Jonathan Dinh Birthday Dinner at Fleur de Lys

Fleur de Lys, San Francisco, CA
Tasted Wednesday, December 30, 2009 by Richard Jennings with 1,257 views

Introduction

I've joined Jonathan and company for this ultimate birthday (and wine and food) celebration for the past three years now. Chef Hubert Keller, Wine Director Marcos and the rest of the team always do a fabulous job for us. This time there were twelve of us in the fireplace/wine cellar room (we had to get them to douse the fire that was raging in it when we got there and open the doors as it made the room very cozy but too hot for our wines). JD had us first meet in his hotel suite for opening wines and appetizers, then we all headed over together to Fleur de Lys. After 8 fabulous courses at Fleur de Lys (and many amazing wines), it was time for JD's traditional post-dinner dinner, which ended up being at Sam Wo's (one of the few places still open at 2 am that night). All in all, an over-the-top but delicious and memorable celebration with our over-the-top wine buddy.

There were many standout wines, as usual, but the ones that were most memorable (and moving) for me were the '99 Leroy Corton Charlemagne (my WOTN), the '74 Heitz Martha's Vineyard, our two '55 Bordeaux (Montrose and Lynch Bages), the '01 Prum Auslese in our pre-dinner flight, the '55 Gilette Sauternes, and the '88 Vogüé Bonnes Mares. As far as the dinner, I'm still savoring the memory of our egg, black truffle and vegetable dish.
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Flight 1 - Pre-dinner flight at JD's Omni suite (6 Notes)

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The gang met up at the Omni, in Jonathan's suite, for Champagne and Riesling, with pata negra, prosciuttos and cheeses. The '01 JJ Prum Graacher Himmelreich Auslese easily stood out as the wine of this "pre-game."
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Flight 2 - Champagne starters (2 Notes)

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Served with duo of chestnut fondant with caviar, salmon and sea scallop ceviche with sea urchin. Both Champagnes were rather flat, lacking in bubbles. The '88 Grande Dame seemed very suspicious, after we examined the cork with an '85 date and virtually no flare to the bottom of the cork. So Grande Dame mags are now being counterfeited?
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  • 1977 Bollinger Champagne Brut Spéciale Club 91 Points

    France, Champagne

    From magnum - light medium peach yellow color; nice mature, baked peach, mineral, mushroom nose with a touch of caramel; caramel, a little sherried, tart peach, mineral palate with depth, texture and medium acidity; medium-plus finish 91+ pts.

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  • 1988 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut La Grande Dame 92 Points

    France, Champagne

    From magnum - lemon, almond, cream nose; creamy textured, tart lemon, mineral, baked lemon, nutmeg palate with medium acidity that's surprisingly flat compared to when we've had it before; medium-plus finish (the cork lacked the usual flared bottom of a Champagne cork, and was stamped 1985 instead of 1988 -- probable fake?)

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Flight 3 - Sauternes (2 Notes)

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Some lovely, mature, Sauternes, thanks to Craig. Our dish for this flight was Winter Chilled Truffle Vichyssoise, salad of morels and artisan foie gras torchon.
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  • 1955 Château Gilette Doux 94 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes

    Medium dark golden yellow color; earthy, dried mushroom, tart apricot, orange nose; rich, surprisingly youthful, apricot, mineral palate with laser-like definition, a dried mushroom note and good acidity; long finish 94+ pts.

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  • 1935 Château La Tour Blanche Sauternes 93 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes

    Dark orange color with red lights; hazelnut, coffee, prune, slightly maderized nose; tart orange, tart prune, coffee, hazelnut palate with good acidity; medium-plus finish

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Flight 4 - Corton-Charlemagne Flight (3 Notes)

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The Leroy was stunning, and both my WOTF and WOTN. The Camille Giroud was oxidized, and the Coche-Dury was too toasty oaked for my taste. Our dish for this flight was roasted Maine lobster, a large portion, with corn fondue and truffle sauce.
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  • 1999 Domaine Leroy Corton-Charlemagne 97 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru

    Light canary yellow color; lovely, elegant, mineral, shale, lemon nose; very tasty, youthful, lemon, mineral palate with structure and depth; long finish

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  • 1988 Camille Giroud Corton-Charlemagne 84 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru

    Light medium gold color; a little maderized on nose, with hazelnut and butter, that changes to a quince cream nose; mature, tart, somewhat sherried, tart orange, mineral palate; medium-plus finish

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  • 1988 Coche-Dury Corton-Charlemagne 93 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru

    Light golden yellow color; smoky, dried beef, sauvage, Northern Rhone red nose, that changes over 20 minutes or so to more of a smoky, truffle popcorn, toasty oak nose; smoky, tart lemon, mineral, earthy palate with depth, a little chewy, and too much smoky oak for me; medium-plus finish

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Flight 5 - Mature red Burg intermezzo (2 Notes)

We had these two Burgundies in between courses. The Clos des Lambrays was surprisingly youthful.
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  • 1976 Domaine des Lambrays Clos des Lambrays 94 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Clos des Lambrays Grand Cru

    Medium cherry red color with pale meniscus; initial VA, very tart red fruit, mineral, sweet tobacco and cigar box nose; tobacco, tart red fruit, mineral, tart raspberry, cigar box palate; medium-plus finish (starts to decline after 25 minutes in the glass)

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  • 1962 Domaine Louis Remy Latricières-Chambertin 92 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Latricières-Chambertin Grand Cru

    Bricked very light red color with clear meniscus; light, sweet and sour sauce, balsamic nose, that changes to soy sauce and then brown sugar; light-medium bodied, very tart red fruit, tart tomato consomme palate with medium-plus acidity and good grip; medium-plus finish (declines precipitously, however, after 15 minutes in the glass)

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Flight 6 - '88 Burgundy Grand Cru Flight (3 Notes)

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The Vogue Bonnes Mares was my WOTF. The La Tache was both mature and very tannic. Our dish for this flight was a fabulous poached egg, with black truffles, vegetables and truffle port wine sauce -- my DOTN. Jonathan ordered a second helping.
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  • 1988 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche 92 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, La Tâche Grand Cru

    Light-medium bricked red color with clear meniscus; very mature, mushroom, earthy, cigar box nose; tasty, mature, tobacco, cigar box palate with very firm tannins and medium acidity; medium-plus finish

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  • 1988 Domaine Ponsot Clos de la Roche Vieilles Vignes 93 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Clos de la Roche Grand Cru

    Bricked light medium red color with clear meniscus; mature, briny, earthy, tobacco and brett nose; tart mature red fruit, tobacco, earthy, deep, mushroom, brett palate; medium-plus finish

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  • 1988 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Bonnes Mares 94 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Bonnes Mares Grand Cru

    Medium, slightly bricked red color with pale meniscus; lime, tart raspberry, cigar box nose; good tart cherry, red fruit, mineral palate with good grip; medium-plus finish 94+ pts. (most youthful of our flight of '88 Grand Crus)

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Flight 7 - Cali Cab Intermezzo (2 Notes)

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We had these two, lovely Cali Cabs between courses. The Heitz Martha's was particularly good and youthful.

Flight 8 - Mature Bordeaux Flight (4 Notes)

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With the exception of the over-the-hill Calon Segur, these were lovely wines. The '55 Montrose was showing beautifully, as was the '55 Lynch-Bages, one of the best Lynch-Bages I've ever tasted. Our course for this dish was seared duck breast with choucroute gratin and a red wine, shallot, thyme bordelaise sauce with wild mushrooms.
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  • 1955 Château Montrose 95 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

    Slightly cloudy, bricked, medium raspberry red color; elegant cassis nose with subtle tobacco; tasty, mature cassis, mild tobacco, tart raspberry palate with balance and depth; long finish (begins to fade after 45 minutes in the glass)

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  • 1990 Château L'Evangile 93 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol

    Dark red violet color; nice leather, tobacco nose; beefy, mature, leather, mineral palate; long finish 93+ pts.

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  • 1961 Château Calon-Ségur 82 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

    Medium dark bricked violet red color with pale meniscus; mature, maderized, Worcestershire sauce, beef bouillon nose; oxidized, beef bouillon, leather, brown sauce palate; medium finish

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  • 1955 Château Lynch-Bages 94 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    Bricking medium red violet color with pale meniscus; smoky, cigar box, mint nose; minty, tart cassis, elegant palate; medium-plus finish 94+ pts.

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Flight 9 - Mature Barolo Flight (2 Notes)

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Our dish for this flight was pan seared lamb on celery root puree, with grenadine pickled onions and a spicy ginger and lemongrass infusion. Very tasty. The '47 Barolo was lovely, but not as awe inspiring as the flight of older Barolos we had for JD's birthday the prior year.

Flight 10 - '78 Rhone Flight (3 Notes)

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We did this unusual flight, from George Kautzman's purchased-on-release collection, with our cheese course. The Guigal was corked, but the Clavelier was quite lovely, and the Lirac was hanging in.
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  • 1978 E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Flawed

    France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône

    Slightly cloudy bricking medium raspberry red color with pale meniscus; corked

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  • 1978 Clavelier Côtes du Rhône 93 Points

    France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône

    Medium bricking red color with pale meniscus; nice roses, cherry, dried cherry, chlorine, cigar box, incense nose; dried cherry, roses, tart red fruit, tart raspberry, mineral, surprisingly youthful palate; medium-plus finish 93+ pts.

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  • 1978 Château Saint-Roch (Rhone) Lirac 92 Points

    France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Lirac

    Slightly bricking medium red color with pale meniscus; earthy, bretty, horsey nose; tart mature red fruit, dried red fruit, raspberry, black cherry palate; medium-plus finish

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Flight 11 - Mystery red intermezzo (1 Note)

imageThis was poured blind. We knew it was from David Niederauer, though, and we know he has a stash of Diamond Creek Lake, so it was natural to guess what this was. A lovely and rare bottle.
Jonathan and Chef Hubert Keller
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Flight 12 - Massandra finish (1 Note)

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This group has shared quite a few Massandras. This is one of the older ones we've had. It was complex and enjoyable, although I would have liked more acidity. Our dessert course was a pistachio gateau, sauternes poached pear cooled off with almond and amaretto ice cream.
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Flight 13 - post-dinner Chinese food wines (3 Notes)

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A multi-course dinner at Fleur de Lys is not enough nourishment for JD at night, so we went in search of Pizza Orgasmica, where we had our post Fleur de Lys nosh the prior year. Unfortunately they were closed at 1 am on a school night, so we finally ended up at Sam Wo's in Chinatown, for some noodles and Burgundy out of Dixie cups. The Nadeff Mazis showed the best under these conditions.
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