Location: 633 W 5th St., Los Angeles, CA 90071
Date: October 12, 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 10 previous write ups! Original 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. Today the location plays host to a special old California dinner owner Emil Eyvazoff organized with an equally special menu. This dinner is the spiritual sequel to a much older Old California dinner back in 2015.
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!
Our special menu.
The wine list.
Bread and butter.
1984 Mayacamas Vineyards Chardonnay.
1985 Kalin Cellars Chardonnay Cuvée L. JG 93+. The Cuvée L chardonnay hails from a warmer section of Long Vineyard in Dry Creek Valley, where the sun in principally of the afternoon variety, and like the cooler section where the “Cuvée LD” comes from, this is planted with Wente clones. The 1985 Cuvée L is a lovely bottle, with a slightly more fruit-driven personality from the predominance of afternoon sun in this section of the vineyard. The bouquet delivers a fine blend of fresh apricot, baked peaches, a nice touch of soil, a bit of citrus zest and a topnote of toasted walnut. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied and seamless, with a lovely core, a very refined personality, great balance and a very long, refined finish. This is more elegant than the 1986 Cuvée LD served alongside of it (differences in vintage character?), but the 1986 Cuvée LD is the slightly more complex of the two wines today. (Drink between 2016-2035)
1985 Kistler Chardonnay Kistler Vineyard.
1961 Hallcrest Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Estate. 91 points.
1966 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon California Mountain.
Crispy Octopus. Shishito, almond, sprouting cauliflower, polenta, meyer lemon gastrique.
1968 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour Private Reserve. VM 98. Medium-deep red with a greenish-amber rim. Highly complex aromas of raspberry, cherry, mocha, dark chocolate, celery seed and balsamic cedar, with a hint of volatile acidity contributing personality and lift. This legendary wine still boasts bulletproof fruit and a compellingly juicy texture, with a sexy hint of truffle adding interest with air. A wine of great class and balance, finishing subtle, fresh, firm and very long, with sweet, fine-grained tannins. André Tchelistcheff called 1968 his greatest vintage and this wine is still going strong a half century later, with no end in sight. Its balance of sweetness and acidity is stunning. This wine was full-bodied in the early going, in contrast to the initially austere ’69, according to current winemaker Trevor Durling. (12.5% alcohol) (Drink between 2019-2038)
1973 Simi Cabernet Sauvignon Special Reserve Alexander Valley. 88 points.
1974 Beaulieu Vineyard Red Blend.
Cavatelli. Poblano Mascarpone, corn espuma, ramps, pepita breadcrumbs, squash. Awesome.
1974 Charles Krug Winery (Peter Mondavi Family) Cabernet Sauvignon. 92 points.
1974 Mount Eden Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. JG 94. The 1974 cabernet from Merry Edwards’ first vintage at the helm at Mount Eden is drinking beautifully out of magnum today, and though it is a bit more powerful in personality than the 1973, it is still a superb example of the vintage. The bouquet is deep, complex and now wide open, offering up scents of cassis, pomegranate, a touch of mint, cigar ash, chipotle peppers, dark soil tones, a touch of spice (vaguely reminiscent of nutmeg) and cedary wood. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and beautifully balanced, with a rock solid core of fruit, fine focus and grip, tangy acids and a long, complex, still gently tannic finish. This is a beautiful wine with decades and decades of life still ahead of it (particularly in magnum). (Drink between 2016-2050)
1973 Mount Eden Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. VM 96. The heady, full-bodied style was unmistakably Napa Valley. The 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon from Mt. Eden was equally brilliant. It was perhaps a touch richer, deeper and more powerful than the Sterling, but what stood out most was the wine’s intense, brooding personality.
1978 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour Private Reserve. JG 86. Of all of the great cabernet producers of this era, Beaulieu Vineyards was probably one of the few wineries that did not really capture all of the potential of the vintage. I have been drinking this 1978 since the mid-1980s and while many bottles were quite tasty back in the day, I have never hit a truly exceptional example. Back in this era, I have always found that BV was more successful in the vintages of 1970, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1976 and 1980 than they were in the more famous years of 1978 and 1974. The only caveat one needs to mention about the great wines that Andre Tchelistcheff fashioned at BV in the decade of the 1970s is that their style has not proven to be quite as ageworthy as many of their contemporaries, and most of these beautiful wines are now in varying stages of decline. This most recent bottle of the ’78 Georges de Latour was okay, but starting to get fairly oxidative and was a bit past its best, offering up scents of black cherries, plums, chocolate, a nice touch of Rutherford dust and coconutty new oak underneath the touch of cookie dough-like maderization. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and plush on the attack, with a solid core and still a touch of backend tannin on the long and moderately oxidative finish. The oxidation here is not yet so bad that the wine is undrinkable, but it is ever present on both the nose and palate and detracts a tad from the enjoyment of the wine. (Drink between 2016-2025)
1982 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain. JG 92+. It had been at least a dozen years since I last tasted the 1982 Dunn Howell Mountain, and the wine remains still a tad young for primetime drinking, but it is getting closer to its apogee and has been progressing very nicely in the right direction over the last decade. The wine has dropped most of what was a fairly formidable wall of tannin while retaining its substantial core of brambly mountain fruit. The bouquet is quite complex and is now blossoming very well, as it offers up a complex mélange of black raspberry, red currant, stony minerality, woodsmoke, gentle notes of fresh sage and a bit of petroleum jelly in the upper register. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, deep and quite soil-driven, with a lovely base of minerality, still a touch of tannin to resolve and a long, complex finish with fine grip but with a slight edge of austerity. This is a very good bottle that may even move up a bit in score as it fully blossoms. If the wine eventually loses the slight edge of austerity it currently displays on the backend, then my score will seem conservative. But a fine bottle in any case. (Drink between 2009-2035)
From my cellar: 1984 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain. VM 88. Healthy full red. More reticent on the nose than the ’83, showing a touch of cardboard and an earthy quality, if not an obvious TCA smell, along with its cherry, redcurrant, plum and earth aromas. A step up in texture from the ’83, but less juicy in the middle palate and even drier on the finish. This doesn’t have the personality of the ’83 and it turned drier with aeration. (I’ve had better bottles of the ’84 in the past, although I hadn’t sampled this vintage in at least five years.) (13% alcohol) (Drink between 2018-2024)
1986 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour Private Reserve. 89 points.
1986 Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon Signature. 89 points.
Grilled Ribeye. Charred Broccolini, crispy shallot, date puree, jus.
With the jus.
Cheese Plate. Julianna, 1655 Gruyere, Ameribella, Seasonal Accompaniments.
This is a signature Sweet Milk flavor — 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 #Sorento #Limoncello #Meringue #LemonMeringuePie
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. I’m not normally a California wine guy, but these older wines are much softer, nicer, and more Bordeaux-like.