Restaurant: Valentino Santa Monica [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]
Location: 3115 Pico Blvd Santa Monica, CA 90405. (310) 829-4313
Date: October 8, 2015
Rating: Good, if a touch slow!
For some time my Hedonist gang has been arranging this special dinner of all Guigal single vineyard Côte-Rôtie, known affectionately as the LaLas (as they are named La Landonne, La Mouline, and La Turque).
The wine service for this was extensive and expertly handled. We had glasses for every wine and they were opened, tested, decanted, poured all in advance and delivered in neat flights.
Our special custom menu.
Ron brought as a bonus: 2004 Taittinger Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Comtes de Champagne. VM 96. I am thrilled with the way the 2004 Comtes de Champagne continues to evolve in bottle. A few years ago, the 2004 was quite focused and linear, in the style of the vintage, but more recently, the wine has begun to fill out beautifully. The 2004 remains bright, with a full range of citrus, white flower and mineral nuances that dance on the palate. A brisk, saline-infused finish rounds things out beautifully in a Comtes that impresses for its crystalline purity. I expect the 2004 will always remain a bit cool next to the more opulent 2002, but it is still drop-dead gorgeous.
Another Ron bonus: NV Billecart-Salmon Champagne Brut Rosé. VM 92. Pale orange. High-pitched red berry, orange zest and jasmine aromas, with suave mineral and smoky lees notes adding complexity. Spicy and precise on the palate, showing very good punch to its strawberry and bitter cherry flavors. Opens up smoothly with air and picks up a bitter rhubarb quality that lingers onto the long, tightly focused finish. This bottling showed more brawny character than many past renditions of this cuvée, but with no lack of vivacity.
agavin: our bottle was mildly corked or funky. Still drinkable, but not up to its usual standards.
Bonus from my cellar: 2011 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Saint-Aubin 1er Cru en Remilly Cuvée Nicholas et Mathis. 94 points. Precise, delineated, a bit reductive, with tons of fabulous acid.
Fried potato puffs with tomato sauce. Very nice.
Ron also brought: 2013 Samuel Billaud Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre. VM 93. Pale, bright yellow. Rather exotic aromas of orange peel, musky ginger and curry powder. Large-scaled, broad and deep, with a distinctly old-viney creaminess and superb mineral depth to the explosive flavors of soft citrus fruits and ginger. The mounting, palate-staining finish shows a youthfully aggressive quality but does not go heavy. The crop level here was just 30 hectoliters per hectare, according to Billaud.
agavin: a nice screaming young Chablis
Crudo al cucchiao. Tuna with pineapple. The sweet / salty pairing here is very nice.
Grilled pizza margarita.
Involtini. Eggplant wrapped around soft ricotta cheese.
Now we get to the LaLas.
1990 E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Turque. Parker 98. The 1990 La Turque offers an opaque purple color, and an overwhelming perfume of jammy black cherries, cassis, toast, and minerals. With its sweet, generous, incredibly harmonious personality, it is an unforgettable wine.With sweet tannin, low acidity, and one of the most velvety-textured, decadently rich palates I have encountered, this fabulous wine has a finish that lasts more than a minute.
agavin: good, but not nearly as good as the 91
1991 Guigal Cote Rotie la Landonne. Parker 99. The 1991 La Landonne will provide multimillionaires with plenty of pleasure over the next 20 years. They can also debate whether it or the perfect 1990 is the better wine. The 1991’s bouquet offers huge, smoky, new saddle leather, licorice, Asian spice, meaty, and cassis scents. Black in color, with layers of richness, huge body, massive extraction, and a phenomenal finish, it is another legend from Marcel Guigal. It will be the least precocious of the 1991s, needing until the turn of the century to open and develop; it should keep for 25-30 + years.
agavin: WOTN, really gorgeous
Warm beef carpaccio. With parmesan, cappers, etc.
1995 Guigal Cote Rotie la Landonne. Parker 95-97. The brawny, black/purple-colored 1995 Cote Rotie La Landonne reveals the animal, sauvage side of the Syrah grape. Licorice, prune, iron, and vitamin-like aromas compete with copious quantities of black fruits and smoke in this complex, structured, muscular, massive Cote Rotie. It will require 5-6 years of cellaring, and should keep for 30+ years.
1995 Guigal Cote Rotie la Mouline. Parker 96-100. The 1995 Cote Rotie La Mouline (11% Viognier included in the blend) was scheduled to be bottled (unfined and unfiltered of course) in February, after 42 months in 100% new oak. This is one of the most extraordinary wines made in the world. As I have said many times, if I were ever stranded on the proverbial desert island with only one wine to drink, it would have to be La Mouline. A compelling perfume of violets, black raspberries, coffee, pepper, and pain grille soars from the glass. Medium to full-bodied and lush, with a terrific multi-layered texture and outstanding purity, this is a phenomenal example of La Mouline. It possesses enough structure and substance to last for two decades, although it will be delicious upon release.
agavin: my favorite of this awesome flight.
1995 Guigal Cote Rotie la Turque. Parker 98-100. The 1995 Cote Rotie La Turque (about 7% Viognier in the blend) possesses a dense ruby/purple color, and roasted herb, olive, and Asian spice characteristics. It exhibits exceptional concentration and is velvety and concentrated. The fabulous 1995 La Turque is a virtually perfect wine with flamboyance, harmony, and remarkable opulence and length. It should drink well when released, and last for two decades.
Sea scallops in porchetta, wrapped in pancetta with a red wine sauce. It’s unusual to have such a “red” scallop prep, but it totally worked and made for a solid Syrah pairing.
From my cellar: 1998 Guigal Cote Rotie la Mouline. Parker 97-100. The awesome 1998 Cote Rotie La Mouline is a seamless, full-bodied classic with many characteristics of the 1997 La Landonne , but more structure, tannin, and muscle. It will need two years of cellaring, and will last for twenty years. Stylistically, it is reminiscent of the 1988.
agavin: another amazing flight
1998 Guigal Cote Rotie la Turque. Parker 98-99. The 1998 Cote Rotie La Turque may end up being a perfect wine. Its smoky black fruits intermixed with licorice, roasted meats, cassis, and flowers create an explosive, exotic perfume. The wine reveals considerable tannin, immense structure, and potentially legendary depth as well as intensity. Anticipated maturity: 2005-2022.
1998 Guigal Cote Rotie la Landonne. Parker 100! The 1998 Cote Rotie La Landonne is a perfect wine … at least for my palate. Its saturated black/purple color is accompanied by an extraordinary nose of smoke, incense, tapenade, creosote, blackberry, and currant aromas. It is densely packed with blackberry, truffle, chocolate, and leather-like flavors. The wine possesses high tannin, but perfect harmony, impeccable balance, and gorgeous integration of acidity, alcohol, and tannin. It is a tour de force in winemaking. Anticipated maturity: 2007-2025.
Calamarta with porcini duck ragu. A lovely pasta, although a few complained that theirs arrived cold (mine was fine).
Jeff brought this bonus: 2003 Rene Rostaing Cote Rotie la Landonne. Parker 97. Revealing more structure and definition than the regular bottling, the 2003 Cote Rotie La Landonne offers more scorched earth, camphor, blackberry, and roasted meat characteristics. Last year this cuvee displayed no acidity, but that is not the case from bottle (perhaps the use of 50% stems helped). Rostaing admits that analytically, there is practically no acid in this wine, so it will age on its extraordinary extract and richness. This blockbuster should drink well young, yet age for 12-15 years.
agavin: warming us up to 2003
2003 Guigal Cote Rotie la Landonne. Parker 100! The 2003 Cote Rotie la Landonne continues to blow me away every time I taste it and it’s a desert island wine for me. One of the stars of this extreme vintage, it offers sensational levels of fruit and decadence, perfumed, intense aromatics, beautiful freshness and a to-die-for texture and finish. Still youthful, with masses of sweet tannin, it’s nevertheless a a heavenly drink today.
agavin: brooding monster, needs at least 10 years
2003 Guigal Cote Rotie la Mouline. Parker 100! A desert island wine (as is just about any top vintage of the cuvee) and a gorgeous showing, the 2003 Cote Rotie la Mouline is drinking beautifully, yet is still young, loaded with fruit, and possesses over-the-top richness. Giving up notions of plum, liquid flowers, potpourri and smoked meats, this puppy is full-bodied, massive and layered on the palate, with a stacked mid-palate, thrilling amounts of texture, and a blockbuster-styled finish. There’s nothing classic about it, but it’s still as good as it gets.
agavin: another monster
Risotto with wolfe ranch quail. There was pretty solid agreement that this was a great dish. The quail was nice and flavorful and that jus was fabulous. The risotto was mild but great with the Jus.
1999 Guigal Cote Rotie la Mouline. Parker 100! The 1999 Cote Rotie la Mouline is straight-up awesome on all accounts. Drinking beautifully, with explosive aromas and flavors of blackberry, smoked meats, pepper and exotic flowers, this puppy hits the palate with full-bodied richness, beautiful concentration and a seamless, sexy and oh, so fine texture that is the hallmark of this cuvee. This is another wine that will continue to evolve gracefully, yet I’ve been lucky enough to have it multiple times recently, and when a bottle is drinking this good, don’t miss it by always waiting for another day.
agavin: up there with the 91 for WOTN, and up against stiff competition
La Bistecca: Prime New York Steak “Tagliata” with sea salt and Mosto Cotto Reduction. This wasn’t everyone’s favorite, and it was fairly fatty. It did have a nice, if salty, flavor.
2005 De Suduiraut. Parker 93. Tasted blind at the 10-Year On Tasting in Sauternes. The 2005 Château Suduiraut seemed a little out of sorts at first, although it comes together with honey, barley sugar, orange blossom and mineral scents that become more delineated as its aerates. The palate is very intense on the entry. There is a beautiful line of acidity that cuts through the viscous fruit, though the finish does not quite exude the precision of a top vintage, but still delivers that sense of class one expects from this address.
agavin: very nice, clean and sweet.
Feast of Artisanal cheese with traditional complements. Good but small — I’d hardly call this specific dish a “feast.”
1978 Rieussec. 91 points. Honeyed color. Very pretty nose of apricot and dried peach. In the mouth, viscous and pretty, with wonderful balance and a lush presence, unfolding apricot, butterscotch, and dried fruit notes. A moderate spike in acidity remains. Smooth finish. Not quite the concentration or persistence of a great Sauternes, but this is really excellent. A testament to their ability to age and the enjoyment they afford when mature.
agavin: I thought there was a lot of acidity and apricot — really enjoyed this older wine.
Assortment of Desserts: Panna cotta, chocolate tart, pear gelato. All very tasty.
Let’s breakdown the parts overall:
Wine Service: A total 10. One guy (pictured at the top of this post) was there the whole time. He ordered (with Jeff Leve and Larry), opened, decanted, poured everything. We had glasses for every wine and it was served efficiently in neat flights. He was really on top of it. Bravo.
General Service: Certainly they were very nice as always. A couple guys gave me the eye at being stopped to photo the passing appetizers — but well, you can’t really blame them 🙂 In general service was quite excellent as it usually is at Valentino, but there was one glaring problem tonight: The food took forever to get going. We waited about an hour for a few passing apps, then those (and they were great) dragged out for about an hour themselves. The first official course came in the middle of them — but itself very late. There was a little trouble getting the dozen or so down real fast too. The second course took a real long time too, but after that it sped up. Some people reported their pasta course was cold. Handling of details like the credit card were excellent. I think the trouble was that they had at least one, and maybe 2 other wine dinners going. My friend (and often Hedonist) Kirk was at a Vega Sicilia dinner. He came and joined us after his was finished and around the time the pace really picked up.
Food: Somewhat contentious, but most of us thought the food was good, although not blow you away. I’d say that the food was an 8, with several great dishes and a few that were just fine (like the beef). There was plenty of it too.
Wines: Through the roof. We had no bad Lalas (just the slightly off rose champ). All were in great shape. The 91, all 95s, all 98s, and the 99 were all amazing. 99-100 points for sure. The 2003s you could tell were amazing, but they are so big they need at least another decade.
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