Saturday, August 31, 2013

Napa Cab 95 Vintage Horizontal Tasting

Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1995 Horizontal Tasting Flight Highlight Selection of Big Reds and Grilled Barbecue Beefsteaks and Lamb

It started with our anniversary celebration dinner a couple weeks ago when we ordered Pride Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon from the Sullivan's Steakhouse winelist. We enjoyed the Pride so much we decided then we'd pick up from there with a follow on tasting of Pride from our cellar. So when our visit from Ryan and Michelle and baby Marleigh grew into a family and friends holiday weekend barbecue, the tasting plan started there. Joining us were Johnny & Erin, neighbors Matt & Amy, Bill and Beth, and later, Dr Dan & Linda.

Our collection of Pride Mountain Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon includes an abundance from the 1995 vintage whose time has come to drink so we set upon a horizontal tasting flight from that year. Adding to the Pride, we pulled from the cellar Del Dotto and Elan. Bill and Beth joined and Bill brought from his cellar Constant Diamond Mountain and Freemark Abbey Bosche Vineyard cabernets from the same vintage to round out the horizontal selection.

Labor Day weekend barbecue ultimate wine flight

Prior to dinner we had a selection of artisan cheeses with shrimp cocktail brought by Bill & Beth, with a Carmel Road Chardonnay. The cheese flight highlighted the chardonnay as well as the cabernets.

Carmel Road Central Coast Monterey (Appellation) Arroyo Seco Vineyard Chardonnay 2004

Lemon colored, full bodied, complex citrus flavors with a buttery nut layer.  Probably held on to this too long as its past its prime and time to drink.

RM 87 points.

We grilled out steak kabobs, Ryan and Michelle brought a full side of lamb, and Bill and Beth brought New York strip and filet steak. Dan and Linda showed up later and Dan brought two big reds befitting a big Cab tasting, an Amarone from Villa Mattielli and a La Mitre Chateauneuf du Pape from Caves St Pierre. 

Villa Mattielli Amarone della Valpolicella
Caves Saint-Pierre Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Mitre 2010

Ryan manning the grill

Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1995 Horizontal Tasting Flight

Elan Vineyards Atlas Peak, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1995

We first tasted and picked up this wine from the producers Richard & Linda Elliott-Smith during our 1998 Napa Wine Experience

Of the five eighteen year old '95 Napa Cab's tasted, this was the one showing the most diminution from age. Full bodied, with firm but well integrated tannins, the black berry and black cherry fruits are falling off a bit and giving way to tones of leather and tobacco, accented by anise, cedar and oak.

RM 88 points.

Del Dotto Vineyards Rutherford Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1995

Showing a hint of age but still life left in this eighteen year old - dark garnet color, medium-full bodied, hints of oak accent spicy forward black berry, black cherry and plum fruits with hints of cedar, leather, cigar box and vanilla with well-integrated tannins on a long complex finish. 

RM 89 points.  

Constant Diamond Mountain Vineyard Red Blend Wine 1995

From high atop Diamond Mountain at the northern end of Mayacamas Range above the town of Calistoga, Fred and Mary Constant and consulting winemaker Paul Hobbs produce Bordeaux style red wine blend wines.

We visited Diamond Mountain and Constant Diamond Mountain Vineyard during our 2011 Diamond Mountain Napa Valley Wine Experience. Sitting at the summit at the top of the mountain, the site offers spectacular views overlooking both Napa and Sonoma highlands from over 2100 feet elevation. Constant is among the oldest wineries in the valley with history dating back to the late 1800's.

Wow, what a surprise, we had tasted this wine previously with uninspiring results. Tonight, this wine overachieved, vastly exceeding expectations. Dark purple color, medium to full bodied, full forward flavors of black berry, raspberry and black cherry fruits with traces of anise, tobacco, tea and leather on a lingering, moderate, soft tannin finish.

RM 90 points.

Bill's tasting notes -

Deep indigo color in the glass. A bit more full bodied than I remembered. Deep flavors of dark berry...blueberry, dark cherry and raspberry, with some minerality on the finish. Not surprising, given this vintage was made in more of a Bordeaux blend style albeit a bit Cabernet heavy at (73%). Smooth integrated tannins. A nice bottle drinking at peak. Will last another couple of years but why wait?

WC 90 points.

Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon 73%, Merlot 18%, and Cabernet Franc 9%.

Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Bosché Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1995

Bill's tasting notes as posted on Cellartracker - "Medium garnet color. Spice on the nose...some pepper and a bit of clove. Full bodied with a interesting layers of plum, cassis, chocolate and eucalyptus. Just a hint of vanilla from light oak. Soft, integrated tannins provide some backbone. This is always a favorite and is drinking very well. More than held its own against a flight of '95 reds including Élan, Constant Claret, Del Dotto and Pride."

WC 92 points.

Another eye-opening standout of the evening, this was medium to full bodied with bright vibrant forward ripe plum and black raspberry fruits accented by tones of currant, clove, hints of vanilla and sweet oak with smooth polished silky tannins on the finish.

RM 91 points.

Pride Mountain Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1995

We visited Pride Mountain Vineyards and Winery high atop Spring Mountain of the Mayacamas Range overlooking Napa Valley to the east, and Sonoma Valley to the west during our Napa Valley Wine Experience back in 1999 and again in 2003. We've enjoyed Pride since and often 'gift' Pride to friends on special occasions. We're big fans of rich concentrated extracted mountain fruit and hold Pride Cabernet going back to the mid-nineties. We love the Spring Mountain expression of terroir which I believe is as complex and flavorful as the other popular mountain appellations.

Dark, full bodied, firm, initially closed and tight - decanted and set aside, after an hour and half it started to open up to reveal big full complex dark blackberry and black currant fruits accented by anise, with hints of spice, dusty cedar, and a subtle sweet dark mocha on the full firm lingering tannin finish.

RM 91 points.

Caves Saint-Pierre Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Mitre 2010 

Dan brought this CDP from the much heralded blockbuster 2010 vintage. Garnet colored, medium bodied, surprisingly light for such a hearty vintage, slightly earthy black cherry, leather and tobacco notes with modest tannins.

RM 87

Villa Mattielli Amarone della Valpolicella 2009

Lacking the big body and complexity of an Amarone, ruby colored, medium bodied, still has that signature raisin and fig tones with hints of anise, cola, vanilla and nut on a modest tannin finish. 

RM 87

While it was getting late for some, (Erin & Johnny and Ryan & Michelle set out to get grandkids home and to bed, and Amy was bidding farewell for the evening, wishing to head home, I held her hostage until she'd tasted a dessert wine), mid-way through the evening we opened a Ruster Ausbruch with chocolate, cheese and fresh fruits course.
Herbert Triebaumer Ruster Ausbruch Burgenland Neusiedlersee-Hügelland Rust 1996/1997

This is a Chardonnay blend of Fürmint and Gelber Muskatellier (Furmint and Gold Muscatel grape varieties). While this was no doubt straw colored upon release, over time it darkened to butter color, then weak tea colored, eventually darkening to the dark orange rust color it possesses now. Allowed to continue to age, this will likely eventually darken to dark strong tea color, although I suspect it won't necessarily improve the flavor and suitability of the wine. Some classic dessert wines are built to last decades, I suspect this Ruster Ausbruch is at or even past its peak drinking window. We still have a case of this wine, so watch this blog as we monitor this over the coming months and years.

The thick almost syrupy extracted sweet fruit has been offset by a smoky almond nut flavor. Rather than the highly desirable apricot or peach flavors, this tended to be more cirtus focused. This was a great complement to hard Parmesan cheese.

RM 87 points.

Later, deep in conversation solving the world's problems, I had long ago cried 'Uncle', as by this time my pallet or discrimination for tasting wine was gone and I was done tasting for evening. Linda, having not kept pace wanted another glass of wine so opened one of her favorites, a big Aussie Shiraz.

Ben Schild Barossa Valley Reserve Shiraz 2008

The story of the controversy of this label are chronicled in an earlier blogspot posting.  

The colour of this Reserve was deep dark Ruby Red and inky purple. Big, forward, thick, chewy, almost tongue-coating with huge aromas of blue fruits and violets give way to bright vibrant concentrated tongue coating flavors bursting with blueberry, black raspberry, ripe plum and chocolate, with hints of black pepper, spice and nicely integrated oak on a long lingering soft tannin finish.

My earlier review gave this 93 points (with a footnote of possibly warranting a 94) ... this time there re-emerged a bit of a graphite tone which detracted somewhat from the fruit so I took off a couple points.

RM 91 points.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Markham Vineyards Napa Valley Petit Syrah 2001

Markham Vineyards Napa Valley Petit Syrah 2001

For a family Sunday barbecue dinner of ribs and burgers on the grill I pulled what I think may be the last bottle of this case that we bought more than a decade ago. It has held up amazingly well and still is drinking very nicely. Medium to full bodied, dark garnet color, the black berry and black cherry fruits are starting to fall off a bit and give way to a layer of tobacco and hint of leather and earth, tones of currant and rose petals and anise are accented by firm but polished well integrated tannins on the finish. 

The layer of anise and tobacco accenting the black fruits and the firmness and gripping tannins were a great complement to the grilled barbecue ribs.

RM 89 points. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Flinders Run, Southern Flinders Ranges, Baroota, Australia, Shiraz 2005

Flinders Run, Southern Flinders Ranges, Baroota, Australia, Shiraz 2005 
For a quick relaxing dinner at Angelis's, our favorite local Italian restaurant, we took this old standby, one of our absolute favorite wines with a huge QPR (Quality Price Ratio). It goes great with the spicy Italian fare. 
We first discovered this wine down in central Illinois wineshop Friar Tuck's. We bought some and brought it home and loved it. We bought case quantities from Southern Hemisphere Wines in Huntington Beach, SoCal. Eventually Binny's featured this wine and we bought it all and are fortunate to still have a supply as we continue to enjoy this wine which is still holding it owns despite its eight years of age.
Dark inky colour - full bodied, rich thick chewy - symphony of flavors of sweet currant, ripe plum, red raspberry, blueberry, a layer of mocha accented by hints of pepper, vanilla, and spice, and a lingering essence of creme brulee' and cedar on the long full soft finish. At eight years old, this wine is holding its own although the fruit may be starting to fall off a bit and lose some of its tongue coating dense richness, but its still delicious. 

RM 92 points. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Caparone Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Caparone Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 

A replay of this high achieving Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon that #1 son Ryan discovered at his local neighborhood wineshop in Bucktown/Chicago and then ordered a case of the subsequent vintage release from the producer. The producer claimed this 2008 was his best work to date. I must say, I too was very impressed with this high achieving Cabernet from an area not necessarily known or noted for its Bordeaux varietals.

Ryan brought the '07 to our house for Dad's Day dinner when we did a comparison tasting against a young and old Bordeaux.  Tonight, I visited him and Michelle to see recent newborn grand-daughter Marleigh while in the city. I stayed for dinner and Ryan opened this '08 vintage release. I thought this was even better than the 2007.

This is the artwork of father-and-son operation Dave and Marc Caparone. Dave, one of the most experienced winemakers in Paso Robles, has made wine every year since 1973. He founded Caparone Winery in 1979 and focuses on full-bodied red wines made in a classic style. They produce small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Aglianico.

The fruit for this release is sourced from the French Camp Vineyard in Paso Robles, located at the eastern edge of the appellation, near the Temblor mountain range.

This is full bodied with dark purple color, it is expressive and vibrant with full forward black and blue berry fruits, almost like a big Aussie Shiraz. A layer of spice and hints of mocha and smoky cassis linger on a clinging tannin finish. True to the intent of the producer, this is a big classic Cabernet: rich, dense and well balanced with great structure, fruit and varietal character;  oak flavor is minimized and the alcohol level is moderate. This is smoother, better balanced and more polished than the '07 we had a while back. This provides great QPR and I went and bought a case for enjoyable easy every day drinking.

RM 90 points.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Opus One Pride Highlight Anniversary Dinner

Opus One Pride Highlight Anniversary Dinner

To celebrate our anniversary, we dined at Sullivan's Naperville with dear friends Beth and Bill C. For the occasion I pulled from the cellar a wine befitting the occasion, OPUS One. I chose a '96 vintage following our horizontal tasting from that vintage the other night.  Also, that was the vintage we tasted on our first visit to OPUS during our Napa Wine Experience 1998. To round out our dinner feast we selected from the wine list Pride Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2010. Prior to dinner Bill and Beth treated us to Tattinger Champagne.

The wines were all spectacular and paired perfectly with the food. Naturally we all dined on Sullivan's aged prime steaks - Bill the mushroom stuffed filet with Bordelaise sauce, Beth had the filet, Linda, the filet with the peppercorn cream sauce and I had the filet, artfully prepared 'Pittsburgh' style with lobster tail surf and turf. The spinach and dinner salads were perfect. The chocolate and berry deserts were spectacular.

We added cheddar au-gratin potatoes and creamed spinach side dishes.  Aaron provided superb service - cordial, attentive, informative and gracious in decanting and appropriately handling of the wines. The finale to the gala evening was a cellar tour (pictures coming).


The joint venture of the two masters of these top wine producing regions, Baron Phillip Rothschild of Mouton Rothschild from Bordeaux and Robert Mondavi from Napa Valley. I admit I've often considered OPUS as over-hyped, over priced and over played, the choice of image conscious drinkers with more money than taste. Tonight, OPUS lived up to all the hype and exceeded all expectations. In fairness, I think many of our OPUS encounters that left something to be desired were due to drinking it too early, too young. Tonight, the 1996 was at its prime and showed off the best of what OPUS can be.

The Opus was dark inky purple colored, medium to full bodied. It opened with a huge nose, reminiscent of a classic Margaux from the mid-eighties. Elegant, complex, smooth and polished it was a symphony of black fruit flavors accented by harmonious tones of leather, tobacco, lead pencil and soft tones of cassis and a hint of mocha. Decanted, over the course of the evening the fruit became slightly muted giving way to classic left bank Bordeaux earthy leather, but never losing its harmonious balance. The fragrant finish continued to linger for minutes.  

RM 94 points. Had the fruit held, I would have given this a 95.

Pride Mountain Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

We visited Pride Mountain Vineyards and Winery high atop Spring Mountain of the Mayacamas Range overlooking Napa Valley to the east, and Sonoma Valley to the west during our Napa Valley Wine Experience back in 1999 and again in 2003. We've enjoyed Pride since and often 'gift' Pride to friends on special occasions. Being huge fans of rich concentrated extracted mountain fruit, we hold Pride Cabernet going back to the mid-nineties. We love the Spring Mountain expression of terroir which I believe is as complex and flavorful as the other popular mountain appellations.

So it was a tall order to select a wine that would complement Sullivan steaks during a special occasion dinner up against the legendary Opus One. We weren't disappointed as the 2010 Pride stood tall holding its own against such formidable expectations. All of use were pleasantly surprised by how well the Pride showed, especially given its youth.

We decanted the Pride before serving. It was bright garnet colored and was full bodied with complex, nicely balanced bright vibrant forward expressive ripe black raspberry fruits with a layer of sweet mocha, tones of tea, tobacco and cassis with hints of vanilla and soft oak with firm gripping but manageable tannins. Delicious already, this will no doubt improve with further aging for a decade or more. I am anxious to open and compare some of our vintage bottles.

Fruit is sourced from 53% Napa/ 47% Sonoma. The blend is 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, and 7% Petit Verdot.

RM 92 points.

Chateau Brane-Cantenac Margaux Bordeaux 2004

After dinner we retreated to the C's for dark chocolate mud cake and fresh berries and Bill opened a 2004 Brane Cantenac Margaux.

Bill's posted his tasting notes - "Deep maroon color. Some light floral notes on the nose. Leather, earthy and full bodied on the palate. Integrated tannins are ready to drink now."

My notes - Dark garnet colored, medium bodied, subtle earthy, leathery black cherry fruits with a touch of anise, slight floral and spice on a lingering moderate tannin finish.

RM 88 points.

Cellarcrashers ...  The picturesque Sullivan's Naperville working/showcase wine cellar ...

Sullivan's showcase working cellar.

Sullivan's working cellar interior.

Cellarcrashers, Bill and Rick

Large format Imperials - Halo, Opus ... . Party!

Cellarcrashers ... anniversary couple - Linda, Rick ...
Tie in the wine again, I hate it when that happens!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Vintage 1996 Napa Reds for Italian Dinner Fare

Vintage 1996 Napa Reds for Italian Dinner Fare

For a weekday dinner outing with friends Bill & Beth C, we each brought a 1996 vintage red for a comparison tasting. We selected 96's to thin the cellar and also to retire a mature vintage that is at or nearing end of its drinking window. Taking advantage of their BYOB policy, we dined at Angeli's Italian, our favorite local Italian ristorante in Naperville, I brought a Del Dotto Giovanni's Tuscan Reserve Napa Red 1996. For a comparison tasting, Bill brought a Grace Family Vineyard 29 Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon 1996. Bill also brought the remains of a vintage selection left over from earlier in the week. He saved and shared a few tastes of Quintessa Napa Valley Red Wine 2005.

We all selected our entrees from the daily specials- Asparagus Ravioli with sun-dried tomatoes, Stuffed Shrimp, Chicken Bruschetta, and Duet of Filets of Beef with Maytag cheese, grilled asparagus and garlic mashed potatoes. We were split on the dinner salad and Angeli's incredible Boston Clam chowder, a house specialty. As always, the food was great, the service personable and the atmosphere congenial and hospitable.

Del Dotto Giovanni's Tuscan Reserve Napa Red 1996

From Del Dotto, featured producer of several of our Napa Valley Wine Experiences, we first tried this '96 back during our '99 producer visit/dinner. Named for Giovanni Del Dotto, son of the producer, this is a Sangiovese blend, a tribute to their ancestral heritage, but not mainstream for this notable Napa Valley Rutherford Cabernet producer.

Interesting, this was a 750 ml bottle, I recall early releases of this wine were in a 500ml format, I remember buying some at the winery and then again at Weimax Wine & Spirits in Burlingame, CA, up the road from SFO.  We still hold a case of this from various vintages. This is our Italian wine component of our cellar since we don't collect or hold many Italian wines, staying with and focusing on Cal Cabs, Bordeaux and Aussie Shiraz.

Inky purple colored, medium bodied, fair amount of sediment in bottle. Slight funkiness on opening, burned off after half hour or so - not unusual for a 17 year old - no other signs of diminution except perhaps fall off in the fruit - time to drink as it is at/near the end of its drinking window. Muted black cherry and black berry flavors are overtaken by a layer creosote, leather and cigar box. Rather tight with moderate tannins on the finish. 

RM 87 points.

Grace Family Vineyard 29 Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon 1996

Bill brought the 1993 vintage (shown left) of this wine to our OTBN 2013 night and it was one of the highlights of the evening. While not up to the complexity and elegance of the '93, this '96 was drinking very well indeed. From a four acre vineyard '29' planted in Cabernet Sauvignon (2/3) and Cabernet Franc (1/3) on the lower slopes where the Mayacamas Range meets the Napa Valley floor just above St Helena, this was crafted by the legendary Heidi Peterson Barrett, winemaker.

Inky purple color, medium-full bodied, vibrant black cherry and boysenberry fruits up front with hints of tea, lead pencil, spice and smoky oak on a moderate smooth tannin finish. 

RM 89 points.

More to come...

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Freestone (Joseph Phelps) Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2007

Freestone (Joseph Phelps) Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2007

Opened this half bottle (375ml) for light easy sipping with some artisan cheese and crackers. Medium bodied, garnet with a tinge of grey color with some bricking, firm gripping layer of red berry, cherry and cranberry fruits turning to tones of spicy dusty rose, sweet licorice, tea and tobacco leaf on modest lingering tangy spice finish.

RM 89 points.  

Del Dotto Napa Cab vs Clerc Milon - 1999 vintage duo highlight beefsteak dinner

Del Dotto Napa Cab vs Clerc Milon - 1999 vintage duo highlight beefsteak dinner

Summer family dinner unites two newborn cousins/grandkids Richie and Marley. #1 son Ryan & Michelle brought Marley out to daughter Erin's & Johnny's to join Richie and sister Lucy for festive summer feast of grilled T-bone beefsteaks. For the occasion I pulled two 1999 vintage bottles - Erin and Johnny's graduation year, to celebrate the gathering. Two steak enhancing bottles of contrasting styles - old world classic Bordeaux Pauillac vs new world Napa Cabernet.

Chateau Clerc Milon is the second label of premier First Growth Chateau Mouton Rothschild. In top vintages, this second label often offers a glimpse of the classic label at a fraction of the price. Del Dotto is one of our perennial favorite Napa producers from the classic Rutherford appellation. Both of these wines have resilient aging potential extending in top vintages to twenty plus years. At fourteen years young, these wines may be at the apex of their drinking window.

Chateau Clerc Milon Pauillac Bordeaux 1999

Ryan noticed that both labels on this bottle were in French. I don't have purchase data as it preceeds my Cellartracker record keeping (and my former MS Windows cellar management system went out of support and became incompatible with subsequent upgraded versions of Windows. Yes, thats not supposed to happen, but hey.... Microsoft upward compatibility.)

The Clerc Milon was clear garnet colored with a bright rim, medium bodied, aromas and flavors of floral violets, leather and tobacco predominate over the subdued black berry, cherry and currant fruits, with hint of earthiness and spice, almost delicate, soft nicely integrated tannins.

RM 89 points.

Del Dotto Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1999

This 1999 vintage was the artwork of legendary winemaker Nils Venge crafted from Rutherford appellation fruit. At fourteen years, this is testament to the aging potential of this label as it is still full, firm and vibrant with no signs of diminution whatsoever.

Dark garnet colored, full bodied, firm gripping forward black berry fruits laced with that classic Rutherford dust, complex but nicely balanced with intense dark cherry, black currant and blackberry fruits, a layer of cedar and spicy tangy oak on a lingering finish of tight structured tannins. Great complement to grilled beefsteak - its needs food to appreciate its complexity.

RM 92 points.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Canoe Ridge Estate Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

I visited Chateau St Michelle back in 1999 and have been a fan of their work product ever since. Ryan brought this Northwest Columbia Valley Cabernet and it stood up well to the steak and held its own against the other two higher priced big label cabs/blends.

Wow, nothing meek about this big brooding cab. From a twenty year old vines on the steep slopes overlooking the Columbia River. Dark inky purple colored, full bodied, aromas and flavors of complex black berry fruits accented by black licorice cassis, mocha, hints of menthol, mint and minerals with tones of oak with gripping tannins on the lingering finish. Great QPR (quality price ratio) in this over-achieving cab.

RM 91 points.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Amanda's Hoboken for Elegant Casual Fine Wine-n-Dine Experience

Amanda's Hoboken for Elegant Casual Fine Wine-n-Dine Experience

Weekend getaway, our first trip to Hoboken helping son Alec relocate there, we came across Amanda's and dropped in seeking a wine and dine experience. While the 'Wine Bar' sign attracted us, don't let it mislead you, this is a full service, full menu, fine dining restaurant, much to our delight. Everything that followed was spectacular, meeting or exceeding our highest hopes and expectations in every respect. The menu offered a wide variety of seafood as well as beef, pork, chicken and lamb selections.

When presented with the wine list I was uninspired and underwhelmed. I asked the server if there were any wines not listed on the wine list and he promptly produced an extensive bound wine list offering five times more selections featuring many French and American favorites.

There were several very notable special offerings such as Chateau Figeac St Emilion 1982 ($600) and Chappellet Pritchard Hill Napa Cabernet Sauvignon 1976. There were a dozen favorites that you'll see featured in my cellar list and on the pages in this blog. There was also a list of large format bottles and offerings by glass.

While the vintage and top labels were priced accordingly, we were looking for something a bit more modest. We found a half dozen tempting selections in our price range and we opted for a Château Calon-Ségur St Estephe 2004. I thought this 'lesser' vintage would result in an approachable wine that would drink well young (nine years young) and go well not only with my Angus Beefsteak, but also Alec's mussels and Linda's Scallops entrees. I half expected this to be unavailable since I thought it represented good value, the list offered a half dozen back-ups any of which would have been ideal and delightfully suited for our tastes.

Everything went according to plan and as hoped. The ambiance was delightful, service was impeccable and the food was outstanding.

We have Château Calon-Ségur in the cellar going back to the eighties and OWC's (original wood cases) from '95 and '96. We also hold this 2004 vintage but haven't tapped it yet.

The 2004 Château Calon-Ségur was medium bodied, dark garnet colored, bright and vibrant with black and red berry fruits with a muted slight earthiness, a layer of slightly sweet cassis with a touch of tobacco and smoke leading to a smooth moderate tannin finish.

RM 89 points.

We look forward to returning to Amanda's as a highlight of our visits back to the Jersey side of he Hudson.

More Amanda's...

The family getaway weekend to Hoboken - the spectacular panorama Hoboken view of the Hudson and NYC.