Restaurant: Hearth & Hound
Location: 6530 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028. (323) 320-4022
Date: November 18, 2017
Cuisine: New American
Rating: Amazing wine and really good food
Liz Lee at Sage Society organizes some of the most amazing wine maker dinners and this night of Vega Sicilia is no exception.
The dinner took place at Hearth and Hound which is opening in the old Cat & Fiddle space in Hollywood — but it wasn’t even open yet. Still, the chef and crew beta tested (superbly) on us.
There is a gorgeous patio here that I failed to photograph well.
We have a few stems for the night — one for each wine and all individually labeled.
The inside has been completely redone.
Everyone is jumping on the “Asador” (wood fire grill) bandwagon these days.
Lamb legs spinning in front of the fire.
And other prep.
All the wines are from Vega Sicilia except for this intro Champagne (they don’t make champ).
NV Petit & Bajan Champagne Grand Cru Ambrosie Brut.
Parmesan Beignet. Chickpea flower I think, as I was told they were gluten free.
Whipped Cod Toast. This was my favorite amuse. A nice briney quality.
We were situated in the private room — of course we had the whole restaurant so that didn’t matter tonight. The room was fairly open though and connected to the kitchen and as such the white noise drone of the hood was fairly loud.
Liz stands and presents our honored guests.
Pablo Álvarez, owner of Spain’s greatest estate, Vega Sicilia.
On the right is Taylor Parsons, former wine director at Republique and a friend of Liz. He coordinated the wine service for the evening. Behind him is some of Liz’s staff and the restaurant managers. Apparently Make D of the Beastie Boys helps with the wine list too! Whacky.
Brit April Bloomfield of New York’s the Spotted Pig is a partner and helms the kitchen here at Hearth & Hound. She is partnered with Ken Friedman.
2012 Bodegas Pintia Toro Pintia. VM 93. Bright violet. Suave oak-spiced black and blue fruit, pipe tobacco and floral pastille aromas are complicated by mocha and vanilla flourishes. Plush and broad on the palate, offering sweet cassis and blackberry flavors that tighten up slowly on the back half. Rich yet surprisingly energetic in style, finishing sweet, sappy and impressively long; youthful tannins add framework and grip.
agavin: very fresh and fruity. 300k bottles made. Tinto del toro (which is a kind of tempranillo). Mixed American and French oak for 10 months.
2013 Bodegas y Viñedos Alión Ribera del Duero. JG 91. I routinely bought a case of Alion for my cellar each vintage for the first several years after Vega Sicilia started this project, but as the years rolled by, I somehow lost track of this wine and was delighted when the team at Vega sent the new vintage in my box of samples. The 2013 Alion is comprised entirely of tempranillo and raised in new French wood. The wine is ripe at 14.5 percent octane, but also refined and beautifully balanced. The bouquet offers up a classy blend of black cherries, plums, cocoa powder, cigar wrapper, a fine base of soil and smoky, nutty new oak. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and nicely transparent in profile, with a good core, fine focus and grip, ripe tannins and good length and grip on the well-balanced finish. This wine is beautifully made in its style, with the new wood very well done and the ripeness level managed with dexterity.
agavin: French oak for 12-14 months.
2012 Bodegas y Viñedos Alión Ribera del Duero. VM 93. Opaque ruby. An explosively perfumed bouquet evokes ripe dark berries, violet, licorice, pipe tobacco and toasty oak, and a suave mineral flourish adds vivacity. Sweet, seamless and broad on the palate, offering powerful cassis, cherry-vanilla and floral pastille flavors that become livelier and more spicy as the wine opens up. Distinctly rich but graceful as well, showing zero excess fat and no rough edges. Closes impressively long and sappy, with sneaky tannins adding gentle grip. This bodega, which is owned by the Vega Sicilia group, has been on a serious quality roll in recent vintages.
Wood-Roasted Cauliflower. Marinated with romesco. Very Spanish, and in some ways very much influenced by the asador style. Crisp and yet lightly pickled it was quite delicious. Very bright flavors.
2012 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Valbuena 5°. VM 93. Opaque ruby. Primary dark berry and cherry scents are complemented by suggestions of vanilla, coconut, cured tobacco and cedary oak and accented by a suave floral topnote. Sappy, concentrated and expansive in the mouth, offering sweet black raspberry, cherry-vanilla and candied licorice flavors that are supported by a spine of juicy acidity. Unfolds slowly with air, picking up a spicy quality that carries through the very long, gently tannic finish, which echoes the cherry and coconut notes. Hands off this one for at least a few more years.
2011 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Valbuena 5°. VM 94. Inky ruby. Sexy, high-pitched dark berry and floral pastille aromas are complemented by suggestions of oak spices and smoky minerals. Shows a surprisingly light touch on the palate, offering sharply focused blackberry, bitter cherry, licorice candy and floral pastille flavors that deepen and become sweeter with air. Harmonious tannins add grip to the extremely long, sappy finish, which leaves behind notes of dark berry preserves and candied lavender.
2010 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Valbuena 5°. VM 95. Opaque ruby. Powerful, deeply pitched red and dark berry preserve, incense and floral pastille scents are enlivened by an intense mineral quality. Concentrated yet strikingly vibrant and focused on the palate, showing bitter cherry, black raspberry and vanilla flavors that spread out with air while maintaining urgency. An extremely long, sweet, penetrating finish features velvety, harmonious tannins that provide gentle grip to the wine’s sappy berry fruit and candied lavender qualities. This stunning wine was aged for 18 months in new oak, half of it American and half of it French. I can’t recall a better version of this bottling at this stage of its development and I hesitate to apply an arbitrary drinking window here as I’m sure that it will outlive me.
2009 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Valbuena 5°. VM 94. Opaque ruby. Spice- and mineral-accented aromas of dark berries, cherry pit and potpourri, with a toasty topnote. Minerally, incisive and sweet on the palate, offering smoky cherry and blackcurrant flavors complicated by vanilla, mocha and licorice. Shows impressive power and vivacity on the youthfully tannic finish, with the smoke and spice notes strongly repeating.
Grilled octopus with puree and basil oil. Super tender. Very nice tentacle.
2008 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Valbuena 5°. VM 94. Vega Sicilia’s 2008 Tinto Valbuena 5 Anos is compelling. A young, intense wine, the 2008 is going to need significant time to fully come together, but it boasts superb depth, persistence and a total sense of harmony. Hints of cedar, tobacco and sweet spices wrap around an intense core of dark fruit.
agavin: these “older” Valbuenas have more Merlot and Malbec in them.
2007 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Valbuena 5°. VM 93. Ruby-red. Aromas of dried cherry, raspberry, vanilla, mocha and Cuban tobacco, with smoke and potpourri accents. Supple and expansive, offering sweet, spice-accented red and dark berry and floral pastille flavors that stain the palate. Dusty tannins add shape and grip to the very long, smooth, penetrating finish. I find this wine quite approachable now but it has the balance to age. Not the weightiest Valbuena but very impressive for the vintage.
2006 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Valbuena 5°. VM 94. Deep ruby. Heady, exotic bouquet evokes candied cherry, cassis, sassafras, vanilla and potpourri, plus a smoky overtone. Sappy and expansive but energetic, offering sweet cherry and floral pastille flavors lifted by spice and mineral notes. Gains sweetness with air and finishes with superb clarity and spicy persistence. This benefits enormously from aeration but really should be stashed away for at least another five years.
Seared duck breast with pumpkin. Rather delicious and gamey.
2008 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Único. VM 96. Opaque ruby. Powerful, expansive aromas of cherry liqueur, cassis, pipe tobacco, incense and pungent flowers show outstanding clarity and pick up a smoky mineral quality with air. Stains the palate with concentrated dark berry, bitter cherry and rose pastille flavors that are complicated by notes of mocha, cola and Indian spices. Distinctly generous in style but there’s outstanding energy here as well. The gently tannic, dark-fruit-dominated finish emphatically echoes the spice and floral notes and lingers with striking persistence. Production for this bottling was cut by over half in this challenging vintage and the result shows what can happen when severe selection is applied in the vineyard and cellar. Speaking of tough years, the 2002 version of this iconic wine, from a vintage that has been ignored at best and vilified at worst, is drinking beautifully right now. In fact, it appears to have just entered its drinking window: its fruit is still a bit on the youthful side while its tannins have begun to recede. Like this 2008, it’s a textbook example of what great vineyards, diligent farming and serious winemaking can accomplish under difficult circumstances.
agavin: Unico is released very late, only in good years, and is 85% tinto (Tempranillo) and some Cabernet.
2007 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Único. VM 93. Vivid ruby-red. Spice- and mineral-accented redcurrant, cherry, cured tobacco and candied rose on the highly perfumed nose. A juicy, sharply focused midweight offering lively red fruit and floral pastille flavors and earthy suggestions of chewing tobacco and succulent herbs. In a graceful, energetic style (due to the cool vintage, no doubt), with strong finishing cut, resonating floral character and velvety tannins coming in late to add shape and grip. A successful wine for the vintage, no question.
2005 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Único. VM 97. Saturated ruby. Explosively perfumed aromas of fresh ripe red fruits, floral oils, pipe tobacco and incense take on sexy vanilla and woodsmoke nuances as the wine opens up. Densely packed yet shockingly lithe on the palate, offering intense cherry liqueur, red currant and spicecake flavors given spine by a core of juicy acidity. Shows superb energy and clarity, finishing sweet, smoky and extremely long; velvety tannins add gentle grip.
2003 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Único. VM 95. Inky ruby. Highly aromatic scents of ripe cherry and dark berries, singed plum, cured tobacco and succulent herbs, with a vanilla undertone. Sweet, expansive and powerful, offering intense black and blue fruit flavors with smoke and floral accents. Rich and full but surprisingly lively, with excellent finishing thrust and sweet, harmonious tannins adding grip. Shows the ripeness of the vintage to good effect; this is a somewhat approachable and exotic Unico, especially with some air, but it has the concentration to age slowly.
2002 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Único. VM 92. Bright ruby. Smoky, floral-accented aromas of redcurrant, cherry pit and plum, with a peppery topnote. Sweet and open-knit, offering musky red fruit and floral pastille flavors and notes of mocha and succulent herbs. Shows very good depth and power for the vintage, finishing smooth, sweet and long. Not the greatest Vega by any means but highly successful for 2002, and you can actually enjoy it right now.
Dry aged beef ribeye. Definitely could taste the age. Nice mushrooms with it too.
The glasses keep adding up.
And the piece de resistance: lamb.
Plus potatoes bravos.
The whole team worked to assemble this dish.
NV Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Único Reserva Especial 2003, 2004, 2006 (2017 Release). VM 96. Vivid ruby-red. Ripe cherry, dark berries, cigar box, vanilla bean and incense on the deeply perfumed, expansive nose. Shows impressive weight and breadth on the palate, offering sappy blackberry, candied cherry and spicecake flavors complicated by hints of rose pastille, vanilla and licorice. The smooth, strikingly long finish shows a seamless quality and repeating floral and dark berry notes that build as the wine opens up. While this wine has plenty going on right now, I’ve no doubt that it will enjoy a long, positive evolution as well.
agavin: next to the “regular” unicos you can taste how much more powerful and broad the blended reservas are — they are amazing.
NV Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Único Reserva Especial 1994, 1995, 2000 (2014 Release). 95 points. Extremely concentrated with aromas of leather, blackberry, vanilla, butter. One of the best oaked young wines iv’e tasted. Outstanding quality with high potential for agening, 95p at least, higher score for the future.
NV Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Único Reserva Especial 1994, 1999, 2000 (2013 Release). 95 points. Nose of plumbs, chocolate, vanilla and tobacco. Rich complex palate. Lovely.
NV Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Único Reserva Especial 1991, 1994, 1999 (2012 Release). 93 points. Savory nose of umami, freshly plucked seaweed, and a beguiling mix of coffee bean, dark spices and blackberry juice. Medium toward full-bodied at first, this adds weight but also elegance with each successive glass, thanks to abundant acidity and seamlessly layered fruits. A joy to drink now, with great upside as well. Ideally, I would/will try again in 5 years, if possible. Still scratching my head at just how approachable this is today, yet with obvious structure for the long run as well.
Lamb leg a la Ficelle. Potatoes bravos. Apparently Ficelle is wood fire cooked while spinning. Super delicious lump of lamb. There was a lot left over and I could have eaten 3 of these.
1982 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Único. VM 98. Even better than the 1990, the 1982 Unico is simply one of the very best wines I have tasted in some time. Powerful, fleshy and full of energy, the 1982 Unico is another wine that is almost overwhelmingly beautiful. A striking mélange of savory herbs, smoke and tobacco add complexity, but the 1982 is about the total package. And the 1982 has it all going on. In a word: Magnificent.
agavin: our bottle unfortunately wasn’t drinking at its best. It wasn’t bad or anything, but just a little flat.
1970 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Único. VM 94. The 1970 is the most subtle of these Unicos, although I have tasted fresher examples. Delicate and perfumed throughout, the 1970 is laced with the essence of crushed flowers, tobacco, dried cherries and mint.
agavin: our bottle was amazing. Fresh, young, tight even, but massively powerful and delicious.
2007 Oremus Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos. 94 points. The bouquet was deep and rich with notes of ripe peach, mango, plum, dried flowers and hints sweet herbs. On the palate a velvety wave of textures was offset by stunning acidity, ripe tropical fruits, sweet inner florals and spiced apple. It finished unbelievably long with a contrast of rich textures, tart citrus and zesty acidity.
agavin: tons of acidity and hence really delicious
Rush Creek Reserve cheese. Not too far off from a vaucheron. Like cultured butter.
Taylor tastes all the bottles and puts out a glass of each for the staff.
The final glass count.
They didn’t use this for our meal, but they have the same Carpigiani batch freezer (for making gelato/ice cream) that I have in my basement for my experiments on Sweet Milk.
Overall, the food was great. I’m not sure what’s on the menu normally, as this was a very Spanish inflected meal — which worked perfectly with all that Vega Sicilia, of course. And the wines were amazing, particularly the Reserva’s.