Location: 2311 Cotner Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90064 Tel. 310-231-0316
Date: April 2021
Cuisine: Modern Tapas
Rating: Bright flavors and a lot of options.
A Sauvages lunch was my “last meal” before the year+ long hiatus from restaurant life and it’s fitting to return in style.
Upstairs 2 is located just above the Wine House on Cotner. The main room serves an eclectic tapas menu, but as this was a special Sauvages du Vin lunch (always a lunch, almost always Friday) and the restaurant was still closed due to the pandemic, we took over the whole dining room. Today’s theme was 2009 vintage or older red Grand Cru Burgundies from the communes of Gevrey-Chambertin, Morey-St. Denis, Chambolle-Musigny or Vosne-Romanee (91+ pts. Burghound or 93+pts. Parker).
Our special menu.
From my cellar: 2004 Taittinger Champagne Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut. 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. (Drink between 2014-2034)
NV Krug Champagne Brut Grande Cuvée Edition 168eme. JG 96+. The new release of Krug Grande Cuvée “168ème Édition” is from the base year of 2012, with the reserve wines in the blend stretching all the way back to 1996. The final cépages has ended up as fifty-two percent pinot noir, thirty-five percent chardonnay and thirteen percent pinot meunier. Forty-two percent of the blend is made up of reserve wines in this beautiful iteration of Grande Cuvée. The bouquet is superb, wafting from the glass in a mosaic of apple, white peach, a touch of Clos du Mesnil-like fresh apricot, almond, a beautifully complex base of soil tones, fresh-baked bread, hints of the caraway seed to come and a whisper of buttery oak (which is particularly evident when the wine is first poured, but quickly is subsumed in the other elements on the nose). On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied, focused and very complex, with a lovely core of fruit, fine soil signature, utterly refined mousse and a long, perfectly balanced and very energetic finish. This is one of the most effortless and seamlessly balanced young releases of Grande Cuvée in several years and is utterly brilliant wine. (Drink between 2020-2080)
Marinated crab amuse.
From the side.
Smoked salmon in pastry.
Scallop with citrus.
The wine list.
1990 Domaine A.-F. Gros Richebourg. 93 points. Lush and round, this was drinking magnificently well on the night. It started with a lovely nose, more lifted in character than most of the other Richebourgs on show, with red currants and cassis notes laced with earth, herb and sweetly citrus orange peel aromas. It was on the palate where the wine really shone though. It had a lovely fullness to it, with a plush depth and plenty of gentle power pulling away on a bed of softened tannins. I got a hint of sur-maturite on the attack, with a flavours of dried strawberries and raisin, but these were spiked by a bright citrussy energy and on the midpalate and beyond, all lending to a sense of clarity and freshness that I really liked. Unlike some of the other wines, I am not sure this has much room to improve, but it sure was showing very nicely on the day.
1991 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Musigny Cuvée Vieilles Vignes. BH 94. I have had this wine many times and it has always been one of my favorite ’91s. Unfortunately, a number of bottles tasted within the last 3 years were already on the decline, having lost that wonderful velvety quality that I once so much admired. While not unpleasant, it’s clear that these bottles are not what they should be as there is a toastiness that comes up on the finish and renders it ever so slightly bitter. However, a bottle tasted in Los Angeles that was air freighted from the Domaine only 3 weeks prior was simply outstanding with a wonderful nose of exotic spices and subtle yet seductive game and smoky hints followed by rich, warm and pure flavors of superb depth and length with plenty of finishing velvet. And the most recent bottle that was tasted in France was also outstanding though as my comments suggest, I have encountered significant bottle variation with scores ranging from 87 to 94.
1993 Domaine Ponsot Griotte-Chambertin. 91 points. This wine wasn’t bad but compared to the two other Ponsots CSD/CDR and also the very strong peer group it fell off. Cloudy, dark garnet. Rich and ripe palate, sour cherry, good acidity but the tannins produce a drying finish. Probably picked too late, extracted too much.
1995 Claude Dugat Charmes-Chambertin. VM 94. Brilliant ruby color. Blueberry, violet, smoky oak and floral aromas convey an almost syrupy sweetness. Dense and extremely concentrated; this shows an almost painful intensity today yet has no rough edges. Pure Pinot sap. Totally convincing grand cru. Builds and builds on the palate and aftertaste.
Roasted Mushroom Medley. Puff pastry, thyme, fennel, Burgundy mustard, parsley.
1995 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée St. Vivant. BH 92. Gorgeous, sexy, opulently perfumed fruit followed by medium weight, intense, backward, beautifully textured flavors underpinned by solid but ripe tannins and the same floral note that many of these ’95s display. This is really quite lovely with a really impressive purity of expression and should age well for years. (Drink starting 2010)
From my cellar: 1995 Domaine Armand Rousseau Père et Fils Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St. Jacques. BH 92. Explosively spicy, still entirely primary fruit of notable complexity leads to intense, medium full, edgy and beautifully precise flavors and a long but ever-so-slightly astringent finish. This is extremely pretty as well as stylish with plenty of flavor authority, mid-palate punch and impressive length. It will probably always have a slight edge on the finish but the essence of the wine is so fine that it’s a background nuance. In sum, a terrific effort. Consistent notes with the exception of one bottle that displayed a huge amount of oak that was completely over the top; I have no explanation for it but it was so oaky that it was honestly tough to drink.
agavin: if I do say so, WOTD
1996 Denis Mugneret Père et Fils Richebourg. BH 93. Subtly complex nose of leather, earth and dried grasses with delicious yet quite structured flavors and fine length. There is good sève and muscle underlying the flavors though the tannins are completely ripe and the wine should drink well over the medium term. This is not flamboyant or especially opulent yet it delivers plenty of character and quality in a refined, discreet style. I like this very much.
1996 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Bonnes Mares. VM 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.
Duck Confit. Wild rice, caramelized shallots, baby red beets, au jus, upland cres.
1999 Domaine A.-F. Gros Richebourg. VM 94+. Ruby-red. Pure, pristine aromas of blackberry, bitter chocolate, flowers and minerals. Dense, sweet and layered, with strong spicy oak flavor and intriguing notes of wild berries. Even fuller on the back end than the Clos Vougeot, with firm but very fine tannins. Compelling wine.
1999 Claude Dugat Chapelle-Chambertin. BH 94. Quite deeply colored. This is a big wine in every respect and one that is presently no where near its apogee. There is ample oak still present on the very ripe black fruit nose that also evidences notes of earth and spice, both of which can also be found on the powerful, concentrated and moderately rustic well-muscled flavors that are supported by very firm tannins and excellent depth and length. Courtesy of Dr. Chen I have had this wine twice with one bottle being superb and the other have the finish dominated by extremely firm tannins. Tasted twice but with inconsistent notes. (Drink starting 2017)
1999 Domaine Philippe Charlopin Mazis-Chambertin. BH 90. A completely different expression of pinot noir with its sauvage, slightly animale fruit and flavors. This isn’t especially dense but the complexity it offers is beguiling. Good precision and this has a nice sense of balance and if it manages to put on weight in the bottle, my rating will be conservative. (Drink between 2006-2009)
2000 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Musigny Cuvée Vieilles Vignes. BH 93. Extravagant, very ripe spice aromas explode from the glass with remarkable complexity that frame superbly elegant, gorgeously textured flavors that are intense and vibrant. This is really quite powerful for the vintage and incredibly long yet remains classy and fine. It is not especially big or dense as de Vogüé Musigny goes but is tautly muscular and defined. Extremely impressive for the vintage. (Drink starting 2010)
Ground Rabbit Sausage. Butternut squash ravioli, tarragon cream sauce, baby carrots, aged gouda.
2002 Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier Musigny. . Medium red. Immediately spectacular aromas of raspberry, baked bread and white truffle. Silky, thick and highly concentrated; densely packed, sappy and wonderfully sweet but seemed to go into a shell after five minutes in the glass. Finishes with a savory note of olive, almost invisible tannins and explosive length. A great showing today, although I can easily imagine this wine continuing to gain in aromatic precision and lift for another ten years. (Drink between 2016-2034).
2005 Geantet-Pansiot Charmes-Chambertin. VM 92+. Bright ruby-red. Deep aromas of blackberry and licorice; at once riper and more brooding than the last couple of wines. Then juicy, spicy and vibrant but quite closed in the middle palate, with superb energy to the dark berry and violet flavors. Finishes impressively broad, ripe and dry, with substantial tongue-dusting tannins and excellent length. This one also needs a solid six to eight years of cellaring.
Ron brought: 2007 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Richebourg. VM 93+. Bright medium red. Pungent aromas of wild strawberry, minerals, spices and pepper. Not a fat wine but classy and suave, with terrific peppery, minerally lift in the middle palate. With aeration, this classically dry wine showed a stronger soil component and mounting power. Finishes with superb breadth and an impression of weightlessness. I might have initially mistaken this for the RSV-and vice-versa-had I tasted these blind, but this is ultimately the more powerful wine.
2008 Domaine Dujac Clos de la Roche. VM 95. The 2008 Clos de la Roche is particularly refined in this vintage. The wine literally floats on the palate with weightless elegance in its intensely perfumed fruit. Crushed flowers and red berries linger on the silky, impossibly fine finish. This is a fabulous effort from Dujac. (Drink between 2018-2033)
Seared Lamb Porterhouse Chops. Gruyere potato gratin, buttered english peas, red wine demi-glace.
1880 D’Oliveiras Madeira Terrantez. 94 points. Powerful nose of burnt caramel, roasted nuts, and orange rind. Freshly roasted espresso, plum, and black tea notes most notable on the palate. Rich, but with piercing acidity, not cloying at all. Delicious stuff.
Brillat-Savarin & Roquefort. Toasted baguette, quince paste, cornichon, marcona almonds.
1976 Château Rieussec. 93 points. Hints of erstwhile headiness on the nose. Good balance of sweetness and acidity, with a definite bitter marmalade note. It suggested an old Bual madeira, both in appearance and flavour.
Overall Upstairs 2 did a solid job with this lunch. Wine service was good and the food was good. Wines were awesome and a lot of great showings. As this was the first Sauvages in 13 months, everyone really stepped up.sharethis_button(); ?>