The best Hedonist dinners are the ones like this. The crew: small. The theme: world class Burgundy. The food: superb. The setting: magicial.
The setting was a lovely Hancock Park home and garden.
This particular dinner was hosted by Hedonist, and restauranteur Adam Fleischman. Adam needs no introduction and as the mastermind behind Umami Burger, Smoke Oil Salt, 800 degrees, and a ton of other concepts he is a man with endless energy, ideas, and a talent for doing it right.
And my artsy “magazine style” shot.
The menu. The food tonight comes from Gorge Restaurant and Charcuterie (all produced by Adam). Chefs and co-owners Elia Aboumrad and Uyen Nguyen were both at the house whipping up just an amazing sequence of dishes that paired superlatively with the wines.
Everything had that understated contemporary country elegance.
2000 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut. IWC 95. Bright gold. Pungent aromas of candied orange, buttered toast, pear skin and vanilla, with a smoky nuance that gains power in the glass. Stains the palate with intense pear liqueur, citrus pith and brioche flavors, picking up notes of licorice and candied ginger with air. A bright mineral note adds lift and energy to the finish, which clings with superb tenacity and lingering smokiness. This complex, concentrated Champagne is showing very well right now but has the legs to age for years to come.
2004 Coche-Dury Meursault. Burghound 91. Soft mineral reduction does not materially detract from the green fruit, citrus, stone and slightly smoky nose that introduces detailed, pure and attractively intense middle weight flavors that possess excellent vibrancy on the taut, linear and refined finish. This isn’t quite as complex or concentrated as the ’02 version (see herein) but the sheer persistence is most impressive. And in the same fashion as the 2002, this has reached an inflection point of maturity where it could be enjoyed now or held for a few more years depending on how one prefers aged white burgs. For my taste, I would hold this for another 2 to 4 years but many people will find the current state of maturity to be perfect now.
agavin: I just have to mention again that Coche makes THE BEST village white Burgs. Period. It takes a producer at the level of Leflaive or PYCM to even make a grand cru as good as this village. It is a village, and so doesn’t have the depth or power of a great grand cru but it does just soar.
Smoked oyster Mousse. Beef jus en gelee, Crisp baguette. Like creamy smooth pure oyster concentrate. Fabulous paring with the caviar on top and with the champagne.
1985 Stony Hill Chardonnay. 89 Jeff Leve. With the color of an aged Sauternes, the oily textured, concentrated wine is low in acidity, with honeysuckly, caramel, citrus peel and butterscotch. When first poured, the wine seemed oxidized, but it improved in the glass after 10-20 minutes. This was quite a wine considering it was a 30 year old California Chardonnay.
agavin: I stole this review from my friend Jeff Leve (on a different night) — but it was dead on accurate with our bottle too.
1999 Domaine Leroy Corton-Charlemagne. Burghound 94. This wine possesses a genuinely staggering nose of superb complexity with all of the green apple and minerality that one associates with classic Corton-Charlemagne. The chiseled, precise, intense medium full flavors are rich, sappy and brilliantly delineated with superb depth and breadth on the explosive backend. A very serious wine that has so much mid-palate sap that it can actually be approached now with pleasure yet it will age for at least a decade, perhaps more. In a word, brilliant. Consistent notes.
agavin: Well, Leroy is one of those few producer’s who can make a wine to outshine a Coche village (the 99 Coche CC would be a fair pairing). This Leroy just had all that Grand Cru depth and complexity with a tremendous minerality (petrol). A real fresh bandaid quality.
Trout. Mi-cuit en roulade, fried shallot rangs, confit lemon zest & tomatoes, tuna just. This dish had a bright bright acidity to it that was really fabulous. The fish itself melted in the mouth like great sushi.
2002 Domaine Marc Morey & Fils Montrachet. Burghound 94. This is an exceptionally impressive effort by any standard with a pure, ripe and highly complex nose of fennel, white flower, citrus and orchard fruit aromas trimmed in a discreet touch of oak spice that can also be found on the rich, powerful, concentrated and equally pure big-bodied flavors that possess admirably vibrancy and outstanding length. Not surprisingly for a young Montrachet, this is still on its way up and it will be another 3 to 5 years before this peaks and it should be capable of holding at that level for up to another decade. A beautiful wine.
agavin: When we first tried this wine I tasted something unusual in the palette. Not a flaw, but one of those unusual complexities you get in great Burgundy that is unexpected. Perhaps it was what AM above describes as fennel, as I initially thought of it as slightly medicinal. This isn’t criticism but a note on the complexity possible in wines of this caliber.
Rabbit Rillette. 24hr confit, house pickled romaneco cauliflower. Sort of like a very french sandwich. The whole pickle and pate thing. Even the cauliflower tasted exactly like cornichon (i.e. vinegar). The mousse/pate itself was mild and a bit gamey, letting it work with and not overpower the Montrachet.
From my cellar: 2005 Etienne Sauzet Montrachet. Burghound 96. In contrast to the expressive noses of the 3 prior grands crus, this is positively discreet and almost reticent by comparison and only vigorous swirling would coax the broad-scaled nose to reveal itself, offering up notes of anise, peach, pear, citrus, orange blossom and honey that also merges seamlessly into textured, sweet, powerful and robust full-bodied flavors that possess a seductive mouth feel yet excellent precision and cut as well. This is a big wine and not overly refined but the sheer depth of material is almost hard to believe and as such, this will eventually transform into something very, very special. Patience required however.
agavin: As I have a whole bunch of these, and this is the first I opened, I’m pleased. It was a monster. On first taste powerful intense acid. Then we left it open for an hour or two and it hit the glass like a beast. The nose was all Montrachet with that coiled massive power that you only get from the world’s greatest Chardonnay vineyard. Wow. wow. My favorite in a line up of really stellar whites.
Wild pheasant terrine. Black truffles, organic arugula salad, mustard. I would have thought this was a country French pork pate, although perhaps a hair lighter. Either way just fabulous.
1949 A. de Luze & Fils Graves Royal. Old old sweet Bordeaux. There wasn’t so much sweet left, but for the age it was holding up darn well.
Foie Gras torchon. Fig confit, fines herbes salad, Grapefruit marmalade. Wow! Basically straight foie with fig. The salad had a nice astringency that countered the heft of the foie. Wow again. Just stupendous.
1999 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Musigny Cuvée Vieilles Vignes. Burghound 96. In contrast to the general style of the vintage, this is still aromatically austere though with coaxing, reveals wonderfully complex aromas of a simply incredible array of black fruits, earth, spice, crushed herbs and notes of chocolate with flavors that are huge but fine, powerful but subtle and rich yet detailed with a stupendously long finish that offers intense minerality. This is genuinely stunning juice and not to be missed if you have the chance. Tasted multiple times with consistent notes.
agavin: Our bottle was surprisingly open and ready. There was an odd brett thing going on, and the balance wasn’t perfect, but this was an extremely hedonistic and enjoyable glass.
From my cellar: 2001 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Musigny Cuvée Vieilles Vignes. Burghound 96. One of the finest wines of the vintage, this is simply a spectacular effort that has captured every bit of the potential it originally displayed in cask. Restrained and backward nose of a fantastically complex mix of blackberries, spice, cedar, soy, anise and dried herbs followed by full-bodied, multi-layered flavors of amazing length. Opulent and lavish yet all remains exquisitely balanced and this is astonishingly precise. A real stunner of a wine that is as classy and graceful as they come. As good and classy as the ’02 if not quite as structured.
agavin: The 2001 drank much younger than the 1999. Lots of acid and cherry tones. It just got better and better as the night went on. It needs a few more years but there was that kind of singing balance that bodes extremely well.
Duck Sausage. Housemade choucroute, orange cream sauce. I love sausage, and although I’m not usuually the biggest krout fan this dish was just flat out great too.
1991 Domaine Leroy Richebourg. Burghound 93. Madame Bize made superb ’91s virtually across her entire range and this wine is no exception with its deep, rich, complex nose and flavors that display remarkable depth, including earth and tobacco notes. The finish is subtly complex and still quite structured but the tannins are ripe and buffered by plenty of extract. In sum, this is dense and intense and should continue to improve for years to come. Consistent notes.
agavin: This was all Richebourg. It just reeked of the specific place and time.
1995 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Richebourg. Burghound 93. This too is reserved and restrained with an almost completely closed nose that reveals only glimpses of fresh black fruit even after extended aeration. The flavors however are rich and offer excellent detail and are underpinned by dense yet ripe tannins and good extract. I very much like the style of this though it is clearly for the patient and I suspect this will always have a rather strict personality. This has put on a bit of weight and a bit of richness since the big Richebourg tasting in ’01 and appears to be better balanced than the prior bottle but otherwise, it is quite similar.
agavin: A brooding powerhouse!
Tournedos Rossini. Potato puree. GORGE garlic glaze. Foie Gras. This was just the best beef dish ever. Haha, maybe, but it was just stupendously good (and rich). Pure tender beef, truffle, foie, and yummy potatoes and reduction. The sweetness of the glaze helped counter all that fat. It might be overkill, but it totally worked.
2007 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée St. Vivant. Burghound 94. An ultra elegant, pure and quite delicately fruited and spiced nose that is extremely fresh, floral and expansive that is more layered still as it introduces seductively textured, detailed and gorgeously delineated middle weight flavors that possess laser-like focus if less density than is usually seen with this wine. Indeed, this is rather like a ballerina with limited power and weight but the watch word here is purity, purity and purity. I quite like this but it will strike some as unduly light though I believe the underlying material is present such that it will add weight in bottle as it ages.
agavin: The oak was very present when we first poured it (as you’d expect for a way too young grand cru). But even from the get-go it just screamed RSV. As the evening wore on it opened and opened and opened. This will be a stellar (it was stellar) wine.
1990 Domaine Leroy Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Beaux Monts. Burghound 94. This remains quite darkly colored with obviously ripe, borderline aromas that are clearly Vosne in origin with loads of spice and secondary nuances to the black fruit and earth aromas that are followed by sexy, sappy and intense middle weight flavors that culminate in a mineral-infused, sweet and energetic finish that delivers outstanding length. This is sufficiently ripe that it is perhaps not a beacon of terroir but it remains unmistakably Vosne in basic character. This is really quite impressive and to my taste, it has arrived at its peak though one that should hold for a number of years to come. Tasted multiple times with mostly consistent results.
agavin: The Beaux Monts was probably my favorite red of the night, and it was the only premier cru. It even tasted like it. As it really came off as full on Beaux Monts. But wow, what a terrior play. Just all VR spice and depth. Fabulous.
1834 Barbeito Madeira Malvazia Reserva Velha. 96 points. A wine made before the civil war! Strong cinnamon with brown notes. Beautiful with a lingering finish that goes on and on. Quite a lot of acidity for a 160 year old wine.
Strawberry Rhubarb St Honore. Vanilla bean cream puffs, crisp puff pastry, vanilla chantilly. This was very French — and delicious. Light, sweet (perhaps more sweet than it would have been in France) and with that perfect pastry texture.
Overall, this was just one of the best dinners we’ve ever done. And those of you who follow know that is a HIGH bar. Every element was in balance: setting, weather, people, food, wine. That is what wine (and hedonism) is all about. You can take the above (magnificent) wines and put them in a more clinical setting and they’d come off well — but when you pair it all up properly it rounds out the flaws and emphasizes the best qualities.
Bravo! (And thanks Adam for setting it all up)
more crazy Hedonist dinners here!
The after diner antics begin. You had to be there!