Thursday, August 14, 2014

Seven on Prospect Dinner Features Big Red Wine Flight

Seven on Prospect Gala Partner Dinner Features Big Red Wine Flight

For a gala partnership dinner at trendy Seven on Prospect in Peoria Heights, we sampled a big red wine flight. Two Napa Valley Bordeaux varietals were from the wine list which features a nice balanced collection of American wines - Whitehall Lane Merlot 2011 and Freemark Abbey Cabernet 2010. The flight of big reds was a perfect accompaniment to the perfectly prepared filets of beef.

The server at Seven did a wonderful job being attentive to and thoughtfully attending to our wine tasting. She offered to decant our bottles, provided multiple glasses, and served caringly and effectively. Kudo's to her and the proprietors at Seven for creating a wine friendly and effective service atmosphere and experience. While it seems simple, amazingly often, restaurants and servers fall short in addressing the basics, let alone the nuances of a wine dinner/event for wine aficionados. We'll definitely look forward to planning another wine event there.

For fun and to play on the 'security' theme of our discussions and dinner, and to play to our host Zac's fondness for big bold and expressive French blends, I took two bottles of Chateauneuf du Pape (CDP's). This also allowed for some fun with the mystery puzzler regarding the purpose of the 'notch' in the base rim of the bottles. Chateauneuf du Pape bottles feature the crossed keys emblem of Chateauneuf du pape molded into the glass of the bottle.

Normal or typical 'blank' wine bottles have no 'front' or back, the label can be affixed in any alignment on the bottles axis, and only then does the label determine what is the front face of the bottle. Chateauneuf du Pape bottles have the crossed keys molded into the glass (shown left) thereby determining the front face of the bottle. In order to ensure the label is affixed correctly to align with the glass feature, the bottom of the bottle has a notch in it to allow the automated labeling machine to detect and right the bottle accordingly so that the label is affixed squarely with the bottle feature.

Have some fun and challenge your dining guests to explain the notch in the bottom of the bottle the next time you serve such a bottle. Its a light hearted brain teaser.

Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 

We've collected Freemark Abbey wines since the eighties and have added the 2010 Cabernet to our vertical collection. We've visited the winery on several occasions including our visit during our Napa Wine Experience 2009. While Freemark Abbey has been taken over by well known Kendall Jackson, longtime winemaker Ted Phillips remains at the helm of wine making duties. Freemark Abbey sources fruit for this Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from vineyards with diverse terroir in the Rutherford, Altas Peak, and Mount Veeder appellations. The 2010 bottling is blended with 13% Merlot and 3% Petite Verdot and spent 22 months in 40% new French oak before bottling.

Dark inky purpose color, full bodied, flavors of ripe dark cherry, red plum and blackberry fruit give way to spicy cinnamon, clove and hints of cedar, anise and pepper. After about an hour it burst with tones of sweet oak. It has firm but smooth finely integrated dry tannins on a lingering finish. This is exuberant in youth and will likely gain polish and balance with some age.

RM 91 points - 92 points from Wine Enthusiast and 91 points from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

Whitehall Lane Napa Valley Merlot 2011

The family owned and operated Whitehall Lane sits prominently on Hwy 29, St Helena Hwy, at Whitehall Lane, south of the town of St Helena as you approach from the south.

The 2011 vintage of Whitehall Lane's Merlot includes 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Syrah, which provide depth and structure to the wine. Aged in a combination of French and American oak barrels for 18 months. The grapes were grown in the winery’s Estate Vineyard in Rutherford and select vineyards throughout Napa Valley.

Dark inky garnet colored, medium bodied, slightly forward cherry and dark berry fruits on the front palette fall off to a modest mid-palette, hints of spice and a layer of sweet oak on the moderate tannin finish. While not flawed, it lacks for a bit of body and depth of flavor. A bit obtuse, this wine may also settle and become a bit more approachable with some age.

RM 87 points.

Finally we poured this Chateauneuf du Pape which rose above the Cabernet in power and intensity.

Domaine de la Solitude (Lançon Père et Fils) Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2009 

A classic CDP blended from Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre with a bit of Cinsault. Dark garnet colored, full bodied, concentrated powerful rich sweet black and red fruits, ripe plum and dark cherry with tones of kirsch, mixed with spice, leather and smoke with a firm tannin finish.

RM 90 points.

Thanks Zac and team for a stimulating and productive day and for a delightful wonderful evening!