Saturday, November 21, 2015

Diamond Creek, Dunn, Craig Napa Big Reds Highlight Gala Wedding Celebration Dinner

Napa Big Reds Highlight Gala Carte-Conrad Wedding Celebration Dinner - Diamond Creek, Dunn, Craig, Lamborn

Another gala wedding celebration - Andrew Carte and Krista Conrad - offered an opportunity to indulge in special occasion fine wines. As with a couple earlier events this summer/fall of family weddings within our intimate wine group, Dr Dan's and then Bill and Beth C's, niece Krista's wedding celebration gave Sister Jan and Bro-in-law Bill (shown below) a chance to showcase some special wines. The festive event was held at the tony Mission Viejo Country Club.

This was extra special not just because it was a family wedding, but also because all the wines featured were from Napa winery visits that we had attended together.

Brother Bill is a different Bill C from another wine buddy with same name/initial featured regularly in these pages. Some of our favorite and most memorable winery visits in Napa Valley were with Bill and Jan - Diamond Creek, Dunn Family Vineyards, Lamborn Family Vineyards and Robert Craig Wines. So, it shouldn't come as a surprise that when they celebrated their daughter's wedding dinner, the wines served were from those events/prodcers.

Several folks commented about the Robert Craig Howell Mountain Cabernet served at the wedding to which I responded that its one of our favorites. Indeed, we're big fans of Robert Craig and have visited with the producer on numerous occasions. We first met Robert and tasted his wines back at our first visit to Robert Craig during our Napa Valley Wine Experience in 1996, and then again at our Robert Craig featured producer wine dinners in Napa Wine Experience 1998, and again in 1999. We tasted his Howell Mountain Zinfandels at the Robert Craig Howell Mountain Harvest Party '09 and during other visits such as our 2008 Robert Craig Vineyards and Winery visit up on Howell Mountain. Needless to say, we're long time fans of Bob and the Craig team and their 'artwork'.

Perhaps my preference for Howell Mountain appellation wines influenced Bill's collecting and subsequent selection of three of the four select wines served. 

I write often here about special occasion wines that add to the joy and enjoyment of the event. The fun was punctuated by being assigned wine steward duties to oversee the preparation and serving of the select wines at the reception dinner. Its what I live for ... but was the very least I could do in consideration of Bill and friend Andy having spent an entire afternoon prepping the wine at our daughter Erin's wedding dinner.

For the family and select guest tables at the dinner, we served the big Napa Cabs, and for another table of proclaimed Zin enthusiasts, Bill served Lamborn Family Vineyards Zinfandel - another producer visited together during one of our Napa Valley excursions.

The wines were all perfect accompaniments to the filet of beef and salmon dinner.

Diamond Creek Red Rock Terrace Napa Valley Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

This wine was tasted and sourced during our visit to the spectacular Diamond Creek vineyards back in 2010. As a group, we have a long tradition of serving this wine at such occasions. Linda and I served a flight of Diamond Creek magnums at son Ryan's wedding to Michelle Diamond. Bill and Beth C, shown pictured with Bill and Jan and us at that visit to Diamond Creek, served birth-year vintage 1982 Diamond Creek Gravelly Meadow Cabernet Sauvignon from double magnum at the wedding of their son Will. Then, this summer, they served Diamond Creek from magnums at son Drew's wedding reception dinner.

Tonight this Diamond Creek ..

Ruby red, medium-full bodied, full forward bright vibrant red and black berry fruit flavors showing a layer of acid on the front before turning to tones of cedar, mineral and dusty earthy leather. I sense this begs for more time to settle and develop a bit more.

RM 93 points.

Dunn Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

We also visited Dunn Family Vineyards with Jan and Bill during our Napa Valley Wine Experience in 2008. Bill sourced these wines from the producer during that visit. Again we've served Dunn Cabernet at numerous such occasions, most recently, when Dr Dan's daughter was married this summer, I served her birth-year Dunn Napa Cabernet at a dinner with the group upon the announcement of their engagement.

What a showing! Randy Dunn's Cabernets are legendary for being long lived wines, especially his Howell Mountain vineyard designated label, while his Napa Valley label is supposed to be approachable earlier.

Based on tonight's tasting, its hard to imagine this Dunn could be any better, drinking very well at eight years of age. It was the most vibrant and expressive of the three legendary Cabernet labels.

Dark garnet colored, medium-full bodied, complex but smooth and balanced, forward black berry and black currant fruits giving way to tones of cedar and graphite, hints of sage and leather and spicy oak on the moderate tannin long lingering finish.

RM 94 points.

Robert Craig Howell Mountain Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

We have visited Robert Craig's site high atop Howell Mountain several times with both Jan and Bill, and Bill and Beth C. One of our memorable trips featured a picnic lunch at the site overlooking the  valley below. It was during that trip that Bill discovered and subsequently sourced Howell Mountain Cabernet (and the Zinfandel below) served to several of the tables at Krista's wedding.

As featured often in these pages, Robert Craig has several Napa Valley labels featuring Mt Veeder, Mt George, Spring Mountain and this Howell Mountain appellations. I often cite this as my favorite and tonight showed this label at its best showing characteristics that I favor - dark garnet colored, full bodied, full dark berry and black raspberry fruits accented by a layer of spice, sweet mocha dark chocolate and spicy oak on a full long lingering finish.

RM 94 points

Lamborn Family Vineyards "The Abundant Vintage" Howell Mountain Zinfandel 2009

Lamborn Family Vineyards was another featured producer that we visited up atop Howell Mountain during our 2008 Napa Valley Wine Experience. Today legendary winemaker Heidi Barrett crafts their Estate grown Cabs and Zins. This is classic Howell Mountain Zin with full forward brambly fruit flavors. Bill served this wine to a table of Zin enthusiasts to much fanfare and acclaim.

Dark garnet/purple colored, medium/full bodied, black berry fruits with tones of pepper, hints of creosote and spice on a sweet tinged tangy moderate finish.

RM 91 points.

Still gathering pictures and notes ... More to come ..

Mumm's Napa Valley Sparkling Wine highlights lunch overlooking Dana Point Beach

Mumm's Napa Valley Sparkling Wine highlights lunch overlooking Dana Point Beach

Rejoicing in our family gathering with son Alec, and V, in from NYC to So-Cal for a festive wedding weekend, we dined al fresco lunch at the Ritz Carlton Hotel overlooking Dana Point Beach. The 180 degree view of the Southern Orange County Pacific Coastline, perched high atop the cliff overlooking the surf befits the 180blũ named restaurant.

Basking in the So-Cal almost perpetual sunshine, we toasted on Mumm's Brut Prestige Napa Valley Sparkling Wine, the perfect complement to our lunch selections.

Of course this is deemed sparkling wine since Mumm Brut is from Carneros District at the bottom of Napa Valley where it meets Sonoma Valley. Brut is a blend of  58% Pinot Noir, 28% Chardonnay, 8% Pinot Meunier and 6% Pinot Gris, essentially the same as authentic French Champagne.

We drank this to re-live our visit to the affiliated G. H. Mumm sites in the real Champagne near Reims (shown left) with Alec during our Champagne wine region tour in 2006.

RM 90 points.