Location: 633 W 5th St., Los Angeles, CA 90071
Date: May 31, 2022
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 and one from 2021.
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 for the night.
NV Schramsberg Vineyards Mirabelle Brut. BH 89. A notably fresh, fruity and overtly yeasty nose evidences notes of green apple, citrus and pear scents. There is good vibrancy to the delicious and equally fruity flavors that possess good if not special depth on the moderately dry but not really austere finale that is shaped by firm effervescence. This has arrived at a point where it could be held for a few more years or enjoyed now. (Drink starting 2015)
Chickpea Panisse, Truffle Aoioli.
Crispy Chicken, Mustard Emulsion.
House-made bread and butter.
1994 Stony Hill Chardonnay. JG 94. I really like the potential on display with the 1994 Stony Hill and fully expect this to be one of the reference point vintages of the 1990s. The nose is still in its youthful stage of development, but shows plenty of promise in its aromatic mélange of buttered apples, lemon, gentle leesy tones, orange peel, dusty minerality and lemon blossoms in the upper register. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, crisp and beautifully reserved, with fine acids, impeccable focus and balance and excellent length and grip on the still quite primary finish. Excellent potential. (Drink between 2014-2045)
1975 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay Napa & Alexander Valleys. JG 90. The 1975 Château Montelena chardonnay is still drinking beautifully out of magnum at age thirty-five, as the non-malo style fashioned here at this time by Mike Grgich has proven to be very ageworthy indeed. The wine is a blend of Napa Valley and Alexander Valley fruit, which a few years later would end up being bottled on their own by the winery. The bouquet is deep and quite classy in its mature, but still vibrant mélange of apple, orange, a touch of popcorn, orange peel, salty soil tones and new leather. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and very, very fresh for its age, with good mid-palate depth, lovely acidity and impressive length and grip on the finish. The complexity here is in the good, but not great camp, but all other aspects of this wine are most satisfying. (served from magnum) (Drink between 2010-2020)
1987 ZD Wines Chardonnay. 89 points.
1984 Mount Eden Vineyards Chardonnay McGregor Vineyard Edna Valley. 94 points.
1973 David Bruce Chardonnay.
1984 Acacia Chardonnay.
1984 Saintsbury Chardonnay Unfiltered Carneros.
1985 Matanzas Creek Winery Chardonnay Sonoma County.
Hamachi Crudo. Mandarin, ginger, coconut, jicama, white soy, thai basil, habanero, sake. Flavor a bit like Tom Yum soup.
1968 Inglenook Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley. VM 88. A powerful yet eccentric brute, the 1968 Cabernet Sauvignon Cask H-12 is full of dark tonalities. Smoke, game, blood and molasses linger on the muscular but rustic finish.88 (Drink starting 2014)
1974 Charles Krug Winery (Peter Mondavi Family) Cabernet Sauvignon Lot F1 Vintage Selection. JG 92. After the bitter falling out of the Mondavi brothers in the mid-1960s, where Robert and Peter actually came to blows in the winery, Peter Mondavi was eventually forced to make financial arrangements to allow his older brother, Robert to receive his share of the family legacy. The history of the family’s acrimonious parting and eventual law suit is chronicled in James Conaway’s book, Napa, and also notes the falling out between Peter Mondavi and a number of the winery’s former suppliers of grapes, which included Nathan Fay. The Lot F-1 “Vintage Select” is the last Krug wine made from Fay Vineyard fruit by the winery, and may well be the last of the great Charles Krug cabernet sauvignons that had ranked right up at the very pinnacle of California cabernet during the decades of the 1940s and 1950s. The 1974 Lot F-1 has been fully mature for many years but remains in full bloom on both the nose and palate, as it offers up a superb bouquet of dark berries, chipotle peppers, woodsmoke, herb tones, lovely soil nuances, tobacco, a touch of nutskin and a fantastic spice box of Indian spices in the upper register that just become more and more complex and vibrant with extended aeration. On the palate the wine is fullish, complex and velvety, with very little remaining tannins, but such fine balance that it will have no difficulty continuing to drink at a very high level for at least another decade or more. The wine shows lovely focus and fine mid-palate depth, and is very long, elegant and complex on the finish. A delightful bottle. (Drink between 2009-2020)
1974 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley. 90 points.
1974 Clos du Bois Cabernet Sauvignon Proprietor’s Reserve. JG 87.
1976 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour Private Reserve. VM 92. Decent medium red. Ineffable high-pitched aromas of redcurrant, raspberry, tobacco, cardamom, curry powder, celery seed, dried rose and loam. Then intense and penetrating, boasting terrific inner-mouth energy and strong notes of cocoa powder, earth and resiny oak throughout. Finishes firmly tannic and long, with noteworthy lift for a drought year. The yield in 1976 was an extremely low one-and-a-half tons per acre, or roughly the same as in 2015, compared to a normal three to four for Beaulieu’s Rutherford Cabernet. Another seemingly ageless wine. (13.5% alcohol; 7 g/l acidity) (Drink between 2019-2034)
1978 Clos du Bois Cabernet Sauvignon Proprietor’s Reserve.
Crispy Octopus. Black garlic aioli, hazelnut dukkah, beets, guajillo Vinaigrette, Gremolata. Super tender and delicious.
1980 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Bosché. 93 points. Brown and bricked throughout. Bottom neck fill. Perfect cork. At first a worrying smell of lacquer. But then such an elegant wine emerges. Silky smooth mouthfeel. Smoky aroma. Plums and licorice, smooth cherry, long warm finish. Truly remarkable at 42 years. Do not decant!
1980 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour Private Reserve. VM 91. Full healthy red with an amber rim. Expressive scents of redcurrant, plum and milk chocolate show some nutty oak tones but also something distinctly fresh. Silky, rich and concentrated but juicy and delineated as well, boasting building intensity on the back half. Still full of life, with some remaining tannins that may yet be resolved. I have liked this vintage of Georges de Latour since the start. According to Trevor Durling, this 1980 was still raised entirely in American barrels but he noted that this vintage may have gotten a small percentage of new barrels and a slightly shorter élevage than in earlier years. (I must note that a second bottle tasted two weeks later in New York showed a less lucid color, a stronger tobacco quality and more obvious oakiness. It was beginning to dry out on the finish and reminded me increasingly of a dry Oloroso as it opened in the glass.) (13% alcohol; 7.2 g/l acidity) (Drink between 2019-2028)
1980 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon The Montelena Estate. VM 91. Medium red with a hint of amber. Red berries, coffee and earth on the fragrant nose, lifted by a minty nuance. Lively and firmly built, with its red berry and tobacco flavors conveying an attractive sweet/savory quality. This, too, struck me as a bit Saint Julien-like. Building tannins spread out to saturate the palate. A very nice showing. This vintage had a brett bloom in the bottle, admitted Barrett, “but it ultimately went away.” (13.5% alcohol) (Drink between 2019-2028)
1983 Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon Eisele Vineyard. JG 90. 1983 was a particularly difficult year for north coast cabernet sauvignon, but the ’83 Phelps Eisele has done quite well in this tough vintage and the wine was drinking beautifully when I last crossed paths with it in October of 2011. The deep, complex and quite classic nose offers up scents of cassis, eucalyptus, woodsmoke, a touch of tariness, petroleum jelly, beautiful soil tones and a nice base of vanillin oak. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and complex, with a touch of the tariness on the nose repeated here on the palate (no doubt a reflection of the difficulties getting cabernet ripe in ’83), but also with excellent complexity and focus, and very good length and grip on the still slightly chewy finish. This is not a great vintage of Phelps Eisele, but it is a superb effort for a difficult year and a very, very tasty bottle of mature cabernet. (Drink between 2011-2030)
1984 Heitz Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon Martha’s Vineyard. JG 95. The 1984 Martha’s Vineyard is a great wine and one of the best cabernets to be found in the vintage. It is quite ripe by the standards of the day, listed at its customary 13.5 percent on the label, but probably closer to fourteen percent, as Joe Heitz did not really enjoy changing details on his labels for the vagaries of a single vintage! The wine is very deep and pure on the nose, while still retaining plenty of youthful vigor in its constellation of black cherries, petroleum jelly, eucalyptus, cigar wrapper, a beautiful base of soil tones, allspice, incipient notes of chipotles and a nice touch of cedary oak. On the palate the wine is deep, ripe and full-bodied, with a plush core of fruit, fine soil signature and focus, ripe, seamless tannins and a very, very long, complex, tangy and impeccably balanced finish. The 1984 Martha’s Vineyard is now starting to drink very well indeed, but I have the sense that it is still in climbing mode and will be even better a decade down the road. It will prove to be one of the longest-lived 1984 cabernets. (Drink between 2021-2065)
1984 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour Private Reserve. 88 points.
Handkerchief Pasta. Mushroom, Brown Butter, pine nut, salsify, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Lemon. Really nice, rich, and savory, particularly given there was no meat.
1985 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour Private Reserve. VM 92. Good full medium red, with faint amber at the edge. Pungent scents of raspberry, spices, cedar and eucalyptus. A distinctly penetrating, high-acid style with noteworthy clarity and energy to its floral flavors of berries, dark cherry and loam complicated by a touch of molasses and an obvious oak component. This soil-driven midweight, the product of a long, cool growing season, finishes with a sneaky building whiplash of flavor, with a slight dry edge suggesting energetic extraction. Classic older-style Georges de Latour. (13% alcohol; 6.4 g/l acidity) (Drink between 2019-2033)
1985 Beringer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve. VM 92. Medium red with some amber at the rim. Sexy aromas of redcurrant, raspberry, truffle, underbrush and flint. Sweet and a bit wild, showing terrific retention of candied raspberry and plum fruit. This concentrated wine is a step up in texture and depth of fruit from the earlier vintages. Strong but integrated acidity gives it definition and lift, with the long finish showing broad, tongue-dusting tannins. (Drink between 2015-2024)
1986 V. Sattui Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Preston Vineyard. 88 points.
1986 Fisher Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Coach Insignia. 90 points. This one was built for aging. Had a case from release and it was tannic and almost undrinkable. Finally it has reached its potential and the tannis have resolved and left a nicely aged cabernet with plenty of fruit and wonderful integrated flavors. This is an example of the old style of California wine making. The color was ruby red with very slight bricking at the edges. Old cabernet nose with fruit still showing. Blackberrys and cassis on the palate. Two bottles left and no rush to drink up.
1986 Beringer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve. VM 88. (13.9% alcohol; 14% Chabot, 23% State Lane, 42% St. Helena and 21% Bancroft Mountain Vineyard; an early budbreak was followed by a cooler growing season): Medium dullish-brown color. Aromas of cherry, orange zest and tree bark show incipient maderization. Soft but slightly tart and angular, with a flavor of dried redcurrant. This has a firm tannic structure but I think it’s beginning its decline. This was Laurie Hook’s first vintage and she believes that this wine will still open further in bottle. (Drink between 2015-2015)
1986 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain. VM 92. Full medium red with a faint hint of amber. Aromas of dark cherry, menthol and mint show a slightly medicinal cough medicine quality; very Médoc in style. Then surprisingly supple and fine-grained, offering terrific inner-mouth energy and acidity to shape and freshen its intense dark raspberry and menthol flavors. This wine is fully mature but still full of life, displaying plenty of tobacco and savory spices but also superb remaining fruit and floral lift. For a bone-dry wine, it delivers captivating fruit sweetness that perfectly supports its firm tannins. An excellent showing–and not as dry as the ’83 or ’84. (13% alcohol) (Drink between 2018-2028)
1989 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour Private Reserve. 87 points.
Grilled ribeye. Charred Broccolini, crispy shallot, date puree, macadamia, jus.
1978 Ridge Late Harvest.
Cheese Plate. Sofia, red rock, Ameribella, Seasonal Accompaiments.
1978 Chateau St. Jean Johannisberg Riesling Select Late Harvest Robert Young Vineyard. JG 82. Back in the mid to late 1970s, the Château St. Jean late harvest rieslings were amongst the most renowned dessert wines produced in California. I drank many examples of these wines back in the decade of the 1980s, with great enjoyment. The winery produced two levels of late harvest riesling back then, with the wines designated as “Special Select Late Harvest” (abbreviated above as SSLH) their equivalent of Trockenbeerenauslese, and the Select Late Harvest (SLH) their version of Beerenauslese. These were wines that were delicious in their youth, but not particularly long in acidity, and it is not too surprising that they are a bit tired more than twenty years on. The 1978 Robert Young Vineyard SSLH is very dark in color, but retains an interesting nose of burnt caramel, new leather, gentle notes of orange rind and tea leaves. On the palate the wine is full-bodied and still shows a vestige of its acidity, but is not particularly complex, despite it still being impressively long. This was great in the day, but its apogee has been in the rear view mirror for many, many years now. (Drink between 2010-2020)
Strawberry Margarita Sorbetto! — like a frozen cocktail and a signature Sweet Milk favor — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — Strawberries from Avignon, blended with fresh lime juice, Reposado Tequila and Cointreau –#SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #sorbetto #strawberry #Margarita #cocktail #Tequila #Cointreau
Caramel Double Chip Gelato — Base is Salted Caramel made by replacing the sugar with house-made Water Caramel. Laced with Valrhona Chocolate Chunks and Toffee Chunks — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #caramel #SaltedCaramel #valrhona #toffee
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.