We Hedonists rarely take a break, and even after last week’s beyond epic Totoraku adventure and several Asian Invasions the summer season begins with a blow out of epic proportions last Thursday, May 23, 2013.
While inside, the culinary adventures were masterminded by Chef Kevin Meehan of Kali Dining, a Hedonist member himself and all around awesome chef.
Then we move inside briefly for canapés. This time around, given the vast array of incredible wines, I’m going to do all the food first and cover the beverages below. They were of course consumed simultaneously.
Amuse Bouche / veal tartar / black truffle / potato crisp. Truly delicious, this reminds me of the veal tartar I once had in Monforte d’Alba (Barolo). Fittingly, we ate it with some fine Gaja Barolo!
Scallops with radish and squid ink “soil” (bread soaked with squid ink then crumbled). The dust may look a little like its namesake, but the flavor combination was incredible with a very exciting textural profile. Great job Kevin!
Pork Belly / pea / corn / carrot. Another intense yum! Very succulent meat that paired perfectly.
Duck / wild mushrooms / red wine jus. A great piece of duck.
Beef / charred scallions / smoked potatoes / burnt onion jam. This was a near perfect beef dish. The meat itself was tender and flavorful and that onion jam — wow!
Goat Cheese Mousse / balsamic / berries / lavender. A nice bright dessert, in the spirit of “strawberries and cream” but much more savory. Paired nicely with all that lingering red wine.
NV Krug Grande Cuvee. Parker 90-95. The NV Brut Grande Cuvee emerges from the glass with freshly cut flowers, almonds, pastry and spices. This is a relatively floral, bright Grande Cuvee with fewer of the oxidative qualities that are typical of the house style. According to Krug’s ID Code, this bottle is based on the 2004 vintage, which explains the wine’s tense, taut personality. Another year or two on the cork will only help the wine gain expressiveness and depth. Today, the Grande Cuvee is quite reticent and not showing the full breadth of its personality.
1993 Robert Ampeau & Fils Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. Burghound 91. A fully mature and expressive nose of elegant secondary fruit and floral aromas introduces intensely mineral-driven, pure and beautifully well-detailed middle weight flavors that possess excellent depth and fine length. This is drinking perfectly now and should continue to do so without effort for at least another decade.
This bottle had been open for a day but was drinking incredibly. Really a first rate Chardonnay! I love MP and I love Ampeau.
2009 Domaine / Maison Vincent Girardin Corton-Charlemagne. Burghound 91-94. A pretty and nuanced nose of white flowers, green apple and pungent wet stone notes are in keeping with the equally complex and nuanced full-bodied, rich and overtly muscular flavors that also exude an intense minerality on the complex, vibrant and explosive finish.
From my cellar: 1996 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Bonnes Mares. IWC 93+. Good fresh dark red. Flamboyant nose combines blueberry, blackberry, licorice and Cuban tobacco; distinctly blacker aromas than the ’97. Great sweetness and penetration on the palate; flavors are given thrust and grip by a strong spine of acids and tannins. Quintessential grand cru intensity without excess weight. Extremely long, noble finish. Fascinating Bonnes-Mares, and likely to be very long-lived.
These Burgundy reviewers are always so hard-assed, because I’d take this over some 97 point Bordeaux any day.
1993 Gaja Barolo Sperss. 90-95 points. Restrained nose, but wonderful on the palate – an impressive start. Very long cork in excellent condition. Poured into decanter to revisit later in the afternoon. Come back and its filled a small room with heavenly scents – but not so much with your nose buried in the glass. Rich but not overripe fruits, kindling, forest underbrush, and tanned leather, all draped with fine tannins. Yes there’s oak, but tastefully done. Let the haters hate, but this is a dynamite wine. In my opinion, still the best of several Sperss vintages sampled- we were all impressed.
1993 Gaja Barbaresco Sorì Tildìn. Parker 89 / 90-93 other. Gaja’s 1993 Barbarescos (he declassified all his crus in 1991 and 1992) are good, but anyone expecting a level of quality matching what he obtained in 1988, 1989, and 1990 will be disappointed. The wines are more compact and downsized compared to the three aforementioned vintages. The most interesting is the medium ruby-colored 1993 Barbaresco Sori Tilden. It offers up a Burgundian-like, sweet cherry, earthy, smoky tobacco character. In the mouth, the wine reveals the most intensity, sweetest fruit, and greatest length of this quartet. Rich, medium to full-bodied, and spicy, with some of the vintage’s tell-tale dry tannin, the wine has plenty of fruit for balance. This is an excellent example of Sori Tilden that should drink well for 10-15 years, but it is not comparable to the 1988, 1989, or 1990.
1990 Azienda Bricco Rocche (Ceretto) Barolo Brunate. 90-95 points. Perfect blood ruby. Absolutely classic, spot-on nose; a little volatile, but I like it here, totally appropriate balsamic notes; cherry liqueur, stones. Classic. Palate is tannic! Lots of fine, dense cherry fruit, but this is definitely leaning tannic. Medium length, firm and solid. A delicious wine, but be careful not to hold it too long.
1990 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage La Chapelle. Parker 100! The 1990 La Chapelle is the sexy and opulent. I had the 1990 at the Jaboulet tasting, and again out of a double magnum three months ago. On both occasions it was spectacular, clearly meriting a three-digit score. The modern day equivalent of the 1961, it deserves all the attention it has garnered.
The color remains an opaque purple, with only a slight pink at the edge. Spectacular aromatics offer up aromas of incense, smoke, blackberry fruit, cassis, barbecue spice, coffee, and a touch of chocolate. As it sits in the glass, additional nuances of pepper and grilled steak emerge. There is extraordinary freshness for such a mammoth wine in addition to abundant tannin, an amazing 60-second finish, and a level of glycerin and thick, fleshy texture that have to be tasted to be believed.
1995 Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf du Pape. Parker 96-99. The 1995 is spectacular. When Emmanuel Reynaud said it was evolving quickly, in essence repudiating this vintage, I immediately drank two bottles of this glorious elixir. It does not reveal the over-ripeness of the 1990, bringing to mind a hypothetical blend of the great 1989 and 1978. Deeply-colored and still young, with black currant/creme de cassis-like characteristics, huge body, yet great structure and delineation, this is a classic Rayas that is totally different than the 1990. It should continue to improve in the bottle and may merit an even higher score. While it can be drunk now, it will be even better with 3-4 years of cellaring.
2000 Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf du Pape. Parker 93. The 2000 Rayas Chateauneuf du Pape, which Emmanuel Reynaud believes is better than 1998, came in at a whopping 15.2% alcohol. It is reminiscent of a hypothetical blend of the 1998 and 1999, with a medium to light ruby color, and a sumptuous bouquet of kirsch liqueur, spice box, and licorice. Full-bodied and fleshy, with low acidity, it is a sweet (from high glycerin and alcohol), seductive, intoxicating offering with no hard edges and a rich, fleshy mouthfeel. While it will be hard to resist, I feel the 1998 still has more structure.
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.
1999 Latour. Parker 92-95. A terrific effort, this sexy, open-knit, opulent effort possesses plenty of tannin, but it is largely concealed by the wine’s wealth of fruit, high extraction level, and noticeable glycerin as well as unctuosity. Dense ruby/purple-colored, with a sweet, evolved nose of black fruits (cassis, leather, and blackberries), cedar, spice box, and liquid minerals, this powerful yet seamless Latour will be surprisingly accessible at an unusually young age. Long and full-bodied, with the acidity, tannin, alcohol, and wood all beautifully integrated, it will be at its finest between 2007-2030. A classic!
1999 Cheval Blanc. Parker 93-95. The complex, explosively fragrant 1999 Cheval Blanc is a blend of 59% Merlot and 41% Cabernet Franc. It is already showing well, which is a good sign for a wine that traditionally is reserved early in life, but puts on weight and richness in the bottle. Stylistically, this wine is probably cut from the same mold as vintages such as 1985, 1966, and 1962. The color is a dense ruby with purple nuances. Once past the blockbuster bouquet of menthol, leather, black fruits, licorice, and mocha, the wine reveals medium body, extraordinary elegance, purity, and sweet, harmonious flavors with no hard edges. This is a seamless beauty of finesse, charm, and concentration. The 1999 is an exciting Cheval Blanc to drink relatively young.
1999 Haut Brion. Parker 93-95. Deep plum, currant, and mineral notes emerge from the concentrated, beautifully balanced, pure 1999 Haut Brion. It seems to be cut from the same mold as years such as 1979 and 1985. There is a hint of graphite in the abundant fruit. The wine is medium to full-bodied, nuanced, subtle, deep, and provocatively elegant. It is made in a style that only Haut Brion appears capable of achieving. The finish is extremely long, the tannins sweet, and the overall impression one of delicacy interwoven with power and ripeness.
1999 Le Macchiole Messorio. Parker 96-98. The 1999 is one of the more focused, intense Messorios in this lineup. It shows the minerality and drive of the cooler vintage in its clean, beautifully delineated aromas and flavors. Espresso, grilled herbs and mint are some of the nuances that linger on the finish. The 1999 continues to change in the glass, offering a preview of what is in store for readers lucky enough to own it. This is an absolutely joyous wine to follow in the glass.
2007 Hundred Acre Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Fortunate Son. Parker 91-96. Another offering from Jayson Woodbridge, who never seems to be content with the status quo (he is also the proprietor of the wonderful inexpensive Layer Cake Wines from throughout the world) is the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Fortunate Son, a selection from Hundred Acre and “other” selections he makes. It exhibits a bouquet of black currants intermixed with hints of cedarwood, incense, cocoa and graphite. Medium to full-bodied, opulent and rich.
2006 Screaming Eagle Second Flight. Parker 94. The 2006 Second Flight is a beautiful classy wine. Here the significant presence of Merlot (33%) helps to round out the Cabernet Sauvignon that is so distinctive in Screaming Eagle. Overall, this is a fairly generous expression of the year with plenty of the estate’s signatures. Over time, a compelling melange of savory herbs, spices and minerals comes alive in the glass. This is a super-impressive first vintage for Second Flight.
1997 Joseph Phelps Insignia Proprietary Red Wine. Parker 96. Joseph Phelps’ flagship wine is their fabulous Insignia, a wine with a tremendous track record back to the debut vintage of 1974. It is produced in significant quantities (18,000-20,000 cases) for a wine of such quality.
The prodigious 1997 Insignia (83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, and 3% Petit-Verdot) lives up to its pre-bottling promise. Tasted on three separate occasions, every bottle has hit the bull’s eye. The color is a saturated thick-looking blue/purple. The nose offers up explosive aromas of jammy black fruits, licorice, Asian spices, vanillin, and cedar. Full-bodied as well as exceptionally pure and impressively endowed, this blockbuster yet surprisingly elegant wine cuts a brilliant swath across the palate. A seamless effort with beautifully integrated acidity, sweet tannin, and alcohol, it is still an infant, but can be drunk with considerable pleasure.
2000 Domaine Coche-Dury Meursault les Chevalieres. Parker 92-93. The spiced white fruit-scented 2000 Meursault Chevalieres combines power and elegance in its medium to full-bodied personality. This broad, refined wine exhibits creamed anise, liquid mineral, and touches of vanilla in its elegant, harmonious character. Additionally, this wine has an exceptionally long and expressive finish.
This had a really fabulous and interesting nose, and like most wines from white Burgundy’s top winemaker was a real stunner.
1994 Domaine Zind Humbrecht Tokay Pinot Gris Clos Jebsal (Selection de Grains Nobles) Trie Speciale. Parker 99. The 1994 Tokay-Pinot Gris Clos Jebsal (Selection de Grains Nobles) Trie Speciale is the sweetest and densest wine Olivier Humbrecht has ever fashioned. It has 540 grams of residual sugar per liter and 12 grams of acid. As Humbrecht noted, “it makes no noise when poured into a glass, it is completely silent!” He has not yet presented it for certification as an SGN, which is why that moniker is in parentheses. Needless to say, this puree of fruit-flavored syrup sets new standards in power, concentration, and length.
This was an incredible sticky. I was tempted to pick up abandoned glasses and finish them (but I didn’t).
1999 Château Guiraud. IWC 90. Pale yellow-gold. Lower-toned aromas of orange zest, herbs, spices, earth and vanillin oak. Textured, rich and sweetly oaky, with notes of vanilla and creme caramel Showing plenty of personality today. Ripe and rich for young Guiraud. Big but essentially gentle, with an impressive, slow-building finish.
Our bottle was unfortunately corked.
2013 “The fire.” A very alkaline drinking water, mineral pure, with a light bitter finish.
Another incredible Hedonist event. This really hit on all notes.
First, Lana’s place and hospitality makes for a perfect venue. Thanks Lana! The atmosphere was impeccable.
Second, Chef Kevin’s food was really spot on, and made all the more impressive by him cooking it in a borrowed kitchen for 20 people. Even temperatures were perfect and everything rolled out in well orchestrated waves. This is NOT easy to do. Most restaurants can’t even manage a table of 20 smoothly. The dishes were inventive and tasty. Bravo!
Third, the wines were among the best we’ve ever had both in terms of quality and number. It’s hard to say, given the staggering number of great events we do, but this might have been one of the best and most varied lineups.
The fierce guardian to Dionysus’ realm. Actually, she’s a sweetie 🙂