For our first visit restaurant experience to Wildwood Restaurant in Geneva, IL with Bill and Beth C, L and I took a bottle of Paloma Napa Valley Merlot 2003 which we thought would complement a wide assortment of entree selections from the dinner menu. We ended up ordering a range of entrees from Arborjack seafood to Prime Rib to Roasted Duck. The Paloma which follows in the footsteps of the blockbuster 2001 vintage that was Wine Spectator's Wine of the Year that year did not disappoint. While earlier reviews of this wine were more modest, tonight it lived up to the reputation it earned with the WS prestigious selection. From the extensive winelist Bill and I both zero'd in on the same selection, the O'Shaughnessy Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, however while listed, it was not available. By this time we were well in to the Paloma which was turning out to be spectacular, so we 'upgraded' our second choice from Van Strasser Diamond Mountain to the 2009 release of Lewis Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon.
PALOMA Spring Mountain District Merlot 2003
Consistent with my earlier tasting notes, this was even better than I expected and remembered, medium full bodied, smooth polished, complex harmonious symphony of finely integrated aromas and flavors - predominant sweet black currant, red raspberry, milk chocolate, a hint of ripe plum, sweet oak and a bit of burnt sugar caramel on the long smooth polished finish.This was a great compliment to the roasted duck in strawberry and cherry vinegrette sauce.
RM 93 points.
Lewis Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Historically, this is one my favorite Napa Cabs, having had many memorable bottles over the years. Matched up against the Paloma was a tall order, and coming off the spectacular showing of the Lewis Cellars Alec's Blend the other night we chose the Lewis Cab 2009. This promises to be a blockbuster with its initial 94 point rating from Wine Spectator. My experience is that this wine drinks well young, not needing many years to be approachable and reveal its potential. Bill was a bit skeptical of its readiness to drink. I think we were both right. It was very good and drinking quite well already, but it will clearly still improve with a half dozen years of cellaring to soften and round out a bit of its edginess. In retrospect, I wish I'd ordered the New York strip steak. This would've made for a dynamite combination. The Lewis was too much wine for the Roasted Duck! Still it was delicious!
Big full bodied, a bit tight, forward complex ripe black berry and black currant fruits with spicy oak, hints of vanilla, mocha and a layer of cedar on the lingering tannin finish.
RM 92 points.
Based on and encapsulating the producers' notes, respected merchant K&L summarizes this wine: "2009's long, cool growing season produced low yields of concentrated, fragrant berries with high natural acidity in the hillside vineyards of Calistoga and Oak Knoll that are the source for Lewis' Napa Valley Cabernet, resulting in a perfumed and complex wine with incredible finesse. Though still powerful and rich in the signature Lewis style, elegance and refinement displace the brawn of past vintages.The nose leads with scents of blackcurrant, rose petal, and baking spice, accented by hints of savory herbs, forest floor, and toasty oak. This leads to a rich yet refined palate, where layers of juicy fruit and oak spice are framed by acidity and fine tannins. Graphite and hints of cocoa lightly dust the lingering tannins, as the wine finishes clean and surprisingly light on its feet."
Bruno Desaunay-Bissey Grands-Echezeaux Vieilles Vignes, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Grands-Echezeaux Grand Cru, 2003
Before setting out for dinner, Bill opened this Bruno Desaunay-Bissey Grands-Echezeaux Burgundy, 2003. It was medium bodied, garnet colored, and exhibited full floral bouquet, earthy leather, subdued fruits of slightly tart black cherry and blackberry, with a layer of tobacco and spice box on the moderate tannin finish.