Restaurant: Drago Centro [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]
Location: 525 S Flower St, Los Angeles, CA 90071. (213) 228-8998
Date: January 21, 2022
Rating: Great high end Italian
Back to Drago Centro for “another” Sauvages Champagne lunch. Historically this series has been located at Chinois, but this year it has been relocated east.
Located on busy Flower in DTLA.
The reception was held around our large square table — big group this time including a separate ladies table.
Multiple buckets were needed to ice all the champagne.
2012 Christophe et Fils Chablis 1er Cru Mont de Milieu. 92 points. Medium yellow. Quite ripe fruit but a whiff of seashell behind this. Pretty plush feel-you definitely sense the wood influence. More pear and yellow apple than citrus fruit character, some spice (unusual for Chablis), late iodine and limestone, lowish acidity. The wood plus ripe fruit plus low acidity make it veer in the direction of more southerly climats, but there is just enough Chablis character to identify it as such. To be drunk over the short term, that’s for sure.
2014 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru Vaudésir. JG 94+. Out of the blocks, the 2014 Domaine Fèvre Vaudésir seems just a touch more accessible than the top couple of structured premier crus and the Bougros. The beautiful, zesty bouquet delivers scents of pear, fresh pineapple, lemon, beeswax, chalky soil tones, a touch of licorice and a topnote of spring flowers. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied and a bit more tensile than the wide open nose suggest, with fine mid-palate depth, bright acids and really superb cut and grip on the long, vibrant finish. Another superb wine, which I may be underrating a tad, but I had to leave room for what was to follow! (Drink between 2017-2050)
2008 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru Bougros. VM 93. Good pale yellow. Restrained aromas of fresh apricot, pineapple and spices; showed riper stone fruit notes as it opened in the glass. Sweet, tactile and elegantly styled, with strong acids framing and lifting the intense peach flavor. Already boasts a lovely fat texture and considerable pliancy but this wine really needs three or four years to express itself.
2014 La Chablisienne Chablis 1er Cru Mont de Milieu. 92 points. Pale yellow in color. Very precise aromas of sea-spray, yellow florals, , green apples, herbs, green citrus leaf on the nose. Palate shows sweet, tart lemon curd, good mid palate sap, savory sea shell broth and a long saliva inducing mineral finish. Lovely.
2017 La Chablisienne Chablis Grand Cru Blanchot. 95 points. Superb.
Beef and truffle.
Crab Toast, Lemon and chives.
Seafood Arancini al Nero, saffron aioli. I’ve never had a squid ink risotto arancini before.
Celestino Drago in the house!
Our special menu.
2006 Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Cuvée Rare. VM 93. Piper-Hiedsieck’s 2006 Cuvée Rare is racy and polished to the core. Baked apple tart, apricot, lemon confit, vanillin and brioche infuse the 2006 with striking aromatic intensity and creaminess that builds with time in the glass. Sumptuous and forward, the 2006 offers tons of near and medium-term appeal. (Drink between 2019-2028)
2006 Gosset Champagne Brut Grand Millésime. VM 93. The 2006 Brut Grand Millésime offers more near term appeal than many Gosset Champagnes as the flavors show a good amount of complexity, while the contours are nicely mellowed. Hazelnut, savory herbs, anise, mint and dried pear meld into the generous, inviting finish. The typical Gosset energy is nicely balanced by the weight and soft, relaxed contours of a wine that is now nearly ten years old. Lightly honeyed and toasty notes round out the close. In 2006 the blend is 56% Pinot Noir and 44% Chardonnay from vineyards in Avize, Cramant, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Trépail, Vertus, Ambonnay, Avenay, Aÿ, Chigny-les-Roses and Louvois. (Drink between 2015-2021)
2008 Dom Pérignon Champagne Legacy Edition Label. 95 points. This wine was served to celebrate the legacy of my in-laws 50th anniversary while in St. John’s. I think time, place, people, and meaning can deeply impact how wine is remembered or appreciated. This was the best bottle of 2008 Dom that I’ve had to-date. There was a deep and complex nose that shifted each time the glass was lifted for a sip or a sniff. The wine was bright and focused, with a mid-palate that seemed to shift like the tides. While we served this with food, this wine, tonight was spectacular with the food and without. I don’t think the bottle lasted us more than 2 hours, but it was a pleasure to drink this from start to finish.
2008 Doyard Champagne Grand Cru Les Lumières Grand Cru Extra Brut. VM 93. The 2008 Extra Brut Les Lumières Grand Cru is a blend of 65% Chardonnay (from Avize and Mesnil) and 35% Pinot Noir (from Aÿ) that spent ten years on its lees before being disgorged and given just the smallest touch of dosage. Creamy, resonant and expressive, the 2008 has so much to offer. Even so, it clearly needs at least a bit of time in bottle to be at its best. Tropical accents provide a hint as to where the 2008 will go over the next handful of years. (Drink between 2020-2030)
Onion Panna Cotta, Scallops Tartar, Caviar. Lovely.
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)
2006 Dom Pérignon Champagne. VM 96. Powerful, dense and tightly wound, the 2006 Dom Pérignon is fabulous today. To be sure, the 2006 is a broad, virile Champagne, but I find it compelling because of its phenolic depth and overall intensity. Chef de Caves Richard Geoffroy adds that August was quite cold and wet, and that ripening only happened at the very end of the growing season. Although numbers alone can never explain a wine, I find it interesting that the 2006 has more phenolics than the 2003. Readers will have to be patient, as the 2006 is easily the most reticent Dom Pérignon in the years spanning 2002 and 2009. I am confident the 2006 will have its day, but in its youth, it is not especially charming or easy to drink. (Drink between 2026-2056)
2005 Philipponnat Champagne Brut Clos des Goisses. VM 94. The 2005 Clos des Goisses is easily one of the wines of what turned out to be a complicated vintage. Just beginning to show the early signs of aromatic complexity, the 2005 graces the palate with the essence of candied lemon, almonds, chamomile, apricot and wild herbs. The 2005 is not the most complex or pedigreed Goisses, but it drinks beautifully today and should continue to deliver pleasure for another 15-20 years, perhaps more. (Drink between 2016-2031)
2006 Philipponnat Champagne Brut Clos des Goisses. VM 96. The 2006 Clos des Goisses is stellar, but it is also going to need quite a bit of time to come into its own. Powerful and ample in the best of the Goisses style, the 2006 hits the palate with serious intensity. Orchard fruits, lemon oil, white flowers and almonds are some of the many notes that open up in the glass, but, as is often the case with young Goisses, it is the wine’s gravitas that is front and center. Even with all of its overtness, though, the 2006 retains striking, crystalline purity. I imagine the 2006 will reward Champagne lovers with many decades of truly exceptional drinking. The only thing the 2006 needs is time. The question is: How much? (Drink between 2020-2046)
Seafood Panzanella, Sea Urchin, Salmon. Quite deconstructed with chunks of the seafood and fluffs of bread on the plate.
2002 Pol Roger Champagne Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill. VM 95. The 2002 Brut Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill is wonderfully open, expressive and resonant. The richness of the vintage comes through nicely, yet the more overt elements are very nicely balanced by a good deal of freshness. Baked apple, pastry, candied lemon, dried flowers and warm, toasty notes shape the generous, resonant finish. With time in the glass, the 2002 takes a on a striking, vinous character. Readers might want to consider opening the 2002 a few hours in advance, as it really blossoms with air. (Drink between 2016-2032)
2002 Billecart-Salmon Champagne Cuvée Nicolas-François Billecart. VM 96. The 2002 Cuvée Nicolas François Billecart is outrageously beautiful. The ripeness of the Chardonnay is front and center in a Champagne that delivers the goods, big-time. An infusion of apricot, orange peel, crème brûlée, chamomile, hazelnut and honey give the 2002 its racy, exotic personality. I enjoy it most with bottle age, but the 2002 is undeniably beautiful right now. The 2002 is a stunning NFB. The blend is 60% Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims and the Vallée de la Marne and 40% Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs, done partially in oak (20%). Dosage is 4 grams per liter. (Drink between 2020-2030)
2005 Jacquesson & Fils Champagne Aÿ Vauzelle Terme. 94 points. The 2005 Aÿ-Vauzelle Terme is the most polished of Jacquesson’s 2005 single-vineyard Champagnes. Silky and nuanced on the palate, the Vauzelle Terme highlights the more understated side of the vintage. Hints of chalk, red cherry, plum, mint and wild flowers are laced into the highly expressive finish. Today, the Vauzelle Terme comes across as a bit weightless to the point of being a bit on the ethereal side. It will be interesting to see if the wine acquires a bit more depth in bottle. Disgorged October 2014. Dosage was 2.5 grams/liter. (Drink between 2015-2022)
2002 Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Cuvée Rare. JG 95. It is funny that I have to “pull teeth” to get current releases from Piper-Heidsieck’s importer here in New York, but out in the real world of wine, I keep having people serve me the maison’s beautiful 2002 “Rare” Brut Millesime and thank me for alerting them to its excellent quality by writing it up in the newsletter several years ago! Such is the state of the world in 2021. In any case, this wine continues to evolve splendidly in bottle and is drinking with great style and breed at the present time, offering up a fine bouquet of apple, pear, warm bread, a fine base of chalky soil tones, caraway seed, a touch of citrus peel and a gently smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is bright, full-bodied, crisp and shows off excellent mid-palate depth, with refined mousse, lovely focus and a long, complex and impeccably balanced finish. Fine, fine juice. (Drink between 2021-2050)
Black and White Tagliolini, Langoustine, Lemon Zest. Great pasta dish. I always love a lobster/langoustine reduction.
1999 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon. VM 93. These four vintages of Dom Pérignon provide a fascinating snapshot of how the house has performed in recent years. The 1999 Dom Pérignon is a little flabbier than the 2000. Smoke, toastiness, tar and ripe fruit emerge from the glass in a generous, expansive style. The 1999 offers more body than the 2000 but the aromas and flavors are less well-articulated. This is a relatively simple Dom Pérignon, yet the wine possesses outstanding balance and plenty of harmony. According to Chef de Caves Richard Geoffroy the warm vintage also resulted in relatively high yields, and the low-acid style is most reminiscent of the 1976. (Drink between 2013-2024)
2002 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut. VM 94. This is perhaps the best bottle of Krug’s 2002 Vintage I have tasted. Expansive and creamy on the palate, with lovely finesse and brightness, the 2002 is quite expressive today. I don’t see the depth or pedigree that might place this wine among the best examples of the year. Instead, the 2002 Vintage continues to be an underwhelming wine by Krug standards. (Drink between 2017-2037)
2002 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut. VM 97. Another highlight in this vertical, the 2002 Salon is also fascinating to taste after the 2004. Rich, opulent and intense, yet also very classic in the Salon house style, the 2002 possesses superb persistence and depth. The radiant vintage has softened the contours and given the wine fabulous depth to match its decidedly powerful personality. At the same time, the 2002 remains quite youthful. Next to the brighter and more finessed 2004, the 2002 offers more of a baritone-inflected expression of Chardonnay. (Drink between 2016-2036)
2000 Philipponnat Champagne Brut L.V. Clos des Goisses. VM 96. The 2000 L.V. Long Vieillissement, a recent re-release, is a fabulous choice for readers who enjoy Champagnes with a bit of bottle age complexity. Hazelnut, dried flowers, orchard fruit, herbs, mirabelle and lightly honeyed notes are all beautifully delineated throughout. The 2000 offers the weight and slightly more mature notes of a mature Champagne, but with the freshness that comes from impeccable provenance and a relatively recent disgorgement. If that sounds appealing, well, it is. The Brut L.V. Long Vieillissement offers a quintessential Goisses experience from the first taste until the last. This is an absolutely pristine bottle. Dosage is 4.5 grams/liter. Disgorged: May 2015. (Drink between 2016-2036)
Truffle Crust Breast of Chicken, Truffle Cream Sauce.
1990 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon. VM 93+. Pale color. Youthful aromas of lemon, quince, pear, toast, spice, chalk and red berries. Big, sweet and seamless, if a bit clenched in the early going. A powerful, very young wine whose fruit builds slowly in the mouth and explodes on the finish. A charry note contributes to its complexity. Possesses amazing depth of fruit, but the high quality of this wine can most easily be seen today on the extraordinary finish. May ultimately merit a 95+ rating.
1996 Pol Roger Champagne Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill. VM 95. Pol Roger’s 1996 Winston Churchill is fabulous. One of the most expressive, complete 1996s today, the Winston Churchill is in a great spot. Butter, spice, almond and lemon oil notes meld together effortlessly in the glass. In 1996, the Winston Churchill is a clear overachiever. Best of all, it remains reasonably priced vis-à-vis its peers. (Drink between 2014-2024)
1990 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut. VM 97+. Full copper-gold color. Initially restrained, brooding nose exploded with aeration, showing apple, orange, apricot, honey, iodine, smoke, hazelnut, macadamia and a suggestion of dry oloroso sherry. Dense, full, chewy and rich; an extraordinarily solid Champagne with an intriguing suggestion of Calvados. Broadens toward the back and goes on and on on the echoing aftertaste, with rich, mellow notes of toffee, brown butter and marrow. Like the ’92 Clos du Mesnil, this displays its powerful underlying acidity with aeration (Krug’s wines never go through malolactic fermentation) and should be long-lived.
1995 Krug Champagne Clos d’Ambonnay. VM 98. Thrown in as a ringer, the 1995 Clos d’Ambonnay is a real treat to taste next to the 1996. In particular, tasting both vintages together shows that that 1995 is the more complete of these two first releases of Krug’s single-vineyard Champagne from Ambonnay. Finely-cut fruit, expressive aromatics and exceptional textural finesse are the signatures. This is another fabulous showing from the 1995 Clos d’Ambonnay. (Drink between 2014-2024)
Breast of Duck, Kumquat Sauce.
Chef’s Selection of Assorted Cheeses.
Château Tirecul La Gravière Monbazillac Cuvée Madame.
Cherry Gelato – a blend of Morello Cherry and intense Amarena Cherry fruit make this dairy gelato really pop — topped with Candied Amarena Cherries — 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 #amarena #morello #cherry
Dulce Vanilla Gelato — a very simple and elegant Tahitian Vanilla Bean White Base (no egg) ribboned with house-made Dulce de Leche and Valrhona Dulce Pearls — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — sugar time! — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #vanilla #dulce #DulceDeLeche #leche #caramel
Birch Beer Gelato — Birch Beer flavored gelato base topped with Valrhona White Chocolate Pearls — 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 #RootBeer #RootBeerFlaot #Sarsaparilla #whitechocolate #Varlrhona
All the champs.
The main table.
And the ladies table.
Overall another great lunch. Drago did an incredible job handling the challenging logistics of this lunch. First of all, the custom menu was carefully paired to all that Champagne. Then they managed to actually serve so much bubbly to so many people. And the square table, despite being large, did enable us to all talk to each other.