Uncle Matty organized a dinner with our casual burg group (affectionately known as “The Burg Whores”) at the (relatively) newly re-opened Michael’s in Santa Monica.
Michaels is legendary, and for good reason — its a gorgeous patio — exactly as it was when it was the super duper Hollywood hot spot in LA in the 80s (along with Mortons), with Michael McCarty as one of the very first “rock star chefs” — now there is a 28 year old chef in charge who is freaking people out with his talent, and the entire vibe is just very Cali cool. It’s a must go. One tip: if you do a wine dinner there, make sure to confab directly with the chef about the pairings.
We did a blind BYOB of Vosne Romanee — and it was pretty spectacular.
After some 2003 Dom (bright and vibrant), and 3 Montys to get us warmed up, we began the official section of the evening with a 71 Faively Sushots and a 78 Grivot Beaumonts. We all thought that these wines were Grand Cru. Although I was able to ID the years, the wines were drinking so well I assumed Grand Cru. Once again, 71 and 78 proved to be stunning vintages — the 71 Villages and the 78 Premiere Cru were perfect bottles (storage, etc.), so well layered with incredible secondary and tertiary flavors and extremely well integrated tannins. It was an extraordinary, impressive showing for these two wines.
The second flight turned out to be a 1990 Bouchard La Romanee and a 1996 Rouget Beaumonts. Both wines were delicious — but it was pretty easy for all of us to tell the difference between the Grand Cru and the Premiere Cru. The 1990 La Romanee is really in “the zone” — extremely well balanced (esp for a 90) and quite elegant. We all were digging on it.
Next, we had one of the greatest burgundies ever made (IMHO) THE 1999 La Tache (thank you Brad for your generosity), and a 2001 Cathiard Premiere Cru. Again, it was very easy to tell the difference between these wines. I have been lucky enough to have tasted the 1999 LT about once a year since it was released, and the depth and concentration of this wine is mind blowing. The bottle last night was probably the best one I have had so far (it just keeps getting better and better, DUH) — Brad had double decanted for an hour or so, but we agreed it could have been opened far longer — this Burgundy is mind blowing and brilliant. One of my favorite burgs of all time. “The stuff dreams are made of, kid.”
As you can see, we made the command decision to start with the older wines and go from old to young — and although this approach lacks the “drama” of doing the reverse (starting with young and working backwards toward older legends), last night this take was really working for me, especially when one of the younger flights had a 99 La Tache.
The final flight was a 2002 Les Gaudichots by Potel and a 2004 DRC Romanee St Vivant. Once again, we were all pretty right on in identifying the the Grand Cru versus the Premiere Cru — the 2004 DRCs are a bit of an under the radar wine — I had a 2004 Grand Echezaux a few weeks ago in NY at Oriental Garden – and I can tell you these DRC 2004s (not known as a great vintage) are drinking extremely well right now — they are also reasonably priced (for DRC). Both of these wines were really delicious (I happen to be a big fan of the Les Gaudichots vineyard).
We ended with a half bottle of 1988 D’yquem — as I have said before, half bottles of younger yquems (and as far as yquem goes, I consider 88 to be relatively young) are the way to go (.375 bottles age twice as fast as .750s — the same amount of air to half as much wine) — it was gorgeous — that 1988 acidity really holding the wine’s balance in check.
Interesting note re “The Burg Whores”: about 20 years ago Matty invited me to Valentino as a guest at this group — that is where I first met Rudy K. At the end of the dinner — I will never forget — Rudy said “I’m not done yet, dudes!” and ordered a 20g bottle of DRC Romanee Conti (I think it was a 1962) off the Valentino list. I vividly remember thinking “What the what? Who is this ‘dude’?” I guess that was the beginning of the end.