Location: 7274 Melrose Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90046. (323) 930-7900
Date: January 4, 2015
Rating: Good “New American” Spanish
Hedonist leader Yarom is an investor in the new Smoke Oil Salt, a tapas bar from Adam Fleischman (Unami Burger) and Perfecto Rocher (Lazy Ox), so it’s a natural gathering for our gang. We went last spring, and now we return with even more wine for Paella night!
Sommelier Naureen Zaim cuts a far svelter figure than us Hedonist lunks when it comes to pouring out the good stuff. It must be said that the service tonight, wine, food, bussing, everything, was an 11!
And it should be noted that our crazy wine excess involved at least 29 bottles and I have tried to organize them with the meal as best I could. The actually reality was a tad more chaotic!
NV Billecart-Salmon Champagne Brut Rosé. IWC 92. Light orange. Vibrant strawberry and orange zest aromas are complicated by notes of tea rose, smoky lees and chalky minerals. Bright, incisive red fruit flavors pick up a toasty nuance with air. Fresh, incisive and refreshingly tangy, with impressive finishing clarity and stony persistence.
2002 Ayala Champagne Perle d’Ayala. IWC 93. Pale gold. A heady, complex bouquet displays an array of citrus and pit fruit scents, along with hints of pungent flowers and smoky minerals. Dry, focused and impressively concentrated, offering intense Meyer lemon, nectarine and floral flavors that put on weight with air. Closes on an emphatic mineral note, with excellent clarity and length.
2011 Casca Wines Colares Monte Cascas. 93 points. Malvasia.Clear yellow and lite in the glass. Nose of steel minerals, citrus, dried apples, macadamia nuts, melon, pith, sage, white pepper, tea and lychee. Medium body and exquisitely composed. Dozens of thin layers (citrus, melon, pit fruit, herbs, spice, secondary lime minerals) wrapped around an effortless steel core. Exceptionally fine and clean textures. Complexity that was a joy to work thru. Superb quality. Long finish. So privileged to taste.
Alzinger Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Loibner Steinertal (missed vintage). 92 points. Intense ripe aromas of pineapple, cantaloupe and white pepper. Quite concentrated, warmly rich and powerful, yet cool, austere and focused. Mineral spices and a nearly salty impression linger on the long finish.
2007 Coche-Dury Bourgogne Blanc. 92 agavin. Crisp, mineral, with a ton of matchstick reduction.
2011 Vincent Dauvissat (René & Vincent) Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos. IWC 96. Pale yellow. Bracing aromas of lemon, ginger, chalk and spices. At once dense and penetrating, with outstanding citric cut to the complex, slightly high-toned flavors of lemon zest, white pepper, minerals and subtle resiny spices. Here, too, the wine’s intense chalky character gives it an impression of stronger acidity than the numbers would suggest. Boasts terrific fruit intensity, and the wonderfully precise finish goes on and on. A great showing today, and one of the superstars of the vintage.
2010 Domaine Leroy Bourgogne Blanc. 91 points. Tight and crisp.
2013 Château d’Esclans Côtes de Provence Rosé Whispering Angel. 87 points. Pink color with fast forming legs. It’s somewhat balanced and has flavours of prune with a medium/full body. Flabby texture with a medium finish – Excellent choice.
2004 Domaine Bertheau (Pierre et François) Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Charmes. Burghound 88. Elegant and bright red pinot fruit nuanced by background elements of earth, spice and a touch of anise with supple, forward, soft and sweet flavors that offer a bit more concentration and complexity but at the expense of the same fine precision and detail. I like the balance and finishing intensity and there is a touch of forest floor as well.
agavin: all that above if you can ignore the 2004 vintage character: sucking on a raw green pepper stem!
2005 Domaine des Perdrix Echezeaux. IWC 92-95. Good bright ruby. Musky aromas of blackberry, minerals, violet and dark chocolate. Densely packed, superripe and sweet, with brisk acidity giving energy to the black raspberry flavor. Fresh and impeccably balanced. This very suave, broad wine really coats the palate with violet and bitter chocolate flavor. Finishes with sweet tannins and real grand cru persistence. The crop level here was roughly 30 hl/ha, vs. about 40 for the village wines. “We had a good crop level in 2005,” said enologist Robert Vernizeau. A highly promising vintage for this estate, whose youngest vines, according to Vernizeau, were planted in 1972.
agavin: great young Burg.
1964 Bodegas Riojanas Rioja Viña Albina. 93 points. Very pale almost translucent. Ethereal, perfumed, still delicious but fading fruit; light bodied. Wonderful but on a genteel downwards slope into old age.
1968 Federico Paternina Rioja Conde de los Andes Gran Reserva (I think). 92 points. Fully mature but vital; lots of wood and vanilla but also lovely red fruit, a discreet richness; on the palate very harmonious, tannic but not dried out or too woody, considerable charm, flavours of red fruit and spices, good length. A distinguished wine, a nobleman.
1985 R. López de Heredia Rioja Viña Tondonia. 90 points. Here, the oak is apparent, still, but doesn’t stand out as excessive because there is so much else to draw one’s attention: the silkiness of the mouthfeel, the length of the palate, the creaminess of the texture against the earthiness and other secondaries and tertiaries on the palate. Wow.
1989 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial. 91 points. This Rioja is now 25 years old – color is dark red with long legs; nose with leather and graphite; taste very complex and spicy with dried fruits and ripe berries; Rioja at its best – all the tannins are round now – the wine is smooth with a medium finish – will last 3-5 more years in this shape
2004 La Rioja Alta Rioja Gran Reserva 904. IWC 94. Bright red. Heady aromas of dried red berries, cherry, smoked meat, vanilla and potpourri, with a spicy element gaining strength with air. Fleshy and seamless in texture, offering sappy red fruit and floral pastille flavors and an undertone of sweet vanilla. The spiciness comes back on the finish, which features suave floral and cherry-vanilla qualities and sneaky tannins. This classic, old-school Rioja is delicious now but is destined for a long, graceful evolution.
agavin: glad I have a bunch of these in my cellar!
1989 Talbot. Parker 87-90. Dark ruby with moderately endowed notes of sweet black currants intermixed with licorice, compost, and some weedy tobacco, this medium-bodied wine has low acidity, attractively ripe fruit, but a somewhat short finish.
2004 Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. Parker 92. The 2004 Pichon Lalande is a strong effort for the vintage (much better than their underwhelming and much more expensive 2005). A blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, it exhibits a deep ruby/purple color as well as scents of cocoa, espresso roast, black cherries, and cassis. Medium to full-bodied, opulent, and fleshy, this classic wine cuts a stylistic persona somewhere between the 1995 and 1996. It can be drunk now or cellared for two decades.
agavin: Interesting, has a similar annoying pepper finish as do all the 2004 red Burgs.
2001 Hundred Acre Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Kayli Morgan Vineyard. Parker 98. Having performed spectacularly well last year in the retrospective of ten-year old Napa Cabernets, this 2001 remains incredibly young, with all of its potential waiting to burst forth. Its dense purple color is followed by notes of mulberries, creme de cassis, blackberries, licorice, graphite and subtle smoke. The wine reveals fabulous fruit along with full-bodied power and a seamless integration of acidity, tannin, alcohol and wood. Forget it for another 4-5 years and drink it over the following 25-30 years.
2001 Jacob’s Creek/Orlando Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. 90 points. Dark ruby colour, good clarity. Dark berries, strawberry, some spice & herbal nose. Softens with time out of the bottle. Smooth and medium length palate; dark berries with adequate tannins. A little tart, improving with time in the glass. Good drinking now but with some cellar time still left.
Paella de arros negre. Squid ink paella, carabineros (giant mediteranean prawns). You eat the prawns separately (delicious!). Then you mix the black rice with the aioli and squirt lemon on. Delicious, briny, savory, and quite salty. Perhaps a little too salty, but awesome nonetheless.
2004 Shafer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select. Parker 99. This vintage shocked me when I did my retrospective earlier this year, and the 2004 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select acquitted itself brilliantly in the vertical of Hillside Selects. It was a hot year, a relatively early harvest and there were worries that the heat had stressed the grapes, and there would be a lack of physiological ripeness and nuance. Those worries have not manifested themselves in this great Cabernet Sauvignon. Inky/purple-colored with notes of blueberry, blackberry, cassis, spring flowers, and a touch of toast, the wine is opulent, voluptuous and full-bodied with sweet tannin, just enough acidity to provide freshness, vibrancy and delineation, and a spectacular finish that goes on 40+ seconds. This is a killer, a showy and flamboyant style of Hillside Select that’s already drinking beautifully and should continue to do so for another 15-20 years.
2004 Torbreck Descendant. Parker 98. The 2004 Descendant, an old oak-aged blend of 92% Shiraz and 8% Viognier from a 12-year old vineyard, offers up notes of blackberries, ink, sweet truffles, and acacia flowers. There are 1,000 cases of this full-bodied, intense, rich blockbuster. It will drink well for 10-15 years.
2005 Colgin IX Syrah Estate. Parker 95. Colgin is one of the reference points for just what heights mountain-grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux varietals, and more recently, Syrah, can achieve in Napa Valley. This beautiful estate and winery overlooking Lake Hennessey is owned by Joe Wender and his wife, Ann Colgin (equally renowned for her auctioneering skills), who are assisted by David Abreu, the well-known Bordeaux wine consultant, Dr. Alain Raynaud, and Allison Tauziet, who has skillfully replaced the brilliant Mark Aubert. As the scores and tasting notes suggest, this was an exceptional tasting. Colgin’s 2006s are among the finest wines produced in the vintage.
1995 Chateau d’Yquem. Parker 95. Served from an ex-chateau bottle. The 1995 Chateau d’Yquem is moving into its secondary aroma phase. A deep golden color, it has a dense and almost Barsac-like bouquet with tangerine, apricot, acacia and melted candle wax. It displays good intensity, unfolding beautifully in the glass. The palate has a strident opening, with a slight bitter edge that lends this Yquem great tension. One can discern layers of marmalade infused with honey fruit, with a powerful, spicy finish that lingers long in the mouth. This is drinking perfectly now, but will surely age with style over many years.
NV Valdespino Jerez-Xérès-Sherry El Cardenal Palo Cortado Vors. This is excellent…nutty, acidic, dried fruit..this has it all, and was wonderful with some quince, bread and cheese..very interesting and intriguing.
NV Alvear Montilla-Moriles PX 1927. 92 points. Ink, dark spices, toffee, burnt caramel, juicy tar, dark soy, oyster sauce, fino flores, smoked prunes, hint menthol. Taste is similarly liquid toffee, chocolate, thick and unctious, savoury yet sweet and lightfooted. Residual grandma herbal joint oil, creamy rich butterscotch, burnt biscuit, honey treacle. Beautiful and powerful balance to the incredibly dark and bitter chocolate cake, with all the right elements just to lift and soften – a strong and fantastic finish to an incredible gastronomic journey.
One of the many wineos joining us for this excess, Saison sommelier Max Coane. I’m very fortunate to be booked into 3 Star Michelin Saison next week for what should be another epic All Things Andy Gavin dining experience. Stay tuned!
All in all another great evening of pure hedonism. SOS is rocking on. It is right in there in the current “wood table, paper menu, small plates, loud room” thing that dominates new restaurants in LA right now. The food is quite Catalan/Valencian and very good. It’s quite salty, sometimes a little too much. Not crazy salty (like I’d sometimes get in Japan), but noticeable. Flavors are very strong (a good thing IMHO). The service was 11 out 10. Everyone pulled out all the stops.
Oh, and our nearly 30 bottles of great wine didn’t hurt either!