Saturday, March 29, 2014

Clark Claudon Howell Mtn Napa Cab at Amanda's in Hoboken

Clark Claudon Howell Mtn Napa Cab at Amanda's in Hoboken

For our getaway weekend in New York City, we booked several special dining outings. I grabbed from the cellar several bottles to enjoy sometime over the weekend. Our first night out we returned to Amanda's in Hoboken, a short walk from son Alec's flat, one of the highlights of our last trip. We took BYOB a Clark Claudon Napa Valley Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 1997.

Knowing Amanda's menu, we knew what we hoped to order so we brought a big cab to accompany the steak and lamb entrees we were targeting. Linda and I enjoyed the grilled Angus Sirloin with Iowa blue cheese potatoes au gratin, haricots verts and carrots in a red wine sauce. This was prepared perfectly to our directions - hot-pink center Pittsburgh style. Alec and Sean ordered their grilled Rack of Lamb served with red quinoa, roasted garlic yogurt, goat cheese and arugula. They both said it was as good as any Lamb they've ever encountered. The Clark Claudon was a perfect complement to both entrees.

For our starter course we had the roasted beet and arugula salad served with yogurt, sour cherries, candied walnuts and feta cheese, steamed black mussels parsley in a pepper and white wine garlic broth, and creamy polenta in a mushroom ragout an three cheese sauce. All were excellent except I thought I detected a bit of fennel in the beet salad. Several of their entrees feature fennel in the preparation. I am not a fan of fennel and didn't expect it in the salad however it was not  a detraction from the excellent preparation.

Once again when we asked for wine list they presented the pedestrian modest wine list. Only when pressed, did they present what some restaurants might call the Reserve or Captains list. The extended list, five times the size of the basic list offers several very notable special offerings such as Chateau Figeac St Emilion 1982 ($600), Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou, Chappellet Pritchard Hill and a selection of single vineyard Nickel & Nickel selections of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. 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. Similar to the Clark Claudon that we brought BYOB, their winelist features 97 and 96 vintages of Snowden, one of the wines in our cellar that I considered bringing along. 

Clark Claudon Napa Valley Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 1997

In earlier tastings of this vintage of Clark Claudon I wondered if it was like Dominus (86) and some Bordeaux (89-90 Pichon Lalande) that I later learned I drank too early when they finally 'awoke' to reveal their true character and fruits years later? Unlike previous tastings when the Clark Claudon was somewhat closed and a bit flabby with muted fruit upon opening, tonight it appeared to be showing its age opening to ripe raisiny black cherry and black berry fruit, with subtle tone of cigar box and leather with nicely integrated and balanced silky smooth tannins. After an hour or so the fruit closed down and it became subdued leaving a slight astringency and tones of tobacco and leather.

After tonight's tasting, I shaved a few years off the Cellartracker drinking window from 2018 to 2015 and I reduced my rating from 89 to 88. 

We first met Tom Clark and Laurie Claudon-Clark during our Napa Wine Experience 1999 when we hosted them at our wine dinner at Pinot Blanc in St Helena (see picture left). We tasted Clark Claudon 1995-96 against ten year 1989 Bordeaux. We still hold a vertical collection of a dozen Clark Claudon vintages to this day.