Location: 1032 Swarthmore Ave, Pacific Palisades, Ca 90272. 310-459-7562
Date: October 21, 2015
Rating: Classic French “home” cooking
Maison Giraud is the closest fine dining to my house. Pacific Palisades doesn’t have a lot of great food, but this restaurant/bakery is from acclaimed LA French chef Alain Giraud. This wine dinner, featuring the wines of the Northern Rhone’s Saint Joseph region was hosted by a friend of mine, Merv Hecht, author of The Instant Wine Connoisseur.
And it should be noted that the Swathmore Ave frontage might not be there for too much longer, as the whole street is slated for massive construction in 2016 when developer Rick Curuso starts building his new “Palisades Village” project.
Anyway, as it was a lovely warm (late October in LA) night, we dined outside.
With a generous staging area for the wines.
Tonight’s special menu.
2012 J.L. Chave Sélection St. Joseph Céleste. VM 91. Light gold. Pungent, mineral-laced aromas of dried pear, fig, honey and fennel, with a hint of jasmine in the background. Fleshy and dry on the palate, offering incisive orchard and pit fruit flavors and a touch of waxiness. Smoothly combines richness and vivacity, finishing with firm mineral bite and strong floral persistence.
agavin: I’m not sure I’ve even had a Saint Joseph blanc before. It tastes very much like white Hermitage, and that means Rousanne. Not sure it’s my favorite grape. A bit hot.
2013 J.L. Chave Sélection St. Joseph Circa Clos Florentin. 90 points. Obviously young. This is probably getting more serious and I think has more sulphur. Very rich, concentrated and that slightly oily texture that you get with white rhone. I’m sure this will get better, and probably will leave for another year before approaching again. Good value.
2013 Domaine Coursodon St. Joseph Blanc Silice. 92 points. 100% Marsanne this had a fruity honey quality. Vinified without oak.
Maison G bakes its own fabulous bread.
Classic french pate with toasts.
2011 Domaine Faury St. Joseph Vieilles Vignes. VM 92. Opaque ruby. Intense, mineral-driven aromas of dark berries, candied licorice and potpourri, plus a sexy Asian spice quality. Tangy and sharply focused, boasting impressive purity and depth to its sweet blackberry and cherry compote flavors. Silky tannins build on the persistent, incisive finish, with the floral and spice notes repeating.
2013 Domaine Faury St. Joseph. VM 89-91. Bright purple. Lively black and blue fruits on the spicy nose and in the mouth. Nervy and focused, showing no excess weight and a subtle sweetness. Shows good clarity and siky tannins on the gently gripping finish. Very fresh, in the style of the vintage.
2012 Domaine Coursodon St. Joseph Le Paradis Saint-Pierre. VM 92-94. (made from 80-year-old serine vines and raised in all new oak): Dark purple. A complex, highly perfumed bouquet evokes ripe blackcurrant, cherry pit, potpourri and olive tapenade, along with smoke and mineral accents. Stains the palate with intense dark fruit liqueur flavors and suggestions of candied violet and licorice. Closes on a smoky note, with superb clarity and lift and slow-mounting tannins.
Lobster bisque. Jumbo crab, asparagus, brioche croutons. One of my favorite soups. This version didn’t disappoint and was full of chunks of crab meat.
2011 Domaine Coursodon St. Joseph L’Olivaie. VM 91. Bright ruby. Fresh blackberry and floral scents are complemented by deeper-pitched notes of dark chocolate and licorice. Supple and open-knit, offering gently sweet black raspberry and cherry flavors that become spicier with aeration. Closes tangy and quite long, with sneaky tannins adding grip.
agavin: these Coursodon’s were in general my favorite wines of the night.
2012 Domaine Coursodon St. Joseph L’Olivaie. VM 91-93. Inky ruby. Fresh blueberry and candied violet on the highly perfumed, spice-accented nose. Fleshy, seamless and broad, offering intense black and blue fruit flavors and a sweetening note of vanilla that gains strength with air. The spicy quality comes back on the finish, which clings with excellent tenacity and just a hint of tannins. These vines are now over 60 years old, according to Coursodon.
2012 Domaine Coursodon St. Joseph Silice. VM 90-92. Brilliant ruby. Spice-accented black raspberry, mocha, pipe tobacco and licorice on the nose, with a sexy floral topnote. Sweet, spicy and penetrating, displaying a silky texture to its dark berry and spicecake flavors. Shows pinot-like character–or at least pinot from a warm region. Finishes round and supple, with soft tannins, good breadth and a lingering suggestion of violet.
Spanish Turbot. Slowly backed, forest mushroom, porcini emulsion. An absolutely lovely fish and a killer sauce.
In the back is chef Alain Giraud.
2012 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave St. Joseph. VM 93. Bright violet color. Explosive aromas of black and blue fruits, smoky Indian spices and minerals, with a suave floral quality in the background. Fleshy and expansive on the palate, but with excellent clarity and spicy lift to its blackberry and licorice flavors. The dark fruit element recurs on the long, seamless finish, which is framed by supple tannins that fold smoothly into the wine’s lush fruit.
2012 Paul Jaboulet Aîné St. Joseph Domaine de la Croix des Vignes. VM 92. Deep ruby. Explosive aromas of black and blue fruits, smoky Indian spices, licorice and minerals, with a suave floral quality building in the glass. Fleshy and expansive on the palate, showing excellent clarity and breadth to its blueberry and cherry compote flavors. The floral quality repeats on a long, seamless, fruit-dominated finish that’s framed by velvety tannins.
2012 Domaine Boissonnet St. Joseph.
Rack of Lamb. Roasted, Fall baby carrots, lamb Bordelaise. A perfect pairing for the wines.
2011 François Villard St. Joseph Reflet.
2010 Domaine du Tunnel (Stéphane Robert) St. Joseph. VM 90. Inky ruby. Spicy black raspberry and cherry aromas are complicated by notes of black pepper and dried flowers. Deep, chewy dark fruit flavors are framed by dusty tannins and become spicier with air. Shows very good energy and focus, finishing with strong cut and grip.
2012 Domaine Blachon St. Joseph Hommage. 91 points. Deep purple to rim. Barnyard earth, pepper spice and a sweet floral tone on the nose. Sweet cherry, toasted bread and rhubarb on the palate. Medium to medium-plus tannins. Medium acidity. Medium-long to long finish.
I’m thinking this would be great with braised lamb and cassoulet. Also a good cigar wine.
Cheese Plate. Selection, grapes, fruit-nuts bread. This was both a generous and awesome little trio of cheeses. I loved the buttery one in the middle.
2012 Domaine Durand St. Joseph Lautaret. 89 points. Gamey.
Lemon Tart. Meringue, berries, raspberry coulis. Also classic, but perfectly executed.
This was a great dinner. The food is very classic, but these special menus show off Giraud’s cooking even better than the regular menu. Each dish was superlatively executed. The wines were fun, and solid, if a little young and not quite up to the refined heights of Syrah at my recent LaLa dinner.