Restaurant: Daniel Benhaim
Location: Downtown LA
Date: February 12, 2015
Adam, one of our Hedonist regulars, likes to organize high end dinners.
It should be noted that the wine service (haha) for this event was chaotic in the least. Things were opened and grabbed in a giant amiable free-for-all. I’ve tried to order them here, but they weren’t.
NV Jacques Selosse Champagne Brut Initiale. IWC 92. Bright gold. An exotically perfumed bouquet evokes dried pear, honey, lemon curd, truffle and candied ginger. On the palate, intense mineral-accented orchard and pit fruit flavors pick up smokiness and nuttiness with air. Finishes smooth and extremely long, with subtle smokiness, a brown butter quality and a whiplash of minerality.
2000 Vincent Dauvissat (René & Vincent) Chablis 1er Cru La Forest. IWC 93+. Pale green-tinged straw. Reticent but ripe and highly nuanced nose combines peach, nectarine, lime, lemon skin, nuts and an intriguing, soil-inflected vegetal/smoky quality. Very dry, taut and reserved yet already rich and mouthfilling, with the ripe fruit notes perfectly supported by a flavor of liquid stone. A wine of great energy, finishing with explosive length and powerful minerality. Grand cru size and cut.
agavin: Our bottle was unfortunately premoxed.
2008 François Raveneau Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre. Burghound 94. A more elegant as well as more refined but also much more reserved nose of white flower and salt water aromas is very much in keeping with the equally refined, pure and silky middle weight flavors that possess excellent detail and precision on the textured and seductive finish that displays grand cru level persistence. This is not quite as rich as the Butteaux but it’s finer as the chiseled flavors are flat out gorgeous. In a word, stunning.
agavin: great, although young and tight at first.
A really nice with with a very interesting blend of the rich, sweet, and tangy/sharp. Not your usual sweet-only foie pairing.
2004 Bouchard Père et Fils Corton-Charlemagne. Burghound 93. Green apple, white pear and hint of crushed herb are framed by gentle notes of pain grillé that combine with huge and unbelievably intense flavors blessed with phenomenal power and length. This has that “wow” factor as the flavors are both palate staining and almost painfully intense and the finale is like a block of stone.
agavin: I thought this had a bit of that annoying green flavor that ruins the 04 reds.
2004 Château Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc Réserve. RR 93. Floral and herbal elements around a core of ripe white fruited flavours; rich and creamy-textured, brings a ripe Meursault to mind with great balance and a sense of purity to the flavours. Lovely stuff.
I love tartar in general, and this didn’t disappoint. The blend of flavors was both complex and harmonious. The vibe is a bit similar to the Korean/Japanese type tartars like at Totoraku or this K-BBQ.
Amanda brought: 1971 Marey-Monge (Domaine de la Romanée-Conti) Romanée St. Vivant. 94 points. It must first be noted that this bottle had a Marey-Monge cork instead of a DRC cork. None of us were totally sure what was standard in that year. Marey-Monge owned the vineyards and leased them to DRC. They made their own wine through 1966 I think, then 67-71 was DRC, and 72-87 was even more DRC control, but stilled leased, then in 1988 DRC bought the parcels and did a bunch of replanted and the like. The person who brought it offered full disclosure. We concluded that it tasted like RSV, and approximately the right age. It was very good, even though it had a light touch of corking. Quite powerful in some ways with a ton of complexity. Very enjoyable.
2001 Domaine Joseph Roty Charmes-Chambertin Très Vieilles Vignes. Burghound 94. As big as a Chambertin with the intensity and sheer flavor authority to match. Sumptuously, even lavishly oaked yet it carries its oak as though it were nothing and there is no doubt that this will absorb the wood completely as there is a mind boggling amount of mid-palate sap and punch and it completely coats the mouth and the persistence is exemplary. The structure is completely buried beneath all the sap and while this should be approachable after a decade, it will drink well for another two. Another great Roty Charmes in a very long line of them. If you can find a few bottles, don’t miss them. In short, this is very classy juice.
agavin: a great wine, drink great
1998 Marcassin Pinot Noir Blue-Slide Ridge Vineyard. IWC 91. Full red. Slightly high-toned aromas of plum, nuts and dried fruits; like the Three Sisters, this could use more freshness. Then sweet, lush and silky in the mouth, with more weight and ripeness than the Three Sisters. Showed a fresh raspberry flavor as it opened in the glass, but this pinot, too, could use a bit more verve. Best on the very long finish, which features fine, even tannins.
From my cellar: 1989 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage La Chapelle. RR95+. The nose was fabulous, full of sweet, black fruits, garrigue, spice, pepper, game, chocolate, minerals and bread aromas. The palate was rich and hearty, more limited and square than its nose, although there was nice citrus and leather smack to its gamy finish.
agavin: a little closed at first it stirred and really opened up after a bit.
Chef Benhaim likes to blend unusual flavors and he shows a real talent for keeping the flavors in balance. This was a great and very interesting pasta.
1998 Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape. Parker 92-96. This wine performed even better than my high accolades in issue #131 suggested. The 1998 Chateauneuf du Pape is the greatest effort produced since Beaucastel’s 1989 and 1990. It reveals more accessibility, no doubt because the final blend included more Grenache than normal. Its dense purple color is followed by sweet aromas of blackberries, licorice, new saddle leather, and earth. There is superb concentration, full body, low acidity, and high tannin, but it is surprisingly drinkable for such a young Beaucastel. Ideally, it needs another 3-4 years of cellaring, and should keep for 25-30 years.
agavin: our bottle was corked 🙁
Erick brought: 1999 Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape Hommage A Jacques Perrin. Parker 96-100. The 1999 Chateauneuf du Pape Hommage a Jacques Perrin appears to be a legend. Made from a classic blend of 60% Mourvedre, 20% Grenache, 10% Syrah, and 10% Counoise, this limited production (5,000 bottles) cuvee exhibits perfect equilibrium, but needs a decade of cellaring. It would be a shame to drink it before that. The opaque black/purple color is accompanied by aromas of roasted meats, smoke, truffles, cured olives, and intense blackberry and espresso-infused cherry fruit. Leather notes also emerge on the palate. The wine boasts immense body, massive richness, and formidable levels of extract and tannin. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2040.
agavin: probably WOTN, big, brooding and awesome.
2007 Pierre Usseglio Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee de Mon Aieul. Parker 100. There are 1,800 cases of the 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee du Mon Aieul (100% tank-aged Grenache). It represents an awesome naked/virginal expression of Grenache from three vineyard parcels planted in sand, clay, and limestone soils. After tasting this wine on five separate occasions, I can state with certainty, it has the most saturated color of any Mon Aieul produced to date. Moreover, its perfume of blueberry liqueur, black raspberries, licorice, roasted meat juices, and lavender is incredible. Full-bodied power, a multilayered mouthfeel, tremendous purity, and awesome concentration put this wine in a class by itself. This sensational Chateauneuf du Pape is still very young, and 3-4 years of cellaring is required. It should be a modern day legend and last for nearly two decades.
agavin: big, bold, full of great fruit without overpowering.
1998 Delas Freres Hermitage les Bessards. Parker 96. The 1998 Hermitage Les Bessards reveals licorice, coffee, cassis, minerals, smoke, and meat scents, full body, great depth, teeth-coating tannin, and a persistent, sweet, well-delineated, 45-second finish. It will be at its peak between 2007-2035.
2003 Vieux Donjon Chateauneuf du Pape. Parker 92-95. The powerful 2003 Chateauneuf du Pape comes closest in character to the 1990 (which is still drinking beautifully). Its dark ruby/plum/purple color is followed by sweet aromas of resiny pine forest interwoven with creme de cassis, black cherries, melted licorice, and smoky herbs. In the mouth, gamy, meaty flavors emerge along with black currants, cherries, and a hint of the sushi wrapper called nori. Full, rich, and moderately tannic, this 2003 requires another 1-3 years of bottle age, and should keep for 12-15 years.
Another ambitious dish executed fabulously, particularly given the challenge of being a single chef with 15 plates. The meat was perfectly cooked. The pastry wasn’t soggy, and the very interesting curry sauce really livened up this sometimes heavy type of dish.
1998 Pavie. Parker 95-96. A 50-year wine, this opaque purple-colored offering exhibits a strong, precise nose of black fruits, liquid minerals, smoke, and graphite. Extremely full-bodied, yet brilliantly delineated, powerful, and awesomely concentrated, it boasts a fabulous mid-palate as well as a finish that lasts for nearly a minute. This vin de garde requires 5-6 years of cellaring. A tour de force in winemaking, it has the potential to be the most profound Pavie ever produced, except for its two successors. Anticipated maturity: 2006-2045.
agavin: Pavie two nights in a row!
1975 Heitz Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon Martha’s Vineyard. View from cellar 97+. The 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon Martha’s Vineyard is quite pretty and powerful, but also a bit forward, while the 1975 impresses for its pure depth and richness, both remarkable for a wine that is nearly 40 years old!
agavin: Really impressive and full of rich fruit.
2001 Hundred Acre Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Parker 92-98. No idea which bottling this was. Too bad for them they stick the important information on the back instead of the front where it should be! Parker says of the regular bottling: may be the Le Pin of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a lascivious, powerful, smoky sex pot of great fruit intensity, purity, and voluptuousness. The texture is unctuous, the fruit level remarkable, and the wine gloriously pure, rich, and bursting with black currant and sweet cherry fruit as well as nicely integrated, toasty French oak. It will drink well for 15+ years. This exciting debut effort possesses an individualistic, distinctive style … all to the credit of this brash newcomer, a tightly-spaced vineyard situated on the Silverado Trail, north of St. Helena, near the Rombauer Vineyard. This is an impressive effort fashioned by Philippe Melka, who believes this site has “unlimited potential.”
The meat was flavorful, tender, and perfectly cooked. It was a little cold though, probably owing to the logistics of the dinner.
From my cellar: 2011 Veyder-Malberg Riesling Bruck. 96 points. First beautiful straw chablis like color, nose of oil can like and lead pencil, the finish is very long smooth and lasting for over a minute. Awesome wine.
agavin: I actually opened this at the beginning, but I put it here because it paired so well with the bright citrus in the key lime pie.
Awesome dessert. Full of bright bright citrus flavors. Basically a deconstructed Key Lime Pie. Awesome and paired best with the remains of the Bruck (above).
1988 Chateau d’Yquem. Parker 98-99. The 1988 d’Yquem has an incredibly profound nose of orange marmalade, dried apricots, honeycomb, musk and dried pineapple with hints of marzipan and crystallized ginger. The palate is seamless with a great line of crisp acid cutting through the densely packed dried tropical fruit and honeyed flavour layers. The finish just goes on and on.
agavin: oh, yeah! Hehe, still have 2 bottles of this baby in my cellar. At least one of them I’ve had since the mid 90s.
Another great dessert, mixing textures (soft, crunchy, gooey) and temperatures (warm, cool, room temp).
Overall, this was another awesome night. The food was fabulous. For being only two servers and one cook, the staff did an amazing job. Now we could have used a Somm, as the wine was a total free-for-all, but we had so many bottles that it wasn’t a stressful frenzy.