deep and expressive than the ’02 and ’01. Offers good currant and cherry flavors but seems a bit dry-edged and medicinal for a 2000, without quite the harmony of components of the subsequent vintages here.
1989 Château Lynch-Bages. VM 96. The 1989 Lynch Bages is a wine that in multiple tastings has never really put a foot wrong and as it approaches 30 years, one wonders just how long this Pauillac is going to give so much drinking pleasure. Those enticing blackberry and cedar scents remain in situ, maybe less pencil lead here compared to previous bottles. Yet, you have to stand back to admire the intensity and sheer brio of these aromatics. The palate is still unbelievably fresh, this the most youthful example that I have encountered with pure black fruit laced with cedar, just a hint of chestnut towards the symmetrical finish. When I first tasted the 1989 I remarked that it is equal to a First Growth, a sentiment that I have no hesitation in repeating. Jean-Michel Cazes would not make a better wine until the following year. Tasted at a private dinner in Bordeaux.
From my cellar: 1990 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron. VM 96. The 1990 Pichon-Baron is a sensational wine that must have had the First Growth rattled when it was released. At 28 years old, it is still reveling in its precocious growing season. The multidimensional bouquet features blackberry, graphite, cedar and mint flanked by iodine and warm gravel on a summer day. Wow! The palate is medium-bodied, delivering a mixture of red and black fruit, a fine mineral undercurrent and a long, precise finish: blackberry, cedar and graphite remain in the mouth for a good 60 seconds. Still a fabulous Pauillac after all these years. Tasted at the Pichon-Baron vertical at the château.
Jeff gives it 98 points: This is a super wine. In fact, I am not sure there is a better example for the money in the market today for a great Pauillac with bottle age. This has everything you need in a mature Left Bank wine. It is rich, powerful, concentrated and multi-layered. But the wine is not showy, it’s restrained. The aromatic profile is text-book with its tobacco leaf, smoke, cassis, blackberry, wet earth and herbal notes. The texture is masculine and refined, with a finish that doesn’t quit. An hour at most is all this needs in the decanter.
Meat, two ways.
1996 Château Latour Grand Vin. VM 94. The 1996 Latour is a wine that I often find overrated and did not achieve everything that might have been possible in this favourable growing season. That said, this might well be the best of around two dozen bottles I have encountered over the years. As usual, the 1996 is decidedly austere at first, standoffish, looks down its nose at you. Yet it coalesces with time and develops engaging cedar-scented black fruit tinged with pencil box and a touch of iris with time. The palate (again) is a little muted at first but it soon found its voice and evolved very fine tannin allied with a crisp line of acidity. It is not quite as demonstrative as it was even just a couple of years ago, gained some detail and perhaps it will continue to meliorate. Very fine, very fine indeed – but not a patch of say, the Château Margaux or perhaps even Léoville Las Cases. Tasted at the International Business & Wine Latour dinner at Ten Trinity.
Jeff gives it 99 points: A stunning wine in every sense of the word. Full-bodied, deep, concentrated, regal and long, the wine is packed with ripe, juicy, sweet, fresh dark red fruits, tobacco, earth and spice. Concentrated, balanced and complex, this is still youthful. The finish really hangs in there. You can enjoy it now with 2 hours of air. Or give it another 5-10-15 years in the cellar for more development.
1996 Château Margaux. VM 96+. Bright full ruby. Pure, perfumed aromas of cassis and violet. Dense and tactile in the mouth; a huge, chewy wine with major extract but also considerable refinement. Almost painfully backward today, and a bit less perfumed than it was in the year or so after the bottling, but the huge tannins show no hardness. Another great expression of cabernet sauvignon from the ’96 vintage. Drink 2015 through 2040.
1998 Château Mouton Rothschild. VM 92. The 1998 Mouton Rothschild is another wine that I had not tasted for several years. It is a blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc. Compared directly with the 1988, there is clearly some improvement for the bouquet is fresher with greater complexity – blackberry, cedar, a spring of fresh mint and a little juniper berry for good measure. The palate is medium-bodied with grainy tannin. Like many Pauillac 1998s, this feels quite structured and masculine, but at least there is adequate fruit tucked in just behind. It segues into a rather ferrous last third, fresh and precise with a sustained finish. Although it lags behind more recent vintages under Dhalluin, it appears to be at its peak after 20 years and should remain there for another decade. Tasted at the château.
Jeff gives it 95 points: The wine starts off with an array of layers in the perfume. Full-bodied and concentrated, with layers of fruit. But the finish is a bit clipped. The wine is very good, but the brief finish is a bit disappointing. Time will add complexities, but the finish is probably not going to get any better.
Beef with chanterelles, green beans, and mashed Peruvian purple potato.
1996 La Mondotte. VM 91. Black ruby. Slightly high-toned aromas of raspberry, minerals and toffee. Extroverted, sweet and powerful in the mouth, with superb density for the vintage. Finishes with huge but well-distributed tannins. This is 100% merlot, while the ’97 and ’98 include 20%-25% cabernet franc; von Neipperg says he picked the cab franc too early in ’96 and found it too rustic to include in the blend.
Jeff gives it 94 points: Mature, richly textured, ripe, sweet, lush and fresh, there is no reason to hold this any longer. While not at the level of subsequent vintages, the wine is quite nice, especially for the vintage.
2000 Château Pavie Decesse. VM 93. Bright, deep ruby. Explosive aroma of roasted black cherry. Dense, highly concentrated and deep, with penetrating, palate-saturating flavors of blackberry and black cherry framed by firm underlying minerality. A wine of great force; despite its major ripeness, there’s also a cool, medicinal aspect that’s utterly refreshing. Finishes with big, broad tannins and outstanding length.
My cryptic notes on the main wines.
1986 Château de Fargues. 93 points. Sublime; shows why 86 is such a fantastic year for Sauternes – a perfect balance of body, acid, and sweetness. Has it all.
Soufflé with peaches and whipped cream.
House-made chocolate chip cookies.
Gelati by moi:
Italian Lemon Cookie Meringue Pie — Limoncello Zabaione base with lemon cookie flavor mixed with Italian Lemon Creme Cookies and Sicilian Candied Lemon and topped with house-made toasted Meringue — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato) — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #lemon #LemonCookie #cookie #Sicily #Sorento #Limoncello #Meringue #LemonMeringuePie
Radical new flavor: Gianduja Extra Virgin Olive Oil — a tricky high fat EVOO base made with 2014 Giuseppe Quintarelli Olive Oil and layered with house-made Piedmontese Hazelnut and Valrhona Chocolate Ganache — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato) — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #evoo #OiliveOil #Quintarelli #SavorySweet #ganache #valrhona #chocolate #hazelnut
Some bonus wine:
1995 Château Mouton Rothschild. VM 95. Jeff gives it 94 points: There is a bit more strictness and severity to the wine that is becoming more apparent over the years. The wine has power, loads of tannin, and the fruit is ripe, but the increasing austerity that is an issue with many 1995 Bordeaux wines is something to take note of.
Even more bonus wine:
1998 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage La Chapelle. VM 92. Red-ruby. Expressive nose combines currant, roast coffee, chicory, underbrush and smoke. Suave yet penetrating in the mouth, with complex flavors of redcurrant, iron, minerals, smoke and tobacco. Finishes with dusty tannins and excellent length, though there still some acidity to be absorbed. This is showing well now, though its slightly more advanced aromatics suggest it will not be as long-lived as the ’99.
Overall, a great lunch with really good food and amazing wines — all of which were drinking in great form. I don’t buy too much Bordeaux anymore, but they are really great when you give them a few years.
After the dinner proper a couple of us retired up the stairs to a lovely terrace on top of the yard and sipped our “bonus wines” (the 95 Mouton and Hermitage).