Location: 468 N Bedford Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. (310) 205-8990
Date: March 15, 2023
Cuisine: Vietnamese Fusion
Rating: Awesome as always
Crustacean is one of our regular haunts and one of the few places with the stems, food, and service to handle a serious wine dinner. For this particular night some of my friends organized an epic Cheval Blanc tasting covering many of the most iconic vintages of the last 40 years.
We’ve had a couple awesome meals here in the last couple of years.
Our private area.
A magnum of 2010 Dom.
Little dumplings that were partially steamed and pan-fried to get a bit of that crispy bottom.
Tonight’s special menu.
A flight of P2!
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)
2002 Dom Pérignon Champagne P2. VM 97+. The 2002 Dom Pérignon P2 is wonderfully open in its aromatics, but a bit less giving on the palate, especially next to the regular release. Lemon confit, white flowers, mint and white pepper open up first, followed by hints of apricot, honey, chamomile and light tropical notes. Interestingly, the P2 is quite a bit less tropical than the original release. Chef de Caves Vincent Chaperon told me he thinks the original release shows more of a buttery character because of the combination of the ripeness of the vintage and the natural evolution of the wine post-disgorgement under crown seal, as opposed to the P2 which stayed much longer on its lees. It is hard to know if that is an exact explanation, but the reality is that the two 2002s are quite far apart stylistically. (Drink between 2019-2032)
2004 Dom Pérignon Champagne P2. VM 97. The 2004 Dom Pérignon P2 is precise and wonderfully refined, just like the first release. There’s a hint of reduction from extended time on the cork as well as a feeling of effusiveness that is so appealing. Readers will find a super-classic DP. Dried flowers, brioche, apricot preserves, sage, mint and chamomile are seamless in the glass. The 2004 can be enjoyed now or cellared for another decade plus. Some editions of the P2 series have been pretty austere in the early going; the 2004 is not among them. (Drink between 2022-2034)
Tuna Cigars. Instant smoke, feuille de brick, avocado silk, vidalia onion, tobiko caviar. I’ve had this before and really liked it, but tonight it tasted a bit too much of faux cigar smoke.
The white flight! This is necessary to pair with a lot of the food!
2017 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault 1er Cru Bouchères. VM 93. A cool, pure and airy nose is exceptionally pretty with its various white orchard fruit, hazelnut and citrusy wisps. The lilting and ultra-refined middle weight flavors possess a lacy mouth feel before terminating in a sneaky long and well-balanced mineral-inflected finale. This isn’t especially complex at present but my sense is that more depth will almost certainly develop if it’s allowed 6 to 8 years of bottle age. In a word, lovely. (Drink starting 2024)
2017 Olivier Leflaive Montrachet. VM 94. The 2017 Montrachet Grand Cru is much more closed on the nose and demands encouragement. There is a slight menthol aroma that emerges with time; a little exotic, perhaps. The palate has good extract and fine acidity, not quite as precise as the Montrachet from Marc Colin, but there is a lovely spiciness and just the right amount of bitterness on the finish. Tasted blind at the annual Burgfest tasting in Savigny-lès-Beaune. (Drink between 2027-2050)
2013 Château de la Maltroye Bâtard-Montrachet. BH 95. This is very much like the Grandes Ruchottes in that the nose is reticent to the point of being almost dumb and even aggressive swirling reveals very little. By contrast the big-bodied and tautly muscular flavors possess superb mid-palate density along with terrific intensity that continues onto the palate coating and massively long finish. This is nothing short of brilliant and could very well be the Bâtard of the vintage. Note well however that plenty of patience will be required. (Drink starting 2023)
2018 Jean-Claude Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Vergers. BH 90. Here too there is just enough reduction to push the underlying fruit to the background but it’s not so heavy as to obscure the fact that it’s ripe with white fleshed fruit and just a touch of oak. The super-sleek, delicious and vibrant flavors are presently relatively compact on the agreeably dry finish that flashes a touch of warmth. The oak does reappear, and this is mildly awkward today so I would suggest allowing this at least a few years to integrate its wood and better harmonize. (Drink starting 2026)
2020 Le Petit Cheval Blanc.
Colossal Tiger Prawns. Served with An’s Famous Garlic Noodles. This is the shrimp version of the classic Crustacean crab dish. Smaller, but great. These noodles never get old with their sweet garlicky bit.
Big Glory Bay King Salmon. Market vegetables, Saffron Nage. Very crispy and with a great little saffron broth, but kinda tiny.
This flight rocked!
1982 Château Cheval Blanc. VM 95+. Saturated deep red, with a hint of development at the rim. Roasted nose dominated by toffee and tobacco. Wonderfully silky but without quite the exotic ripeness of the ’90. Still, this offers uncanny retention of primary fruit. Expands inexorably on the finish and goes on and on. A wonderful bottle that still improving. (The bottle in the blind flight was slightly less impressive: Good full red, with a hint of amber at the rim. Slightly medicinal aromas of red fruits, cedar and tobacco leaf; comes across as distinctly cooler than the ’90. Dense but penetrating and still a bit closed in on itself. Less sweet and generous today than the ’90, less exotic. But finishes firm and long, with a hint of dryness. I rated this bottle 93(+?).) Drink now through 2020.
1983 Château Cheval Blanc. JG 95. Along with Ausone, the ’83 Cheval Blanc has long been one of the greatest wines of this vintage and it is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon. The wine has gone through periods of glorious drinking, followed by much more closed cycles over the years, but it seems now at age thirty to have finally reached the start of its plateau of maturity and I would be very surprised to see it shut down ever again in its lifetime. Today, the deep, pure and vibrant nose wafts from the glass in a youthfully complex blend of mulberries, menthol, black cherries, a touch of chocolate, tobacco leaf, lovely soil tones and a nice touch of toasty new wood. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and very elegant on the attack, with a superb core of fruit, great focus and complexity, and a very long, balanced and modestly tannic finish. The tannins today have fallen away to the point where this wine is very enjoyable to drink, and yet I still have the sense that the wine is relatively adolescent in its stage of development and more fireworks will still be unveiled if one can exercise a bit more patience. This is a great vintage of Cheval Blanc! (Drink between 2013-2050)
1985 Château Cheval Blanc. VM 95. The 1985 Cheval Blanc has always been one of the picks of the vintage for what was a fecund decade for the Saint-Émilion. This example shows similarly to previous bottles. It has a fragrant bouquet with sandalwood, clove and chestnut, maybe here even a touch of brettanomyces? It is only slight. The palate is beautifully balanced with melted tannin. The Cabernet Franc in full flight – hints of bell pepper and cedar, a surfeit of fruit. Maybe it lacks the precision of more recent vintages but how can you resist its charm. Impossible! It is a wonderful wine, but I wonder…was its heyday around the turn of the millennium? Tasted blind at Chez Brunce lunch. (Drink between 2018-2040)
1989 Château Cheval Blanc. VM 95. The 1989 Cheval Blanc is a vintage that I have not encountered since 2010. One bottle opened was rustic and fatigued, and Pierre-Olivier Clouet opened a second that was much better. It has a gorgeous bouquet of ample red fruit, morels, black truffle, cigar box and hints of brown sugar, all very well defined and charming. The palate is medium-bodied with grainy tannin and approaching full maturity; brown spices, bay leaf and clove infuse the red berry fruit. At 30 years of age, I suspect this 1989 will not improve further, but its robustness suggests that any decline will be graceful. Tasted from an ex-cellar bottle at the château. (Drink between 2019-2045)
1990 Château Cheval Blanc. VM 98. The 1990 Cheval Blanc is a vintage that once upon a time I drank regularly, although I had not seen it since March 2016. Poured against the 1990 Lafite-Rothschild, this is the clear winner. Still youthful in color with modest bricking. The bouquet explodes from the glass with kirsch, mulberry, antique furniture and black truffle scents. With aeration it becomes more savory, the Cabernet Franc wanting to see more of the olfactory action. The palate is medium-bodied and comes equipped with a stunning velvety texture. This Saint-Émilion feels spherical, conveying a sense of controlled decadence but avoiding any ostentation. This is as good a bottle as I have encountered over the years. Brilliant. Tasted at Noble Rot’s “Xmas” dinner. (Drink between 2019-2045)
Rabbit Dumplings. Rabbit Confit “Money Pouch”, leeks, dijon caviar creme. These were great, probably the best of our three dumpling types.
Chicken Satay. Grilled over Binchotan Charcoal with House Pickles. There was a choice of chicken or beef satay. It seemed pretty small and it was because…
They realized they were supposed to serve two skewers so a second came out 5 minutes later for each person.
Filet Mignon Beef Satay. Grilled over Binchotan Charcoal with House Pickles. The pickles were rather microscopic as well.
And here is the second beef skewer.
1995 Château Cheval Blanc. VM 93+. Good full red. Profound, multidimensional nose combines redcurrant, plums, raspberry, cherry, mocha and humus: really quite singular. Wonderful sweetness and depth of flavor; lush but with a firm spine. Already offers compelling inner-mouth perfume, but I suspect this wine will soon close down. Finishes with terrific length and very suave, sweet tannins that coat the teeth.
1998 Château Cheval Blanc. JG 98+. While the money-changers in the temple promote Pavie and Angélus to the bureaucratic summits of Saint Émilion in the classification of the commune’s wines, tastings such as this one definitively show that Cheval Blanc no longer has any real rival for quality. The 1998 Cheval Blanc is an utterly brilliant wine, delivering a refined and very complex aromatic constellation of black cherries, sweet dark berries, menthol, gravelly soil tones, cigar smoke and a suave framing of vanillin oak. On the palate the wine is pure, precise and full-bodied, with a velvety palate impression beginning to develop, a sappy core of glorious fruit, marvelous soil signature, fine-grained, seamless tannins and a very, very long, complex and effortless finish. The ’98 Cheval Blanc is certainly a very, very enjoyable glass of wine today, but it is still climbing and I would try to leave it alone for at least a handful more years. Sheer brilliance. (Drink between 2030-2100)
2000 Château Cheval Blanc. VM 94. The 2000 Cheval Blanc is a wine that I have encountered more than a dozen times. Now at just over 20 years of age (how time flies – I remember tasting this from barrel), it has a lovely, quite beguiling bouquet of brambly red berries, iron rust, Provençal herbs and clove, powerful and somehow enveloping. The peppery palate is medium-bodied with quite firm, stocky tannins and good backbone, though coming after a vertical of recent vintages, it feels more rustic and feral. As Pierre-Olivier Clouet noted, there are fewer “pixels” in this millennial Cheval Blanc, but you can’t help falling for its charms. Ready to drink now but will age for the next 20–30 years. Tasted at Cheval Blanc. (Drink between 2021-2040)
2001 Château Cheval Blanc. VM 96. The 2001 Cheval Blanc has a slightly more expressive and less feral bouquet compared to the 2000, perhaps better defined, although I miss the menthol aspect that develops on the previous vintage. But give it an hour’s aeration and it coheres magnificently, gaining more intensity as it manifests dark berry fruit mixed with potpourri. The palate is medium-bodied with grippy tannins, quite firm and (for this estate) quite austere and strict, though yet again, after an hour it mellows, gaining more rondeur and sensuality. Whereas initially I leaned toward the millennial Cheval Blanc, the 2001 has its nose in front by the end. Tasted at Cheval Blanc. (Drink between 2021-2040)
2005 Château Cheval Blanc. VM 100. The 2005 Cheval Blanc has been nothing less than magical on two separate occasions. A wine of breathtaking nuance and sophistication, the 2005 Cheval dazzles right out of the gate. With a few hours of aeration the aromatics blossom and the wine is explosive in every dimension. Espresso, rose petal, mint, blood orange and incense all open as the 2005 shows off its magnificence and pedigree. Bright saline underpinnings convey energy, tension and brilliance. Cheval Blanc is perhaps not as immediately seductive as some of the other top 2005s, but its all there. In spades. I would give it a few more years to unwind. (Drink between 2025-2055)
2009 Château Cheval Blanc. VM 98. The 2009 Cheval Blanc has a rambunctious nose with copious red fruit, meat juices, sage and crushed stone aromas, ineffably complex. This is so refined, constantly mutating in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with fine, saturated tannin. There is a mixture of red and black fruit, hints of cassis, cardamom and allspice. Immense depth and grip towards the finish expresses ripe Cabernet Franc. This is an outstanding 2009 destined for long-term ageing. Tasted blind at Farr Vintners’ 2009 Bordeaux tasting. (Drink between 2021-2060)
Mongolian Lamb. Chargrilled, market vegetables, twice-cooked potatoes. I’ve had this before too, and it’s a nice lamb chop, just a bit sweet. It’s also not exactly enormous.
Steamed Truffle Cream Dory. Steamed in Papillote, black summer truffle, leeks, romanesco, ginger, shaoxing. This John Dory dish is great, very light and moist with a strong ginger flavor.
Prime Rib Eye with XO Bechamel. Remy Martin XO Wagyu Salt Block Steak, White Cheddar, XO Emulsion. Another petite bite.
Orange Old Fashioned Sorbetto — Cold Pressed Orange Juice, Knob Creek Bourbon and Angostura Bitters! Topped with cherries — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — Really tastes like an Old Fashioned –#SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #sorbetto #orange #tangerine #bourbon #KnobCreek #bitters #Angostura
Warm Beignets. Vietnamese Coffee Creme Anglaise. A single Beignets into which was injected the Creme Anglaise. It was served with:
Yar! Ghostly skeletal praline pirates are marauding — Pecan Pirate Praline Gelato — An eggy Texas Pecan base layered with my creepy skull-shaped New Orleans style Vanilla Bourbon Pecan Pralines and Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Pumpkins — 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 #vanilla #bourbon #pecan #praline #candy #halloween #spooky
Overall, The wines and company were incredible, and the food itself was great. It wasn’t the “largest” meal, but that’s okay given my diet, and it was most Crustacean “staple dishes”, which are awesome — but I’m a novelty junky. Still, it sure was one hell of an evening. Cheval is really an incredible wine.
And boy did the Ans treat us right, amazing service, and great wines. Every dish is always superb tasting and perfectly executed. Although their menu is perhaps not the “perfect pairing” choice for Bordeaux, Crustacean does such an incredible job, it doesn’t matter.
Discussing the food analytically. Very good, and most dishes varied from good to great. The Vietnamese influence is far more subtle, less heavy handed, then at most newer fusion places like Little Sister / LXSO or the more contemporary small plates style Khong Ten. Definitely more roughly 2000 in formal fine dining style — which I don’t mind at all. In some ways it feels like a millennium event fine dining place with Vietnamese — and to a lesser extent Thai and Chinese — notes. It’s a pretty fancy place, and priced accordingly — but particularly during these last two dinners have really knocked it out of the park.