Restaurant: Saddle Peak Lodge [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]
Location: 419 Cold Canyon Rd, Calabasas, CA 91302 (818) 222-3888
Date: July 23, 2014
Cuisine: Modern American
Rating: Great ambiance and terrific game oriented food.
Ever year, both in the summer and winter, we Hedonists return to Saddle Peak Lodge. It’s pretty much the perfect venue for both a winter or summer food and wine blast, with gorgeous lodge patio, game driven food, and awesome wine service. For those of you who don’t know, Hedonist events have amazing wines (each diner brings at least one bottle).
Saddle Peak Ranch used to be a game lodge back in the early part of the 20th century. The rich and famous used to come up and hunt Malibu’s finest, such as this poor fellow. Now the deer are just served up on the menu.
It’s located in the middle of gorgeous Malibu Canyon.
Which on a lovely summer night is pretty incredible.
NV Billecart-Salmon Rose in Magnum. Parker 90. The NV Brut Rose emerges from the glass with the essence of freshly cut flowers, berries and minerals in a mid-weight, gracious style. It shows gorgeous inner perfume, along with persistent notes of chalkiness that frame the long, sublime finish. Year in, year out, this estate’s NV Brut Rose is one of the most consistently outstanding wines in the region.
2000 Yves Boyer-Martenot Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. Burghound 92. Very classy with still finer aromas of intense green apple and ripe pear and flavors that are crystalline in their minerality and detail. The focus here is really impressive and though this does not offer the Genevrières’ flavor authority or slicing acidity, it is superbly refined with outstanding persistence and perhaps the best overall balance to this point. Another impressive Boyer Perrières.
2007 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru Bougros Cote de Bouguerots. Burghound 94. A somewhat riper but more reticent nose features the barest hint of wood spice that marries well with the explosive green and yellow fruit aromas and fresh, full, powerful, beautifully delineated flavors underpinned by a driving minerality and stunning length. Given the superb balance and firm acid spine, this should age effortlessly for at least 15 years, perhaps longer. In sum, this is a strikingly elegant, classy and altogether refined effort with flat out marvelous complexity with buckets of classic Chablis character. A stunner of a wine.
A bit of salmon on blini with creme fraiche and caviar.
From my cellar: 1994 Domaine Jean Gros Richebourg. agavin 93 points. Straight up Richebourg nose. Mature, but still full of fruit, fruit. Lots of rich sour cherry syrup. The finish was a little unbalanced at first, but after an hour or so settled out. Very fine pinot.
Fava bean agnolotti with wild ramps and lemon cream. Very delicate and lovely.
1986 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection. Parker 94. In the blind tasting, I first thought this was a Spanish wine given the intense, pain grillee, toasty oak, and vanilla aromas. After ten minutes some of the oak dissipated, allowing the wine’s flamboyant blackcurrant fruit to emerge. Full-bodied, exceptionally concentrated, with a seamless, velvety texture, and a marvelously long, opulent finish, this 1986 Cabernet tastes like a jar of jam on the palate, with great purity and staying power. Although it appears to be fully mature, it will last for another 10-15 years. This impressive, sweet, creamy, exotic, and flamboyant wine merits the praise it has received.
agavin: to our taste, getting a little funky.
Yukon potato gnocchi glazed with perigord truffle butter and parmigiana-reggiano. Soft and mellow.
1982 Cos d’Estournel. Parker 95. This 1982 is still displaying a beautiful deep ruby/purple hue as well as a stunning set of aromatics consisting of blue and black fruits, loamy earth, flowers, licorice, and spice box. The wine is medium to full-bodied with sweet tannins, a medium to full-bodied mouthfeel, and a silky finish. It appears to have hit full maturity, but it can easily be held in a cold cellar for another 10+ years.
Special oysters with a combined topping of lemon granite, mignonette, and some other tasty stuff.
From my cellar: 1989 Pichon-Longueville Baron. Parker 95. Both the 1989 and 1990 vintages exhibit opaque, dense purple colors that suggest massive wines of considerable extraction and richness. The dense, full-bodied 1989 is brilliantly made with huge, smoky, chocolatey, cassis aromas intermingled with scents of toasty oak. Well-layered, with a sweet inner-core of fruit, this awesomely endowed, backward, tannic, prodigious 1989 needs another 5-6 years of cellaring; it should last for three decades or more. It is unquestionably a great Pichon-Longueville-Baron.
Belgian endive salad with roasted pink lady apples, St. Agur blue cheese, shallots, candied pecans, watercress, and white balsamic vinaigrette.
1993 Guigal Cote Rotie la Landonne. Parker 88. The great glories of this house are its Cote Roties, of which there are now five separate offerings. The 1993s, which have just come on the marketplace, are from a troublesome vintage for everyone in Cote Rotie, rivaling 1984 in difficulty. Nevertheless, the single-vineyard wines have turned out well. As for the single vineyard wines, they are all excellent in 1993, but more herbaceous and clearly marked by the green pepper smells of slightly underripe Syrah. The most tannic of the three famous single vineyards is the 1993 Cote Rotie La Landonne. It is amazingly powerful and rich for the vintage, and reveals more fruit and intensity than it did prior to bottling. It exhibits a saturated ruby color, and copious amounts of pepper, tar, olives, licorice, and black cherry fruit in the nose. It remains the most muscular and structured of the three wines, and has managed to avoid the hollowness and vegetal character that plague so many 1993 northern Rhones. This Cote Rotie should age gracefully for a decade or more.
Cesar salad with garlic croutons and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
1998 Penfolds Grange. Parker 98-99. Very deep garnet in color, the 1998 Penfolds Grange has shut itself away into a closed stage at this time, offering a subdued core of blackberry preserves and blackcurrant cordial with nuances of smoked bacon, black olives, sandalwood and sweaty leather. The full bodied, taut, muscular palate is firmly structured with chewy tannins and enlivening acidity, finishing long and savory.
Roasted Scarborough Farms beet salad, watercress, mustard, pickled cherries, Humboldt Fog goat cheese, pistachio granola.
2001 Domaine de la Mordoree Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee de la Reine des Bois. Parker 100! Tasted on four separate occasions, and awarded a perfect score on three of those, the 2001 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee de la Reine des Bois even surpasses the extraordinary Reine des Bois produced in 2000, 1999, and 1998 … and that’s saying something! An inky/purple color is followed by a heady perfume of graphite, blackberries, kirsch, licorice, truffles, and charcoal. This full-bodied effort displays endless concentration in its pure, dense, generous flavors. It is broadly flavored, with beautifully integrated acidity, tannin, and alcohol. A blend of 78% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre, and small quantities of Cinsault, Counoise, Syrah, and Vaccarese, it is made from 60-year old vines, and aged both in cask and neutral foudres from what are obviously very low yields. Sadly, just over 1,000 cases were produced. This classic Chateauneuf du Pape requires 3-5 years of cellaring; it will last for two decades. A modern day legend, it is an example of what progressive winemaking can achieve without abandoning the traditions of the appellation.
Scarborough Farms heirloom tomatoes, Maine crab, pickled watermelon, garlic chips, basil vinaigrette.
2003 Harlan Estate Proprietary Red Wine. Parker 98+. One of the most backward yet promising wines of the vintage is the 2003 Harlan Estate. Its dense opaque plum/purple color is accompanied by a sumptuous bouquet of graphite, camphor, creme de cassis, smoky barbecue wood and a hint of forest floor. Similar flavors hit the mouth with full-bodied splendor, a multidimensional mouthfeel and texture, and the sensational finish lasts more than 45 seconds. Some tannins are still present, and this wine seems much younger than expected at ten years of age, so give it 4-5 more years of bottle age and consume it over the following 20-25 years.
Ahi tuna sashimi with cucumber, watermelon radish, avocado, pea greens, sugar snap peas, green apple, and white soy sauce.
Special albacore with soy sauce.
1997 Greenock Creek Shiraz Roennfeldt Road. Parker 98. The nearly perfect 1997 Shiraz Roennfeldt Road boasts a dense opaque purple color in addition to celestial aromas of blackberry liqueur, melted road tar, truffles, and earth. It is full-bodied, with massive layers of fruit and glycerin that cascade over the palate in a seamless, beautifully balanced fashion, and a 55-second finish. This enormous wine is fabulously young with its entire future ahead of it. It should hit its peak in 3-4 years, and last for two decades.
Special pork belly with watermelon. Very sweet and delicious.
English pea toast with burrata and candied citrus.
2003 Clarendon Hills Astralis (Shiraz). Parker 99. It’s hard to believe the 2003 Syrah Astralis Vineyard could be better, but it offers riveting richness, intensity, purity, and equilibrium. Structurally, it is similar to the Piggott Range, revealing abundant amounts of sweet, ripe tannin, and huge extract, richness, and depth. Meant for true connoisseurs who are willing to forget it for 5-8 years, it represents what Roman Bratasiuk and Clarendon Hills do so well … show respect for the great traditions of France, but recognize the extraordinary raw materials that emerge from old vines planted in McLaren Vale. This fabulous wine offers both power and elegance, and showcases the extraordinary talent of Roman Bratasiuk.
Idaho rainbow trout pan-roasted in lemon, garlic, and red onion, served with grilled eggplant and squash, salt-roasted carrots, fire-roasted red bell pepper and fingerling potatoes.
Pan-roasted wild king salmon with roasted baby beets, shaved fennel, glazed cauliflower, purple kale, cherry tomatoes, buerre blanc, and puffed salmon skin.
New Zealand elk tenderloin with caramelized figs, sauteed arugula, Nueske bacon, green garlic panisse, spring onion sauce, and fig jam.
1998 Clarendon Hills Astralis (Shiraz). Parker 98. A sensational wine, the 1998 Syrah Astralis is a candidate for perfection. It boasts an inky/purple color as well as a big, complex, sweet perfume of charcoal, spring flowers, blackberry liqueur, roasted meats, and damp, forest floor-like notes. Enormously endowed, with good acid, backstrapping tannin levels, fabulous concentration, and a layered mouthfeel, it is beginning to throw off some of its closed, impenetrable personality. A long-termer, it needs another 5-7 years to fully open, and should last for 2-3 decades thereafter.
Seared New Zealand lamb rack with braised eggplant, golden raisons, grilled leeks, pine puts, curied cauliflower, piquillo yogurt, and pomegranate reduction.
Roasted New Zealand venison ch0ps with creamed morel mushrooms, lemon-scented white asparagus, sauteed English peas, and pinot reduction.
2003 Colgin IX Syrah Estate. Parker 95. Aubert demonstrates a superb know-how with Syrah. These wines are macerated for 35-45 days, and given frequent pump-overs as well as punch-downs. They are aged completely in French oak. Colgin’s 2003 IX Syrah Estate (330 cases) has added considerable complexity and weight since I tasted it last year, becoming very Burgundian in its huge aromatics and opulent, full-bodied power. Aromas of road tar, ground pepper, espresso roast, blackberries, and an exotic floral character emerge from this beauty. Enjoy it over the next 7-8 years.
A more short-rib like game meat.
1987 Massandra South Coast Kagor. This unusual light sweet red from the Crimea was very tasty with dessert.
Caramelized Pink Lady apple beignets with caramel.
Stoplman vineyards olive oil cake with Harry’s berries, tangerine agrumato, buttermilk sherbet, Meyer lemon curd.
Chocolate coffee pot de crème with espresso crème, chocolate-covered coffee beans, and almond coffee dust.
Banana huckleberry croissant bread pudding with white chocolate ice cream.
Trio of house-made sorbets. Strawberry, raspberry, coconut.
Our server tonight — we sure kept him busy.
This was a total blow out event. The food was impeccable and the service warm. We had so much wine we left them a little overwhelmed, but that’s par for the course. Plus we had a really great mix of people and some of the most awesome wines. The vibe outside on the lovely warm Malibu evening was perfect too.
A note on the wines. As usual, I found myself massively preferring all the old world wines despite the ratings gap. To my palette, Parker has like a +5 point bonus that he grants to massive, young, over-extracted wines — but many people love them.
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