Restaurant: The Dal Rae
Location: 9023 E Washington Blvd, Pico Rivera, CA 90660. (562) 949-2444
Date: February 1, 2014
Rating: Excellent and extremely old school
With the success of our High End Burgundy and High End Bordeaux themed dinners, we Hedonists are experimenting with more ideas. Tonight all the wines are requried to be 99 and 100 point (in some major publication). The setting is The Dal Rae, which is a massively old school mid century classic out in the middle of outer Mongolia (Pico Rivera). I’d never been to Pico Rivera, probably never even heard of it. I still barely know where it is after going — just somewhere in the inland empire.
2002 Vilmart et Cie Coeur de Cuvee. Parker 94. The 2002 Brut Coeur de Cuvee is absolutely stunning. This young, towering Champagne bursts from the glass with layers of mineral-infused fruit, showing fabulous intensity and purity from start to finish. Hints of tropical, opulent fruit are very nicely tempered by the wine’s underlying structure. Think Montrachet with bubbles. The Coeur de Cuvee is made from 50 year old vines in Les Blanches Voies Hautes. The blend is 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir. Dosage is 8 grams per liter.
From my cellar: 1996 Chapoutier Ermitage Cuvee de l’Oree. Parker 99-100. It is no secret that I adore Chapoutier’s luxury cuvee of white Hermitage called Cuvee L’Oree. Made from 90-year old vines and microscopic yields of 10-12 hectoliters per hectare, this wine flirts with perfection. It is a compelling white Hermitage. Made from 100% Marsanne, it is as rich and multidimensional as the fullest, most massive Montrachet money can buy. It is unctuously textured, yet extraordinarily and beautifully balanced. I suspect it will drink well early in life, and then shut down for a few years. It should last for 4-5 decades. The 1996 possesses some of the most amazing glycerin levels I have ever seen in a dry white wine. In short, this wine must be tasted to be believed.
This is the second time I’ve failed to be impressed with this wine. I’ve had the bottles since release too. Maybe it’s just was Marsanne tastes like, and it was a perfectly nice wine (if a little on the oxidized side), but 100 points? The 1993 Pierre Morey Batard-Montrachet I had the night before totally blew it out of the water.
Crab Cakes (2) . . . Chili, Cilantro Cream Sauce. Lots of good lump blue crab in here, and as such, a surprisingly good crab cake (and I grew up partially in the Maryland Eastern shore).
2008 Marcassin Chardonnay Marcassin Vineyard. Parker 100. Utterly perfect, the 2008 Chardonnay Marcassin Estate is a dead-ringer for the 2007, but slightly richer and longer, as hard as that may be to believe. This extraordinary effort is unquestionably the “Chardonnay of the Vintage.” In fact, it may be the “Chardonnay of the Decade.” Brioche, nectarine, citrus and orange blossom notes intermixed with a liqueur of rocks, great acid, phenomenal concentration and staggering length result in a sublime Chardonnay that should drink well for 15+ years.
Parker clearly knows nothing about great Chardonnay. This was a pleasant wine, and good for an American one, and it was intensely floral. But it was also totally lacking any backbone and acidic structure.
Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail (5) . . . Our Own Spicy Cocktail Sauce. Classic and strait-forward.
2008 Native9 Pinot Noir Rancho Ontiveros Vineyard. Parker 91. This is a nicely layered, full-bodied, and textured Pinot Noir, with a dark plum color and a sweet nose of white chocolate, black cherries, pomegranate, fresh mushrooms, and earth. Complex, deep, and layered, this is an impressive Pinot Noir to drink over the next 3-4 years.
This was a bonus bottle. Parker knows even less about Pinot, because this tasted like oak with a bitter unpleasant finish. Ick. Give me a half decent village from Burgundy.
Fried Rock Shrimp . . . Hot Sweet and Sour Sauce. Sort of like what you’d get if Panda Express did popcorn shrimp — but quite tasty nonetheless (although not even slightly spicy).
Teriyaki Tidbits (4) . . . Filet Mignon with Ortega Chile and Monterey Jack Cheese. A little odd and not my thing.
From my cellar: 1986 Leoville-Las Cases. Parker 100. The late Michel Delon always thought that this was the greatest vintage he had produced. We often tasted it side by side with the 1982, because I always preferred the latter vintage. Of course, the two vintages are quite different in style, with the 1986 a monument to classicism, with great tannin, extraordinary delineation, and a huge, full-bodied nose of sweet, ripe cassis fruit intermixed with vanilla, melon, fruitcake, and a multitude of spices. The wine has always been phenomenally concentrated, yet wonderfully fresh and vigorous. The wine still seems young, yet it is hard to believe it is not close to full maturity. It is a great example of Leoville Las Cases, and another compelling reason to take a serious look at the top Cabernet Sauvignon-based Medocs of 1986.
Slick, smooth and mature, this was my second favorite red of the night, but still, I was disappointed. It was an excellent Bordeaux, but it didn’t sing or really have any magic going. The 1982 Lafite I opened in December was vastly better, as the 1985 Margaux I split with one of my best friends over Thanksgiving. The cheapy glass glass didn’t help. I should have put it in one of my Riedels.
Escargots Bourguignonne (6) . . . A French Classic, garlic butter, herbs.
2006 Fontodi Flaccianello della Pieve Vino da Tavola. Parker 97. The 2006 Flaccianello della Pieve is monumental, as it has been since the very beginning. Smoke, black cherries, plums, incense, licorice and tar are some of the many notes that burst from the glass in this powerful wine. The 2006 has fruit and structure to burn. It is going to be an absolutely fabulous wine to follow over the coming years, but patience is key. A huge, explosive finish rounds things out in style.
This gets a 99 from Wine Spectator, so it sneaks in (barely). Still, it was probably my favorite red (along with the 86 Leoville) as it had some character and depth.
Oysters Rockefeller . . . Chopped Bacon, Spinach, Pernod, Parmesanand Hollandaise Sauce. Can we say heavy?
2001 Abreu Cabernet Sauvignon Madrona Ranch. Parker 97-100. While I am not surprised that the 2001 Thorevilos turned out to be perfect, the 2001 Madrona Ranch was more of an eye-opener in that it has become even more extraordinary than I predicted eight years ago. A prodigious wine, with complex notes of subtle barbecue smoke intermixed with blueberry pie, black currant liqueur, acacia flowers, lead pencil shavings, and sweet foresty floor notes, this wine builds incrementally with layer upon layer of fruit, glycerin and concentration. The finish goes well past a minute, and the wine is full-bodied and deep, with wonderfully sweet tannin. It is still an adolescent in terms of its total evolution, but it is irresistible simply because of the flawless nature of the wine and incredible perfume and flavor intensity. Simply amazing! Both of these wines are adolescents, and probably won’t peak for another 5-8 years and keep for 30-40.
I can’t really comment on this assault of new world red individually. Most of them don’t stand out in my memory. All were fairly pleasant (other than 1 that was corked) but they just don’t do it for me.
Hearts of Romaine . . . With Avocado, Maui Onion, Candied Walnuts, Grated Bleu Cheese, Vinaigrette. This one is missing the avocado (I missed the better photo).
2009 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Galitzine Vineyard. Parker 96. Also incredibly concentrated, with burly structure and a mountain of tannin, the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Galitzine Vineyard (99% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Merlot) delivers a seriously intense array of blackberry and kirsch-styled fruit, licorice, charcoal and spice box on both the nose and palate. Aged for 22 months in 100% new French oak and a big, broad shouldered, full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon, it possesses a rocking mid-palate and fabulous length on the finish. Really showing the power of its Red Mountain terroir, it needs 4-5 years of bottle age to become civilized and will have decades of evolution.
Mixed Greens or Wedge of Iceberg . . . Choice of Dressing: 1,000 Island, Ranch, French, House, Bleu Cheese, Marinara, or Old Fashioned Grated Bleu Cheese.
I didn’t try this, but I’ve seen better wedges. Actually, I think CPK has a better wedge. Certainly Bouchon does.
2001 Verite La Muse. Parker 100. 2001 was the first truly great vintage for Jess Jackson and Pierre Seillan, and that is evidenced by the utterly perfect 2001 La Muse, a blend of 87% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Malbec. Over three-fourths of it came from the Alexander Mountain estate of Jess Jackson, and the rest from Chalk Hill, Knights Valley, and a tiny bit from Bennett Valley. This dense purple-colored effort exhibits notes of licorice, creme de cassis, plum sauce, violets and truffles. Full-bodied with magnificent density, overall equilibrium, stunning purity, sweet but abundant tannin and a fabulous finish, this profound wine remains a baby at age ten. Give it another 5-6 years of bottle age and drink it over the following 35-40+ years. It is very French in style even though one could argue that this level of concentration can only be achieved by a handful of wines from Pomerol and St.-Emilion.
Well, this was bigger, that was for sure.
2008 Verite Le Desir. Parker 100. The fruit for this blend of 61% Cabernet Franc, 31% Merlot and the rest Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec came from Chalk Hill (58%) and Alexander Valley (42%). Pierre Seillan believes the Chalk Hill fruit provides a truffle-like character and the Alexander Valley gives minerality, structure, tannin and intensity. The 2008 will be fascinating to taste next to the 2007 over the next 30+ years. Sweet mulberry, blueberry and blackberry fruit intermixed with notions of black truffles, damp earth and forest floor emerge from this beauty of stunning intensity, purity and texture. The alcohol is 14.4% and the relatively elevated pH is 3.76.
Baby Mixed Greens with Fried Goat Cheese . . . Raspberry Vinaigrette.
Like the salad grandmother made, or one of those bags at the supermarket.
Dal Rae Caesar Salad . . . Prepared Table Side, A Classic.
And the actual Cesar. This was a good Cesar, way butter than most of the bland ones, but it wasn’t up to the standards of Boa’s.
2010 Dominus Proprietary Red Wine. Parker 100. Composed of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petit Verdot, the stunning, full-bodied 2010 Dominus boasts an exceptional perfume of hoisin sauce, licorice, underbrush, forest floor, plums, black currants and jammy cherries intertwined with hints of cedar, baking spices and oak. Full-bodied and voluptuously textured, the 2010 is on a slightly faster evolutionary track than the 2009 (somewhat of an anomaly for these two vintages). This exquisite as well as prodigious 2010 can be drunk young, but it should age effortlessly for 20-25 years. Bravo!
Like a young Bordeaux. A VERY VERY young Bordeaux. Still, pretty good.
Dal Rae Famous Pepper Steak. Large Filet Mignon (14 oz).
I had one of these (along with my lobster tail). It was tasty, although the peppers had enough umph to pretty much drown out the meat and did wake me up at 2 in the morning.
Dal Rae Famous Pepper Steak. Prime New York (16 oz) .
2002 Torbreck Run Rig. Parker 99. The 2002 Run Rig (97% Shiraz and 3% Viognier aged in 100% new French oak) represents the essence of old vine Barossa fruit. Extraordinarily opulent and rich, but playing it closer to the vest than the 2001, it gets my nod as one of the most remarkable wines made in either the Southern or Northern Hemisphere. An inky/purple color is accompanied by a sumptuous bouquet of apricots, honeysuckle, black raspberries, blackberries, licorice, and a hint of roasted meats. The wood has been soaked up by the wine’s extraordinary concentration. Fashioned from four sectors of Barossa (Maranaga, Koonunga Hill, Moppa, and Greenock), it spent 30 months in primarily new oak, and was bottled without fining or filtration. Anticipated maturity: 2007-2020+.
Duck à l’ Orange . . . Crisp Half Duck, Orange Liquor Flamed, Rice Pilaf.
2005 Alban Vineyards Syrah Lorraine Vineyard. Parker 100. An absolutely monumental wine is the 2005 Syrah Lorraine Vineyard. The finest Syrah John Alban has yet produced, its inky/ruby/purple hue is accompanied by gorgeously sweet aromas of flowers, blueberries, black raspberries, blackberries, and subtle hints of smoky oak, bacon fat, and licorice. In the mouth, the wine is seamlessly constructed with fabulous fruit, brilliant concentration, and virtually perfect balance. Moreover, the finish lingers on the palate for over 60 seconds. It should drink beautifully for 15 or more years.
Prime Dry Aged Tomahawk Ribeye (38oz)… Onion Staws. An amazing steak for those who are hungry.
This picture doesn’t even do justice to this massive steak. It was fully 20-24″ long from the end of the meat to the other end of the bone!
2001 Marquis Philips Shiraz Integrity. Parker 97-99. Deep garnet-brick in color, the 2001 Integrity reveals evolved aromas of black fruit, dried mulberries, prunes, sandalwood, leather and tobacco with some nuances of oolong tea and anise. Ripe, rich and seductive, it has a lively acid line, medium levels of fine tannins and a long finish with layers of kirsch and cherry syrup flavors lingering.
One of the two was also mildly corked, but I can’t remember which.
Double Cut Lamb Chops . . . Herb Crusted with Thyme, Burgundy Garlic Sauce
The Finest Large Eye Colorado Chops.
2002 Marquis Philips Shiraz Integrity. Parker 94-99. Deep garnet-brick colored, the 2002 Integrity is a 100% Shiraz that displays evolved leather and tobacco notes intermingled with some meaty and gamey aromas and nuances of coffee, olives and underbrush. Full bodied, it has a coffee flavors in the mouth, medium levels of velvety tannins, and a medium-high acid backbone. It finishes long with notes of eucalyptus showing through. It is drinking now.
Large Veal Chop . . . Bone in With Morel Mushroom Sauce.
Have a few calories?
Filet Mignon. Large Cut (14 oz) .
2007 Hundred Acre Vineyard Ark. Parker 100. A perfect wine, the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Ark Vineyard (1,300 – 1,400 cases) from Howell Mountain is one of the great efforts from this high elevation terroir. It offers notes of burning embers, black raspberries, blueberries and flowers, a full-bodied opulence, wonderful intensity, but the wine is not weighty or overripe. Fleshy and voluptuous with terrific floral notes, it should drink well for 15-20 years.
No cheating here. This was the best of the big new worlds. Pretty massive though.
Filet Mignon Petite Cut (10 oz) .
Chilean Seabass Alla Ben . . . Mild White Fish, Our Signature Preparation.
2001 Chateau d’Yquem. Parker 100. There are 10,000 cases of this perfect sweet white Bordeaux. The 2001 Yquem reveals a hint of green in its light gold color. While somewhat reticent aromatically, with airing, it offers up honeyed tropical fruit, orange marmalade, pineapple, sweet creme brulee, and buttered nut-like scents. In the mouth, it is full-bodied with gorgeously refreshing acidity as well as massive concentration and unctuosity. Everything is uplifted and given laser-like focus by refreshing acidity. This large-scaled, youthful Yquem appears set to take its place among the most legendary vintages of the past, and will age effortlessly for 75+ years. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2100+.
Pretty fabulous, even if not in it’s most expressive period. Seriously balanced and nuanced.
Grand Marnier Supreme . . . Chocolate ice cream, raspberry sherbet hand whipped with Grand Marnier. A bit too much Grand Marnier flavor for me.
Overall, this was a fun night. The service at The Dal Rae was pretty over the top. With all the table side stuff and everything. At times we had a veritable army delivering, sometimes 6-8 people. There were about 5 waitresses and although they were clearly not experienced with our level of wine, they tried really hard, doing a pretty good job rounding up glasses and pouring around — even if a lot of the glasses were cheap heavy ones that don’t do 100 pointers any service (they only had limited good ones). Everyone was super friendly and it’s a tough task managing a big table like this, so I’d give them 10/10 for service.
The food is great for what it is, American classic, and it’s fun to see all that old tableside and flaming stuff. It’s not so much my taste (and I should have ordered seafood but I wanted to try the pepper steak because it’s “their thing”). Really, I like my cuisine far more modern (like this!). Still, food like this is almost a lost art and a different “genre”: call it 50s-60s high American done right.
I was a little disappointed in our wines. It’s just a preference thing, but 99-100 points or not, these New World wines just don’t do it for me. I’d take a decent 91-93 Burghound premier cru any day over most of these giant extracted reds. And to hold them up as wine perfection and compare them to the likes of the 1995 Rousseau Clos de Beze I had a couple of weeks ago? It just ain’t even close — but like art, architecture, music, sports teams, or even pretty girls, there are a lot of tastes out there! A modification that might work in the future would be “99 or 100 points, 1999 or older” or better yet, “99 or 100 points, from Europe” (or even better “1999 or older AND from Europe!” 🙂