My friend was really pissed off. Hendra Anwar, who lives in Los Angeles and Hong Kong, invited me for dinner last night at Cut in Beverly Hills and brought some amazing bottles to drink, including a 1989 Louis Latour Montrachet, 1993 Emmanuel Rouget Echézeaux, and 1978 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage La Chapelle. What almost ruined his night was that the last wine was a rotten fake.
The dinner started off like a spending spree on Rodeo Drive with lottery winnings. The Burgundies were an absolute joy. The Montrachet was mind-blowing. I love Louis Latour whites from this ripe and wonderful vintage. The wine started off with a dried pineapple, walnut, salty and Manzanilla aroma and a thick oily and decadent palate. But it seemed to get younger and younger as it opened and turned racy and fresh. It is a genie of a wine. 99 points, non-blind.
The 1993 Rouget Echézeaux was like so many reds from that vintage. It was tight and powerful and not giving away much. But with a little air it showed intense raspberry aromas that turned to fresh flowers. The palate was full and powerful. This is still just a baby. 93 points, non-blind.
But then came the Hermitage. By this time, we had our juicy and perfectly prepared food. Henwar went for a rib-eye and I had salmon. The food at Cut is excellent. I love its use of excellent ingredients and clarity in cooking. This is no-nonsense, top-notch food. It's wine-friendly to say the least.
I looked at the bottle of La Chapelle before he served it and it looked dicey. It had a loose neck label and a strange looking Jaboulet capsule and no main label. "The wine merchant I bought it from 15 years ago said the labels were lost in the cellar," he said.
"Funny how it only lost its main label," I thought to myself.
Caveat emptor. This counterfeit bottle of 1978 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage La Chapelle was purchased from a wine merchant more than a dozen years ago.
Dana Farner, the erudite sommelier at Cut, had decanted the bottle and brought it to our table with Riedel bowls, and she served me some. It tasted nothing like the great 1978 La Chapelle. It had none of the spicy, black pepper, dark fruit, meaty, decadent character that the wine should have. It was fruity and young with raisiny, berry flavors. It was as common as a bleached blonde walking the streets of Beverly Hills on a Saturday.
I asked Dana for the cork, and she brought it to the table. It had no branding. In fact, the cork looked like it had been sanded and put back into the bottle. It was one lousy fake.
My friend was so bummed out. He frantically called the wine merchant he bought it from to tell him that the wine was fake. But the wine merchant never answered. I told him not to worry about it. We drank two beautiful wines that night and I was already in vinous nirvana.
But then he remembered he had a bottle of 1997 Méo-Camuzet Richebourg still in his bag. His face changed and he was back in heaven. The thought of the bogus La Chapelle was just a distant disappointment.
It didn't really matter but, man, I hate fakes. I hate fake wines, fake watches, fake people, fake anything. But at the same time, they make you better appreciate the real deals, and those Burgundies that Hendra brought to dinner, not to mention the fabulous food, made for a wonderful experience. Wine a few, lose a few.
Hoyt Hill Jr — Nashville, TN — April 23, 2010 6:10pm ET
Justin Larose — Mt Clemens, Michigan — April 24, 2010 12:31am ET
James Suckling — — April 24, 2010 3:36pm ET
John Brody — Montreal Canada — April 24, 2010 3:51pm ET
Justin Larose — Mt Clemens, Michigan — April 25, 2010 2:50pm ET
Ann Suchta — Wimington, Delaware — April 26, 2010 8:49am ET
David A Zajac — Akron, OH — April 26, 2010 4:51pm ET
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