Sunday, November 1, 2015

Robert Craig Affinity Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Bordeaux Blend 2009

Robert Craig Affinity Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (Bordeaux Blend) 2009

From the wine dinner at Theo's Steak and Seafood in Highland (IN) the other night, the 28 oz Bone-in-Ribeye steak that I chose for my entree, I had a half steak left over, the spoils of a big steak dinner entree. What better Sunday afternoon football dinner than a ten ounce ribeye with a California Cab?

After closing out with son Ryan the remains of the big Aussie Shiraz Finders Ranges last night visiting to see the grandkids Halloween costumes, I wanted something big, full of fruit, but sophisticated and somewhat complex to accompany the red meat. A perfect wine to answer the call is Robert Craig Affinity - a Bordeaux style blend accented by Cabernet from the range of Napa Valley appellations.

I've written here before about the Robert Craig Affinity label, crafted for early drinking gratification, while also able to age gracefully. Robert has stated he strives to hold the price point of this label to introduce people to his brand with an economical high value offering. So, I chose a middle age, six year old 2009 vintage Affinity from the cellar. It proved to be the perfect selection!

The modest Robert Craig (left) downplays the sophistication of this wine and cites it simply as a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. He'll talk about the fruit being sourced from three mountains and a (the) valley (Mt Veeder, Howell Mountain, Mt George, and of course Napa Valley). Yet, it is notable, this not only represents the best of California Napa Valley Cabernet, it is also a sophisticated Bordeaux Blend incorporating the range of Bordeaux varietals.

While pop and poured, it improved over the course of the next hour to open and reveal its native character, depth and complexity.

We hold two decades of vintages of this wine going back to the inaugural releases in '93 and '94, with almost a case of this vintage. This exemplifies all the reasons this is one of our favorite, most widely held wines. It will be fun to enjoy and witness how it ages over the coming years. I've written often here about our many visits to the winery and special events with the producer.

This is likely at the apex of its drinking window, meaning it won't likely improve further with age, yet it will last in the cellar for another decade. This wine offers the best of the old world and new world ... a blend of Bordeaux varietals leveraging a century of experience in selecting and matching the varietal selection in the blend, with outrageously wonderful full forward fruits from Napa Valley with its persistent consistent growing conditions for Cabernet. As soon as you open and pour this, the aromas fill the room and burst from the glass.

Dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, smooth polished and sophisticated but approachable and enjoyable, tangy full forward bright vibrant black berry and black raspberry fruits with hints of black currant, tobacco, tea, baking spice, a subtle layer of floral punctuated mocha and vanilla oak, turning to cedar on the finish of gripping yet smooth polished tannins on the lingering finish.

RM 93 points. 

In 2009, the blend is 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot, 5% Merlot, 2% Malbec and 1% Cabernet Franc.

Baked Brie Tranche Slice of Pape Blanc Columbia Valley White Blend 2010

Baked Brie highlights Tranche Cellars 'Slice of Pape Blanc' Columbia Valley White Blend 2010

One of the highlights of our recent gala French cuisine wine dinner at Hemingway's Bistro in Oak Park was their decadent baked brie cheese with honey and toasted almonds. So, for a casual midweek tasting of an interesting white wine, Linda crafted her own rendition of this preparation - Baked Brie in crescent wrap with mixed berries, honey and toasted almonds (shown below).


The delicious crescent rolls with baked brie, mixed berries with honey and toasted almonds were ideally suited to a moderately complex Rhone style white blend.  

To accompany this decadent treat, we tasted this interesting, odd named proprietary white blend from the producer Corliss, otherwise known for Cabernet Sauvignon.  Wine Advocate says "Tranche Cellars consistently delivers serious, impeccably made wines that over-deliver". 

This label, "Slice of Pape Blanc" is a blend that would characteristically be found in Chateauneuf du Pape Blancs, white blends from the southern Rhone River Valley known mostly for big reds. 

This is a blend of 59% Roussanne and 41% Viognier aged in 100% neutral French oak. 

The complexity and depth of the wine was a perfect compliment to the symphony of flavors of the brie, crescent, berry, honey and almonds.  

Tranche Cellars 'Slice of Pape Blanc' Columbia Valley White Blend 2010

Straw colored medium bodied with a silky texture, this opened to rich, crisp, bright vibrant tones of lemon citrus with accents of peaches, hints of apricot, floral and just the right amount of acidity.

RM 91 points. Wine Advocate gave it 92