Restaurant: Spago [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]
Location: 176 N Canon Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. (310) 385-0880
Date: November 20, 2019
Cuisine: New American
Rating: Still great
As you can see from the links above I’ve done a lot of wine dinners at Spago — and for good reason because with the right person planning they do a spectacular job. Tonight’s was organized and hosted by Liz Lee of Sage Society and she is the best wine dinner organizer in the city. It features wines by Dr Loosen and the Dr himself, Ernst Loosen. This is my second Sage/Loosen dinner, the first being several years ago at Republique.
Spago has been an LA institution for over 30 years!
We are in this side private room again — been there for a lot of dinners.
2006 Billecart-Salmon Champagne Cuvée Nicolas-François Billecart. 90 points. A powerful Champagne, large scaled and luxurious, prominent yeast, buttered multigrain toast, preserved and grilled lemon, golden apple, chalk dust, grainy texture, firm acid backbone, didn’t last long enough for it to unfurl a bit; delicious.
Tomato & Goat Cheese Arancini. Ricey cheese balls.
New Potatoes, Creme Fraiche, Caviar. A bit too potatoey.
Parmesan Cheese “Marshmallow”, Olive oil. Neat marshmallow texture — tastes like Parm and Olive Oil.
Have a few glasses!
Our hostess, Liz Lee of Sage Society.
Ernst Loosen of Dr. Loosen — generations of Riesling.
Chef Wolfgang Puck greets Ernst in German.
Our special menu for the night.
Bread to fill up on.
2016 Dr. Loosen Graacher Domprobst Riesling Großes Gewächs. VM 90-91. Tasted in late July 2017 and slated for bottling around the end of September, this delivers a brash amalgam of chewy, seed-tinged apple and zesty grapefruit. The palate is firm and substantial, the finish blazingly bright and mouthwateringly salt-tinged – a Grosses Gewächs conveying real energy as well as refreshment.
2016 Dr. Loosen Erdener Treppchen Riesling Alte Reben Großes Gewächs.
2016 Dr. Loosen Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Großes Gewächs Alte Reben. VM 91-92. Tasted in late July 2017 and slated for late September bottling, this delivers a fascinating combination of coolness and incisiveness by way of greenhouse-like scents of foliage and flowers, seedy kiwi, zesty lime and cress. Glycerol-rich but with underlying firmness, the palate is not at all weighed down by its 12.5% alcohol. This finishes with penetrating, refreshingly juicy persistence and admirable animation, salinity and impingements of cress and crushed offering saliva-inducement and invigoration.
Crudo of Japanese Red Snapper, Osetra Caviar, Lemon, Olive Oil. Nice bright lemon / olive flavors.
2014 Dr. Loosen Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Großes Gewächs Alte Reben. VM 90. Pungent lemon and grapefruit peel with a dusty crushed stone overlay in the nose lead into a firm, brightly juicy but also sizzlingly piquant palate performance. Full in feel and impressively gripping, this brings along considerable apple and citrus seed bitterness that I don’t envisage moderating with bottle age. The result is one of those many GGs that are more formidable than fun.
2014 Dr. Loosen Erdener Treppchen Riesling Alte Reben Großes Gewächs.
2014 Dr. Loosen Bernkasteler Lay Riesling Großes Gewächs. Alte Reben Reserve. VM 90. A site-typical mélange of apple and cherry displays satisfying juiciness and fullness without heaviness. Basil and cress add a sense of coolness and cherry pit lends invigorating piquancy to the seriously sustained, slate-lined finish. This texturally polished performance avoids austerity or overt bitterness and may well reveal further nuances with time in bottle.
Maine Lobster “salad”. Vanilla vinaigrette, sorrel. Huge chunk of perfectly cooked lobster — although the strong vanilla was a touch sweet and distracting.
A non lobster version for the shellfish adverse.
2013 Dr. Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Großes Gewächs Alte Reben Reserve. VM 93. Bottled soon after the 2015 harvest, this leads with intriguingly mossy and stony scents along with narcissus-like, musky floral perfume and a vaguely spirituous intimation of site-typical apple and vanilla. The silken-textured palate delivers enough primary apple and lemon juiciness to refresh, while the long finish reprises the mossy, stony notes familiar from the nose and adds invigorating black tea smokiness as well as mouthwatering, maritime mineral salts. There is still a subtle, efficacious spritz here, incidentally, so evidently CO2 did not dissipate significantly during the wine’s two years in cask, and the effect adds to an overall impression of dynamism and finesse.
2013 Dr. Loosen Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Großes Gewächs Alte Reben Reserve. VM 92. Fresh lime, basil, strawberry eau de vie and wet stone introduce a satiny palate satisfyingly juicy in its evocation of fresh strawberry and cooling in its green herbal aspect. Hints of cress and lime zest lend incisive, zesty invigoration to a lingering, mouthwateringly saline finish. The corresponding Wehlener is more intriguingly nuanced but this Würzgarten is more winsome. I suspect that both will outlast their “regular” Grosses Gewächs counterparts, which were not nearly as interesting, charming or indeed juicy and mouthwatering when I last tasted them soon after their mid-2014 bottling.
2013 Dr. Loosen Erdener Prälat Riesling Großes Gewächs Alte Reben Reserve. VM 89. As with the corresponding 2011 and 2012 – but more emphatically – I find this Prälat reserve less convincing than its two siblings. The pungency and piquancy of kumquat on the nose as well as on a substantial and subtly oily palate, when reinforced by underlying nuttiness, generate a sense of opacity and borderline bitterness at odds with the refreshment and transparency to mineral nuances displayed by the corresponding Wehlener Sonnenuhr and Ürziger Würzgarten. That having been noted, this bottling’s austerity is certainly coupled with impressive sheer persistence and smoky, stony intrigue. It’s too early to hazard a guess as to whether Prälat is inherently less amenable to longer élevage, or perhaps even whether it simply needs more than two years. But Loosen has additional Grosses Gewächs material still in cask to test the latter hypothesis.
Austrian Cheese “Knodel” Dumplings, white truffle. Delicate poofy cheese balls with butter and truffle. Lovely.
2015 Dr. Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett Alte Reben Reserve. VM 90. Lily and heliotrope garland cidery apple on the enticing nose, while the palate impression is snappy, tart-edged, and even a bit spare. I like the tang, invigoration and refreshment of the finish, though, which predictably features fresh lime and apple over a bed of wet stone. As with the corresponding Lay, it could be that screwcap closure is playing a significant role here.
2015 Dr. Loosen Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese Alte Reben Reserve. VM 91. Fresh strawberry and lime laced with cress offer a bracing aromatic and palate impression, and bright, infectious juiciness carries into an invigoratingly zesty and mouthwateringly salt-tinged finish. As befits Riesling of Mosel origins, wet stone runs like a cantus firmus through this entire delightful performance, whose supportive sweetness knows when to back off in the interest of clarity and refreshment.
2008 Dr. Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese Alte Reben Reserve.
Loup de Mer En Croute. Scallop Mousseline, Sauce Beurre Blanc.
A delicious and very rich fish dish with the pastry and the buttery sauce. Now here is a whitefish I can get down with!
A simpler version with no pastry and no scallop.
2005 Dr. Loosen Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett. VM 89+. Pale yellow. Stately aromas of quince, honeysuckle and nut oil.With its rich papaya fruit and subdued minerality, this is the most aristocratic of these ’05 kabinetts and the one that is most clearly a spatlese in character. At the same time, it’s the most closed and in need of patience.
2011 Dr. Loosen Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett. 90 points. Superb Riesling with lots of tropical fruit. Creamy texture and great acid who balance well with the fruit. If you like the style you like the wine. Works wonderfully on its own as well.
2017 Dr. Loosen Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett.
Slow Roasted Pork. Cardamon, star anis, savory glaze.
Rich almost “bbq” style pork.
A different version.
1983 Dr. Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese.
1989 Dr. Loosen Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese. 92 points. A rounded style, complete. Very nice though.
1997 Dr. Loosen Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese. VM 93. Strawberry chiffon nose. Again, a rather delicate, easy wine, but there is extract underneath, plus a distinct note of slate.
2002 Dr. Loosen Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese Goldkapsel Auction.
Kaiserschmarren. Basically super fluffy pancake with strawberry sauce. I was blown away by how delicious this dish was. The strawberries were super intense and the cake ultra fluffy.
1976 Dr. Loosen Erdener Prälat Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel.
1985 Dr. Loosen Erdener Prälat Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel. 95 points. One of the best bottles from this old stash of rising I bought about ten years ago. The wine was harmonious, complex and very long. It offered s prism of golden orchard fruit, mineral and savory notes.
1993 Dr. Loosen Erdener Prälat Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel.
2011 Dr. Loosen Erdener Prälat Riesling Auslese Lange Goldkapsel Auction. 97 points.
1959 Dr. Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese Lange Goldkapsel.
Cheese Course. Brabander Gouda, Robbiolo Bosino, Manchego 1605.
And some cheese / cherry toast — very Austrian.
And a special birthday layered pastry and creme!
This was just an epic procession of epic riesling. So many wines! 25 distinct wines, ranging from 1959 to 2016 and from bone dry to ultra sweet. Most of these were special Alte Reben Reserves or Goldkapsels, all very rare. A stunning tour-de-force of this under-appreciated grape.
Food, as usual for a Sage Society dinner, was perfectly paired. Spago really does a good job at these special dinners when care is taken with the menu — and service was perfect as always. I enjoyed the slightly German/Austrian vibe to some of the dishes. We had labeled glasses for every wine — which is always the best way.