Magdalena Restaurant - The Ivy Hotel

Magdalena, with British chef Marc Levy manning the kitchen, has the potential to be one of the finest restaurants in all of Maryland. The restaurant and the luxury boutique hotel, The Ivy, have become the first Relais & Châteaux hotel in the state. Levy, who knows his way around a kitchen, continues to turn out stunningly creative and full-flavored dishes that show off his talent, but never cheat the diner on taste, with fascinating marriages of textures, flavors and temperatures. Just about everything we had in our wine group was exciting, with my highlight being the Hawaiian blue prawns (which I am not sure I have ever had) cooked perfectly. In addition, there was a rack of Colorado lamb and a stunning filet of beef. We all chipped in with the wines and it was a rather special day, with some extraordinary 2009 Bordeaux, displaying their stuff even at age six and showing almost unbelievable potential. This vintage continues to be enormously impressive!

But first the whites, and we had a bevy of them. The group of six white Burgundies had a few surprises, with all of the wines showing well, although perhaps the 2005 Remoissenet Montrachet underperformed, given its prestige and luxury-priced ticket. The value, undoubtedly, had to be the 2012 Chablis Butteaux from Lavantureux, a flavorful, mineral-dominated, citrusy style of Chardonnay with plenty of flavor intensity.

The three grand crus, the 1999 Coche-Dury Corton-Charlemagne, the 2009 Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne and the 2013 Sauzet Bâtard Montrachet were all beautiful wines, although I would opt for drinking the Latour and Sauzet over the next 4-5 years. The Coche-Dury has avoided any oxidative issues and, at age 16, was a super-fresh, lively and full-bodied wine with loads of honeysuckle and caramelized citrus.

We finished with five of the best Chardonnays made from California's North Coast: The 1999 Peter Michael Chardonnay Point Rouge, which was as youthful as the Coche-Dury; a magnificent 2012 Peter Michael Chardonnay Belle Côte; a terrific wine in a challenging vintage, the 2011 Marcassin Chardonnay Estate; and two wines slightly less ripe with higher acids, the 2012 Aubert Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard and the 2012 DuMOL Chardonnay Chloe. All of these are clearly world-class Chardonnays and, for the price difference and lack of any risk of oxidation, they seemed to be a far surer choice than most white Burgundies these days.

The red wine flight was a colossal showing for the 2009s, with perfect wines from Cos d'Estournel, La Mission Haut-Brion, Smith Haut Lafitte, Pape Clément and Haut-Brion. These amazing wines are not only showing their individual, singular terroir characteristics at age six, but the luxurious, extravagant richness and body of this vintage. As I have written and said publically many times, 2009 is the modern-day version of 1982, except much more consistent, as many more properties ratcheted up the level of quality by making stricter selections not only in the vineyard, but also in the winery as well. The tour de force, and a sleeper of the vintage that I mentioned early on, was the 2009 Cos d'Estournel, a monumental wine that may well go down in history as this vintage's 1947 Cheval Blanc. Also remarkable was the 2009 Smith Haut Lafitte. One expects the Mission Haut-Brion, Haut-Brion and Pape Clément to hit the highest points in a vintage like this - and they did.

Among these wines, the 2009 Clinet was a bit tight, but at the end of the evening began to blossom and open up. Another wine that seemed tight and closed was the 2009 Montrose, but in terms of extract and concentration levels, this may have been even more intense than the Cos d'Estournel or La Mission Haut-Brion.

Three other wines proved merely mortal, but are beautiful wines and very savory. The 2009 La Gaffelière from St.-Emilion is a beauty and one of the strongest wines they've ever made, with loads of Christmas fruitcake, cedar wood and a gorgeously opulent style. The 2009 Rauzan-Ségla showed classic floral notes along with blackcurrants, forest floor and spice. The 2009 Cheval Blanc seemed to have enormous potential, but again, came across as relatively tight and closed and may be going through a firmly structured passage at this point.

In any event, I was amazed at how much fun it was to taste these wines, as the few that I own probably won't begin to drink seriously for at least another 3-5 years.

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