Location: Santa Monica
Date: October 11, 2022
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. Tonight’s dinner follows hot on the heels of a Billecart dinner I did here a few weeks before. It’s so close that the Halloween decorations were even more opulent.
NV Moussé Fils Champagne l’Or d’Eugène Blanc de Noirs Brut.
From my cellar: 2005 Taittinger Champagne Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut. JG 95+. The 2005 Comtes de Champagne is a stunning young wine. The bouquet is deep, pure and youthfully complex, as it offers up a very classy blend of pear, delicious apple, fresh almond, incipient notes of crème patissière, chalky minerality, brioche and just a whisper of vanillin oak in the upper register. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, focused and rock solid at the core, with exquisite balance, refined mousse, crisp acids and simply superb length and grip on the seamless, youthful and oh, so promising finish. The style of the 2005 vintage gives this some early accessibility that was not evident with the more tightly-knit 2004 out of the blocks, but this wine has the structure to also age long and very, very gracefully. It has been a year since I last tasted this wine and it has started to show more precision to go along with its early generosity and is a classic in the making. My gut feeling today is that it will be superior to the 1989 version, to which I compared it to a year ago. Brilliant wine. (Drink between 2015-2045)
Ricciola Sashimi Cucchiai. Yellowtail Sashimi Spoons.
2018 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru Bougros Côte Bouguerots. VM 94. The 2018 Chablis Bougros Côte de Bouguerots Grand Cru is well-defined on the nose. Quite stony and terse at first, it opens with orange rind and crushed pebble scents. The palate is well balanced with fine acidity, tight and energetic with a zesty, minerally finish. This meliorates in the glass, ending up quite nuanced and tensile. Tasted blind at the Burgfest 2018 white tasting. (Drink between 2024-2040)
From my cellar: 2005 Mongeard-Mugneret Grands-Echezeaux. JG 96+. The 2005 Grands Echézeaux from Domaine Mongeard-Mugneret is going to be a great, great wine, but it is still a puppy and needs at least another decade in the cellar. The bouquet is young, but stunning, as it soars from the glass in a blaze of red plums, red and black cherries, a hint of blood orange, a gorgeously complex base of soil, cocoa powder, gamebirds, woodsmoke and vanillin oak. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and still quite primary , with great depth of sappy fruit at the core, seamless, ripe tannins, outstanding soil signature and a very, very long, tangy and laser-like finish. This is an utterly brilliant bottle in the making. (Drink between 2025-2100)
Cozze con Guanciale. Mussels with Pork Cheek. The sauce on this mussel dish was essentially like a all’amatriciana except that it was also saturated with mussel-juice. Pretty awesome actually, particularly the crispy little guanciale chunks.
1989 Château Latour Grand Vin. JG 95. The 1989 vintage of Château Latour was not considered a great year for this superb property, which was purported to have started a mini-slump after the release of the brilliant 1982 vintage at the estate. However, though I did not buy this wine on release (believing the critics of the time and their assessment of its relative inferiority), on the couple of occasions where I have been lucky enough to drink it again in recent times, it has been clear that this wine was underrated at the outset and really is an excellent vintage of Latour. The most recent bottle was getting close to full bloom, but not quite there yet, offering up a deep and complex bouquet of cassis, sweet dark berries, cigar ash, Latour’s classic gravelly, dark soil signature, cedary oak and a smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied and plenty deep at the core, with firm, well-integrated tannins, excellent mineral drive, very good acids for the vintage and a very long, balanced and complex finish. This is getting close to really drinking well as it closes in on its thirtieth birthday, but it is an old school Latour and will still be an even better drink at age forty than it is today. (Drink between 2018-2085)
1990 Château Latour Grand Vin. VM 98. Tasting the 1990 Latour is like running into a long-lost friend. Still dark, deep and spectacularly flamboyant, the 1990 possesses remarkable textural richness from the very first taste. Time in the glass brings out a whole range of pencil shaving, dark fruit, chocolate, licorice and spice flavors, but more than anything else, the 1990 is a wine of pure and total voluptuousness. While I never think of wine as a competition, the 1990 is quite a bit more complex, layered and intriguing than the 1982 served alongside it at the same charity dinner. Its longevity will ultimately be determined by the quality of the cork and storage conditions, as the wine has several decades of truly exceptional drinking still to offer. In a word: magnificent! (Drink between 2019-2039)
1995 E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Turque. VM 96. Griotte and kirsch complicated by roast coffee, smoke, mocha and a whiff of game; complex and ineffable. Lush, sweet and very intensely flavored; sappy cherry flavor complicated by a peppery quality. Seems a bit higher in acidity than Guigal’s ’95 La Mouline, and the tannins are distinctly firmer. Again, quite explosive on the aftertaste.
Pasta Fresca di Tonna. A fresh spaghetti with tuna and olives. This lent it a slightly “Spaghetti alla puttanesca” vibe, although not as pungent as that dish. Quite delicious and perfectly textured.
1996 Château Haut-Brion. JG 94. The 1996 Haut Brion is less hermetically sealed than the 1998, and is beginning to hint a bit at its secondary layers of aromatic complexity, though it still remains a very young wine. The bouquet is deep and classic, as it jumps from the glass in a mélange of black cherries, dark berries, Cuban tobacco, incipient notes of the black truffles to come, and a fine base of Graves earth. I assume that the 1996 saw the same amount of new oak as the 1998, but there is little sign of the wood at the present time. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, deep and very intense, with a quite powerful profile for Haut Brion. The wine is rock solid at the core and very tannic, though the tannins are ripe and well-integrated into the wine. The finish is very, very long and soil-driven, and this will clearly be one of the most powerful vintages of Haut Brion to emerge since the 1959. It will be superb, but one will require plenty of patience. (Drink between 2025-2075)
1996 Château Latour Grand Vin. VM 94. The 1996 Latour is a wine that I often find overrated and did not achieve everything that might have been possible in this favourable growing season. That said, this might well be the best of around two dozen bottles I have encountered over the years. As usual, the 1996 is decidedly austere at first, standoffish, looks down its nose at you. Yet it coalesces with time and develops engaging cedar-scented black fruit tinged with pencil box and a touch of iris with time. The palate (again) is a little muted at first but it soon found its voice and evolved very fine tannin allied with a crisp line of acidity. It is not quite as demonstrative as it was even just a couple of years ago, gained some detail and perhaps it will continue to meliorate. Very fine, very fine indeed – but not a patch of say, the Château Margaux or perhaps even Léoville Las Cases. Tasted at the International Business & Wine Latour dinner at Ten Trinity. (Drink between 2018-2040)
1997 Château Mouton Rothschild. VM 90-91. Very good red-ruby color. Currant, cassis, roasted nuts, gunsmoke, chocolate and a note of surmaturite Fat, sweet and expansive, but with sound underlying structure. Lowish acids and a confit note (due at least partly to passerillage, or drying of the grapes by the wind and sun) contribute to the wine almost voluptuous texture.
Quaglie Ripiene. Stuffed Quail. Stuffed with sausage (and some veggies) on a bed of polenta. We’ve had this several times before and it’s a fabulous dish.
1998 Penfolds Grange. VM 97. Very deep red-ruby. Smoky, deeply concentrated fruit bomb of a nose: blackberry, dark plum, cassis; creamy vanilla and lightly toasty coconutty oak; and ethereal background notes of white pepper, smoked meats, musky spices, tar and licorice. Profoundly concentrated but velvety-smooth and seamless; impressively muscular and thickly coated with oak, and bound by drying, astringent tannins. Without question the most concentrated Grange of all time, utterly steeped in blackberry flavors; a real show pony. It’s also the most alcoholic Grange ever made, and at a declared 14.5% does taste warm and spirity – the first Grange to do so. It also ventures to some degree into the realm of currant and prune. No doubt a brilliant wine, but only time will tell if, with its elevated alcohol and its superripe flavors, this 1998 version ranks with the very best Grange vintages.
1999 Penfolds Grange. VM 91+. Full ruby-red. Sexy aromas of raspberry, cola, root beer and coconut. Thick, dense and concentrated, with exotic, slightly candied dark fruit, caramel, toasted coconut and mineral flavors nicely shaped by firm acids. Shows strong fruit and a major dose of oak on the powerful, backward finish. This can’t quite match the 1998 for sheer depth of fruit, but it’s built to age.
2003 Penfolds Grange. VM 93. Inky purple. Seductively perfumed nose offers cassis, blueberry, cherry-cola, violet and dried fig scents, with a suave undercurrent of smoky minerals. Deep, finely etched cherry and dark berry flavors are complicated by mocha and candied licorice, becoming riper with air. Cured meat and black cardamom notes arrive with air, adding further interest. Full, fleshy and sweet on the impressively long finish, which is nicely braced by dusty tannins. This is more energetic than most wines from this vintage.
Risotto a Costine. Short Rib Risotto. Chef Jen made a 2 day short rib ragu and then it was integrated into this fresh risotto. Yum, now that’s my kind of risotto! Actually I love most good risottos but this one is particularly great.
2005 Sine Qua Non Grenache Atlantis Fe2O3~2a, b & c. VM 100. The 2005 Grenache Atlantis Fe203-2a has been absolutely thrilling both times I have tasted it within the last year. A huge, vertical wine, Atlantis graces the palate with deep, voluptuous red fruit, crushed rocks, smoke, tobacco and mint. Even with all of its intensity and explosiveness, the wine remains light on its feet, with great balance and class to burn. The inclusion of whole clusters adds gorgeous lift and perfume, especially on the finish. At nearly ten years of age, the 2005 Grenache Atlantis is in a perfect spot right now and should continue to drink well for another 5-10 years, perhaps longer. (Drink between 2014-2024)
2013 Sine Qua Non Grenache Jusqu’à l’os Eleven Confessions Vineyard. VM 96+. A darker, more potent side of Grenache comes through in the 2013 Grenache Jusqu’a’ l’Os. This powerhouse wine is nowhere near ready to drink. Swaths of tannin enshroud a core of plum, dark fruit in this muscular, brooding Grenache from Sine Qua Non. Readers will have to be patient. The 2013 is 79% Grenache, 18% Syrah and 3% Petite Sirah, all from Eleven Confessions, done with 89% whole clusters. (Drink between 2023-2033)
Braciola di Vitella Ripiena. Stuffed Veal Chop. Perfectly cooked and super juicy. The white meat was similar to a great pork chop, but milder. It was stuffed with provolone, prosciutto, and tomatoe.
You can see the stuffing here.
Funghi. Wood fire grilled 3 mushroom medley.
Melanzane. Grilled eggplant.
The return of the polenta, this time with the shortrib ragu on top — insanely good.
Hazelnut Hojicha Gelato – Nocciola (hazelnut) base made with Pure PGI Piedmont hazelnut paste and infused with Ceremonial Hojicha Roasted Green Tea — 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 #matcha #Hojicha #GreenTea #hazelnut #Piedmont
Chocolate Nutter Butter Gelato – a base made from 100% Valrhona Chocolate and South American Peanuts layered with chopped “Nutter-Butter” cookies — 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 #chocolate #valrhona #peanuts #PeanutButter #reeses #NutterButter #cookies
The wine lineup.
The lovely ladies of the house.
Overall, this was another 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. One of the best “home cooked” meals 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.
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 have crept up in “biggness” here — and I don’t mean their caliber (which is fine) but too many big reds. This food has a bit of a ramp and there were two seafood dishes and then a quail, so we could have ramped through Champs, 2 flights of whites, and then red Burgundy before getting to a few bigger wines. Not everything needs to be gigantic — or SQN (at least there were only 2).
This meal was a slew of Rocco staples, like the quail, but it also featured the unique veal chop.