Location: 101 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401 (inside the Fairmont). 310-576-7777
Date: September 10, 2021
Rating: Great for hotel sushi, but flavors a bit weird
Right in the middle of our 2021 “Sushi Series” (when we visited lots of great LA sushi places) Jeffrey kept egging us to try the new “micro sushi bar” inside the Fairmont Hotel — which he’d hit up a lot since it’s right between his work and home.
This is a tiny little spot inside the hotel with pretty much one employee. Maybe there was a server taking drink orders.
Hand ground wasabi.
1996 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut. JG 98. I had not drunk a bottle of the 1996 Krug in several years, as I had deemed the wine still in climbing mode and I am not generally in the business of drinking Krug before its time. But, a friend recently opened a bottle and I was very impressed with how the wine is evolving in the bottle since its release. The bouquet is now starting to show some lovely secondary layering of complexity in its blend of apple, peach, a touch of sweet walnut, patissière, a refined base of minerality, caraway seed and a smoky topnote. On the palate the wine flavors on the attack echo the nose nicely, with the wine’s full-bodied format sporting excellent depth at the core, still plenty of the vintage’s snappy acidity, great focus and grip and a very, very long and utterly refined finish. Though this remains quite racy structurally, I really like the point it has reached in terms of aromatic and flavor complexity and it is really not a crime to be opening bottles up at this point in its evolution, though it still has room to grow with further bottle age. A great, great vintage of Krug. (Drink between 2019-2060)
2002 Dom Pérignon Champagne P2. JG 98. Somehow, I never managed to cross paths with the initial disgorgement of the 2002 Dom Pérignon, so I was delighted to see the coming P2 version waiting in the wings in our tasting lineup in March at the Abbé d’Hautvillers. It would be fascinating to compare the P2 with the first release of the 2002 Dom Pérignon, in much the same way I tasted the two 1996 versions side by side, as this is a great Champagne vintage that dovetails so beautifully with the house style of this bottling. The 2002 P2 delivers a stunning young nose of pear, apple, stony minerality, iodine, dried flowers a touch of nuttiness, menthol and gentle upper register botanicals so emblematic of this cuvée as it starts to first stretch its wings. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and absolutely rock solid at the core, with lovely mousse, laser-like focus again and stunning backend mineral drive on the very, very long, perfectly balanced finish. The 2002 Dom Pérignon P2 looks to be almost unreachable by the passage of time and could easily last a century. (Drink between 2022-2095)
From my cellar: 2008 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Pucelles. JG 94. The 2008 Pucelles was very closed and reserved, but with great underlying elements that promise a profound glass of wine down the road. The superb nose offers up scents of lemon, orange, fresh pear, beautiful, chalky soil tones, vanillin oak and a pungent topnote of lemon blossoms. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and tightly-knit, with great mid-palate depth, superb focus and great length and grip on the zesty and reserved finish. This will be just a classic vintage of Leflaive Pucelles. (Drink between 2014-2040)
agavin: this bottle of mine was pretty advanced (so I opened the roulot), but it was marginally drinkable.
2007 Vincent Dauvissat (René & Vincent) Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses. BH 94. Initially this is still restrained but after only 10 minutes or so it becomes quite expressive with a nose that is airy, ripe, elegant and strikingly pure as it combines plenty of Chablis character that includes sea breeze, citrus and green fruit aromas that precede the delineated and equally pure flavors of stunning depth and intensity, all wrapped in a hugely long finish. Like the nose, the minerality seems subdued at first yet arrives in a real rush on the finale. A genuinely great wine that is a study in harmony and grace as well as one that should age effortlessly for many years. I have advanced the suggested drinking window by one year as this can already be drunk with pleasure even though it is still on the way up. In a word, stunning. (Drink starting 2013)
From my cellar: 2011 Domaine Roulot Meursault Les Tessons Clos de Mon Plaisir. VM 92. A statuesque Burgundy, the 2011 Meursault Les Tessons Clos de Mon Plaisir is all class. Nothing in particular stands out, so impeccable is the wine’s balance. The depth and intensity of the fruit is apparent, but readers will have to give the 2011 at least another year or two before the elements start to truly come together. The 2011 is impressive for its depth and stuffing. (Drink starting 2014)
2007 Pierre Morey Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. VM 93+. Pale, bright yellow. Knockout nose combines underripe pineapple, crushed stone and a flinty nuance. Big, rich and voluminous, but with lovely penetration and purity to the pineapple and crushed stone flavors. Wonderfully sweet, tactile wine with outstanding density and breadth for the year. This very long, scented wine remained on my palate for minutes. From very old virused vines in a spot that’s protected from wind by walls on three sides, notes Morey. But the yield in 2007 was still a solid 45 hectoliters per hectare. Wonderfully powerful, youthful Meursault that should reward a decade of aging.
Yam cake, spinach, tofu sesame paste, carrots. Weirdly sweet.
Steamed monkfish liver.
Beans & tomatoes with sesame paste. The dressing was a bit oddly sweet.
White salmon from Alaska and Barracuda.
Uni, Quail egg, Toro, Flying fish egg. Excellent.
Toro negi hand roll. Very good.
Keto roll. No rice. Really good, but not as acidic.
Sunomono with radish.
Tai and sardine.
Ikura uni roll. Best thing of the night.
Red roll (3 kinds of tuna). Very tasty.
While this was pretty good for hotel sushi and some of the dishes were great, the overall mix was a little weird. Most of the non nigri / non roll dishes were oddly sweet and desperately laking in acidity. Some not really pleasant at all because the cloying quality was just odd. But most of the rolls were great and the nigiri pretty good. However, the mix of nigiri was really peculiar as well. It was dominated by marinated “sardine-like” fishes. Now I actually like these quite a bit, but it was an odd balance and there was very little “whitefish” or “tuna” type nigiri.
Anyway, it was certainly a fun evening. Wines were great of course.