First Growths at Cut

Some notes from my tasting group’s trip up to Cut in Beverly Hills last month. These are just my personal notes, and there was no group scoring or anything (other than the unanimous WOTN mentioned below).

• On the limo ride up, we enjoyed a 1998 Dom Perignon. I didn’t write down notes, but this was quite open, rich and hedonistic. I had only tried the 98 once before, near the time of its release, and it has expanded and improved considerably since that time. 93.

• The first wine was the 1989 Mouton-Rothschild. This was reticent at first, but showed a melange of herbs, cedar, pepper, modest red berry, and an earthy finish. With some air, the wine grew substantially, with the red fruit becoming quite generous and a substantial spice component appearing. 94.

• Next was the 1989 Haut Brion. This gave the perception of sweetness and warmth without being sweet. Such a plush and floating texture in the mouth, surrounded by brown sugar, sweet tobacco, and mild spices. An ethereal wine. It had enough structure and acid to give the wine overall definition, but I would guess that the wine is into its peak drinking window now. The unanimous choice as wine of the night. 99.

• We then moved on to the 1995 Mouton-Rothschild. This showed high toned cool purple berry fruit, coffee and lead pencil. A classic stern young cabernet profile, with big tannins and broad shoulders. This appears to be a great wine in the making, but I think it would require 5+ years to get into its prime drinking window, and I could mostly rate it now on its potential. 93-96.

• We revisited that great Bordeaux vintage with the 1995 Ausone. This started out fairly light initially. With some air, it revealed red cherries, dusty spices, cedar and fine-grained tannins. An elegant and understated wine. It reminded me of a 91 Montelena Estate that I’ve had fairly recently. My first experience with Ausone, and it was quite different from what I might have guessed. 92.

• The penultimate wine was the 2001 Haut Brion. This showed very much the caressing house style was saw with the 1989, with a plush and velvety texture and no hard edges, but the wine shows a bit too much oak now, with mocha and wood flavors a bit too prominent. This was still entirely enjoyable at this age, with concentrated plum, dark cherry, licorice and earth notes, but it promises more with patience. 93-95.

• We concluded with the 1998 Mouton-Rothschild. This was a less powerful and concentrated wine than the other First Growths, but it might appeal more to the traditionalist. Taut red cherry and cassis fruit, with graphite, mineral and menthol on the finish. Not showy, but very classical, balanced and elegant, with more of the pleasure from the aromatics at this stage than on the palate. This wine probably will become more generous with further ageing. 91-92.

None of the wines were decanted in advance, except for the 2001 Haut Brion, which was simply uncorked and slow-oxed for about 10 hours in advance. Some were decanted at the restaurant for an hour or so. I think the last four wines might have benefitted a little from more time in the decanter.

P.S. Great star sighting for this boring OC married guy – Sidney Poitier was standing next to me when I walked in and was seated at a table near us. Very distinguished man in person. And Larry King was there with (what I believe is) his current wife, who looks to be about a third his age and foot taller than him. He very conspicuously walked around the room several times greeting people and making himself seen.


Very nice wines! The 1989 Haut Brion is a mind blowing wine. Had it a few years back. I still remember what it tasted like and how the textures/layers of structure/pleasure engulfed my palate, insane.

I love CUT! One of my favorite restaurants here…

Nice! Going to the newly opened London version of Cut in a couple of weeks’ time. It’s been savaged by the critics here so we shall see.

I’ve never read a tasting note on 1989 Haut Brion that says anything less than ZOMFG wineofthecentury. Is it just so stupidly good that palate doesn’t matter? Or is it in an intermediate style that can appeal to people with different preferences? Or both? Has anyone ever had a less-than-transcendent experience with this wine (excluding corked/oxidized/heat damaged bottles etc.)?

…and does anyone want to pour me a taste? I heard they had it on tap at the Sampler in London last Christmas for £2 a milliliter.

Great notes Chris on a wonderful lineup of wines. 98 Champagne are very forward right now and make sense to open over their heralded (02/96) counterparts. The 89 Mouton is a lovely wine and quite understated as it doesn’t get all the press, but next to a wine like 89 HB, not much to say. Still looking forward to tasting one, one of these days.


Great lineup. How was Cut? I’ve been meaning to head over there and may for my birthday next month.

Very nice, Chris. Limo to Cut with 1st Growths…can it get any more balla…no, it can’t. Sounds like fun, I think I want to do this type of trip sometime, except I’ll have my wife drive, and it’ll be to an OC restaurant, and it’ll be with village Burgs, but exactly the same otherwise. Was Cut worth the coin?

Chris, great notes and what a dinner! Quick question, got a few 95 and 01 FGs . . . how do you think they’re holding up? You think that they may be early drinkers compared to 96 and 00?

Dr. Kim, I heard that Mr. Fu would be more than happy to be your chauffeur for the night. Oh, and he’ll gladly pay for the dinner at the restaurant of your choice and supply the wines . . . On second thought, you may want to bring your own bottles as Fu rarely has anything worth drinking . . .

Good action on this post about Bordeaux!

Couldn’t agree more with the score on the 1998 Mouton, which twice I have found to be a really disappointing wine. That wine is simply lacking. Not extremely complex, not smooth, missing some fruit backbone to balance out the fairly austere structure. Reminds me a bit of 2004 Pride Cab as far as structure goes, which is no compliment.

Rest of the wines sound incredible. Thanks for bringing the heat with a BDX post.

The 95 Mouton and 01 Haut Brion seemed like they needed 3-5 years more age before getting into their prime, just based on my uneducated guess. Neither seemed in any danger of decline whatsoever.

I don’t have notes from it, but our group tasted 95 Bordeaux last year, including Pontet Canet, Cos d’Estournel, Leoville Las Cases, Ducru and probably a couple others I don’t remember. Overall, they were very good, but probably a bit on the early side of their prime window. Ducru was the star of that lineup (as of how it was showing that night), if I recall correctly.

Cut was a really impressive place without being overstated at all, with great food and wine service which was friendly and not stuffy. I had a Nebraska dry-aged ribeye, and . . . it was pretty good, but it wasn’t really my thing. It may be that I just didn’t make the best order. The appetizers were good, especially a bone marrow appetizer of some sort. So, just based on that one visit, I’d give it an A for ambience and service, and a B+ for the food.

Thanks for all the nice comments.