Thursday, October 20, 2016

Elan Napa Valley Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon

Elan Vineyards Napa Valley Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon 1996

This is one of the last bottles of a case we acquired from the producer upon release. At twenty years of age, while showing its age, this wine is drinking well and showing a character and profile that I favor.

This was a deliciously perfect compliment to Linda's dinner preparation of teriyaki marinated grilled flank steak with sweet potato mashed and peas (pictured below). It might have even better with her chocolate mousse with fresh raspberries and fresh whipped cream (also shown below).

We met the winemaker and producer Patrick and his wife Linda Elliott-Smith at their host winery crush facility during our Napa Wine Experience trip back in 1998 (shown pictured above with us - all at and looking twenty years younger!).

Elan was one of the 'Undiscovered Dozen' producers featured in a Wine Spectator article of the time featuring the hot merging California Cabs (Wine Spectator, December 15, 1997, "An Undiscovered Dozen - New names in Cabernet to try before they're too hot"). We sought out and met with many of them and collected the foundation of our cellar collection of Napa Cabernets during numerous Napa trips between 95 and 2k - Elan, Del Dotto, Robert Craig, Clark-Claudon, and Snowden, to mention a few.

According to my Wine Journal Index, I have published twelve tasting notes of this release going back to when I started in 2003, and our Cellartracker inventory shows we still hold five remaining bottles.

We acquired more about a dozen vintages of this wine during the era and still hold several bottles each vintages from '92 through 2001 to 2004. At five years younger, I would say the '01's are at their prime, the apex of their drinking window now. At twenty, the black berry fruits of the '96 are starting to give way to tobacco leaf and cigar box, leaving a tantalizing enjoyable after taste of a fine cigar.

Dark blackish garnet colored, medium-full bodied, starting to show its age, but not suffering from the diminution, flavors of black berry, black currant, and black cheery turn to tones of spice, leather and smoky oak, and that tobacco leaf cigar box with moderate fine tannins on a long finish.

RM 91 points.

Grilled flank steak - teriyaki marinate,
sweet potato mash and peas.

Chocolate mousse, fresh raspberries, whipped cream.

Cliff Lede Napa Stags Leap Sauvignon Blanc

Cliff Lede Napa Valley Stags Leap District Sauvignon Blanc 2009
We took this with us to New York and enjoyed it in the hotel room for easy casual sipping. At seven years of age, this reminds me why this label is one of our favorite Sauvignon Blancs - a varietal that is most true to its origins, and least subject to adulteration or enhancement in the wine making. This is still bright and vibrant at an age that would nominally be considered at the end of the drinking window for most wines from this varietal.
Our visit and tasting at the Cliff Lede Stag's Leap District Vineyard & Winery was one of the highlights of our Napa Valley Wine Experience in 2009.

Golden straw colored, medium bodied, nicely balanced acidity with amazing aromas and flavors of peach predominate with tones of citrus, hints of passion fruit and mango on a tangy moderate finish. 

RM 90 points.