Date: May 25, 2018
Cuisine: New American
Today’s Sauvages lunch is a lunch in honor of late Co-Poobah Steve Levin. It’s graciously hosted by Paul at at his beautiful home in Flintridge. This event is held outdoors in memory of the Zinfandel barbecues that Steve would hold for our group every summer at his home (it being Paul’s idea to maintain this fine tradition). To that end, we always enjoy a few Zinfandels at this lunch in addition to the theme wines for the lunch. The annual lunches at Paul’s home always rate very high on the scales for ambiance, camaraderie and food quality.
The main wine theme has changed a bit this year and instead of pure Grenache we have pivoted to a tour of some of the best Spanish wines to go along with Spanish food by chef Teresa Montana. Our very own Sandy Taylor provided Somm duties with style.
Trying to give you a sense of the mid century space.
This year (2021), we sat on the other side of the main house at a single large table.
Here the chef can be seem working the kitchen.
Our special menu for the day.
The cart du vin.
2008 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut Vintage. JG 94+. The 2008 Veuve Clicquot Brut Millésime is the first bottling here to include five percent barrel-fermented vins clairs since the estate transitioned away from foudres for stainless steel tanks all the way back in the 1960s. The blend on the ’08 is sixty-one percent pinot noir, thirty-four percent chardonnay and five percent pinot meunier. The wine is pure, youthful and stunningly precise on the nose, offering up scents of tart apple, bread dough, complex minerality, gentle smokiness and a lovely saline element in the upper register. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and very racy, with a great core, zesty acids, refined mousse and outstanding length and grip on the very long and still quite youthful finish. This is approachable today, but will be even better with five or six years in the cellar. This is Chef de Cave Dominique Demarville’s first vintage bottling since his arrival here in 2006. Impressive! (Drink between 2016-2040)
2002 Recaredo Cava Turo d’en Mota. 94 points.
NV Agustí Torelló Mata Cava Kripta Brut Nature Gran Reserva. 92 points. pretty sure it was the NV bottling that was consumed. Wine comes in a precarious amphoral shaped cylinder. very clean and dry, and to my palate somewhat indistinguishable from a champagne.
Pan Con Tomate. Crispy focaccia, grated tomato and garlic with J5 Jamon Iberico.
Pulpo a la Brasa Pintxo. Skewer of beer braised Spanish octopus with la espanola chorizo and pimenton mayonesa.
2016 Vina Somoza Godello Ededia.
2013 Clos Figueras Priorat Font de la Figuera Blanco. VM 91. Vivid straw color. Lively citrus pith and pear skin aromas are complicated by anise, white flowers and dusty minerals. Firm and juicy on the palate, offering zesty lime and orange flavors and a gingery topnote. Finishes dry, precise and very long, with a lick of spiciness and lingering minerality.
2018 Lagar de Cervera Albariño Rías Baixas. VM 90. Bright straw-yellow. Tangerine, green apple and melon on the fragrant nose, complemented by a chalky mineral nuance. Lively citrus and orchard fruit flavors show sharp definition and minerally back-end cut. Finishes long and precise, with repeating florality and a suggestion of bitter citrus pith. (Drink between 2021-2024)
2015 La Granja Nuestra Señora de Remelluri Rioja Blanco. 93 points.
2013 Clos Mogador Priorat Nelin. 91 points.
2014 Venus La Universal Montsant Dido Blanco. 92 points.Blend of Garnatxa blanca (White Grenache), Macabeu (Viura) and Cartoixà (Xarel·lo), by René Barbier & Sara Pérez. From ecologically farmed sauló (decomposed granite) soil plots in Marça and Falset. Aged in clay amphora and various size barrels for 9 months.
Early Summer Gazpacho. Valdivia farms tomato, burrata, strawberries and mint.
1980 R. López de Heredia Rioja Gran Reserva Viña Tondonia. 93 points. Leather and earth; light saline and cherry-blackberry; balanced and complex; smooth and lean; velvety; outstanding long sweet soft light cherry finish.
1975 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial. 93 points.
1960 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial.
1970 La Rioja Alta Rioja Reserva 904. JG 90. Out of the blocks the 1970 Reserva 904 from Rioja Alta is one of the most fruit-driven old Riojas that I have tasted in quite some time, as it offers up a candied mélange of bing cherries and wild strawberries when first poured. As the wine has a chance to settle in notes of deeper-pitched fruit tones of blood orange, cloves, allspice, woodsmoke and Burgundy-like undertones of autumn leaves emerge and add to the aromatic complexity. On the palate the wine is medium-full, bright and resolved, with good depth at the core, melting tannins, and good length on the delicate, but tangy old finish. As the wine unfolded over an hour and a half, a bit of the amplitude melted away, as this wine is getting towards the end of its apogee of maturity. For maximum pleasure out of this wine, I would opt for serving it immediately upon decanting. (Drink between 2005-2010)
1978 La Rioja Alta Rioja Reserva 904. 90 points.
Orecchiette. Pea puree, parmesan espuma, charred snap pea, lemon.
1994 Bodegas Alejandro Fernández Ribera del Duero Janus Gran Reserva Pesquera. JG 89. I liked the fruit and soil components of the 1994 Janus Reserva from Pesquara quite well, but the wood was a bit heavier-handed than was the case with the Pesquara wines from the vintages of the 1980s and 1990s. I am sure that there are plenty of tasters that would have no problem with this level of new wood, but for me, the wine loses a bit of elegance because of its uncovered wood tannins on the backend. In any case, the bouquet is lovely, as it delivers scents of pomegranate, plums, chocolate, a touch of blood orange, tobacco and vanillin oak. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, complex and quite velvety on the attack, with a fine core of fruit, sound focus, but just a bit of dry wood tannin sticking out on the finish. A very good wine nonetheless, it could have been special with less oak. (Drink between 2006-2015)
From my cellar: 1995 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Único. VM 94. Dark red. Intense, expressive aromas of blackberry, blueberry, cherry liqueur, sandalwood, cigar box, roasted coffee and exotic chocolate. Thick and sweet, with deep red and dark berry flavors complicated by an array of pungent spices, mocha, vanilla bean and cured tobacco. Deep, penetrating and very long on the finish, with wonderfully sweet cherry and blackcurrant flavors lingering. Built to age, but this is awfully delicious right now. (Europvin USA, Oakland, CA)
2004 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Único. VM 96. Inky ruby: doesn’t look like a ten-year old wine. A heady, intensely perfumed bouquet evokes ripe red and dark berries, vanilla, pipe tobacco, new leather and potpourri, with a subtle mineral flourish. Spicy, sweet and expansive, offering palate-staining cherry compote and cassis flavors with exotic violet and chewing tobacco qualities. Deepens and gains spiciness on the smooth, gently tannic finish, which lingers with superb focus and tenacity.
2006 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Único. VM 97. Saturated ruby. An amazingly complex array of red and blue fruit preserve, spice and floral scents is accompanied by suggestions of incense, pipe tobacco, coconut and candied licorice. Utterly stains the palate with impressively concentrated yet lively, smoke- and spice-laced cherry compote, blueberry, fruitcake and violet pastille flavors braced by a spine of juicy acidity. Sappy and broad on the endless finish, which shows outstanding thrust and dusty tannins that are absorbed by the wine’s densely packed fruit. (Drink between 2025-2040)
2013 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Único Reserva Especial 1994, 1999, 2000 (2013 Release). 94 points.
2009 Dominio Pingus Ribera del Duero. VM 96+. Dark purple. Drop-dead gorgeous aromas of spicy dark berries complicated by vanilla, mocha, espresso, iron, licorice and sexy oak spices. Sweet and expansive, showing great depth to its ripe blackberry and boysenberry flavors. Notes of candied flowers, cola and mocha gain strength with air and carry through an extremely long, sweet finish. There’s plenty of structure here but it’s hidden under all the dense fruit right now. That price is correct, sadly.
Bacalao. Jamon tonkotsu, pan seared local black cod, sping onion and roasted cherry tomato.
2009 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial. VM 94. Vivid ruby-red. A highly perfumed, expansive bouquet evokes ripe red and dark berries, cherry liqueur, coconut and cigar box, along with a sexy floral nuance that emerges slowly. Plush and seamless on the palate, offering sweet, deeply concentrated blackberry, cherry-vanilla and mocha flavors that are given spine and lift by a core of juicy acidity. Rich yet energetic in style, displaying superb finishing clarity, even tannins and a lingering spicecake note. The Tempranillo saw only American oak while the Mazuelo component saw only French. (Drink between 2020-2030)
2006 Bodega Numanthia Toro Termanthia. VM 94. Glass-staining ruby. Seductive, strongly perfumed aromas of black raspberry, boysenberry, sandalwood, potpourri and cocoa powder. Surprisingly lithe and energetic on the palate, offering sweet red berry and spice flavors, a velvety texture and slow-mounting minerality. Turns more floral on the finish, which is tangy, fresh and extremely long. More graceful than the 2005 but without that superb wine’s power: think of Margaux vs. the 2005’s Latour. (Moet Hennessy USA, New York, NY)
2005 La Rioja Alta Rioja Gran Reserva 904. VM 94. Bright ruby-red. Complex, intensely perfumed bouquet of candied cherry, vanilla, mocha, cured tobacco and spicecake, with a suave potpourri note becoming stronger in the glass. Offers sweet, penetrating cherry-cola and lavender pastille flavors complicated by hints of smoky minerals and candied licorice. The long, subtly tannic finish delivers noteworthy energy and focus, leaving suave spicecake and cherry liqueur notes behind. (Drink between 2020-2027)
2004 Bodegas Muga Rioja Aro. VM 95. Inky violet. Intensely perfumed nose offers a room-filling bouquet of dark berry liqueur, toasty oak spices, incense and lavender. Deep, sweet and impressively complex, offering flavors of blackberry, candied plum, floral pastille and baking spices. Big but supple tannins add support to this palate-staining monster, which boasts surprising freshness on the finish. Conveys a rare balance of power and elegance. (Fine Estates from Spain, Dedham, MA)
2005 Bodegas Pintia Toro Pintia. VM 92. Inky purple. Alluring bouquet of blackberry and blueberry preserves, cherry-cola and vanillin oak spices. Broad, fleshy and deep, with sweet flavors of dark berries, floral pastille and vanilla beans. The rich fruit nicely absorbs the oak element on the long, velvety finish. Leaves a wide swath of creamy dark fruits and licorice in its wake. Pretty sexy stuff. (Europvin USA, Van Nuys, CA)
Rib Eye. Grilled grass fed rib eye, grilled chanterelles, goat butter potatoes, smoked mushroom and px jus. A slightly contentious dish as some of the “meat on the bone” guys thought it was over cooked. I enjoyed it myself as I liked the rich sauce.
1969 David Bruce Zinfandel.
2008 Outpost Zinfandel Howell Mountain. VM 91. Good deep red. High-toned aromas of plum, mocha, licorice, menthol, black pepper and exotic herbs. Plump, lush and sweet, with harmonious acidity framing the redcurrant and spice flavors. Finishes with substantial ripe, building tannins and repeating notes of pepper and menthol. This is creamier than usual for this consistently excellent zinfandel at this early stage but there’s no shortage of structure or minerality here.
1995 Ridge Zinfandel Paso Robles. 89 points.
2016 Epoch Estate Wines Zinfandel Paderewski Vineyard. VM 95. Vivid purple. Deeply perfumed black and blue fruit, incense and potpourri aromas show outstanding clarity and pick up exotic spice, vanilla and woodsmoke qualities with air. Fleshy, seamless and alluringly sweet, offering palate-staining boysenberry, cassis, dark chocolate and floral pastille flavors that show wonderful energy for their heft. The floral and blue fruit qualities carry emphatically through an extremely long finish that features slow-building, harmonious tannins and a resonating mineral note. (28% new French oak) (Drink between 2024-2033)
Quesos. Assorted chef selected cheese. Umeboshi membrillo, fruit, chestnut honey.
From my cellar: 1946 Bodegas Toro Albala Don PX Convento Selección. 100 points. Wow. Oily thick. Initially a surprising amount of fruit and freshness, in the apricot peach sort of range. Then rich caramel and butterscotch and sticky toffee pudding. Hints of soy sauce. Interesting cooling notes like menthol or mint. Insanely long finish. Forever long. A little heavy and cloying — 4 people struggled (not quite the right word…) to finish 1 bottle. (I took one for the team and finished it! ) But excellent and fascinating nonetheless. Feels like it could age for 100 more years.
We did have WAY too much wine for the number of courses. We could have used an easy 2 or 3 more courses to stage it out. A couple years ago we had one more course and we could really use that as there is that extra Zin flight.
The setting really is magnificent. The weather was perfect, if a little cloudy. Just an ideal afternoon in the yard!