Monday, July 27, 2015

Pope Valley Winery Merlot Johnny Pepperoni Hoboken

Pope Valley Winery Merlot and Saved Red at Johnny Pepperoni Hoboken Dinner
Visiting son Alec in Hoboken, we picked up these two wines at Hoboken's SparroWine Shop and took them BYOB to Johnny Pepperoni neighborhood Italian Restaurant. Great value in the wine selection and the dinner for fresh pastas with fresh ingredients.

There were many tempting choices but I chose the Sicilian Baked Cavatappi & Cheese with sweet sausage, cherry tomatoes, garlic and parmiagana with seasoned homemade breadcrumbs. This  was a great pairing with the robust fruit filled flavorful wines, albeit a bit spicy that detracted from the wine slightly, but was mighty tasty in any event, and a good value dinner. I was tempted to try to blackened Flounder and thought about it the rest of the week. I'll opt for the fish of the day next time and prepare accordingly with a suitable wine.
Pope Valley Winery Eakle Ranch Merlot 2010
I remember visiting Lamborn Family Vineyards high atop Howell Mountain in northeast Napa Valley and looking over the crest of the hill to the east down at Pope Valley.

This Pope Valley Bordeaux varietal has great QPR in this moderate priced Merlot - dark garnet colored, medium bodied, black raspberry, black cherry and currant fruits with tones of tobacco and hints of spicy clove with dry firm earthy tannins on the moderate finish. 
RM 88 points.

Saved Red Wine 2011
This is the work of Clay Brock who grew up in Napa Valley where his dad managed vineyards. He has worked in the wine industry since 1985. His day job is Director of Winemaking at Wild Horse Winery & Vineyards since 2008.After Clay graduated from Cal Poly he worked in winemaking at Edna Valley Vineyards, Bryon Vineyards in Santa Maria and Zaca Mesa for seven years prior to joining Wild Horse.
This wine is a collaboration between Clay and Scott Campbell, Tattoo artist of Saved Tattoo shop in San Francisco. He was born in New Orleans in 1977 and grew up in a rural fishing village on the Mississippi delta. He traveled the globe seeking inspiration for his art before settling in San Francisco.
From the winery: "SAVED is a unique collaboration between two artists who come together to share in each other's craft. Scott Campbell is a contemporary artist, inspired by the enduring symbolism that wine brings to our tables. Clay Brock is a second-generation winemaker who excels at crafting Californian varietal wine blends. Named after Scott's acclaimed SAVED tattoo studio in Brooklyn NY, the name SAVED represents the freedom and sanctuary you get by committing fully to your passions. Scott finds freedom in art. For Clay, it is wine. Scott's label artwork embodies the symbolism of the life stories that are so often shared over a bottle of wine. SAVED Red Wine is a robust, powerful wine with a big personality and a generous finish. It is big, bold and rich, with pedigree sourcing from California's finest regions. An eclectic blend of grapes deliver rich color and full-bodied flavors: red currant, black cherry and black olive. Soft tannins balance well with distinct oak flavors - French oak for vanilla and coconut; American oak for caramel, créme brûlée and coffee." 
This wine sold for $20 in Hoboken, marked down from $30. It seems more appropriately priced at the SF Bay Area pricepoint of $18, especially compared to the Pope Merlot at $25.
A bit flabby and disjointed but a good wine for pairing with pizza and pasta - dark purple/garnet, medium bodied, black berry and black raspberry fruits offset by tobacco and tea flavors and a layer of graphite with moderate tannins on the finish. 
RM 86 points. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Eddie V's Chicago wine dine experience

Eddie V's Chicago for a perfect wine and dine experience -
Steak and seafood dinner with Napa Valley Pride Cabernet and Far Niente Chardonnay

For a gala Saturday evening dinner outing in Chicago we dined at Eddie V's Primehouse for steaks and seafood. I brought a Pride Mountain Vineyards Cabernet BYOB and we ordered Far Niente Napa Valley Chardonnay from the wine list.

The wine and food pairings were perfect for a memorable wine and dine experience. We chose Eddie V's due to their menu selections, the extensive wine list with reasonable pricing, and their accommodating corkage policy.

Dr Dan and I both ordered the Prime Filet of Beef with Foie Gras and Madera sauce. This was a perfect pairing with Pride Mountain Vineyard Cabernet 1995 that I brought BYOB from our cellar.

Readers of this column know we do a lot of steak and red wine pairings. This pairing was incredible. Never have I experienced a more delectable serving preparation and wine pairing.

Pride Mountain Vineyards Napa Valley Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 1995

Consistent with earlier tasting note. This was a perfect complement / pairing with the filet of beef with foie gras and Madeira sauce. Dark, full bodied, firm, initially closed and tight - decanted and set aside, after an hour and half it started to open up to reveal full complex dark blackberry and black currant fruits accented by anise, with hints of spice, dusty cedar, and a subtle dark mocha on the full firm lingering tannin finish.

RM 91 points.

 For the salads and seafood selections, we ordered the Far Niente Napa Valley Chardonnay 2013 which went superbly with the selection of oysters, the Tuna Tartare, and the incredible Parmesan Crusted North Atlantic Lemon Sole entree topped with baby heirloom tomato salad with white balsamic vinegar and olive oil. The tuna steak tartare was served with mango and avocado salad and was equally spectacular.

Far Niente Napa Valley Chardonnay 2013

The food and wine experience were highlighted with superb service, a comfortable stylish cosmopolitan setting for a memorable dining experience. I could not speak more highly of the event and can't wait to visit again, and often.

Medium bodied, straw colored, this wine was nicely balanced and approachable, silky smooth with just the right amount of delicate citrus accented by pear, honeydew melon, flint and toasted almonds or a touch of vanilla. Nice refreshing acidity turning to a juicy refreshing finish of subtle layered toasted oak.

RM 91 points.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Diamond Creek Birth Year Tribute Tasting - 1984

Diamond Creek Birth Year Tribute Tasting - 1984

To celebrate the wedding of Drew and Alyssa, father of the groom, Bill obtained and served birth year 1984 vintage Diamond Creek Cabernet Sauvignon in large format Magnums with the reception dinner. Bill obtained these special bottles from auction over the years and had been holding them in his cellar for the occasion. I dutifully offered to serve as sommelier for Bill so he and Beth could focus on parents-of-the- groom duties. I removed the foils and used an 'ahso' two pronge cork puller in the event the aged corks were dry or deteriorated. The fill levels were appropriate and the corks came out in great condition - firm and moist.

We visited Diamond Creek Vineyards during our Napa Valley Wine Experience 2008 with Bill and Beth on Diamond Mountain above Calistoga. The spectacular tasting in the Estate tasting room overlooking the vineyards which are all co-located there on the property within view was one of the highlights of our trip.  
Shown above is our tasting at Diamond Creek and below, the view overlooking Diamond Creek Vineyards, Red Rock Terrace in the foreground, Volcanic Hill opposite, and Gravelly Meadow to the left.

Both wines were dark garnet colored and medium bodied. Recall back in the era, the early days of Robert Parker, when wines were more true to their terrior and production was more fundamentally basic, not highly extracted, in your face fruit forward fruit bombs that are deep but narrow.

Parker liked that style and through this review ratings reflecting his preference, introduced the era of such fruit forward obtuse wines,  full bodied, tongue coating, highly expressive, rich, chewy, berry fruit wines. Along with the high fruit richness comes higher alcohol content - 14+, even 15%. Compare that to these wines at 12 1/2 percent alcohol.

Prior to these influences of the Parker effect, as measured in high Parker Ratings, things were simpler, more 'shallow', less pronounced wines. These are a bellweather benchmark wines of that era. Expressive, complex, but not in its richness and deepness, but in its complexity of subtle nuances of fruits and defining and complementary tones. To that end, both wines were 12 1/2 percent alcohol, quite modest by today's standards. Their flavors and profile are more subtle, but no less interesting or enjoyable.

Diamond Creek Napa Valley Red Rock Terrace Cabernet Sauvignon 1984
Bill's review from Cellartracker -

Opened beautifully, demonstrating the Left bank Bordeaux style expected from Diamond Creek. Perfumey nose like a Margaux. Medium garnet I the glass. Complex layers of leather, tobacco box, earthiness and dark fruit. An interesting contrast to the 84 Volcanic Hill served side by side at #2 son's wedding. Two Diamond Creek magnums from his birth year. The '84's continue to impress.

WCC 93 points.

Diamond Creek Napa Valley Volcanic Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 1984

Bill's review from Cellartracker - Showing its age but still some interest left. Color was a medium ruby with some signs of bricking. Opened rather one dimensional. Still a bit of fruit left but no noticeable tannins. After 90 minutes or more, this began to open to reveal more of a Bordeaux style with notes of leather, tobacco and minerality. A reminder that with these older wines need to be tasted frequently through an evening as they evolve. Still a wonderful opportunity to celebrate #2 sons wedding with a premier wine from his birth year.

WCC 90 points.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Taken Wine Company Taken Red Wine 2011

Taken Wine Company Taken Napa Valley Red Wine 2011

I discovered and tasted this label while out east this Spring when I had the 2012 vintage a couple times. I did not expect to find this limited release label in the Chicago market and was delighted to find it today at the local mass merchant so I picked up seven bottles.

While the 2011 release doesn't measure up to the 2012, it is still a nice drinking wine and is a great value at this price point. Not as polished, full, concentrated or balanced as the '12. Its not the '11 is bad, that's how good the '12 is.

This was a great complement to hearty bar-b-cue ribs.

Dark blackish garnet colored, medium bodied,  a bit flabby, tangy tongue coating slightly tart cherry and plum fruits, offset by a layer of dusty leather and spice with moderate subtle tannins on the lingering finish.

RM 88 points.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Deep Sea White Hawk Vineyard Santa Barbara Syrah 2008

Deep Sea White Hawk Vineyard Santa Barbara Syrah 2008

Great tasty hearty wine for movie night at home, settled in with cheese plate, fresh fruits, french bread and some wine. 

I chronicled my discovery of this wine and what I learned about this producer and label in an earlier blog post.

Consistent with earlier notes. Dark inky purple, full bodied, thick, concentrated, chewy black and blue berry fruits with a layer of alcohol, tones of caramel and vanilla, turning to hints of black pepper and mint on a moderate tannin laced lingering finish.

In its seventh year, its not as balanced and polished as it was earlier hence losing a point, but still tasty and pleasant every day sipping, indeed. And with a good QPR.

RM 90 points.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Uriah Spring Valley Red Blend 2002

Uriah Spring Valley Vineyard Walla Walla Red Blend 2002

For an impromptu dinner to watch the US Woman defeat Germany in the WC semi, Linda pulled together left over strip steak, potatoes and green beans from the other night.   I pulled from the cellar the oldest vintage of this Walla Walla Valley Red (Bordeaux) Blend of which we hold a half dozen vintages.

I wrote about this producer and label in an earlier blogpost.

At thirteen years this is starting to show its age and is nearing the end of its prime drinking window as the fruit is starting to lose its bright vibrancy and take on a more intense raisiny tone, which Linda actually likes.

Dark ruby red color, medium bodied, moderately complex, rather intense blackberry, black cherry with a layer of leather, tobacco and spice turning to full but approachable firm tannins and well balanced acidity on the lingering finish.
Blend is Merlot 65%, Cabernet Franc 30% and Petit Verdot 5%.

RM 89 points, reduced a point from earlier review.