Restaurant: A. O. C.
Location: 8700 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048. (310) 859-9859
Date: March 13, 2020
Cuisine: New American Wine Bar
Rating: Great lunch
Sauvages lunch is always a great time and I hopped on the opportunity to return to A.O.C. (it’s been years) with the group. One of our regulars, Albert, is an investor, and set up this awesome event. Plus it had a Bordeaux theme which always makes for a great Friday.
The interior is clubby. It used to be (at the old location) far more “Spanish”.
After opening critically acclaimed Lucques in 1998, the duo of 3 time James Beard Award winning chef Suzanne Goin (Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America 2017, Outstanding Chef 2016, Best Chefs in America – California 2006, Best Cookbook – Cooking from a Professional Point of View 2006) and James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Restaurateur of the Year 2018 Caroline Styne embarked on A.O.C., the area’s pioneering wine bar that first paired an indulgent list of wine by the glass with a menu of market-driven small plates.
From my cellar: 2007 Taittinger Champagne Comtes de Champagne Rosé Brut. VM 97. The 2007 Comtes de Champagne Rosé is a total knock-out. Racy and exuberant in the glass, the 2007 wraps around the palate with stunning textural depth and resonance. The 15% still Pinot adds structure and persistence to a creamy, inviting Rosé Champagne that will leave readers weak at the knees. Hints of rose petal, dried cherry, cinnamon and dried flowers meld into the sublime finish. This is about as good as it gets. Wow!
We sat on the covered patio. It was quiet because of corona virus :-(.
Here is are huge table and the gang.
Our custom menu for today.
2012 Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre. BH 93. A more elegant and equally restrained nose is composed of floral and mineral reduction scents where top notes of white fruit and sea breeze hints are evident. The pure and sleekly muscular flavors possess a silky texture that continues onto the mineral-driven, intense, mouth coating and beautifully balanced finish. This is seriously impressive. (Drink starting 2020)
2008 Moreau-Naudet & Fils Chablis Grand Cru Valmur. BH 94. A discreet touch of wood does not interfere with the transparency of the notably ripe mix of citrus, stone and iodine aromas that are followed by wonderfully rich, dense, powerful and gorgeously well-detailed flavors that ooze a fine minerality and there is plenty of Chablis character to be found on the racy and tension-filled finish that seems to go on and on. This is brilliant effort that will require up to a decade to reach its full maturity but should be approachable, and enjoyable, after 5 to 6 years of cellar time. (Drink starting 2015)
2017 Kirkland Signature Chablis 1er Cru. 91 points. Medium body, good acid, good fruit, drank easily, drank with shrimp with Chinese veggies, will drink again, good value.
Hamachi, leek vinaigrette, dijon, fingerlings & camino vinegar. Really nice dish. The vegetables had tons of flavor and these was a great textural interplay between the soft fish and their crunch.
1982 Ducru-Beaucaillou. RP 96. At a charity dinner in Charleston, SC, the 1982 Ducru Beaucaillou from my cellar was the only corked bottle out of twenty-two. A subsequent tasting revealed one of the all-time great Ducrus, probably matched or eclipsed by several recent vintages (i.e., 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2008). The 1982 is still 5-8 years away from full maturity, but it exhibits a dense ruby/plum/garnet color to the rim as well as a sweet perfume of forest floor, spice box, cedar, and copious quantities of black fruits. Medium to full-bodied and beautifully pure with sweet tannins, this wine has aged more slowly than I initially expected. It is the finest Ducru Beaucaillou produced after the 1961 and before the 2003. With respect to the 1990, I do not own any of this wine, but it was the last of a series of vintages between 1986 and 1990 that were affected by the TCA-like contamination in the estate’s chai, which was completely destroyed and then rebuilt, eliminating the source of these smells. Not every bottle is affected by this, but I do not have any source for this vintage. Release price: ($140.00/case)
1982 Cos d’Estournel. RP 95-96. This 1982 is still displaying a beautiful deep ruby/purple hue as well as a stunning set of aromatics consisting of blue and black fruits, loamy earth, flowers, licorice, and spice box. The wine is medium to full-bodied with sweet tannins, a medium to full-bodied mouthfeel, and a silky finish. It appears to have hit full maturity, but it can easily be held in a cold cellar for another 10+ years. Release price: ($115.00/case)
agavin: haha, look at that release price! $10 a bottle!
Liberty duck confit, savoy cabbage, honey & armagnac prunes. Another great dish. As good as the duck was (and it was great) the cabbage was almost better! It must have had some kind of fat (duck fat?) on it.
1986 Gruaud Larose. RP 96. Still tasting as if it were only 7-8 years of age, the dense, garnet/purple-colored 1986 Gruaud-Larose is evolving at a glacier pace. The wine still has mammoth structure, tremendous reserves of fruit and concentration, and a finish that lasts close to a minute. The wine is massive, very impressively constituted, with still some mouth-searing tannin to shed. Decanting of one to two hours in advance seems to soften it a bit, but this is a wine that seems to be almost immortal in terms of its longevity. It is a great Medoc classic, and certainly one of the most magnificent Gruaud-Larose ever made. Anticipated maturity: 2006-2035. Last tasted, 10/02.
1986 Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. RP 95. Now at 30 years of age, there is a gulf between the two Pichons in this vintage that no longer exists. The 1986 Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande has long been one of the best wines from the estate alongside the 1982 (even if the first bottle was a little oxidized). The second bottle was representative. It has a classic pencil-lead, cedar-infused nose that rockets from the glass, a subtle floral note developing with time. The palate is medium-bodied with supple red berry fruit, a pinch of white pepper and cedar, structured compared to coeval vintages and perhaps further along its drinking plateau than previous examples. Certainly à point, I would be reaching for bottles of this now if you cannot locate those 1982s, or alternatively seek out the superlative 1996. This still remains a fine, rather regal Pichon-Lalande. Tasted July 2016.
1986 Lafite Rothschild. RP 98. Tasted at the château, the 1986 Lafite-Rothschild continues to offer an exquisite bouquet at 30 years of age. This is beautifully defined, still full of energy, with copious blackberry, clove, leather and graphite aromas that seem to gain momentum in the glass. The palate is extremely well balanced with a crystalline quality, filigree tannin, perfectly pitched acidity, a quintessential Lafite-Rothschild with a sense of energy and focus undiminished by time. This finish displays immense purity and refinement, one of the most mineral-driven Lafites that I have encountered, whilst the aftertaste seems to linger for over one minute. It must rank as one of the finest wines from the estate. Tasted July 2016.
lamb skewers, kale, radicchio, chickpeas, charmoula, golden raisins & almonds. Also great, and I don’t even love kale.
1995 Mouton Rothschild. RP 95. Bottled in June, 1997, this profound Mouton is more accessible than the more muscular 1996. A blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, and 19% Merlot, it reveals an opaque purple color, and reluctant aromas of cassis, truffles, coffee, licorice, and spice. In the mouth, the wine is “great stuff,” with superb density, a full-bodied personality, rich mid-palate, and a layered, profound finish that lasts for 40+ seconds. There is outstanding purity and high tannin, but my instincts suggest this wine is lower in acidity and slightly fleshier than the brawnier, bigger 1996. Both are great efforts from Mouton-Rothschild. Anticipated maturity: 2004-2030.
1996 Montrose. RP 96. Tasted at the vertical in London, I have instead used the tasting note from a bottle opened at the property when I visited just a couple of weeks later. The 1996 Montrose is a blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot picked between 23 September and 6 October. It was served alongside the 1986 Montrose, however, this is a far better wine and reconfirms Robert Parker’s remarks at his own vertical at the property in 2014. For me, it is that loamy character that defines the nose—freshly tilled, damp soil that tinctures the black fruit —that takes you straight to this particular château. This is classic through and through and very well defined. The palate is wonderful with very fine delineation, pitch-perfect acidity, touches of graphite infusing the red and black fruit that dovetails into a very pretty, floral finish. This is clearly one of the great wines of the 1996 vintage and I would be stocking up as much as I could, because it will give 30-40 years of pleasure. Tasted July 2016.
From my cellar: 2000 Pichon-Longueville Baron. RP 97. The 2000 Château Pichon Baron is just getting better and better and better. Perhaps the magnum format played its part, but nevertheless…just…wow. This is a millennial Left Bank with the keys to the top drawer. It has an incredibly precise, mineral-driven bouquet with intense black fruit infused with cedar and graphite scents. It just reeks of Pauillac in an almost uncompromising, yet compelling manner. The palate is structured, stylish and effortless, extraordinarily pure and unerringly youthful. This is a Pichon Baron saying, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.” You could broach this now if you wanted, but the clever people will wisely bunker this for another decade and gloat from 2025 onward. Tasted January 2016.
Braised beef cheek, scallion soubise, salsa verde & feta. Again the veggies were standout. But not your boring braised beef — really full of flavor.
2001 Léoville Barton. RP 92. Consistent from bottle (I tasted it three times), this is an outstanding offering, although not quite at the prodigious level of the 2000. Civilized and approachable for a young Leoville-Barton, it exhibits a saturated plum/purple color along with classic Bordelais aromas of damp earth, creme de cassis, smoke, vanillin, and tobacco. Medium to full-bodied and rich, with high but well-integrated tannin, and a long, 40+ second finish, it should turn out to be a brilliant effort, and one of the stars of the Medoc. However, patience is essential. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2020.
agavin: ok, this one cheated on the rules a bit.
2003 Cos d’Estournel. RP 93-98. Two terrific efforts from this vintage, the 2003 Cos d’Estournel (70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot and the rest Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc) remains one of the superstars of the vintage. It offers an opaque ruby/purple hue as well as notes of incense, camphor, licorice, creme de cassis and graphite. Full-bodied, opulent, incredibly fresh and well-delineated, it can be consumed now and over the next decade. Kudos to the team at Cos d’Estournel.
2005 Cos d’Estournel. RP 98. The 2005 Cos d’Estournel is blended of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc. Deep garnet colored, it is still a little closed and youthfully shy. With coaxing, the nose is just beginning to offer glimpses at vivacious kirsch, red roses, violets, licorice and mocha scents over a crème de cassis, blackberry pie and chocolate-covered cherry core with wafts of chargrill, mossy bark and truffles. Full-bodied, concentrated and wonderfully complex in the mouth, the palate is just beginning to reveal the true potential of this wine, with tightly wound layers of perfumed black fruits and earthy notions bound by a rock-solid frame of firm, grainy tannins and finishing with epic persistence. This still needs 5-6 years, but I love how this beauty is shaping up!!
3 cheese. Walnuts, dried black mission figs and grilled ciabatta.
This might be the most complex gelato I’ve made — Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte Gelato — base is Valrhona white chocolate, vanilla, with a dash of Kirsch. Then it’s layered with house-made chocolate cake soaked in Kirsch/Cherry syrup, Kirsch soaked Fabbri Amareno Cherries, house-made 70% Valrhona Chocolate Ganache, and topped with Valrhona shavings — 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 #WhiteChocolate #chocolate #ChocolateCake #cherry #BlackForestCake
Caramel Toffee Mandorla Dolce Gelato — base made with Sicilian Noto Romano Almond and house-made caramel instead of sugar, then layered with toffee/almond chunks — 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 #almond #sicily #RomanoAlmond #toffee #caramel
The wine lineup.
My wine notes (not very much to them).
Overall, this was another fantastic lunch. Sauvages lunch are always great, particularly when at interesting places (A.O.C. qualifies) and with good wine themes. Bordeaux was perfect. No crappy new worlds :-). Every wine was nice. Obviously some were better than others but we had no flawed bottles and people really brought great stuff. Service was first rate and the food was terrific. Really surprisingly great. Different than I remember it from 15 or so years ago at the old location, but great.