Restaurant: Dinner at the Borgese’s [1, 2, 3, 4]
Location: Santa Monica
Date: Spring, 2021
Cuisine: Italian influenced gourmet home cooking
Dinner at the Borgese’s is a special house dinner in Santa Monica cooked by the stunning pro-level home chef Borgese couple. So it’s very fitting for what’s only my second post lockdown dinner.
The dynamic Borgese team consists of Rocco, his lovely wife (and the main kitchen chef), and his daughter (helping out with service).
Their house has not only a wine cellar, but a cheese and meat larder!
Plus all this incredible wood fired oven set up.
We have this fabulous outside table, perfect for covid ventliation.
Tonight’s special menu.
2002 Dom Pérignon Champagne P2. JG98. Somehow, I never managed to cross paths with the initial disgorgement of the 2002 Dom Pérignon, so I was delighted to see the coming P2 version waiting in the wings in our tasting lineup in March at the Abbé d’Hautvillers. It would be fascinating to compare the P2 with the first release of the 2002 Dom Pérignon, in much the same way I tasted the two 1996 versions side by side, as this is a great Champagne vintage that dovetails so beautifully with the house style of this bottling. The 2002 P2 delivers a stunning young nose of pear, apple, stony minerality, iodine, dried flowers a touch of nuttiness, menthol and gentle upper register botanicals so emblematic of this cuvée as it starts to first stretch its wings. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and absolutely rock solid at the core, with lovely mousse, laser-like focus again and stunning backend mineral drive on the very, very long, perfectly balanced finish. The 2002 Dom Pérignon P2 looks to be almost unreachable by the passage of time and could easily last a century. (Drink between 2022-2095)
Capesante al Tartufo. Divine quality to these scallops, served in crudo style with a bit of olive oil and delectable truffles.
NV Krug Champagne Brut Rose Edition 24eme. VC 97. The Krug Rosé Brut “24ème Édition” is from the base year of 2012 and the wine is absolutely stunning on both the nose and palate. The wine includes reserves back to the 2006 vintage and ended up with a cépages of forty percent pinot noir, thirty-two percent pinot meunier and twenty-eight percent chardonnay. The wine this year includes eleven percent of its pinot noir component as still red wine from Aÿ, and the wine is quite a bit deeper in hue than is often the case for a Krug Rosé. The bouquet is pure, precise and utterly refined, wafting from the glass in a mix of fraises du bois, a touch of rhubarb, blood orange, caraway seed, wheat toast, a gorgeous base of soil tones, discreet smokiness and a topnote of rose petal. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, vibrant and flawlessly balanced, with a great core, refined mousse, bright acids and a long, complex and laser-like finish. I always love Krug Rosé, but this may well be my favorite iteration of this bottling I have ever had the pleasure to taste. (Drink between 2020-2060)
2006 Dom Pérignon Champagne Rosé. VM 97+. The 2006 Dom Pérignon Rosé is every bit as captivating as it was last year, maybe even more so. At times powerful, but in other moments finessed, the 2006 constantly changes in the glass, revealing a different shade of its personality with every taste. Perhaps most importantly, the 2006 seems to have gained a level of precision and pure sophistication it did not show last year, when it was quite a bit less put together. Back then, the 2006 was a wine of tremendous potential; today that potential is starting to be realized. Quite simply, the 2006 Dom Pérignon Rosé is a magical Champagne. Don’t miss it. (Drink between 2020-2046)
Tartare di Manzo con Tartufo. Another gorgeous truffle statement with great texture.
2010 Joseph Drouhin Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. VM 93+. Pale bright yellow. Very stony aromas of peach, apricot and grilled nuts. At once thoroughly ripe and quite dry, with its primary fruit flavors currently dominated by a strong dusty stone element. This very backward but scented Perrieres saturates the palate with spices and minerals.
2012 Bouchard Père et Fils Chevalier-Montrachet Domaine. JG 96. The 2012 Bouchard Chevalier-Montrachet “Normale” is a stunning wine, with a bit more of an inviting structure out of the blocks than the even more refined la Cabotte. The gorgeous nose soars from the glass in a very deep and pure blend of pear, tangerine, chalky minerality, a touch of almond paste, apple blossoms and vanillin oak. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, pure and almost silky in its texture out of the blocks, with a superb core, excellent focus and grip and a very, very long, elegant and perfectly poised finish. Great juice. (Drink between 2020-2060)
Risotto al Gamberi de Santa Barbara. The cooked down shrimp shells in the risotto brown give this an awesome seafood flavor.
From my cellar: 1996 Robert Ampeau & Fils Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. 94 points. A lovely Perrières that is gracefully straddling the fence of freshness and maturity. A trace of fruit is joined by nutty, mushroomy tertiary notes. A real delight.
2008 François Raveneau Chablis Grand Cru Valmur. BH 97. A background touch of wood frames green fruit, white flower and salt water aromas that introduce ultra pure, refined, elegant and cool flavors that possess terrific vibrancy and focused power before culminating in a driving, understated, firm and altogether serious finish. I very much like this as it’s classic Valmur and should age beautifully as the balance is perfect. Perhaps the best way to capture the spectacular potential of this wine is to call it brilliant. Don’t miss it but note that patience is required. (Drink starting 2018)
Fake chard (forgot to photo the annoyingly hidden vineyard and vintage, so can’t look it up).
Pasta al Ricci di Mare. Perfect al dente uni pasta. What not to love?
From my cellar: 2001 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Bonnes Mares. VM 94. The 2001 De Vogüé Bonnes Mares exhibited uncommon depth and richness in the luxuriousness of its vibrant fruit, with a personality that was delicate yet powerful. Still very much an infant, it was a privilege to catch this gorgeous wine in its youth.
1995 Château Haut-Brion. JG 94+. The 1995 vintage of Haut-Brion is excellent, though still a few years away from primetime drinking. The bouquet is deep, pure and classical in profile, delivering scents of cassis, sweet dark berries, singed tobacco, a touch of coffee bean, fresh herb tones, a complex base of gravelly soil tones, cedary oak and just a hint of the more red fruity elements that are sure to emerge here with further bottle age. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, deep, complex and seamlessly balanced, with ripe, buried tannins, fine focus and grip and outstanding length on the vibrant and very classy finish. This is a superb Haut-Brion in the making. (Drink between 2025-2085)
Quaglia Fritta al Rosmarino. Super crispy, salty, and savory.
Agnolotti Fatti in Casa con Ragu di Costolette. Like the ultimate Chef Boyardee beef ravioli!
A pasta-less version for Yarom.
Steaks on the grill.
Prawns at the ready.
2001 Château Haut-Brion. VM 92+. Full red-ruby, less bright than La Mission. Brooding aromas of raspberry, nuts, menthol and game. Dense, rich, chewy and deep but a bit youthfully closed, showing less personality today than the 2001 La Mission. Larger but not longer. Finishes with building tannins and a minty nuance.
2003 Château Margaux. VM 96. Full, saturated red-ruby. Knockout nose combines redcurrant, tropical chocolate, leather, woodsmoke and nutty oak with exotic chocolate mint and coffee liqueur; still manages to retain floral lift even in this beastly vintage. Then wonderfully fat, sweet and full, even if it comes across as almost heavy following the ineffable 2005 and 2004 examples. But “relatively inelegant” for Margaux still suggests a degree of refinement that few chateaux can match in the greatest vintages. A hugely rich and dense wine that finishes with elevated but ripe tannins and great length, with a subtle suggestion of dry spices. Pontallier says the terroir will take over in 20 years, “like with the ’82.” Splendid.
2001 Château Latour Grand Vin. VM 97+. The 2001 Latour is magnificent. A huge, structured wine, the 2001 Latour boasts notable depth to match its vertical, towering structure and pure power. At nearly fifteen years of age, the 2001 remains deep, virile and imposing. With air, the 2001 is a approachable now, but ideally it needs at least a few more years in bottle. This is a superb showing by any measure. Frédéric Engerer adds that 2001 was the last vintage that was lightly filtered prior to bottling. (Drink between 2021-2051)
Bistecca de New York con Fuoco di Lenga. Some great meat.
Wood fired potatoes.
Wood fired eggplant.
2002 E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Mouline. VM 90. Bright red. Intensely perfumed aromas of cherry and redcurrant, accented by cinnamon and dried flowers; smells downright Burgundian. Silky, sweet and mineral-driven red fruit flavors offer impressive energy and focus, with just a suggestion of tannin on the back end. I find this really elegant today.
1994 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Hommage à Jacques Perrin. JG 94. I like the 1994 Hommage à Jacques Perrin a bit better than the 1995- both for drinking today and for its ultimate, long-term quality as well. There is a touch of brett here on the nose, but at a more manageable level than what is found in the 2000 iteration. The nose wafts from the glass in a complex blend of cassis, woodsmoke, dark soil tones, grilled venison, pepper, the first touch of autumnal elements and a generous framing of nutty new oak. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied complex and quite classic in profile, with a fine core, still a bit of melting tannin and excellent focus and balance on the long and complex finish. It is pretty clear that the earliest vintages of Hommage were the best! (Drink between 2016-2035)
1999 Clos des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape. VM 91. Moderately saturated red-ruby. Complex nose melds redcurrant, kirsch, iron, tobacco, mocha and spices. Chewy, intensely flavored and fairly deep, but rather tight following the bottling. As usual for this estate, in a rather claret-like style, without the obvious surmaturite of some Chateauneufs. Firm acidity and sweet, fine tannins give this wine the backbone to age slowly. Finishes with subtle persistence.
Gamberi de Santa Barara alla Griglia.
2003 Château Suduiraut. JG 93. The 2003 Suduiraut is the finest example of this vintage in Sauternes that I have yet tasted, though this is admittedly from a fairly small sampling of the vintage. The bouquet is deep, pure and very refined in its mélange of pineapple, apricot, peach, coconut, gentle soil tones and vanillin oak. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, deep and most impressively light on its feet, with fine mid-palate depth, with lovely focus and just a touch of youthful bitterness still to resolve on the long, succulent and bouncy finish. The acids here are not as zesty as in the 2005, but there are sufficient to frame the wine beautifully and to keep it fresh and lively far into the future. I would give this wine three or four years to fully blossom and then drink it over the next several decades. (Drink between 2013-2040)
Beignets with Berries.
Strawberry Cheesecake Gelato — strawberry cream-cheese base with strawberry ripple and house-made graham cracker crumble. Made by me of course.
The wine lineup. Not too shabby.
Overall, this was an amazing dinner, and the Borgese’s just keep amping up the quality.
First of all, the Borgese hospitality was awesome, the house lovely, and the food absolutely incredible. Best “home cooked” meal I’ve had. Maybe ever if you restrict it to chefs cooking in their own home kitchen. Just amazing. Every dish was great. Rustic but extremely delicious style. Superb homemade pastas. My gelato was darn good too :-).
Service was handled by the youngest Borgese (teen daughter) and was better than most restaurant staff. Super friendly and you can tell they do this a lot.
Wines were, as you can, pretty darn impressive!