Saturday, May 28, 2016

Dinner Features Judgement of Paris Wines

Dinner Features Judgement of Paris Wines to Commemorate the Tasting event's Anniversary

For a holiday weekend dinner, we selected wines that were featured in the famous Judgement of Paris tasting event on the week of its anniversary - Chateau Montelena Chardonnay and a pair of Freemark Abbey Bosché Cabernets,  contenders in the original tasting. That tasting event was chronicled in Time Magazine in the June 1976 issue.

Linda prepared grilled marinated flank steak and tuna steaks on the grill, served with roasted potatoes and vegetables and sweet corn on the cob.

Prior to dinner we served Sauvignon Blanc with the mixed greens salad brought by Bill & Beth, and with artisan cheese and spinach cheese puff hor d'oeuvres brought by Bob & Gloria.

After dinner I served a late harvest Sauvignon Blanc with Linda's desert, pound cake with creme fraiche and mixed berries.

John Anthony Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2012

John Anthony wines are the product of John Anthony Truchard, who has been exposed to the vineyards and wine production his whole life having growing up in Carneros immersed in the industry learning from many legends of the industry including his father Tony Truchard of the Napa Valley wine label of that name. 

The opening wine served with the cheese and hors d' ovres course. Butter/straw colored, light bodied, crisp balance of fruits and acidity - aromas and flavors of ripe green apples, ripe melon and hints of zesty citrus with a slight layer of smoke on the opening.

RM 89 points.

Chateau Monetelena Napa Valley Chardonnay 2011

Aficionados of wine must watch the entertaining classic movie "Bottle Shock" that chronicles the early days of Napa Valley, early winemakers, and Chateau Montelena, and its legendary finishing first in the epic competition tasting between American and French wines back in 1976. This descendant of that winning wine is the fortieth anniversary release of the label.

Paying tribute to that legendary wine, this vintage release is a reflection of, but makes the best of a challenging vintage in Napa, its a bit disjointed lacking the balance and polish of better years, never-the-less, the heritage and potential is apparent.

Straw colored, medium bodied, mineral and stone fruit predominate over the citrus, pear and slightly tart apple tones, turning to the long crisp rounded finish.

RM 89 points.

  The highlight of the evening tasting were these two showcase reds that were perfect accompaniment to the grilled marinated flank steak and roasted vegetables and potatoes. This is another memorable tasting of these wines that Bill and I have shared over the years, including our vist to Freemark Abbey Winery during our Napa 2009 wine experience. 

Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon Bosché Vineyard 1992 

I discovered this wine and acquired a case when I met the producer at a tasting in Binny's Naperville in the early nineties. At twenty-four years, this is our second to last bottle from that case. Only fitting that we open this on the anniversary of the famed blind tasting that put American and California wines on the map.

This tasting was consistent with similar to the previous tasting in 2012. Still vibrant with life left, while nearing the end of its drinking window this has a few years left and shows only slight signs of diminution with the fruit starting to give way to earthy leather tones, resulting in dropping a point in my rating of this wine. Dark garnet colored and medium bodied yet with distinctive 'legs' (or 'curtains' as my British friends call them), this exhibited polished and balanced concentrated black berry fruits with layer of spice, hint of smoke, earthy leather, tobacco and spice box on a moderate smooth, integrated moderate tannin finish.

RM 88 points.

To compliment the Bosche, Bill brought a decade younger vintage 2002 for a mini-horizontal comparison tasting.

Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon Bosché Vineyard 2002

Not surprising, this is similar to its older brother, and as the night wore on, the two vintages became more indistinguishable. with the same profile and characteristics, the fruit being slightly more bright and vibrant in the more recent release.

Like the earlier release, dark garnet colored and medium bodied yet with distinctive 'legs' (or 'curtains' as my British friends call them), this exhibited polished and balanced concentrated black berry fruits with layer of spice, hint of smoke, earthy leather, tobacco and spice box on a moderate smooth, integrated moderate tannin finish. The still bright and vibrant fruits warrants the higher rating.

RM 90 points.

De Lorimier Sauvignon Blanc Late Harvest Lace 2002

For the after dinner dessert course I pulled from the cooler this Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc from the same 2002 vintage as the earlier tasted Montelena and the same varietal as the opening Sauv Blanc.

Part of the Ken and Diane Wilson, Wilson Artisan Wineries portfolio, this estate winery and vineyards specializes in Bordeaux varietals up in the Alexander Valley. The estate's dessert late harvest wines go back to the mid-eighties. Founded in 1986 by Al deLorimier the winery and vineyard were planted and developed into the Estate it is today. The production facility is set up for the blending and aging of many small lots. Ken and and co-owner/winemaker Diane Wilson, and winemaker Antoine Favero combine their talents to produce award winning artisan wines at deLorimier. 

In special years when the weather allows for a small harvest of Botrytised grapes late in the fall, they make dessert wine from Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, or a blend of the two. Botrytis Cineria, the "noble mold", creates a wine of naturally high sweetness and intensity of flavor, while maintaining the fresh fruit character.

This was weak tea colored, medium bodied, nicely balanced with sweet and smokey flavors of apricot, citrus and hints of brown sugar.

RM 87 points.