Restaurant: Valentino Santa Monica [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]
Location: 3115 Pico Blvd Santa Monica, CA 90405. (310) 829-4313
Date: February 7, 2018
Rating: Fun and educational!
This dinner is the first part of the annual White Burgundy Premox test series, hosted by Burg-meister Don Cornwell. Tonight’s particular dinner covers 2010 Chablis, Meursault, and Corton Charlemagne. Other dinners in the series are listed at the bottom of the post.
As usual, the dinner was at Valentino, which has been a mainstay of the LA fine dining scene for decades. I first started coming here in about 1995 and it was a mind blowing change from the usual trattoria and red-sauce style Italians. Valentino is much closer to Michelin 2 star restaurant in Italy, although not as modernist as some of those are in recent years. If food in Italy turns you on, check out my Eating Italy segment.
And with regard to the wines and vintage: 2010 is a classic year for white Burgundy. The relatively cool growing season maintained crisp acidity, and the reduced crop delivered great intensity of flavor. Moreover, the wines have structure, and although the simpler wines are accessible now, most premiers and grands crus from top estates have a long life ahead of them.
Our private room. Notice the large table with a lot of space. This is important when you have 30+ glasses a person!
Notice the awesome array of glasses in the background. Only about half of them are visible. Few restaurants can handle this sort of thing, as they need over 400 stems of the same type and a dedicated Sommelier with sufficient experience and skill. Ours tonight handled the whole wine service with extreme professionalism and personality.
Tonight’s special menu.
Flight 0: Champagne
2002 Philipponnat Champagne Brut Clos des Goisses. VM 96. The flagship 2002 Brut Clos des Goisses is simply stunning in this vintage. Seamless, ripe and beguiling, the 2002 is pure harmony in the glass. Dried pears, apricots, flowers, red berries and spices are some of the many notes that inform this towering, aristocratic wine. At once vertical yet endowed with serious length, the 2002 stands out for its breathtaking balance and overall sense of harmony. Layers of fruit built to the huge, creamy finish. This is a great showing from Philipponnat. The 2002 was disgorged in June 2011.
Branzino & Enoki Mushroom Rolls.
Flight 1: Chablis
2010 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses. VM 97. The 2010 Chablis Les Preuses combines the minerality of Valmur and the fruit of Bouguerots in a style that is immensely appealing. The wine’s balance is utterly impeccable throughout. This is one of those effortless, gracious wines that is easy to underestimate because the elements are so seamlessly woven together that nothing in particular stands out. I am blown away by the sheer balance, purity and harmony of what is in the glass. This is a great showing from Fevre and Didier Seguir.
2010 Vincent Dauvissat (René & Vincent) Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses. VM 96. The 2010 Chablis Preuses is a dense, structured wine bursting with fruit. The typical Preuses bouquet is very much present, but today the wine is young and needs time to settle down. This is a decidedly bold, ripe Preuses that captures the weight and richness of the year. Although insanely vivid and beautiful in the glass, it needs time to fully come together. Today, the minerality appears nearly buried by the sheer weight of the fruit.
2010 François Raveneau Chablis Grand Cru Valmur. VM 96. The 2010 Chablis Valmur is intense, rich and heady, but also has more than enough acidity to back things up. It is at once rich yet weightless in its expression of fruit, which is rare for Valmur. Hints of slate, crushed rocks, peaches and apricots meld together on the dramatic, enveloping finish. The Valmur is every bit as fabulous as it was when I tasted it last year from barrel.
2010 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos. VM 95+. The 2010 Chablis Les Clos is all about understatement and balance. White floral notes meld into white stone fruit in this utterly gracious Chablis. Clos can at times be fleeting and elusive, and there is certainly some of that in the 2010. Still, it is impossible to miss the wine’s textural finesse and sheer overall balance. I will not be surprised if the 2010 continues to get better in bottle.
2010 Vincent Dauvissat (René & Vincent) Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos. VM 96. Veins of saline minerality support expressive fruit in the 2010 Chablis Les Clos. White peaches, slate, smoke, crushed rocks and salt are all quite vivid in the glass. It is hard to resist the Clos today, as the fruit is so silky and delineated, yet at the same time it is quite clear the wine has the potential to evolve beautifully in bottle for many, many years. The 2010 is all about silkiness and precision. Today, it has a little less overt ripeness and weight next to the Preuses.
2010 François Raveneau Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos. VM 97+. The very best elements of vintage and site is expressed by one of Chablis’s true visionaries come together in the 2010 Chablis Clos. The aromatics alone are breathtaking, but then endless layers of fruit flow across the palate, captivating all the senses; intellectual, hedonistic and everything else. The Clos has elements of all the preceding wines in the same way Romanée-Conti encapsulates all the wines at DRC. The 2010 Clos shows great balance and class from start to finish. It is a profound wine to savor over the next few decades, although it shouldn’t be touched before age ten. Readers who can find the 2010 should not hesitate. It is a magical bottle of wine.
2010 François Raveneau Chablis Grand Cru Blanchot. VM 95. An intriguing, rich, almost tropical expression of fruit emerges from the 2010 Chablis Blanchot, owing to the warmer microclimate in this site. The Blanchots is ripe, seductive and enveloping. Stylistically it is one of the flashier 2010s here. Layers of fruit build to the deeply resonant, radiant finish. The Blanchot should drink well relatively early.
2010 François Raveneau Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre. VM 95+. Readers will have to be patient with the 2010 Chablis Montée de Tonnerre. Some of the other 2010s are showing much more today, but the Montée de Tonnerre is all understatement and class. Still, it is impossible to miss the wine’s textural finesse and exceptional overall harmony. Everything is simply in the right place in this majestic, compelling Chablis. A gentle hint of spice frames the finish.
Warm King Crab Salad with Cannellini Beans and Citrus Essence.
Flight 2: Meursault
2010 Bouchard Père et Fils Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. VM 93. Pale, bright yellow. Aromas and flavors of fresh peach and apricot, lemon-lime and crushed rock. Rich, dense, creamy and seamless, but with firm acidity and strong stony minerality leavening the wine’s sweetness. Very complex and intense Perrieres with superb energy and length. Made from a blend of three parcels.
From my cellar: 2010 Domaine / Maison Vincent Girardin Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. VM 94+. Bright pale yellow. Exotic, slightly high-toned aromas of orange, hazelnut and spicy oak. Then much more soil-dominated on the palate, with savory, chewy flavors of liquid stone and salty minerality dominating the wine’s underlying fruit. Tensile, tightly wound Perrieres, in need of five to seven years of patience.
2010 Domaine Roulot Meursault 1er Cru Bouchères. VM 94. Roulot’s 2010 Meursault Bouchères comes across as weightless, perfumed and very beautiful. Floral aromatics lead to expressive stone fruits in this gracious, feminine wine. In 2010, the Bouchères is all subtlety, finesse and understatement. A distinctly salty finish full of tension and energy leaves a lasting impression. This is going to be a fascinating wine to follow over the coming years. The 2010 is the last Bouchères made by Roulot. As part of the purchase of Domaine Manuel, Jean-Marc Roulot acquired the 1.3 hectare Clos des Bouchères, and he prefers to focus his efforts there, as that plot is quite a bit larger than his existing holding in the greater Bouchères.
From my cellar: 2010 Domaine Henri Boillot Meursault 1er Cru Les Genevrières. VM 94. Knockout perfume of soft citrus fruits, menthol, wet stone and white truffle. Densely packed, saline and seamless; deceptively approachable today owing to its sheer richness and depth of flavor and its very long, sweet aftertaste. But this utterly primary wine has the stuffing for aging. Boillot recommends drinking it in the next year or so or holding it for seven or eight years; he’s convinced the wine will be totally closed in two years.
2010 Domaine Latour-Giraud Meursault 1er Cru Les Genevrières Cuvée des Pierre. VM 95+. Bright pale yellow. Spicy oak, lemon oil, hazelnut and brown spices on the nose. Boasts superb saline density on entry, then remains tactile and salty in the middle, but with terrific energy to buffer the wine’s volume. There’s outstanding flavor intensity here but not the early tenderness of the basic Genevrieres bottling. Superb lemony minerality gives the finish terrific cut. Really mounts slowly and builds. Latour noted that both this wine and the cuvee classique went back into barrel for additional aging after the August racking; he moved the rest of his wines into tanks, where they remained in mass for another six months.
2010 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault 1er Cru Les Genevrières. VM 96+. Usually we feature older wines in Cellar Favorites, but given the understandable trepidation consumers have around cellaring white Burgundy, I thought it would be interesting to see how a handful of highly touted white Burgundies are faring. To be honest, I had a selfish reason for wanting to taste these wines. I bought many of the Lafon 2010s (it is my daughter’s birth year), but I did so not really knowing when the wines would be ready to drink or how long they will last. I think I can at least offer a view on the first part of that question, but the second, happily, remains a question mark, in the best sense of the term.Vinous readers will recall that 2010 is unusual in the Côte de Beaune for its combination of both elevated ripeness and high acidity, two attributes one rarely finds in the same vintage. At Lafon, the 2010s were positively electric when I tasted them from barrel and then from bottle. Today, a few years later, the 2010 whites are every bit as impressive. Although projecting drinking windows for white Burgundy these days is fraught with peril, based on this showing all of the 2010s need at least a few more years in bottle with the possible exception of the Goutte d’Or.While the preceding Meursaults all offer a measure of exuberance – albeit in a classically austere style – the 2010 Meursault Genevrières is a much more introverted wine that draws the taster in with its myriad shades of dimension. Deceptively medium in body, the 2010 is all about intensity, cut and inward energy, with the classic reductive flavor profile that is typical of this great site, and breathtaking harmony. The 2010 refreshes the palate with every taste as it continues to grow in the glass. Over the last few years, the 2010 has blossomed into a spectacular Meursault. This is the best showing yet from the Genevrières.
2010 Domaine Roulot Meursault 1er Cru Charmes. VM 95+. Orange and lemon zest and pure crushed stone on the reticent nose. A real live wire in the mouth, with great verve to the flavors of lemon peel, white pepper and saline minerality. For such a bracing wine, this one boasts a magically silky, seamless texture. The outstanding, slow-mounting finish boasts pristine grapefruit, lemon and crushed stone elements and outstanding aromatic persistence. This wine finished its malo in June of 2011 and is still an infant today.
From my cellar: 2010 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault 1er Cru Charmes. VM 94. Deep aromas of fresh apricot, orange creamsicle, vanilla and spices. Big, concentrated and rich, displaying more power and weight today than the Genevrieres. Dense and silky-sweet but a bit shocked by the bottling and not currently showing the precision or length of the last sample. But this is still long on the aftertaste. Lafon notes that this wine will become more floral as it settles down in the bottle.
Linguine with Sea Scallops Ragu. Not a bad dish, but not the best White Burg pairing and oddly VERY similar to the next dish.
Flight 3: Meursault Perrieres
2010 Henri Germain et Fils Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. BH 90-93. Here the SO2 had just recently been adjusted and it was strong enough to render the nose impossible to fairly evaluate. The stony, precise and energetic middle weight flavors possess both excellent complexity and plenty of detail before concluding in a dry, clean, focused and impressively persistent finish.
2010 Henri Boillot Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. VM 93-95. Bright, light medium yellow. Fully ripe peach complemented by flinty minerality. At once thick and bright, with intense stone fruit, oak char and nut oil flavors. Quite serene today after the early malo. This switches to a higher gear on the back half, with its mounting finish showing strong crushed stone minerality, some smoky, petrolly, riesling-like notes, and outstanding persistence.
2010 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. VM 95+. Locked up tight on the nose. Then thick, large-scaled and powerful in the mouth, with an extraordinarily tactile palate feel to the pineapple and crushed stone flavors. Packed with dry extract. Boasts the concentration, fine-grained texture and sheer sappy density of a grand cru. This brilliant wine finishes with uncanny rising length. I’d love to revisit it in ten years.
2010 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. VM 96. Bright pale yellow. Very ripe aromas of pineapple, yellow peach and wet stone, lifted by a floral topnote. Wonderfully fine-grained and sweet, but with pungent pineapple and mineral flavors conveying a powerful impression of energy. Finishes very long and lush, with a resounding whiplash of fruits and stone. These 2010s boast outstanding depth of fruit without any heaviness.
2010 Vincent Dancer Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. BH 92-94. This is perhaps the purest wine in the range with its gorgeously complex floral, spiced pear and wet stone suffused aromas. The racy, intense and chiseled flavors possess good mid-palate fat and concentration with plenty of dry extract that buffers the explosive, classy and gorgeously persistent finish where a discreet touch of wood surfaces. This is, in a word, terrific.
2010 Domaine Roulot Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. VM 93. Much more exotic on the nose than the Charmes, offering aromas of pineapple, hazelnut and marzipan. Hugely ripe and concentrated, but almost tropical in the context of this set of 2010s. Offers grand cru weight and texture, strong acidity and palate-staining pineapple and grapefruit flavors but finishes with a slight youthful bitterness. I’d drink this very ripe wine over the next decade or so while waiting on the superlative Charmes.
2010 Domaine Jean-Michel Gaunoux Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. VM 94. Bright pale yellow. With its aromas of pineapple, powdered stone and tea leaf, this smells a bit sweeter than the Genevrieres. Dense but light on its feet, with terrific inner-mouth perfume to the flavors of lavender, powdered stone and minerals. Taut, elegant, very dry wine with superb cut and rising length. A very clear expression of Perrieres terroir.
2010 Albert Grivault Meursault 1er Cru Clos des Perrières. VM 92. Cool nose of mint, green herbs, some lemon and lemon drops, a bit of sweet oak. A bit oaky for my tastes. The palate shows more energy with good acid, not as deep or wide as I would like from a Perrieres but quite pretty with lemon drops, oak, a touch of the herbal/mint. The finish is the best part showing great drive and brightness with lots of lemon drops and some sweetness from the oak.
Risotto with Lobster and Mixed Seafood. We always get this dish, but tonight it was nearly identical in flavor profile to the pasta and again a bit too tangy/acidic for the Burg. Really we should have had the white cheesy/creamy risotto that was a Valentino specialty back in the 90s, the one that is closer to Risotto gamberi con crema.
Flight 4: Corton Charlemagne
2010 Henri Boillot Corton-Charlemagne. VM 96+. Bright pale yellow. Extremely closed nose hints at gunflint and menthol. Dense and pure on entry, then as powerful as a solid in the middle, with explosive lift to the flavors of white pepper, mint and dusty stone. Expands with air to fill the mouth without giving any impression of weight. Finishes with a convincing saline tang and outstanding persistence. This has the structure of a top red Burgundy: I’d forget about it for at least eight years.
2010 Bouchard Père et Fils Corton-Charlemagne. VM 95+. Good bright, pale yellow. Very pure, reticent aromas of lemon, lime and white flowers. Dry and penetrating to the point of painful, with pristine flavors of crushed stone, lime, lemon and ripe but lightly bitter pomelo. Pure energy: this makes the Cabottes seem almost creamy by comparison. Finishes with intense crushed stone flavor and outstanding cut and lift. For the cellar.
2010 Faiveley Corton-Charlemagne. VM 95+. Palish bright yellow. Tight, vibrant nose offers white peach, pineapple, nut oils and brown spices. Juicy and sweet but kept under wraps today by powerful acidity. Still, this remarkably intense wine does not come across as austere owing the full ripeness of the fruit. Wonderfully classy Corton-Charlemagne with a penetrating, dusty, extremely long finish. This held up brilliantly in the recorked bottle. I suspect this wine will shut down in the next couple years.
2010 Domaine Patrick Javillier Corton-Charlemagne. VM 92+. Bright pale-yellow. Very closed nose hints at minerals and spices. Rich, dense and sappy, with almost surprising sucrosite to the flavors of orange zest and stone. Very precise Corton-Charlemagne with a tangy, slightly tannic back end. Forget about this one for at least five or six years.
2010 Domaine de la Vougeraie Corton-Charlemagne Le Charlemagne. VM 94-96. The 2010 Corton-Charlemagne Le Charlemagne is stunningly beautiful. Layers of expressive, voluptuous fruit are supported by persistent underlying mineral notes. The wine blossoms on the palate in all directions, showing off its pedigree and pure class. A vivid, crystalline finish leaves a lasting impression.
2010 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Corton-Charlemagne. VM 95+. Pale, bright yellow-green. Discreet, pristine aromas of white peach, lime, white pepper and powdered stone. Extremely tight and penetrating, with outstanding intensity to its steely, lemony flavors. Conveys a powerful citrus character that’s accentuated on the back end by a bracing crushed stone element. Impenetrable today but built for a long and eventful evolution in bottle.
2010 Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne. VM 94+. Good pale yellow. Penetrating aromas of citrus peel, spices, metallic minerality and crushed rock. Tightly wound, gripping and deep, with outstanding concentration and clarity and a density of texture that reminded me of the 2005 here. A flavor of candied lime peel is already quite exhilarating but this wine’s youthfully imploded character calls for at least seven or eight years of cellaring. Today, this is rather like a tighter version of the 2011, and even more closed than a bottle I rated 94 in Issue 164.
2010 Domaine / Maison Vincent Girardin Corton-Charlemagne Quintessence. VM 92?. Bright, pale yellow. Reticent but very pure aromas of yellow peach, hazelnut and vanillin oak; comes across as riper than the utterly primary basic Corton-Charlemagne. Sweet and fine-grained, with a distinctly silky texture to the yellow fruit flavors. I find this less limey and minerally than the basic bottling, without quite that wine’s tension. In fact, the finish shows a slightly exotic apricot quality and a bit of youthful warmth.
Pan Roasted Napa Quail with Parmesan Polenta. Good quail dish.
Flight 5: Dessert
1989 Château Rieussec. VM 92. Lively, complex, fresh aromas of tropical fruit, honey and spicy oak. Sweet and viscous in the middle palate; kept fresh by apple and pear notes and harmonious acidity. Very concentrated and deep. Very long on the aftertaste; has the sheer material to buffer its alcohol. Rieussec switched to later bottling with this vintage: 30 rather than 24 months after the harvest.
Made and brought by me for the meal: Mint Oreo Fudge Triple Threat – Fresh mint gelato base with Valrhona chocolate ganache and mint oreo cookies!
Apple Torte & Apple Fritters with Cinnamon Creme Anglaise.
Looking over the sea of glasses!
There is a lot to say about this tasting. First of all, Valentino did a good job as usual. The wine service was impeccable, and this is a difficult task (pouring lots of big blind flights). Overall service is absolutely first rate. It’s a large quiet room, and the staff was highly attentive. The food was okay, although feeling a bit dated and the menu selection was odd with the two nearly identically sauced dishes. The decor and food are also a tad dated now, very very 90s — and not even as good as I remember back in the 90s. But memory is a funny thing.
There wasn’t quite enough food and the flights were WAY too large. Really this dinner could use 6 flights, no bigger than 5 wines each and about 6 savory dishes. This was more a planning/budget issue than anything under the restaurant’s control.
Thanks to Don C again as always for organizing a super fun and education event! It’s an enormous amount of organization and we all really appreciate it.
Speaking of Don, his compiled results and comments from this dinner are as follows. The top five ranked wines of the evening were:
On February we held the first night of the 2010 White Burgundy and Vintage Assessment Dinners at Valentino Restaurant in Santa Monica. The dinners were in our usual format with 14 attendees and sommelier Paul Sherman evaluating the wines at each dinner. All of the wines were served single blind and all of the voting takes place completely blind (with individual written ballots) with the attendees ranking their top five wines by bottle number. As we usually do, we attempted to include all of the top examples from each appellation.
We tasted 32 different wines from Chablis, Meursault and Corton Charlemagne (four flights of eight wines each). On February 20 we had 30 different hyphenated grand crus from Montrachet and two ringers – one from California and one from France. Again, we had four flights of eight wines each.
Here are the top ten wines based on the group rankings from each night:
Night One- Feb 7 (Chablis (8), Meursault (16), Corton Charlemagne (8)):
|Group Ranking||Total Points||Votes||Rating|
|1||Vincent Dancer Meursault Perrieres||29||8||95|
|2||Lafon Meursault Genevrieres||23||6||95|
|3||Raveneau Chablis Clos||20||5||94|
|4||Roulot Meursault Perrieres||19||6||95|
|5 tie||Javillier Corton Charlemagne [DIAM]||17||7||94|
|5 tie||H. Boillot Meursault Perrieres||17||4||93|90?|
|7||Latour-Giraud Meursault Genevrieres Cuvee de Pierre||15||5||95|
|8||Vougeraie Corton Charlemagne||13||4||93|
|9||Roulot Meursault Charmes||11||4||94+|
|10||Fevre Clos [DiAM]||8||4||94+|
The premox report for nights one and two were very good. Over two nights, we had the lowest total incidence of oxidized or advanced wines over the past 13 years. The group consensus was that 3 of the 64 wines were advanced or oxidized (6.25%). By my count it was 7 of 64 wines (or 10.94%) [ Andy interjects that at dinner 1 basically nothing was premoxed and that he feels Don sometimes see a highly ripe wine as advanced ]. To date, the vintage with the lowest incidence of oxidized and advanced wines was 2004 — (12.7%). But we still have 16 bottles of “Mostly Montrachet” to taste on March 7. Once again, none of the DIAM-closed bottles were corked, oxidized or advanced and no one reported any sort of unusual flavors or aromas. So far, that’s 13 perfect bottles over the last two years.
Some Impressions About the 2010 Vintage Based on this tasting:
I will provide details on each wine in the tasting notes, but I found the 2010 vintage more uneven and probably less impressive overall than I had expected – at least for the Cote de Beaune wines. The Cote de Beaune wines are much riper and more dense (with lots of tropical fruit notes on the aromas) than the early reviews suggested. And in several cases, particularly in Corton, Meursault and Batard, the acidity level wasn’t as high as expected and in some cases, seemingly not high enough to counterbalance the heavy ripe fruit flavors. [ Andy notes that he LOVED the 2010s – but it’s highly subjective ]
The 2010 Chablis as a group were marvelous. They have prototype Chablis aromas (lots of oyster shell and green fruit) with excellent Chablis minerality/liquid rocks in the finishes. The surprise was that this came with about 50% more depth of fruit than most of the classic Chablis years. This is a vintage in a style that everyone can love – similar to 2002 but with better acidity and abundant minerality. There were lots of smiles over these wines and no one had any doubts, as we sometimes do when tasting Chablis at 7.5 years.
The Meursault wines were very uneven, and in some cases the wines seemed totally atypical and excessively ripe for Meursault. Three or four of the wines had Corton Charlemagne weight and density with none of the normal Meursault aroma or flavor markers. These bottles gave the impression of being too sweet and way too fat for Meursault. Since I’m a classic Meursault lover, I wasn’t pleased. While there were a handful of really stellar Meursaults (e.g. Vincent Dancer MP, Roulot MP, Lafon Genevrieres, Latour-Giraud Genevrieres Cuvee Pierre, and Roulot Charmes) overall I preferred the flight of 2009 Meursault Perrieres we tasted a year ago, which were exceptional, to the flight of 2010 Meursault Perrieres. That’s certainly not what I would have expected going into the dinner.
The Corton Charlemagne flight was group’s least favorite flight on night one. Two of the wines were advanced, one was corked and the BDM seemed quite off to me with an excessively bitter phenols finish. Overall this flight of wines didn’t impress me. Some were notably sweet, even for Corton, and the acidity didn’t seem to match the ripeness and sweetness. Only the Javillier seemed to be a classic Corton.
Other big tasting dinners from this dinner series: