Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas wine dinner feast

Christmas wine dinner feast and associated wine flight - a family affair

For a festive Christmas holiday family dinner we opened some festive and some classic wines to accompany a grand surf and turf menu. The main course featured broiled lobster tails and beef tenderloin steak Diane with mashed potatoes and green beans. Pre-dinner included a selection of artisan cheeses and fruits, and dessert was a velvet chocolate cake and holiday sweets.

Shots of our holiday dinner preparation ... 

Michelle preparing cheeses
Alec preparing mushroom sauce

Ryan preparing brandy sauce for
steak Diane

Ryan & L with steak Diane
L preparing lobster tails

The selection of artisan cheeses included my favorite Belavitano Merlot, Danish Blue and Mango Fire Cheddar. 
Chocolate velvet cake

Selection of white wines shown left. The wines listed below in order of tasting, the whites were tasted with the salad course, pre-dinner cheese selection and then lobster. 

Pierre Gimonnet Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Cuis 1er Cru N.V. 

Looking back when updating my wine tasting journal index of tasting notes, I realize we last tasted this wine last year with our Christmas dinner. Watch for more as we still have most of this case purchase remaining.

Light gold color - Bright vibrant expressive, smooth silky polished nice drinking - touch of sweetness,crisp acidity, tangy lengthy finish.

RM  90 points. 


Domaine de Roally Mâconnais Viré-Clessé 'Tradition' Grand Vin White Burgundy 2007

Domaine De Roally Vire Clesse Grand Vin de Borgnogne 2007
This is an example for folks who find Burgundy wines confusing or mystifying - a reasonably priced white that provides good QPR - quality to  price ratio. Wine geeks know one reason Burgundy is hard to decipher partly because it is so fragmented with many small producers and labels - some representing but a few hecatres (acres) of vines. Note that White Burgundy represents Chardonnay varietal wines in the old world custom of naming the wine after the geography rather than the grape as we do here in the new world. (And of course, red Burgundy is notably Pinot Noir).

Straw colored, medium bodied, floral notes with hints of citrus and buttery tones and hint of stone, clean and crisp with a smooth pleasant lingering finish. Very nice complement to the broiled lobster.

RM 88 points. 


The Reds; 

Nova Wines Marilyn Merlot Napa Valley 2006

A gimmicky but fun wine that has become somewhat of a cult collectors label with outrageous high prices sought for aged bottles. Each vintage features a classic image of the starlet. The 2006 label photo shows Marilyn in a alluring low-cut dress, taken in 1958, believed to be the one she wore at the debut announcement of "Some Like It Hot".

Fruit for the producer is sourced from longtime contract growers' vineyards from Yountville to St. Helena in central Napa Valley. This vintage release is a blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.

We first tried the 2006 Marilyn Merlot Napa when we did a vertical tasting of the 06, 07 and 08 vintages. The 06 was the concensus favorite of that tasting.

Today it was medium bodied, dark ruby color, pleasant easy drinking black berry fruits with tones of spicy oak on a moderate tannin lingering finish.

RM 88 points.

Hollywood & Vine Cellars "2480" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2002

Hollywood & Vine Cellars are the creation of two guys from the entertainment industry that joined forces  to make hand crafted, ultra-premium Napa Valley wines. Actor turned director and screenwriter, Doug Barr, relocated to the Napa Valley from Hollywood in the early 1990’s. With Doug's longtime pal, Bruce Orosz, together, they created Hollywood &Vine Cellars releasing their first vintage in 1998. The “2480” refers to the address of the property they purchased for their wine venture from the estate of Maynard Amerine, a pioneer in the California wine industry. An author and professor at UC Davis, he taught many of the noteable names in the American wine business and impacted the art of winemaking world wide.The numbers on the bottle pay homage to Maynard Amerine for his contributions to the art and science of fine winemaking and for his inspirational role in the creation of Hollywood & Vine.

We first tasted the initial releases of Hollywood & Vine from the Cantina while dining out int the courtyard at Tra Vigne in St Helena during our Napa Wine Experiences in 1998, 1999 and 2000 and our Napa Wine Experience 2003.

We decanted this an hour before serving - it was full bodied, dark garnet color, flavorful forward complex black currant and raspberry fruits softened and mellowed to give way to sweet vanilla, hints of clove, milk chocolate and sweet oaks with a smooth lingering tannin finish.

RM 92 points.



Dunn Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2000

AJ, R & L with producer Randy Dunn
We're long-time huge fans of the artistry of Howell Mountain winemaker Randy Dunn. Our index of tasting notes for Dunn Vineyards cabernets doesn't reflect the fact that we have a vertical collection of Randy Dunn's wines going back to the 1980 vintage.We have many great memories of introducing friends and family to Dunn Howell Mtn cabs at special occasions and special events over the years - many before we started our on-line wine journal back around 1998.

The fact that these are known for being long lived wines, we have kept many since we have vintage selections for the kid's birth years as well as a selection of large format bottles. This collection of our kid's birth year wines and large bottles was the highlight of the feature of our cellar in the Collecting section of Wine Spectator back in June of 2001. So it was not surprising, #1 son Ryan wanted to pull out a Dunn when trolling the cellar selecting wines for our festive Christmas dinner.

Selection of Dunn cab vertical from our cellar
dating back to 1980
We first discovered Dunn Cabernets during our Napa visits going back to the eighties. We last met legendary Randy and his daughter Kristina during our winery and cellar tour/visit during our Napa Valley Howell Mountain Wine Experience back in  2008.

The Dunn visit was a highlight of our Howell Mountain trip where we focused on but one appellation as is our practice. Its true after many trips, we've learned less is more and we focus on one AVA per trip. We start at the top of the mountain and work our way down the hill when visiting the Mountain appellations. Visit our wine country travel pages on www.unwindwine.com to see our chronicles of Mt Veeder, Howell Mtn, Diamond Mtn, Spring Mountain District, and Atlas Peak Napa Valley appellations.

I keep thinking we'll drink them as part of a vertical tastings or for a special birthday, anniversary or other family celebrations. It was fitting that Ryan pulled a 2000 Napa to enjoy with our Christmas family dinner, and to see how this particular vintage release was aging since it is not know for its longevity.

We decanted the 2000 Napa Dunn an hour ahead of serving. It showed medium body, dark inky color, floral violets and aromas and flavors of subtle earthy wet grass or green pepper that was more approachable than it sounds, with accents of eucalyptus and spearmint masking the black currant and black berry fruits with a firm tight tannin finish.

We pledged to drink another bottle in ten years when we're together for another holiday dinner to compare with the memories of this tasting experience.

RM 88 points.



Long story - never mind