Location: 419 Cold Canyon Rd, Calabasas, CA 91302 (818) 222-3888
Date: December 12, 2013
Cuisine: Modern American
Rating: Great ambiance and terrific game oriented food.
For one (and just one) of our Hedonistic Holiday Feasts, we Hedonists return to Saddle Peak Lodge. It’s pretty much the perfect venue for both a winter wine blast, with gorgeous lodge patio, cozy lodge, game driven food, and awesome wine service. For those of you who don’t know, Hedonist events have amazing wines (each diner brings at least one bottle) and this event has several 100 point blow out wines.
Saddle Peak Ranch used to be a game lodge back in the early part of the 20th century. The rich and famous used to come up and hunt Malibu’s finest, such as this poor fellow. Now the deer are just served up on the menu. I like how his hoofs hold the gun that killed him.
The restaurant is located in the middle of gorgeous Malibu Canyon and tonight we are set up in the “library”, complete with holiday decorations (and Jingle Bells playing on endless loop).
2000 Vilmart & Cie Champagne Coeur de Cuvée. Burghound 94. A moderately yeasty yet elegant nose that is fresh, complex and carries touches of both pain grillé and citrus blossom while leading to intense, pure and gorgeously deep flavors that possess first class breadth and genuinely excellent length. While still on the way up, after 30 to 45 minutes it began to display notably deeper and broader flavors that are at once powerful yet refined. A terrific effort that is absolutely worth your attention.
2004 Bouchard Aîné et Fils Corton-Charlemagne. 92 points. Lemony nose. Gives a sense of extremely concentrated but unyielding fruits, lemons,apples – and minerals. A long intense aftertaste. With no experience with aged white burgundy but having read a lot about them, I think I can sense what this would have become with age. We had another bottle of this about a year ago and it was much lighter and ready to go. Wondering about the first bottle caused this one to be opened and checked out. I’m going to assume our remaining two are like this one, hope to not read about premox issues – and let them age for many years and we’ll then experience a great white burgundy.
2002 François Raveneau Chablis Grand Cru Blanchot. Burghound 94. Astounding purity of expression here with hints of gunflint, oyster shell, minerals and that gorgeous green fruit that is uniquely Chablis in style, followed by silky, ultra fine, linear and almost delicate yet with considerable power, precision and length. More importantly, there is another dimension here relative to the 1ers and this delivers simply stunning quality with a classic bone dry finish. This is an extremely impressive wine that has everything it needs for a very long life.
1983 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Único. Parker 90-95. The 1983 Unico Reserva is another stunning example of Spain’s greatest red wine. A sweet, penetrating fragrance of nearly over-ripe black fruits, intermingled with lavish quantities of vanillin and smoke is a knock-out. Forward, with massive, highly extracted, jammy fruit presented in a full-bodied, remarkably well-balanced format, this huge, rich, concentrated wine is already multi-dimensional and complex, as well as unbelievably delicious. However, do not be fooled by its precociousness. There is so much exquisite extract and richness that this wine should age effortlessly for 20-25 years.
From my cellar, 1995 Chapoutier Ermitage le Pavillon. Parker 99. The 1995 Ermitage Le Pavillon is magnificent. The wine is more accessible than the 1996 (due to lower acidity and more immediately accessible glycerin and fruit), with a magnificent black/purple color, and layers of cassis fruit, smoky, roasted meat, and mineral characteristics that are the result of barrel fermentation and high extraction of fruit. It is huge, but not heavy, gorgeously proportioned, and dazzlingly well-defined. A monster Hermitage of immense proportions, it somehow manages to keep everything in balance. This backward Pavillon will require 10-12 years of cellaring. It should age well through the first half of the next century.
1976 Coutet. Parker 86. One of the best Coutets of the seventies, the 1976 is a relatively big Coutet, with a surprising amount of alcohol (15pc), a ripe apricot, spicy, floral, lemon-scented bouquet, full body, fat, succulent flavors, and Coutet’s trademark — crisp, fresh acidity.
1996 Shafer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select. Parker 98. Since 1991, Shafer’s Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon has unquestionably been one of the top dozen or so California Cabernets. Made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and aged 32 months in 100% French oak casks (the majority Taransaud), it possesses the elegance and finesse one would expect from the Stags Leap area, but also monumental power, richness, and intensity. The 1996 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select is one of the vintage’s super-stars. Its opaque purple color is accompanied by super aromatics, immense body, great fruit extraction, superb purity and overall symmetry, as well as a 40+ second finish. Revealing exceptional intensity (but no heaviness) as well as perfectly integrated acidity, tannin, and alcohol, this fabulous Cabernet will drink wonderfully for three decades.
By some magical symbiosis of thought, four different Hedonists brought different vintages of the ultra-rare cult Shiraz: Chris Ringland / Three Rivers. So we were treated to an amazing mini-vertical including 96, 98, 99, and 2000!
1996 Chris Ringland (formerly Three Rivers) Shiraz. Parker 98-100. The 1996 Chris Ringland (formerly Three Rivers) Shiraz (now known as ‘Chris Ringland Shiraz’ due to a name dispute), has a very deep garnet-black color with intensely spicy aromas – plenty of vanilla, cinnamon and licorice – over a core of chocolate, kirsch, prunes and a whiff of dusty earth. Bacon fat and coffee notes emerge after a few minutes. Big, rich and buxom (15.3% alcohol) in the mouth with plenty of crisp acid and firm very fine tannins to support, it finishes long with layers of spice, dried plums and mocha. It’s still very youthful with many innings left.
Idaho rainbow trout pan roasted in lemon, garlic, red onion and brown butter served with grilled Japanese eggplant, salt-roasted purple carrots, grilled summer squash, fire-roasted red bell pepper and baked fingerling potatoes.
1998 Chris Ringland (formerly Three Rivers) Shiraz. Parker 100. The Chris Ringland (formerly known as Three Rivers Shiraz), which is aged 42 months in 100% new French oak, and is rarely racked until bottling, represents an extraordinary expression of Barossa Shiraz. The perfect 1998, made from a single, 88-year-old vineyard cropped at one ton of fruit per acre, soaked up its wood component as if it is not even present. It boasts a sumptuous texture, great delineation, and a huge fragrance of bacon fat, blackberry liqueur, creme de cassis, toast, espresso roast, and hints of chocolate as well as pepper. Full-bodied yet remarkably well-delineated and fresh, this stunning wine is still a baby, but it promises to evolve for two decades or more.
1999 Chris Ringland (formerly Three Rivers) Shiraz. Parker 98. The Chris Ringland (formerly known as Three Rivers Shiraz), is aged 42 months in 100% new French oak, and is rarely racked until bottling, represents an extraordinary expression of Barossa Shiraz. The intense 1999, released in 2004, demonstrates that this vintage is somewhat underrated after all the hype over 1998. From a vineyard planted in 1910, its inky/purple color is accompanied by aromas of lavender, lard, smoke, licorice, blackberries, cassis, espresso roast, chocolate, and pepper. Full-bodied, slightly less voluminous than the perfect 1998, with an unctuous texture, sweet tannin, and a 70+ second finish, this magnificent, still young Shiraz should be accessible in 3-5 years, and last for two decades.
2000 Chris Ringland (formerly Three Rivers) Shiraz. Parker 96-97. This is a re-review of the 2000 Shiraz since I significantly underrated it previously. It is clearly the Barossa wine of the vintage, and has put on considerable weight since it was bottled. This stunning cuvee, which used to be known as the Three Rivers Shiraz, was aged 33 months in new French 300 liter hogsheads. A beautiful bouquet of crushed rocks, white flowers, blueberries, blackberries, incense, and subtle pain grille is followed by a rich, full-bodied red revealing supple tannin as well as tremendous texture and richness, and more depth and intensity than it did last year. By Chris Ringland’s standards, it is quite approachable, and should age beautifully for 10-15 years.
1999 Peju Province Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Rutherford. 92 points. Wonderful and full of flavor on the start all the way to the finish. The wine looks Garnet colored. The legs are Medium. It smells like Blackberry, Mushroom, Coffee, Smokey Bacon, Chocolate, Tobacco, and Bell Pepper.
This was a total blow out event. The food was impeccable and the service fantastic. Plus we had a really great mix of people and some of the most awesome wines, the Chris Ringland being particularly notable. Our private floor with the roaring fire and dead bovines made for a fabulous atmosphere.