Wednesday, September 16, 2015

B-Side Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon at Mécénat Bistro

B-Side Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 at Mécénat Bistro in Western Springs

For an impromptu weeknight family dinner outing, I got off the Metra train at the Western Springs station, near the kid's house and walked across the street to Mécénat Bistro & Wine Store. Linda and daughter Erin joined me with the grandkids for al fresco dinner. The kids love watching the trains which are frequent during the rush hour, sometimes double or triple at a time on the triple tracks. This made for a great family fun-filled dinner outing, enjoyed by grand-kids and grandparents alike.

Unfortunately it wasn't Wednesday when they offer 1/2 off Wine Bottles $50 and under (bottles over $50 are $25 off per bottle), never-the-less we selected this B Side Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 -B-T-G - By-The-Glass.

I've had earlier vintages of this wine, but as I wrote in these pages recently, the 2013 Napa Valley vintage is so good that lesser labels or otherwise more modest wines are great drinking, and offer great QPR (Quality Price Ratio) values.

According to the B Side winemaker's notes, "Winemakers have heralded the 2013 harvest’s outstanding quality, using words like “early, even and excellent” to describe this year’s growing season." This B Side is such an offering. It was great with our dinner and should be a must buy for every day quality drinking Cabernet.

The branding and name "B Side" are a play on words that refer to the "flip-side" (as in the 'B' Side of an old vinyl record - hence the recording tape on the label) of Napa Valley. Their website speaks of the 'B Side' - "In the early 1950s record companies introduced the two-sided 45. The "A" side played the song the record companies hoped would become a hit. But the "B" side was often the real find, frequently revealing an undiscovered gem."

So the metaphor for wine finds refers to the B Side or flip side of Napa Valley as in the rural areas and rolling hills along the eastern edge of the valley, vineyards that are just a few miles from the glamorous, high-priced wineries featured along Highway 29. The eastern side of Napa Valley includes areas such as Pope Valley, Chiles Valley, Wooden Valley, Stags Leap District and lower Calistoga. Vines in these areas are grown in thin volcanic soils, which yield smaller, more concentrated fruit.

When I was in Minneapolis last week and went out to select a bottle for dinner, this was my benchmark find and, indeed, Total Wine had it for just $18 per bottle. Had I not faced the TSA embargo for carrying liquids in carry-on luggage, I would've grabbed several to bring home. Meanwhile I opted to try a new and unique selection I could not otherwise get here in the Chicago market.

This 2013 B Side Red is a somewhat unique blend of five different Napa Valley varietals - Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. Set aside the Malbec and this is a Bordeaux Blend.

Dark garnet purple color, medium to full bodied, full bore, forward concentrated blackberry, black cherry and black currant fruits with  tones of herbs, coffee and toasty oak with hints of vanilla, turning to smooth silky gripping tannins on the finish. This drinks like a $45 wine for half the price.

RM 91 points. 

The Blend: 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 14% Malbec, 6% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc

The producer's notes say the Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from "Oak Knoll, Chiles Valley and Napa Valley, creating a harmony of fruitier favors from longer hang time and sun exposure with dark color, tannins and depth. The balance of the varieties, from lakeside vineyards, add softness and complexity to the wine. Grown just north of Mount George in the rolling valleys between Napa and Suisun Valley, the Merlot and Malbec contribute fruity richness attributed to good elevation, while a small percentage of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot add depth, color and structure."

This is a fun and unique blend that brings everything together hitting on all cylinders in this great vintage year!