Thursday, August 30, 2012

Alec's Blend, Robert Craig Affinity, Penn Shore Diamond

Celebration Family Dinner - Alec's Blend, Robert Craig Affinity, Penn Shore Diamond

For son Alec's last night home before setting off for the east coast embarking on his professional career, we gathered for a gala family farewell dinner. Linda served up tenderloin beef skewers, twice baked potatoes, green beans almondine, grilled lobster tails, and for desert her decadent flowerless chocolate cake with fresh berries and whipped cream. For the special occasion and gathering, to complement the tenderloin beef skewers of the surf and turf. we naturally served up some of our favorite wines - Lewis Cellars Alec's Blend, 2005, and perennial favorite Robert Craig Affinity Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 1997. To accompany the lobster tails we served a recent discovery, Penn Shore Winery and Vineyards, Lake Erie Diamond. We tasted and picked up this wine at the winery during our recent trip to the East Coast and the Lake Erie, Niagara and Finger Lakes wine regions.

Watch for more reports from our trip, wine discoveries and tastings.

Lewis Cellars Napa Valley Alec's Blend 2005

The 2005 Lewis Cellars Alec's Blend Napa Valley Red Wine Blend is a blend of 70% Syrah and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is dark inky purple color, full bodied, rich, opulent, forward fruit of black berry and black raspberry with a layer of blueberry, cherry cola and vanilla, smooth sweet oak and a hint of chocolate truffle flavors with highlighting silky chewy tannins on a long lingering finish. This is delicious - the most tasteful, fully flavored, smoothest and most polished Alec's Blend of all the vintages we have tasted.

RM 93 points.  

Robert Craig Affinity Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1997

My Winesite features six tasting notes of previous bottles of this wine from the case we bought at the winery in Napa Valley a dozen years ago. This bottle was the most expressive of any in my recollection over the last ten years. It was rich, medium full bodied, dark garnet colored - fruit filled with black currant, black berry, raspberry, cassis and earthy leather reminiscent of a left bank Bordeaux with silky tannins on the finish. (82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc).

This wine is now more expressive than the earlier tasting notes, finally fully revealing itself and its full potential with lingering fruit and staying power. The 1997 vintage was praised at the time yet the panned follow on 1998 vintage has been more enjoyable over the last several years. Finally the '97 is awakening and revealing itself, when we're down to the last five of our twelve bottles. It will be fun to see how this continues to evolve, and how long it lasts in its glory.

This is Robert Craig's Cabernet Blend from his three mountains (Mt Veeder, Howell Mountain and Spring Mountain) and a (Napa) Valley collection. Known for its good value and early drinking ability, this fifteen year old is holding up well. We have these wines dating back to the inaugural 1993 vintage in our cellar.
RM 92 points.

From our Robert Craig vertical collection that is highlighted regularly in this blog. Click on the Robert Craig link for more features.

Penn Shore Winery Lake Erie Diamond

This month we traveled east and stopped enroute to visit the Lake Erie wine district which spans the south eastern shore straddling both sides of the New York and Pennsylvania state line. The area developed around the turn of the last century growing fruit for Welch's Grapejuice. Today, they take in 80000 tons of grapes per year. The Lake Erie Appellation evolved and grew to over 150 producers who produces a range of wines from Riesling and Ice Wine to Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc and even Pinot Noir.

We visited Penn Shore Winery and Vineyards, one of the first one encounters when heading east from Erie, Pennsylvania towards New York, on picturesque Route 5, the Lake Erie Wine Trail. It sits on the outskirts of the quaint town of North East. There we tasted a flight of wines including Noiret, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Vidal Blanc and Diamond - the highlight of the lot and the only NV (non-vintage designation). Diamond is actually the name of the grape varietal. It is grown locally but is not popular anywhere else.

The Penn Shore Lake Erie Diamond is honey colored, full bodied, rich, almost thick and syrupy. They say on the label it is semi-sweet with fruit character and this sums it up well. It has aromas of sweet petunias, vanilla and clove with flavors of vanilla, clove and a hint of honey turning to pink grapefruit on the finish. Its more suited to sipping unless consumed with dry aged cheese, or in our case, it was a great compliment to the grilled lobster tails of our surf and turf dinner. Its a great QPR (quality to price ratio)at under $10.

RM 88 points.

More to come.