Chez Elaine - Home Cooked Food by Takayama Masa

Takayama Masa, proprietor of his flagship restaurant in the Time Warner Center in New York City as well as his newest venture in Las Vegas, agreed to cook for some dear friends of his. As guests, we were honored to join him and the other guests to enjoy a remarkable group of wines and food. My favorite course was the Ceviche of Santa Barbara shrimp, followed by a remarkable sashimi style of delicately and thinly sliced filet mignon in a cilantro sauce. The beef tasted as if it were Waygu.

With this we drank enough wine to float a small yacht. The 2000 Dom Pérignon is not nearly as spectacular as the 1996 or 2002, but it is certainly thirst-quenching and tasty. The 2005 Chave Hermitage Blanc is seven years old, but has not gone into that wacky, weird, oxidized stage, and the wine was fabulously young, rich and intense. It offered an interesting comparison with the brilliant, exotic blend put together by Manfred Krankl at Sine Qua Non, the 2006 The Hoo Doo Man. I tend to drink Sine Qua Non’s whites within their first 3-4 years of life, but some of them age remarkably, and this wine appears capable of doing just that. The 2009 Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape Roussanne Vieilles Vignes was just as perfect as the bottles that came from my cellar.

The first flight of red wines included five wines with different styles, including the light, delicate, fully mature 1998 Rayas Châteauneuf du Pape, the exotic, perfumed, lavender, blueberry, raspberry, beef blood and garrigue-scented and flavored 2003 Pierre Usseglio Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée de Mon Aïul, the extraordinarily intense kirsch liqueur, lavender, black currant and floral-scented Grenache, the 2006 Sine Qua Non In The Crosshairs, and the sumptuous 2007 Clos des Papes Châteauneuf du Pape, a darkly colored, young, primary wine that tasted more like a barrel sample than a finished wine. We finished with one of the most magnificent wines made on Planet Earth, the ancient vine Grenache cuvée from Clos St.-Jean, the 2009 Châteauneuf du Pape Sanctus Sanctorum, which is bottled only in magnums. All the fruit comes from their ancient vines situated in a lieu-dit of Châteauneuf du Pape called La Crau.

The last flight of reds was somewhat overkill. All the wines were based on the Syrah grape, and as I have said before, the greatest Syrah in the Coteaux du Languedoc comes from Negly. Their second vintage was the 1998, and the 1998 La Porte de Ciel is still an infant in terms of its evolution. Absolutely riveting, and probably my favorite wine in the entire flight was the 2001 Sine Qua Non On Your Toes. This wine seems to be close to full maturity, and offers an extraordinarily floral nose intermixed with forest floor, crème de cassis, black raspberries and a caramelized, exotic fruit component. In total contrast was the beefy, muscular, mouth and teeth-staining 2003 Delas Frères Côte Rôtie La Landonne. This beast of a wine appears to be at least a decade away from full maturity. Pure seduction, and almost as sexy as the On Your Toes Syrah was Guigal’s 2005 Côte Rôtie La Mouline. Co-fermented with 11% Viognier, it reveals an exotic honeysuckle and violet-scented nose intermixed with crème de cassis, black raspberries and spice. The debut vintage of Sine Qua Non’s newest vineyard in Ventura County is the 2007 Next of Kyn #1 Syrah. This is a big, fleshy, full throttle wine that scores high on the hedonistic scale, but is not yet exhibiting the complexity of the other reds in this particular flight. Altogether, this was a great night of wine and brilliant cooking from Masa.

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