Our Bordeaux But We Drink Other Stuff Too group was getting back to its roots last night with a tasting of 1985 claret. That AM we had a cancellation due to illness and had a flurry of last minute emails, but couldn’t find a replacement. So on a stormy afternoon-evening I headed down to meet the group at Preserve 24 on Lower East Side, near Katz’s.
Re the restaurant- address is on Houston, entrance on Allen. Entered the big space, was greeted, and taken through the empty restaurant to a table where Suzanne and Nano awaited. Big space, not a soul. Turns out they had decided to start closing on Mondays after they took our reservation, and honored it. Score a point for management. Service was nice and attentive all through evening.
They started us off with big platters of crostini: crab, chorizo and Ouray, and ricotta and honey - I particularly liked the chorizo
First Medoc Flight
1985 Ch. Sociando-Mallet
Very Sociando on the nose- green and herby without being unripe, a bit short on finish but nice wine. B+/B
1985 Ch. Leoville Poyferre
Midbodied, cigarbox and black fruit, a tiny edge of the SM for me, most people were other way around I think. B+
Our appetizers arrived about then. I had fried oyster sliders- good oysters, bacon, remoulade was a bit spicy for Bordeaux, 3 with (slightly sweet) buns was a lot of food.
1985 Ch. Magdelaine
This seemed muted and subdued, perfectly pleasant, but without the depth and elegance the best bottles of Magdelaine have, though I thought it opening nicely towards end of glass. Still, fine wine (especially for what it used to cost) . B+/B
1985 Ch. L’Evangile
Herby/minty nose, seems just a tad disjointed on palate, good length though. I’ve also liked this quite a bit more before. B/B+
1985 Ch. La Conseillante
OK, now we’re cooking. Full, rich, mocha, pencil shavings, rich long fruit. A tie for WOTN for me. A-
OK, the meat arrives. We had chosen restaurant after a pictorial on a website of the dry aged beef at Preserve 24. Some people had paired to order the porterhouse for two, others of us got T Bones or ribeyes. The porterhouses arrived first, in sizzling hot skillets. Of course, that case, steaks are still cooking, so people were frantically trying to remove the rare-ordered beef, but it was too late. Ouch. Then the individual steaks came- as far as I know, all were more done than ordered. My Tbone ordered rare was (charitably) medium rare, while Suzanne’s medium rare was at least medium well. Too bad, as the steaks were flavorful and well-seasoned. We pointed out to manager who apologized, but think no one felt we could really send back- with at least 5 employees there, they were not making money already. My guess is that for the “closed” night they got in a 3rd tier cook, who was not used to cooking dry-aged steaks (which with less moisture cook faster).
Margaux and Graves
1985 Ch. Palmer
Beautiful bottle. Classic, elegant, balanced, full. Redder fruit, cedar, mushrooms. Nice length. Co-WOTN for me. A-
1985 Ch. La Mission Haut Brion
Not giving, stern. Seems to be some good stuff lurking here, but I didn’t take time to revisit. B/B+
Pauillac and St Estephe
1985 Ch. Pichon Lalande
Bright, herby, with that lovely combination of power and elegance that the Comtesse can have. A-/B+
1985 Ch. Mouton Rothschild
Very nice, with an exotic edge. Mature, cigarbox and saddle leather, nice round finish. B+/A-
1985 Ch. Cos d'Estournel
Others seemed to like more than I- this just exuded a bit too much stiff St. Estephe-ness for me (but I might have liked more if I was still eating steak- would have been even better with a rare steak). B
Good night with good wines. I appreciate the staff trying hard, but a steakhouse that can’t cook steak is problematic (especially when it’s not like the kitchen was getting slammed). In the end good wines, good group of people, no tornadoes, and good connections on ride home meant a good night for me.
Grade disclaimer: I'm a very easy grader, basically A is an excellent wine, B a good wine, C mediocre. Anything below C means I wouldn't drink at a party where it was only choice. Furthermore, I offer no promises of objectivity, accuracy, and certainly not of consistency.