Location: 5722 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038. (323) 871-4160
Date: August 9, 2019
Cuisine: New American French
Rating: Fake Pinot is still Fake
It’s been a while since I made it to Kali to visit my friend Chef Kevin Meehan — doesn’t seem like so long but time flies — and so with him having earned a Michelin star and our Sauvages group heading there for gasp… fake pinot (New World Pinot Noir) I figured I’d join in.
The interior is more or less the same, but I don’t remember the lovely bright blue — maybe because I’ve never been here during the day before.
NV Pehu Simonet Champagne Grand Cru Face Nord Rosé. JG 90. The Pehu Simonet “Face Nord” non-vintage Brut Rosé is composed of a blend of seventy percent pinot noir, six percent still red pinot noir and twenty-four percent chardonnay. Like all of David Pehu’s wines, the vins clairs here do not go through malo, including the still red wine in the Rosé blend. As the last disgorgement (January 2016) was base year 2012, I am assuming this is base year 2013. The wine offers up a lovely nose of tangerine, discreet strawberry, the steely minerality so typical of Verzenay, rye bread and a delicate touch of spice in the upper register. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and still quite racy, with a good core, pinpoint bubbles and very good length and grip on the still quite youthful finish. This is still tight on the palate and will be far more generous with another year’s worth of bottle age. Good juice that should age very well indeed.
2016 Tablas Creek Esprit Blanc de Tablas. VM 93. Pale straw-gold. Intense, mineral-accented Meyer lemon, nectarine and pear skin aromas are complemented by a deeper honey nuance. Tightly wound citrus and orchard fruit flavors unfurl slowly with air, picking up a suave floral character and a hint of chalky minerality. The impressively long, incisive finish shows outstanding clarity and leaves behind lively citrus zest and honeysuckle notes.
Pacific Gold Oysters. Cucumber Mignonette.
2012 Jean Bourdy Chardonnay Côtes du Jura. 92 points.
2016 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Saint-Aubin Le Banc. VM 88. Palish, green-tinged yellow. Aromas of pear, minerals and wild herbs reminded me a bit of Benedictine. On the lean side but boasts lovely juicy cut to its lemon and lime flavors. No shortage of acidity here.
agavin: even though the rating is lower (because of the strange new world inflation) this was by far the best white. By far.
Uni toast — love uni!
2008 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Keefer Ranch Vineyard. VM 92. Bright red. High-pitched aromas of raspberry, strawberry liqueur, dried flowers and Asian spices. Silky, bright and precise, but with good depth and power to its red berry and cherry flavors. Really expand with air, finishing with sweet tannins, tangy minerality and impressive length. If your impression of the K-B wines ossified around the 2004 vintage, you should check this one out.
2007 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Keefer Ranch Vineyard. VM 93. Vivid red. Spicy black raspberry and cherry skin aromas are complicated by smoky minerals, anise and a suave blood orange quality. Fleshy, sweet red and dark berry flavors display liqueur-like depth and power, picking up candied rose on the back end. The refreshingly bitter finish leaves tangy berry skin notes behind. Along with the Kanzler, this is the most energetic of this year’s line-up.
2007 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Amber Ridge Vineyard. VM 90. Glass-staining ruby. Powerful nose combines cassis, boysenberry, rose and smoky minerals. The deepest and most brooding of this set of releases, with palate-coating dark berry liqueur flavors and good back-end cling. Finishes with a strong echo of cassis. Fans of powerhouse pinots will go for this, and it does make an impression, but I prefer the vivacity of the other single-vineyard bottlings.
Black barely risotto. Black garlic, Fiscalini cheese. A very nice whole grain with a creamy garlic herb vibe. This is a Kevin classic and he’s been making it as long as I’ve known him.
2010 Marcassin Pinot Noir Marcassin Vineyard. VM 91. Crushed flowers, herbs, dried cherries, tobacco and anise abound in the 2010 Pinot Noir Marcassin Vineyard. I am a bit surprised by how forward the flavors are. A distinctly floral/savory character dominates, while fruit expression, freshness and textural richness are much less evident. It’s hard to see the 2010 drinking well for more than a handful of years based on the bottle I tasted.
2007 J. Rochioli Pinot Noir West Block. VM 91+. Deep red. Black raspberry and cherry on the nose, with complicating notes of potpourri and smoky minerals. Weighty dark fruit flavors coat the palate, turning more tangy with aeration. The finish is broad, sweet and impressively long but not as defined as the other pinots. This was the slowest to open of this set, and should benefit from another few years of patience.
2008 Kistler Pinot Noir Cuvée Elizabeth Bodega Headlands. VM 95. Lurid ruby. Complex, deeply spicy aromas of raspberry, fresh flowers, white pepper and Asian spices; showing a really exotic character. Then impressively concentrated and rich, but with energetic lift to its sweet red fruit preserve and floral pastille flavors. Wonderfully suave and high-pitched pinot with a vibrant, very persistent finish that refuses to let up.
agavin: hot, too much alcohol for my taste.
Duck Breast. Liberty Farms/ Whole Wheat Spatzle / Black Mission Figs.
2008 Pisoni Pinot Noir Estate. VM 90. Vivid ruby. Lively aromas of crushed red berries, spicecake and cracked pepper. At once velvety and firm, with energetic black raspberry and cherry flavors accentuated by pepper and herbs. Smooth and sweet on the finish, which features fine-grained tannins and a kiss of candied rose.
2007 Rhys Pinot Noir Skyline Vineyard. JG 93+. This was the first opportunity I had found to taste the 2007 Skyline pinot and it is a lovely bottle in the making. The first class nose offers up a complex mélange of cassis, cola, woodsmoke, a great base of stony soil tones and a nice touch of spicy oak. On the palate the wine is deep, full and just starting to blossom, with excellent mid-palate depth, lovely focus and balance, moderate tannins and excellent length and grip on the bouncy and beautifully poised finish. I would still try to exercise a bit of restraint and let this wine fully start showing off its secondary and tertiary layers of complexity, but would also understand those who cannot defer gratification any longer and would like to drink this lovely bottle today! But, this wine is emphatically still climbing, and as good as it is to drink right now, it will still improve if left alone in the cellar just a bit longer.
2007 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Coastlands Vineyard. VM 94+. Inky ruby. Potent aromas of blackberry, boysenberry and dried rose, with exotic Indian spice and gingerbread nuances adding complexity. Deep, fleshy dark berry flavors show liqueur-like depth and intensity, with slow-building tannins adding grip and structure. Develops more vibrancy and red fruit character with aeration and finishes with outstanding clarity and sappy persistence. This is another ’07 from Williams-Selyem that calls for patience.
Dry Aged Rib Eye. Potato Confit / Baby Leeks / Charred Onion. Traditionally Kevin has used Flannery beef.
2004 Marcassin Pinot Noir Marcassin Vineyard. VM 95+. Deep red-ruby color. Initially reticent nose opened spectacularly to show raspberry, mocha, minerals and smoke, along with sexy underbrush and forest floor elements. Began broad but closed and hiding its sweetness but with aeration showed outstanding volume, a seductively spherical texture and a restrained but nonetheless compelling sweetness of raspberry and underbrush flavors. Denser and finer-grained than the Blue Slide Ridge bottling; not obviously superior today but will probably surpass it five years down the road. Finishes with outstanding length.
agavin: woah, if the online price is right, you could just swap this out for a Romanee St Vivant or something! (and have a much better wine)
2004 Kistler Pinot Noir Cuvée Catherine. VM 93. Dark violet. Intensely aromatic nose offers powerful blackberry and plum compote aromas. Very fresh in the mouth (the pH is 3.4, Kistler says), with vibrant red and dark berry flavors and taut minerality. Dry, focused and pure on the finish, with outstanding persistence and lingering dark berry flavors. Serious pinot: a great marriage of sweet fruit and soil tones
2006 Brewer-Clifton Pinot Noir Melville Vineyard. VM 93. Hazy, medium red. Intensely flora bouquet of dried red berries, smoked meat, minerals and musky herbs. Strawberry and cherry flavors are complemented by floral pastille and Asian spices, with silky tannins adding support. Already showing impressive complexity, not to mention excellent finishing lift and cling. The most elegant of these pinots.
2003 Gryphon Pinot Noir Reserve. 93 points. Wow! Pinot on steroids. I don’t know what to make of this. A tannic beast of a Pinot with a nose to die for. I much preferred breathing this than drinking it. Not that it was offensive, but the fruit was muted. Beautiful nose.
White Chocolate Peanut Gelato — I hadn’t made a White Chocolate base in a while so in light of my rent “experiments” in chocolate took another pass at it — came out awesome, using all Valrhona Ivoire chocolate layered with house-made Peanut Dulcey Ganache — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #peanut #WhiteChocolate #valrhona #ganache
Hpnotiq Blue Hawaiian Sorbetto — like a frozen cocktail — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — Thai Coconut Milk, Pineapple, Lime, and Hpnotiq liqueur –#SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #sorbetto #Hpnotiq #BlueHawaiian #pineapple #coconut #lime
As an interesting aside, after the meal John and I went over to Salt and Straw Ice Cream (just down the street) and sampled 5 flavors. Interesting just a few minutes after having my own “work.” And while S&S is some good ice cream, and despite the theoretically interesting flavors they offer, it was all so creamy and mild without the distinct intense rendition of the target flavor that my gelato has. Probably this is mostly due to the colder temp, higher fat content, lower flavoring ratio, and ingredient choices.
Overall, this was a fun lunch, and the food was as usual extremely well executed. I was just disappointed that it was so few courses (really only 3 savory courses) and that all of them were “old favorites” I’ve had many times before. Now don’t get me wrong, they were all pretty delicious, but I crave variety and I’ve certainly had more off the beaten menu meals from Kevin.
The wines were okay. Not going to convert me away from Burgundy or anything, and in fact I don’t really “get” New World Pinot. At best, they are like juicier versions of a lesser young Red Burgundy. There just isn’t that earthy tone from the more complex soil in the grape’s native homeland. And they aren’t really cheap either. But there was some pleasant berry notes here, particularly it being a lunch and all.