For a gala dinner to celebrate Beth's birthday, we opened a flight of Napa Valley Howell Mountain big Cabernet Sauvignons to go with NY Strip steaks from the farm. Starting with caprese salad, lobster medallions were featured with a Napa Valley Carneros Chardonnay and Champagne. Artisan cheeses included Fair Oaks Farms aged cheddar cheeses - 2, 3 and 5 years old.We finished with Linda's fabulous flowerless dark chocolate cake and Eiswein.
Main course big cabs flight ...
This was the consensus favorite of the tasting.
Deep dark purple - full bodied - big mouth-full of forward complex but polished spicy black and edge of red berry fruits, violets, layers of mocha and oak with a long lingering tannin finish.
The 2004 Napa growing season was condensed with early bud break, warm days, cool nights and one challenging heat spike. The result was a small harvest of intense, flavor packed fruit from an unusual, but exceptional year that is showing and drinking well and should last another decade.
RM 93 points.
Napa Wine Experience 1999 when we hosted them at our wine dinner at Pinot Blanc in St Helena (see picture left). We tasted Clark Claudon 1995-96 against ten year 1989 Bordeaux. Our vertical collection of Clark Claudon continues to this day.
O'Shaughnessy Napa Valley Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2000
Dark inky color, full bodied, the black berry, black currant and black raspberry fruit predominate but are a bit flabby lacking the more typical depth and concentration of greater vintages, a layer of lead pencil and a slight herbaceous tone, hints of tobacco and charcoal linger on the firm tight tannins indicative of Howell Mountain terroir.
RM 89 points.
La Jota Napa Valley Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2001
Dark inky purple, full bodied, notes of blackberry, black raspberry and black currant, turning to cedar, leather, then oak and silky smooth tannins on the finish.
RM 90 points.
Legendary winery on Howell Mountain since the turn of the last century released wines as early as the late 1890's.
Blue Hall Vineyards Camiana Napa Valley Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Blue Hall Vineyard sits 1700 feet above the valley floor atop Howell Mountain. Its three acres are planted in Cabernet Sauvignon and is the used to produce one Estate bottled single vineyard wine, Camiana, named for Juliane and Camille, the two daughters of Vintner and owner, Dr. Andrew Zolopa, is a world-renowned researcher and the director of Stanford University's HIV/AIDS program. Zolopa spends most of his time researching HIV, but his second passion is wine; and his spare time is dedicated to fine-tuning Blue Hall Vineyard.Cabernet Sauvignon. They built a get-away weekend retreat high up on Howell Mountain and eventually planted three acres of Cabernet vines. The first limited vintage was in 2004, increasing production with the subsequent releases.
The wine is full bodied and dark inky purple color, the nose is perfumed with violets, cedar box and dusty earth, The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon flavors are complex, tight and dry, with big firm tannins masking the intense concentrated black berry and black cherry fruit accented with tobacco, hints of cassis and sweet oak. This wine is great now but should be laid down for five to 10 years.
RM 91 points.
Before dinner, with the artisan cheeses ...
FogDog Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2006
Medium bodied, ruby colored, bing cherries, raspberries, cedar, spice box, and hints of anise and mocha.
RM 88 points.
A Joseph Phelps project, Freestone Vineyards are a 100-acre, cool climate site on the Sonoma Coast now coming into production, with a selection of Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs under the Freestone and this FogDog labels.
Ramey Napa Valley Carneros Hudson Vineyard Chardonnay 2005
This was highly praised by everyone. Medium bodied with golden yellow color; full forward creamy flavors of pear, lychee and baked apple with hints of nut, caramel, and touch of citrus - nice structure and depth with a well balanced clean and crisp lingering aftertaste.
RM 91 points.
Finis w/ flowerless dark chocolate cake and fresh berries ...
Joseph Phelps Napa Valley Eisrebe 2010
Pale gold, full bodied. Predominant full concentrated Peach flavor with hints of apricot, orange oil and clove on the luscious long lingering finish and aftertaste.