A Super-Rhone Dinner

Naha in Chicago, IL

Tasted May 6, 2006 by psmith with 527 views


Jen and I made a quick visit to Chicago last weekend. We had Saturday night free for dinner so I sent Anwar a message to see if we could set something up. He and his soon-to-be better half trigirl were available and we made plans for a late reservation at Naha on N Clark St who was able to accommodate us for a, seemingly standard in Chicago, $25/bottle corkage charge.

Flight 1 (3 notes)

We dove into the Rhones pretty quickly. With our small group pouring at will worked really well and I think everyone was able to get an enjoyable portion of each wine. For the sake of comparison there was a '03 Pegau Cuvée Reservee open as well. I've had this a few times and didn't take notes but it was as good as ever. As Anwar remarked, its shortcomings were really only apparent next to the exceptional Cuvée da Capo.

1995 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Ermitage Cuvée Cathelin France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage
95 points
Really exotic, aromatic, Asian Spice profile with perfumed violet notes and subdued dark meaty fruits. Restrained and rather elegant, even Burgundian, on the palate, and not really showing much, but a nice, syrupy texture and long, trailing acidity. This seems shut down pretty hard now but in no danger of decline. If the wonderful nose is the key this should prove to be an extraordinary wine at some point.
1999 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Hommage à Jacques Perrin France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
93 points
Super funky, young Mourvedre nose . Sweaty and mint-laced with rich black fruits. Well-spiced and with great midpalate weight for the vintage. Some vanilla notes with fine tannin and good length. A superb wine, but not better, or with more or significantly different character than the best vintages of the regular cuvee.
2003 Domaine du Pégau Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée da Capo France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
96 points
A clean, spicy, Grenache-driven nose showing dark fruits, coffee grounds, and sweaty leather notes. Large-scaled and viscous but held in check by fine tannins. Some not-offensive heat. A lengthy finish with great purity. Brightens up and gains in weight with time to give more dense cherry liqueur notes. A wonderful wine.

Flight 2 (1 note)

About halfway through the meal a gentleman at the table next to us came over with a very special bottle, the 1985 Leroy Ruchottes-Chambertin. He generously poured us a full glass for the table but unfortunately refused our offer to reciprocate....after some coaxing Jen did get him to accept a small pour of the Cathelin, which remarkably, bore a certain resemblance to his Leroy.

1985 Maison Leroy Ruchottes-Chambertin France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Ruchottes-Chambertin Grand Cru
95 points
Charming, yet quite masculine bright, tart red cherries on the nose with classic sous-bois. Still youthful on the palate but starting to develop that wonderfully smooth, velvety texture. Black, ripe fruits and spice. Some coarse tannins remain that beg more age. Deep and pure with great persistence. Outstanding.


The wines were all exceptional, exceeded only by the wonderful conversation. Interestingly, we had a remarkably tough time giving pours away: the waitress, restaurant owner, and the gentleman who offered us the Leroy either turned down or ignored our offers. While Naha did accommodate us with appropriate stems the service in general was a bit strained and I get the idea that they weren’t really happy about our bringing bottles. The food was competently prepared, but not really special….then again, our real goal was to keep it out of the way of the wines.

Thanks again to Anwar and trigirl for a wonderful evening - both Jen and I hope to do it again soon!

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