Magdalena Restaurant - The Ivy Hotel

By and large, the California Chardonnays performed overall better than the white Burgundies, although I was super-impressed with Louis Latour's 2009 Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru White Burgundy, with loads of quince, white currant, crushed rock and honeysuckle. I also loved the 2013 Sauzet Chevalier-Montrachet, which seemed quite evolved, but delicious. Those who might have several bottles of that should think about drinking it up, rather than pushing its aging potential, especially given the high incidence of premature oxidized white Burgundies that have existed since the mid-90s. The other white Burgundies included Jouard's 2012 Bâtard-Montrachet, which was outstanding, but clearly not that special when you consider price versus the points it fetched. The 2012 Juillot Corton-Charlemagne was excellent and has given this appellation north of the town of Beaune two strong performances in the tasting. The other white Burgundy, the 2011 Clos des Lambrays Clos du Cailleret was excellent, with less minerality, but slightly austere. The California Chardonnays were much more heady, higher in alcohol, richer and more complex. The beautiful youthfulness of the 16-year-old 2000 Marcassin Chardonnay Estate is one more sign of how well these wines age (in most cases far better than Burgundy Grand Crus). The younger version, the 2009 Marcassin Chardonnay Estate, which happens to be one of Helen Turley and John Wetlaufer's favorites at the moment, was strutting its stuff with loads of honeysuckle, white peach, a hint of pineapple and wet rocks. Both were fabulous wines that outclassed the white Burgundies served next to them. The other high-end Chardonnays we had included the 2012 Aubert Chardonnay Sugar Shack, which is Mark Aubert's only Napa Valley Chardonnay, coming from a vineyard in Rutherford. The huge shock was the performance of the 16-year-old Sine Qua Non 2000 The Boot – a blend of Roussanne, Viognier and Chardonnay from Elaine and Manfred Krankl in Ojai, California. Exceptional floral and honeyed aromatics were followed by a full-throttle, brilliantly pure and well-balanced dry white that seemed incredibly fresh and well-focused.

We then moved to a flight of 1982 Bordeaux, some from my cellar and some from other cellars. Sadly, the 1982 L'Evangile was so badly corked it was impossible to evaluate, and the 1982 Certan de May was herbal, medium to full-bodied, somewhere in late adolescence in terms of full maturity, but not singing as much as I would have hoped. Clearly it was not performing up to my earlier ratings of this wine. The 1982 Haut-Brion can be a lot better, but this bottle seemed prematurely evolved, although not showing any signs of oxidation, the color was showing amber at the edge. The wine had nice, sweet mulberry, cedary, unsmoked cigar tobacco and tar notes with soft round, juicy flavors, but bottles from my cellar had tasted a lot younger than this. The 1982 Talbot had reached full maturity. It is a beautiful wine with licorice, black olive tapenade, black cherries and currants, as well as forest floor and camphor - a beautiful, full, sexy, lush wine that should continue to drink well for another 10-15 years. Still on the upside with a good 20 years of life left in it is the 1982 Ducru-Beaucaillou. This wine is firm and structured, still has a dense ruby/plum/garnet color, is full-bodied and rich with plenty of cedar wood, blackcurrants and forest floor. It is a beauty that can be drunk now, but its best days are still ahead. The same can be said of the monumental 1982 Gruaud Larose, which I think I've said before is clearly the greatest Gruaud Larose I have ever tasted, and I have had most of them - back through the 1920s. The 1961 stands out, but this wine is maybe one of the youngest, biggest, most massive 1982s, and at age 34 is still going incredibly strong. The color is still opaque garnet/plum/purple. The wine shows licorice, copious quantities of blackcurrants and a hint of licorice, earth and tar. The wine is full-bodied, almost painfully extracted, but the sweet tannin and voluptuous texture that is so much a hallmark of this great vintage are all present in this amazing wine that seems ageless. It will hit 50 years in great shape. The 1982 Mouton-Rothschild has now arrived in late adolescence as well, reaching that plateau where it is close to full maturity, but will possibly last another 25-30+ years. This wine has always been one of the most decadent, luxuriously rich and great wines that along with the Latour is the top first-growth in the Médoc. The wine still has a dense purple color, a beautiful sweet nose of crème de cassis, spring flowers, forest floor and a touch of cedar wood. It is a beauty, full-bodied and probably closest in style and quality to their famous 1959, which has always eclipsed the more renowned 1961 in tastings. Lastly, the fully mature 1982 Trotanoy started with wonderful, sweet berry fruit, dusty loamy soil undertones, a hint of truffle and blackcurrants. Round, juicy, full-bodied and opulent, this wine is not likely to get much better, although it is certainly capable of holding at this stage for another ten or more years in a cold cellar.

As for the cuisine, Magdalena's Chef Mark Levy turned out another brilliant array of courses. The white-truffle scrambled eggs with toasted brioche were fabulous, as were the Wellfleet oysters with his uni sauce and pickled wasabi. He knocked us out with a Japanese-inspired dish, the pounded toro and hamachi, followed by a stone crab and smoked eel dish. The rest were also killer dishes, including the aged Arborio rice risotto with shaved white truffle, a saddle of venison (never one of my favorite meats) Yorkshire pudding and quince, followed by a gorgeous Brillat-Savarin with white truffle and smoked honey to knock us over at the end of the meal. All things considered, it was a great day to have a three- to four-hour lunch with great company, superb cuisine and fabulous wines.

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