Location: 633 W 5th St., Los Angeles, CA 90071
Date: May 4, 2021
Cuisine: New American
Rating: Awesome in all ways
71Above is one of my favorite LA restaurants and I’ve been many times. In fact there are 9 previous write ups! Today the location plays host to a special DRC dinner that owner Emil organized with a special menu. Chef Vartan Abgaryan has moved on to his own new place, Yours Truly (which the pandemic has sadly done in), and 71Above is now seamlessly helmed by his disciple, Chef Javier Lopez.
Besides being located on the 71st floor (950 feet up!) of the US Bank building, being the highest restaurant west of the Mississippi, it’s owned and operated by my friend Emil Eyvazoff!
NV Taittinger Champagne Brut Réserve / La Française. VM 89. Light gold. Poached pear, peach, orange and honey on the fruity nose. Broad and fleshy on entry, then tighter and more tangy in the mid-palate, offering juicy citrus and orchard fruit flavors with subtle ginger and toasted grain nuances. Shows a supple, round character on the finish, with the ginger and peach notes repeating. Note that this bottling is labelled as “Reserve” for every country aside from the United States. In fact, I tasted a bottle labeled as such here in New York this fall, from Lot L3348NA9200. How it wound up here, I’ve no idea.
2000 Dom Pérignon Champagne P2. VM 96. The 2000 Dom Pérignon P2 is striking. More importantly, it is absolutely delicious right now. Baked apple tart, brioche, spice, vanillin, ripe pear and crushed rocks all flesh out. Creamy, layered and inviting, with soft, voluptuous curves, the 2000 offers a lot of sheer pleasure. Although, perhaps not quite as complex or structured as the very best P2s, the 2000 is wonderfully alluring. Interestingly, in 2000, the Blanc and P2 are not as different as they typically are. The P2 has a bit more volume and freshness than the Blanc, but both wines share a distinct toasty, slightly reductive character. (Drink between 2019-2040)
NV Krug Champagne Brut Rosé Edition 23eme. VM 94. The NV Rosé 23ème Edition is wonderfully nuanced and layered, with lovely richness to play off a core of bright red berry fruit. Although not especially complex in this release, the Rosé offers lovely immediacy and tons of pure pleasure. Crushed berries, chalk, mint and white flowers are nicely softened in this super-expressive, beautifully persistent Rosé. A few more years in bottle will only help. The 23ème is a Champagne of pure and total pleasure. This release is based on 2011, with reserve wines back to 2000. (Drink between 2021-2041)
Bread and butter.
From my cellar: 1996 Robert Ampeau & Fils Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. 94 points. Golden hue, good lustre. Fresh, fruit and spice, soft aged characters, honey and grilled nuts. Fleshy, full flavoured, long smooth palate. Fruit, cream, toast and honey, nothing oxidative. Very clean finish, pure and fruit driven, gentle acidity, carries its sweet aged fruit very well.
2014 Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons. BH 92. This too is distinctly cool and reserved with its pretty, spicy and airy array of citrus, iodine and ocean breeze scents. There is beautiful intensity and delineation to the delicious and energetic medium-bodied flavors that deliver solid richness and persistence on the well-balanced finish. This excellent effort should amply reward 6 to 8 years of cellaring. (Drink starting 2021)
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.
Yellowfin Crudo. Jicama, Avocado, Lemongrass, Charred Serrano Oil, Lime, Mint. Super zingy flavors. Really awesome.
2009 Louis Jadot Corton-Charlemagne Domaine des Héritiers Louis Jadot. VM 96. Another vibrant, precise wine from this often misunderstood vintage, the 2009 Corton-Charlemagne boasts stunning precision and class from start to finish. Citrus, pears, white flowers and crushed rocks are some of the many nuances that vibrate on the bright, crystalline finish. In this tasting, the 2009 Corton tastes like it has barely budged over the last year. It is far too young to even consider opening. (Drink starting 2015)
2013 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Corton-Charlemagne. BH 92-94. A shy, indeed almost mute nose only grudgingly liberates its cool aromas of green apple, white fruit, spiced pear and wet stone. The intensely saline and stony big-bodied flavors are supported by a firm spine of citrus-inflected acidity that shapes the powerful finish that delivers outstanding complexity and persistence. I very much like the balance and this will need plenty of time to realize its full, and considerable, potential. (Drink starting 2025)
2018 Joseph Drouhin Corton-Charlemagne. VM 92-94. The 2018 Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru comes from east-facing vineyards within the Les Languettes, a small production of six barrels. It has a closed and stubbornly backward bouquet that is outflanked by the Clos des Mouches Blanc. The tensile palate delivers good acidity and notes of orange zest and light peach notes, quite pure, and a spicy stem ginger and salty peanut finish. Very fine. (Drink between 2022-2040)
Farm Salad. Lettuces, Market Vegetables, Labne, Meyer Lemon, Parmigiano-Reggiano. To be honest this was one of the best salads I’ve ever had. Super herby with a really strong (and wine marginal) vinaigrette. Great texture and incredibly refreshing.
1996 Serafin Père et Fils Charmes-Chambertin. VM 94. Good full ruby color. Perfumed, highly expressive black cherry, currant and licorice aromas. Great sweetness in the mouth; thick and layered yet beautifully detailed. Finishing fruit really stains the palate, overwhelming the ripe tannins. Very primary and likely to age slowly. An impeccably proportioned wine that shows none of the acid edge that characterizes many ’96s. Serafin’s late harvesting strategy in ’96 paid major dividends.
1996 Jean-Jacques Confuron Romanée St. Vivant. VM 93. Saturated ruby. Multidimensional nose of black raspberry, cocoa, minerals and subtle, smoky oak. Reticent but very deep on the palate; in comparison to this wine, the Clos Vougeot is much more open today, not to mention fruitier. But this is more complex. Really seamless and impeccably balanced. Finishes with suave, evenly distributed tannins and great subtle persistence.
1997 Domaine Francois Lamarche La Grande Rue. BH 88. The initial hints of secondary aromas, including a somewhat surprising trace of sous bois, combine with pretty red and black fruit aromas that are notably ripe and framed in obvious wood are followed by moderately austere flavors (particularly so for the vintage) that offer better than average precision while being supported by medium firm finishing tannins that display just a touch of the greenness that many ’97s do at this point in their evolution. This is a bit one-dimensional relative to the best here and I would suggest drinking it over the next 5 years or so as the fruit risks drying out before the structure resolves itself.
1998 Domaine Ponsot Clos de la Roche Vieilles Vignes. BH 91. Exquisitely complex yet rather reserved fruit with medium weight, very earthy flavors of excellent depth and outstanding length. There is plenty of structure here and superb balance overall and I very much like the overall combination of density, purity, elegance and impressive length. While this is certainly approachable now with food, it will be best with another 3 to 5 years of cellar time, perhaps a bit longer. (Drink starting 2008)
Steak Tartare. Onion Vinaigrette, Bulgur, Parsley, Shallot, Turnip, Lavash Crisp. There is a clear “origin” here with the classic Lebanese/Armenian raw beef with bulgur.
From my cellar: 1999 Denis Mugneret Père et Fils Richebourg. BH 92. Fascinating interplay of black fruit, earth, tobacco and Vosne spice framed by discreet hints of oak toast followed by sweet, supple and very intense flavors that last for minutes. This is not quite as ripe or opulent as most of the wines in this group though it sports excellent acid/fruit balance as a result. I like the more reserved style of this.
agavin: a touch bretty at first, but opened and was then stunning. My WOTN (of course I’m biased).
2002 Gros Frère et Sœur Richebourg. VM 95. Medium red. Highly perfumed, ineffably complex aromas of strawberry, currant, bacon fat, cocoa powder, gunflint, coffee and smoked meat. Dense, sappy and wonderfully intense, with exhilarating flavors of smoked meat, spices, minerals and underbrush. Conveys a powerful impression of soil tones. Builds almost freakishly on the back end, finishing with a kick of spice and a flavor of pink peppercorn. A wonderfully suave, extremely long Richebourg that offers great early appeal but has the spine to develop in bottle for 10 or 15 years. (A Patrick Lesec Selection; importers include Classic Wine Imports, Boston, MA; Fine Vines LLC, Melrose Park, IL; The Wine Warehouse, Commerce, CA; Domaine Select Wine Estates, New York, NY )
2001 Domaine / Maison Vincent Girardin Echezeaux. VM 90. Medium red-ruby. Cool aromas of cassis, black plum and minerals, lifted by a peppery nuance. Supple, minerally and sweet, though still youthfully closed; slightly medicinal fruit is not yet expressing itself. Finishes with nicely ripe tannins and very good length.
Grilled Octopus. Almond Gastrique, Chile de Arbol, Castelvetrano Olive, Fennel. Jokes about the Netflix film were lighting up the table.
2001 E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Mouline. VM 96. Dark red color. Pungently floral aromas meld smoky red berries, exotic rose petal, dried lavender and magnolia blossom. Dense and extremely sweet, showing an explosive array of red fruit flavors along with exotic floral and sweet tobacco tones and an overlay of smoky bacon and bonfires. A bright mineral tone sharpens the fruit, adding focus and precision to the flavors. The finish builds and deepens but maintains superb elegance and silkiness of texture, finishing on notes of wild red berries and rose oil.
1994 E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Turque. 94 points. Gorgeous nose. Blueberry, mulberry, cigar, tobacco. Moderate structure, medium body – think this would have been bigger and better a few years ago. Fruit fading now, with a dry finish. Long and complex.
1997 E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Turque. VM 92-95. Good red-ruby. Perfumed aromas of cassis, violet, lilac and brown spices. Lush and aromatic in the mouth; the combination of a bit more acidity than the Mouline and its mineral and gunflint elements gives this wine noteworthy elegance and firm shape. Tannins are quite fine.
Spring Lamb. Charred Broccolini, Yellow Beet, Rhubarb Mostarda, Green Garlic, Jus. The lamb and the room have been silenced. This went perfect with the LaLa’s!
2005 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage. VM 97+. Inky ruby. Hugely aromatic bouquet of red and dark berries, cherry, Asian spices, fresh flowers, minerals and cured meat; smells like a great grand cru from Vosne-Romanee but with a wilder side. Flat-out gorgeous wine, with remarkably deep but fresh red berry and cherry flavors that stain the palate. Seems to actually expand on the finish, picking up exotic spicecake and rose pastille character and leaving a sweet trail of smoky red fruits behind. “If you insist on drinking this young, do it now,” says Chave, “because it will close up in about two or three years and not be open again for a long time.” You’ve been warned.
1989 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage La Chapelle. JG90+. After a few absolutely desultory bottles of the ’89 La Chapelle, I was very pleasantly surprised to hit a very good bottle of this wine. My last several examples prior to this bottle had been overripe prune juice that was already getting quite oxidative, but this bottle was very good and a far cry from those previous examples. As readers may know, there were multiple bottlings of La Chapelle back in this era, so there are some distinctly different wines out there under the same label and vintage banner. In any event, after several very disappointing bottles, I finally got a good one this last time around. The deep, complex and meaty nose offers up scents of ripe cassis, black pepper, grilled meats, smoky overtones, a touch of balsam bough and incipient notes of chipotle peppers. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and fairly roasted in personality, but, with a good core of fruit, moderate tannins and good focus and grip on the complex and gently tangy finish. I imagine that this is what sound examples of the better cuvées of this wine have shown consistently, and why folks with these bottles in the cellar thought I was completely off my rocker with my notes on less enjoyable bottles. This example is a good, solid Hermitage at its apogee, but with still a couple of decades of life ahead of it- though not quite in the league of the 1988 La Chapelle in terms of complexity and elegance. (Drink between 2012-2030)
Wagyu Short Ribs. Pea Tendril Salsa Verde, Potato Espuma, Carrot, Spring Onion, Jus.
Cheese Plate. Julianna, 1655 Gruyere, Ameribella, Accompaniments.
And a second cheese round with the special shaved cheese.
Chocolate Cherry Bite – The base is made with Valrhona 62% Satilla Chocolate with a pinch of Malabar Black Pepper and then layered with Cherry Coconut Vanilla Cream! — 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 #Valrhona #chocolate #creamcheese #ganache #icing #pepper #cherry
Overall, 71Above is just a seriously well conceived and executed one-of-a-kind restaurant. Really, it’s more like a NY, Singapore, or Tokyo kind of concept. First of all, the view is just awesome. I can’t wait to come back on a really clear day. Particularly once they begin brunch service, a nice winter day will offer an observation deck like panorama.
But then Emil and crew built out such a lovely space to capture the drama. It’s modern, but welcoming. Not too loud, you can hear the conversation and the music both. And from when you enter off the double elevator ascent it folds from one experience to another: lounge, dining room, more intimate corridors, chef table, quiet and romantic view areas in the back, and a series of two adjustable private dining rooms. The attention to architectural detail is amazing.
Today’s dinner excelled on all counts. Service, food, company, and of course the wines. Post pandemic as it is everyone really stepped up big time!