Saturday, June 27, 2015

Big Cab Napa/Sonoma Trio Key Surf & Turf Dinner

Big Cab Napa/Sonoma Trio Key Surf & Turf Dinner

For an end of week Friday night surf & turf dinner, Linda prepared Sockeye Salmon and NY Strip steaks accented by rice pilaf, bacon wrapped green beans and baked potatoes and Beth brought a dinner salad. I pulled two 1995 Napa Valley Cabernets and Bill brought a Sonoma Reserve Cab to round out the big red flight.

The mini horizontal tasting staged Snowden and Pride Mountain Napa Valley Cabernets alongside a Chateau St Jean Reserve Sonoma Cabernet from Bill's cellar. We have visited each of these producer's over the years during our Napa/Sonoma Wine Experiences.

We were joined by son Ryan who snuck out of the to come over for an impromptu tasting.

We met with Scott Snowden as a featured producer at a dinner we hosted at Brix in St Helena back shortly after they were 'outed' by Wine Spectator Magazine in their feature 'An Undiscovered Dozen' about several emerging hot producers of Napa Cabs. Over the ensuing years, we met with and acquired each of the twelve labels of which we still hold many yet today. We hold a half dozen vintages of each of these labels opened tonight. They seem to be aging the same following the same aging profile.

After dinner fresh baked dark chocolate brownies with fresh berries and Beth's chocolate and crunchy butter toffee highlighted the red wines as much as the beef and pre-dinner artisan cheeses.

With the Salmon course we tasted:

Fritz Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2008.

Butter colored, medium bodied, slightly tart on opening with layer of acidity, tone of green apple, tropical fruits, hints of lemon and nutty almond.

We tasted this a month ago when the tartness and acidity conflicted with lobster tail and lemon, but tonight it complimented the sockeye salmon nicely.

RM 87 points.

Snowden Napa Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 1995

We still hold more than a half dozen vintages of this label from their early days through their first decade, and including some recent releases as well. 

Surprisingly, this was the most expressive of the three wines tasted tonight. There seemed to be a role reversal between the Snowden and the Pride from what I would have expected. Our tasting experience of the Snowden this night was consistent with my tasting notes of the previous tastings back in 2005 and 2007. 

Dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, aromatic black berry and black cherry fruits accented by tones of earthy leather, graphite, tea and herbs turning to anise on the lingering tannin laced finish.

Tonight, the Snowden had the same profile as before except that after a couple hours it opened to reveal a sweet Bing Cherry tone that lingered through the evening. The next day, this returned to black fruits with smokey black tea and anise the following day, with a slight mustiness set in, and it seemed to lose its balance and come across a bit flabby while maintaining its firm backbone .

RM 91 points. WS gave it 93 back on release.

Pride Mountain Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1995 

We visited the winery high up at the top of Spring Mountain and acquired this wine back during our Napa Wine Experience 1999 and again in 2003. We also most recently featured this wine at our 95 Horizontal Cab tasting two years ago. Tonight's tasting experience of the Pride fit my tasting notes of the previous tasting back in 2013.

While my inventory says this is my last bottle, I found a mixed case with four more up on the top rack of the cellar. Nice discovery since this is aging well and promises to hold on for a few more years. 

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 90 points.

Chateau St Jean Sonoma County Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

We visited the elegant Chateau and Estate in Sonoma Valley with Bill and Beth during our Napa Sonoma Wine Experience back in 2009 when we tasted and Bill acquired this label. Chateau St Jean is one of the classiest producers and wineries in Sonoma Valley with its expansive grounds of stylish gardens and old world style Chateau and accompanying buildings - one of the most picturesque and authentic old world style sites in the region. Its one of our favorite producers in Sonoma that we've visited on numerous occasions including that visit.

This was dark garnet colored with medium body. It was the most polished and smoothest of the three wines, partly due to the Sonoma Cabernets being a bit softer and perhaps also because this is a Reserve blend rather than a firmer narrower Napa Cab, and as such had less backbone and structure than the other two wines but was more complex. Dark berry fruits and predominated with tones of black berry, black raspberry and touch of black cherry turning to tones of subtle mocha, hints of leather and cedar, and smooth soft tannins on the moderate finish.

RM 90 points.

Good Grief.

Linda noted this the next morning as she unloaded the dish washer. Even for a seemingly simple tasting, five of us and four wines tasted .... we still managed to use a large selection of wine glasses, and this doesn't count or show the water glasses!