Saturday, March 23, 2013

Diamond Creek Gravelly Meadow Magnum Highlights Family Wine Dinner

Diamond Creek Gravelly Meadow Magnum Highlights Family Wine Dinner

With son Will laying over amidst trancontinental flights, he and brother Matt came home for a family dinner at Bill and Beth C's and I was included. To celebrate the gathering, Bill opened a magnum of Diamond Creek Gravelly Meadow 1996. For a comparison tasting I brought a 1996 Arns Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. This also provided a preview since Will will be joining us for our upcoming Napa trip where we'll be touring and tasting there.

Following starters of stewed meatballs, breaded macaroni and cheese balls and selection of fresh fruits and artisan cheeses, Beth served dinner featuring grilled steak ternderloin, steamed broccolli spears, twice baked potatoes with a fresh dinner salad. To round out the mix, Bill opened a Ruston Family Vineyards La Maestra Napa Cab 2006 and a birth-year wine Raymond Vineyards Private Reserve Napa Cab 1989. For starters, Matt brought a tasting selection - La Crema Mendocino County Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2009.

To finish, Molly had baked chocolate brownies which she served with french vanilla ice cream. To accompany the final course, Bill opened a Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Moscat d'Oro 2011 desert wine. 

Diamond Creek Napa Valley Gravelly Meadow Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 

Our tour and dinner tasting at Diamond Creek Winery was one of the highlights of our Napa Valley Diamond Mountain Wine Experience 2011. We served this wine from birthyear magnums at son Ryan's and Michelle's wedding. Bill and I continue to collect this wine for special  vintages and special occasions. The magnum served tonight was such a feature. 

 Opened and decanted for about ninety minutes before serving, it was medium bodied and dark garnet colored. It showed surprisingly vibrant and bright forward black cherry and black currant fruit flavors early.  As these settled over the ensuing two hours, it became more complex and Bordeaux-like with the fruit accented by bright floral tones reminiscent of a Margaux, accented by cassis, hints of dark chocolate, roasted coffee bean and earth tones with a smooth moderate tannin finish

RM 91 points. 

Arns Napa Valley Cabernet Sauivignon 1996 

We have several vintages of this wine in the cellar but our tasting experience is minimal so we were eager to open this and compare against a classic benchmark wine like the Diamond Creek; also since we're scheduled to visit the winery in a few weeks and we want to develop a vocabulary and more knowledge and experience with this wine.  

The Arns was medium to full bodied with dark garnet color. After opening, it still remained a bit closed and tight with subdued black berry and black raspberry fruits offset by a layer of cassis, tea, and baking spice, with subtle tones of spicy oak, with subtle tannins on a moderate short finish, perhaps indicative of its age. 

RM 89 points.  

Ruston Family Vineyards La Maestra Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Bill's tasting notes from Cellartracker - "Medium garnet color. Pepper and spice on the palate with a hint of dark cherry. Medium finish and light tannins. The merlot came through more than the Cabernet. Drank with strawberries and artisan cheeses prior to a gala dinner with the children at home." WCC 86 points.  




Raymond Vineyards Private Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1989

Commemorating Matt's birthyear, Bill opened this to celebrate Matt and Molly being with us for the evening, and to see if there is still life left in this aged vintage library bottle. 
Medium bodied, dark purple color, this wine still has life and is acceptable but its certainly passed its prime and is not going to improve any further. The black berry and cherry fruits are a bit muted having given way a bit to a slight funkiness of earthy leather, tea and tobacco, turning to tight lingering tannins on the short moderate finish.

RM 86 


La Crema Mendocino County Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2009

A limited-production Pinot Noir sourced from two small vineyards up in Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley, adjacent to the last stand of redwoods  before you reach the Pacific. Maggy Hawk Vineyard is subjected to constant cooling from its proximity to the ocean. A small percentage comes from Palmer Vineyard fruit for additional clonal complexity. 

A merchant had a stock of this and asked Matt to weigh in so he picked this up and brought for us to assess. Medium bodied, somewhat opaque ruby colored, the fruit was somewhat subdued cherry and plum fruits giving way to tea, a woody cedar, dust and hints of slightly earthy cinnamon spice on a somewhat subdued tannin finish.

RM 86 points. 


David Arthur, Paratus Napa Mountain Cabs - Sea Smoke Chardonnay

Napa Valley Cabs Prequel to Upcoming Napa Trip

For a elegant beef tenderloin dinner, and as a prequel to our upcoming Napa trip, we served two dueling mountain fruit Cabernet Sauvignons. Bill served Paratus 2007 and I brought a David Arthur 2003. Looking ahead to our upcoming Napa trip and tour we're scheduled for a tasting at David Arthur and will be reaching back to Paratus again.

For the starter course, Beth served crab stuffed mushrooms and Bill opened at Sea Smoke Chardonnay. What an interesting combination/pairing. As expected, the David Arthur was a perfect complement to the grilled beef tenderloin, and the Paratus went very nicely with the wild rice and grilled asparagus.

We finished with Linda's homemade chocolate mousse and homemade crafted pirouettes (shown below).

Sea Smoke California Grand Cru Santa Rita Hills Chardonnay 2010

Grapes for this Sea Smoke Chardonnay are sourced from their estate vineyard. It was aged in 55% new French oak for 16 months.  This wine was complemented perfectly by the crab stuffed mushrooms which totally neutralized a tanginess to the wine rendering it smoother and more approachable. 

 This was a very interesting contrast in style to the Sea Smoke Gratis Chardonnay we tasted at our Open That Bottle Night - OTBN 2013 night a couple weeks ago. While that was more Burgundian in style, this was very bold, forward, full bodied, dry, crisp, buttery and oaky on the front.Wine Enthusiast calls it a "exotic, candied style ...almost in a class by itself," and refers to "flavors including pineapple, brown sugar, lemon drop, ginger and vanilla cookie, honey, green apple butter and baked pear."

The producers says this is "an elegant Chardonnay with aromas of dusty peach, star fruit, rock dust and honeysuckle--complemented by a focused mid-palate and the refreshing cool climate acidity of our estate vineyard."

RM 91 points.

David Arthur Napa Vally Cabernet Sauvignon 2003

We've been collecting and enjoying David Arthur wines since the late nineties but have been pacing our consumption as we watch this wine age and achieve its true potential. This property owned and operated by Donald and son David Long. sits up on Pritchard Hill near Chappellet. We visited Pritchard Hill during our Pritchard Hill, Napa Valley Experience - Autumn '09 but couldn't schedule them at that time. We're headed back and will be touring and tasting David Arthur next month so we selected this wine to start to build our vocabulary and understanding of their wines.

Pritchard Hill vineyards overlooking
Napa Valley
David Arthur wines represent the unique terroir of the mountain with its rough rocky terrain. They have 21 acres on their Pritchard Hill estate planted in the Bordeaux varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petite Verdot, as well as Sangiovese and Nebbiolo which go into their unique Meritaggio. We first discovered this wine when we purchased a case back of the 1997 vintage release and still hold about half of those bottles, but we quickly turned and became fans of their Cabernet Sauvignon and their flagship wine Elevation 1147, creatively names for the vineyard site situated 1200 feet above the valley floor. All are crafted 100% from estate grown grapes.

According to their website, David Arthur  is a family affair consisting of three generations of the Long family, brothers David and Bob along with Joye Long are co-owners, with David acting as General Manager and his daughter Laura runs the office and daily operations.

Being married to the daughter of Indiana farmer Ned Long, and the fact that we'll be joined on this Napa trip by sister/sister-in-law Pat (Long), it's only fitting we saved our David Arthur visit and this Long reunion for this coming trip. I am looking forward to our return visit to Pritchard Hill and meeting the Long family and learning more about and exploring further David Arthur wines.

This 2003 David Arthur Cabernet Sauvignon presented itself true to its Bordeaux composition exhibiting full bodied complex character, nicely balanced but somewhat subdued dark black berry, currant and cherry fruits, a layer cassis with hints of dark chocolate, earthy tobacco and tea with tones of spicy oak on a silky smooth lingering tannin finish.  As noted above, this was a perfect wine to complement the grilled beef tenderloin.  

 The left bank Bordeaux blend is reported to change slightly with each vintage but is roughly 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 7% Petite Verdot, and 3% Merlot.

RM 91 points.

Paratus Mt Veeder Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Paratus is another Napa Valley producer of mountain grown fruit cabernet. We discovered Paratus and acquired their Mt Veeder wines during our Napa Valley Mt Veeder Appellation Experience. Our penchant for mountain fruit wines is apparent in our cellar holdings from all the Napa mountain appellations and districts so it was fun to compare wines from the opposing peaks of Pritchard Hill on the eastern slope versus Mt Veeder from the opposing western slope, both at the south ends of the ranges near the bottom of Napa Valley.

While we acquired four vintages from 2004-2007 of Paratus Mt Veeder Cabernets, this was our first venture in tasting their wines from our collection as Bill served up this 2007. His tasting review is below:

"Deep purple color, huge fruit forward profile on the palate. Nicely balanced with ample tannin and notes of chocolate and graphite. A really pleasant surprise. Bought this during our 2009 Napa Wine Experience trip to Mt. Veeder. This is more robust than many other Veeders I have tasted which tend to be a bit more delicate and fruity. This is drinking well now but certainly has the structure and backbone to go another 10 years."

Bill's rating - 90 points. I give it a 91.

Grilled tenderloin, asparagus, wild rice.

Crab stuff mushrooms.
Napa Cab Colors

Chocolate mousse - homemade pirouette.