Saturday, October 20, 2012

Varied Red Tasting - Carr - Flinders - Northstar

Former co-coach Mike G invited me to tourney quarterfinals so he and Chris came over for an impromptu wine tasting afterwards. We pulled a selection of varied big reds and a desert wine to accompany an assortment of artisan cheeses, smoked salmon, mixed nuts, mixed fruit and hearty biscuits and breads.

Joseph Carr Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 

From the Carneros District down at the bottom of Napa Valley near where it meets Sonoma. Not as smooth or polished as the 2007 release but a great value none-the-less. A respectable Napa cab, with a great QPR (Quality Price Ratio) especially at a price point of about $17. The 2009 is a blend of Cabernet with small amount of Merlot and Cabernet Franc aged for 16-18 months in a combination of one- and two-year-old French and American oak barrels. Medium bodied, dark garnet colored, aromas and flavors of cherry, blackberry and black currant fruits, a layer of smoke and leather scents open to a focused core of cassis, black cherry and plum fruit with hints of vanilla bean, clove and cocoa powder. Moderately firm tannins with supporting acidity gives the wine freshness not often seen in wines at this price.  

RM 87 points.

Flinders Run Southern Flinders Ranges Shiraz 2006

We love this wine and consider it a benchmark representation of Southern Australian Shiraz at its very best, and at a pricepoint between $25-30 it offers a relative great QPR (Quality to Price ratio).

Overall hit of this comparison tasting of varied big reds. Consistent with earlier notes, the 2006 Flinders is dark inky purple, full bodied, powerfully scented bouquet of dark berries, smoky minerals and fresh flowers bursting with flavors of thick chewy black raspberry, blueberry and cassis with layers of nut, vanilla and hints of mocha flavors on a tongue coating lingering finish. As much as we like this wine, the 2005 is even better.

RM 93 points.

Northstar Columbia Valley Merlot 2008

One of our perennial favorite Merlots is this blend from fruit sourced from over 14 separate vineyards and 18 different blocks  from vines averaging 15 years old yielding grapes with concentrated varietal flavors of cherry and plum with elegant tannins.

This 2008 is a bit tight and closed, not as smooth, polished and fruit filled as some earlier vintages of this wine that I remember - perhaps due to its age or period in its aging profile. This is medium to full bodied, with dark inky color, this is a bright, balanced wine with notes of black cherry, tobacco, spice box and nut leading to a long, smoky moderate tannin finish.

 RM 88 points.

Cavalchina Bianco Del Veneto Passito 2004

Full bodied and thick - the butter color has turned to an orange rust color already, the muted fruit flavors of apple, subtle tangerine, apricot and peach are overtaken by smoke, leather, nut and lemon peel on a moderate flavorful lingering finish.

RM 84 points.

Deep Reds - Del Dotto Cab - Kalleske Shiraz

Two Big 'Deep' Reds with Italian Dinner

In planning our wine selections for our dinner outing with Dennis 'Woz' and Rosie, I asked Dennis what type wines they preferred. He replied that they like big "deep" reds so I selected the 1999 vintage Del Dotto Napa Cabernet and Kalleske Greenock Barossa Shiraz 2005. They both lived up to expectations according to earlier tasting experience notes. These were great accompaniment to the spicy and cheesy pasta dishes, as well as the brown sage sauce on the halibut entree at Angelis, our favorite local Italian trattoria. 

Del Dotto Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1999

Dining with Dave and Yolanda Del Dotto in the
garden court at Tra Vigne in St Helena
We're long time fans of Del Dotto wines going back to their inaugural vintage in 1993 when they were featured in the Wine Spectator feature of up and coming new producers to watch. We've attended many Del Dotto events and hosted them numerous times at our Napa wine producer dinners during our Napa Wine Experiences.

R & L with Dave Del Dotto in the caves.
We first tasted this vintage selection from the barrel in the Del Dotto cave tour at the old caves over by Silverado Trail. Today, of course they have a magnificent new winery and cave on the estate on Highway 29 and Zinfandel Lane in St Helena, Napa. Everyone to whom we've recommended the Del Dotto Cave Experience during their Napa visit have said it was a highlight of their trip. (It was especially memorable for our good friends Rick and Wendy when Del Dotto arranged an exclusive intimate tasting there where Rick popped 'the question' and proposed.) 

This 1999 vintage selection was featured at their gala festival  Barrels and Beef Extravaganza at the estate which we attended during our Napa Wine Experience in 2002. Later that same year, Del Dotto served this wine at the Wine Spectator Grand Tasting where it was a standout. That winter we took this wine along on our holiday in the Caribbean where it was the center of several memorable dinner experiences. 

The fruit for this selection was sourced from the Del Dotto estate in the Rutherford appellation. My earliest notes of this wine from that time said that "this may be the best ever Cab from our friends Dave and Yolanda Del Dotto - and winemaker Nils Venge". Of course they have since followed up with many spectacular vintages many of which are drinking very nicely such as their 2001 which is showing especially complex, smooth and polished these days and gives the 1999 a run. Suffice to say, this is one of our favorite Napa cabs, a centerpiece of our cellar collection that we continue to enjoy on special occasions and showcase with friends. We're still holding a vertical back to that 1993 release and we continue to be amazed and pleased with their longevity! 

The 1999 Del Dotto Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is dark ruby colored, full bodied, complex but nicely balanced with intense dark cherry, black currant and blackberry fruits, a spicy tangy oak layer on a lingering finish of tight structured tannins. This wine cries for a big juicy steak or bold cheese or dark chocolate accompaniment. 

RM 92 points.

Kalleske Greenock Barossa Valley Shiraz 2005

Intense, full bodied, inky colour, thick chewy tongue-coating ripe black cherry, plum, creme de cassis with a layer of mineral and a hint of raisin, vanilla and black pepper on the smooth polished finish.

RM 90 points