Saturday, April 21, 2012

Napa Valley California Cabernet Tasting

Napa Valley California Cabernet Tasting
Featuring 2006 Horizontal

Pre-dinner 2006 Horizontal Napa Valley Cabernet Tasting -

Cliff Lede Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Bill's tasting notes:

"Deep, opaque,purple color. Long legs. A bit of perfume, tobacco and spice on the nose. Big and fruit forward, this is a complex wine with layers of black raspberry, plum and blueberry, evolving to chocolate, clove and a hint of tobacco. Drinking very well now but certainly has 5 to 8 years left. Throwing a surprising amount of sediment it's age but this seems to be a Cliff Lede trait. Nicely accompanied by assorted flatbreads, Spanish cheeses and green apples. Drank with Beth, Rick, Linda and Peter with a terrific South Loop view of the Chicago skyline from Peter's apartment."

WCC 90 points. 

Winemaker's Notes: "The 2006 Cabernet lights up out of the bottle with a precocious bouquet of exotic spices and old leather. Given a moment to rest, aromas of sweet marjoram, rose oil, cardamom and blackcurrant jam evolve into exceptionally sweet floral notes of star jasmine and a touch of trumpet vine. Initial flavors of cherry deepen as fine tannins expand and unfold. Dark stone fruits mix and integrate with sweet tannins and fleshy acidity, giving way to a persimmon inspired finish that coats the mouth."

Blend: 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 2% Malbec
Alcohol: 15.2%

Cliff Lede was a featured producer during our Cliff Lede Stag's Leap District Vineyard & Winery Visit - Autumn '09.

Pine Ridge Epitome Stags Leap District Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Epitome is sourced from grapes grown higher overlooking the valley from the ridge, typically with lower yields, more concentrated with higher extracted fruits. It showed a profile and flavors similar to the Oakville Cab below but I found it to be a bit tighter with more subdued fruits, perhaps due to being slightly more concentrated and firm thereby requiring more time to open and reveal itself.   

Pine Ridge Oakville Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Dark garnet color -aromatic with flavors of dark blackberry and hint of blueberry followed by red cherry, raspberry, mocha, soft oaky spice and bit of bramble.

RM 91 points.

We enjoyed dinner at May Street Cafe, a quaint trendy neighborhood restaurant that features Neuvo Latin and contemporary American cuisine that is American, part Mexican, part Cuban with accents of Asian - steaks and seafood, that is more sophisticated and stylish than its Pilsen Little Village industrial neighborhood location on Chicago's near southwest side would indicate. At dinner we took BYOB and tasted two other Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons that were perfect accents and complements to the char-grilled steaks.

Del Dotto Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 from Magnum

Medium to full bodied , deep dark ruby color - black berry and sweet black cherry fruits accented by clove spice and a hint of English toffee on the 'Rutherford Dust' moderate silky tannin finish.

RM 91 points.

Del Dotto is one of our perennial favorite Napa Cabs that we have featured in many Napa Valley visits and is a vertical collection in our cellar going back to the inaugural 1993 vintage. See our Del Dotto features on including Del Dotto - Napa Valley Napa Wine Experience 2003 and Napa Wine Experience 99 to mention a few. Their spectacular winery and cellar tour right on Route 29 at Zinfandel Lane as you enter St Helena from the south are a must see for everyone during a visit to Napa Valley.  

This same wine is featured in their extraordinary Connoisseurs Series in which they age the same wine in a variety of oak cooperages to highlight the different oak influences on the wine. We featured a horizontal tasting of the 2001 Del Dotto Connoisseur Series last year as listed on site

La Sirena Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2001

Bill and Beth brought this classic Heidi Barrett Napa Cabernet selection - his tasting notes as shown on Cellartracker:

"Deep garnet color. A bit perfumey on the nose, much like a Margaux, with some evidence of spice. Opened a bit sweet with notes of raspberry and cherry. After about 30 minutes this smoothed out significantly to become much more elegant and balanced with notes of leather, spice and tobacco with silky tannins. A more delicate contrast to the big 2001 Del Dotto served with wonderful seasoned NY strip with chipotle mashed potatoes and broiled mushroom at May St. cafe in Pilsen."

WCC - 88 points.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Kinzie Chop House Chicago - Beef and Wine Dinner

Kinzie Chop House Chicago - Beef and Wine Dinner

We joined friends Eric & Cathy in from Indy to join the kids, Elyse and Ross, and Sean and Megan in Chicago for dinner at the legendary Kinzie Chop House. Looking forward to great steaks, we took along a classic red, BYOB, for the occasion and matched it with a staple standby and a new discovery for our red wine flight.
As is protocol when bringing a BYOB to a fine dining restaurant that offers a wine selection, be sure to bring a unique vintage selection that would not be available on the wine list. Then, be prepared to purchase a bottle for each bottle that you bring.  Kinzie Chop House staff were gracious and accommodating in serving our wine.

The wine flight
We brought from our cellar - Matthews Cellars Yakima Valley Red Wine Blend 2000 - a Bordeaux style blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc, 6% Malbec and a trace percent of Petit Verdot. This bottle is a stylish etched bottle in magnum format.

From the winelist we selected a Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Merlot 2009 - a staple consistent producer with a broad selection of labels and varietals. The Merlot exceeded expectations and was a good choice for a steak friendly wine. We also purchased from the winelist a previously unknown producer and label, Bennett Family Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

The Matthews Cellars Yakima Valley Red Wine might be considered a surprise selection as this is a relatively unknown producer outside the Pacific Northwest - a region not known for Bordeaux style wines. Interestingly, we first discovered and tasted this wine at fabulous Aureole Restaurant at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas - a great value find on their spectacular winelist. My tasting notes from Aug 8, 2005 - Matthew Cellars Yakima Valley Red Wine 2000 - "Full bodied Bordeaux style - forward fruit of red cherry, hint of currant and spice come together in a nicely balanced and polished firm red with a lengthy finish". My notes from this and other tastings are similar and consistent.

RM 89 WS 91 - 

 From the winelist we selected a Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Merlot 2009 - a staple consistent producer with a broad selection of labels and varietals. The merlot was a good reliable choice for a steak friendly wine that was a good value.

Medium bodied, the color is a deep, rich ruby-garnet. Forward spicy sweet oak, layers of black cherry, raspberry and dark plum flavors with hints of dark chocolate, cinnamon and clove spices and touch of vanilla. This is a pleasant easy drinking wine with nice complexity and depth.

RM 89 points.

The fruit for this wine is sourced from several Freemark Abbey vineyards two in the mountains overlooking Napa Valley, Keyes Vineyard high atop (35.3%) Howell Mountain near the town of Angwin near the Las Posadas State Forest and Stage Coach Vineyard up on Atlas Peak (30%) high above Napa to the Northeast; and three vineyards from the Rutherford appellation - Wood Ranch vineyard (8.9%) in the heart of the Rutherford appellation, east of the Napa River, the nearby Red Barn Ranch Vineyard (6.9%) in the creek beds of  the Napa River and Conn Creek, and the legendary Beckstoffer Vineyard Rutherford (4.8%) in the heart of Rutherford on the valley floor.

 We've been collecting Freemark Abbey wines since the eighties. We met Jeff Jaegar, a partner of Freemark Abbey at the time at a wine tasting at Binny's in Naperville back about 1994. Jeff helped source a case of Freemark Abbey Bosche Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1992 and a special library selection large format Jaegar Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1981(shown left) for our daughter Erin's birthyear. We served this wine at her wedding in 2006 along with several other large format selections collected for the occasion.

We've visited the Freemark Abbey Winery north of St Helena in Napa Valley several times over the years including during our Napa Valley Wine Experience Freemark Abbey Wine Visit  in 2009

A pleasant surprise of the evening was discovering this selection from the Kinzie Chop House winelist, a new previously unknown producer and label, Bennett Family Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2006.

The Bennett opened with aromas of dark plum, black cherry and mocha, dense flavors of candied dark fruit and subtle hints of vanilla oak. The finish is smooth and velvety, with elegant tannins. The Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of fruit from the Estate Lynch Family vineyard in Rutherford and select other sources throughout the Napa Valley.

RM 89 points.