Sunday, December 31, 2017

Close out '17 w 10 yr Icewine & 20 yr Balmoral Syrah

Close out 2017 w/ ten & twenty year old Vidal Icewine and Balmoral Syrah

For New Year's Eve wine party christening new neighbors Mark and Colleen's renovated barn hospitality room I took a ten year old and twenty year old to ring out the year. In tribute to Mark's heritage being born and raised in the Niagara Peninsula region, I took a ten year '07 Niagara VQA Vidal Icewine. And for earnest sipping with holiday party foods I took twenty year old '97 a Balmoral McLaren Vale Syrah.

We toured the Niagara Peninsula back in 2012 visiting the legendary Inniskillin when we tasted and acquired their legendary Icewines during our visit to the Inniskillin Winery Estate, and the up and coming Jackson Trigg wineries as highlights of our time there. I have to admit I do not recall or have a record of when or where we acquired this Kittling Ridge Estates Vidal Icewine that I pulled from the cellar for tonight's tasting. I chose this bottle partly because of its festive box packaging ideal for gifting, and its decade milestone vintage as we close out '17. I do,  at least, have a record of it being in our cellar inventory. 

Kittling Ridge Estates Niagara Peninsula Vidal Icewine 2007 

They call this the showpiece of their collection of premium VQA (Canadian version of AVA or appellation) wines, this is harvested from estate vineyards in the heart of the Niagara Peninsula, Kittling Ridge are renowned for producing one of Canada’s first Icewines, called such because the grapes are harvested in the middle of winter when they are frozen on the vine. The grapes are hand-picked when the temperature falls below -8°C, then the frozen grapes are crushed immediately releasing a tiny amount of concentrated sweet nectar which is slowly fermented over several months.

This was a perfect complement to Linda's brie cheese in puffed pastry with roasted almonds and honey. 

When released these wines are straw colored, darkening as they age to the color of weak then stronger tea. Tonight this was dark tea colored, full bodied, rich unctuous concentrated with notes of roasted almonds, honey, with hints of smokey roasted peach and apricot on the thick tongue coating lasting finish.

RM 91 points.

https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=2498661

http://www.kittlingridge.com/

Rosemount Balmoral McLaren Vale Syrah 1997

Consistent with earlier tasting notes, "Dark purple colour, full aroma of perfume and fruit - the diminution of fruit continues as this wine is showing its age further with ripe concentrated plum and blackberry and black cherry fruits hanging on but giving way to ripe raisin fig tones accented by leather and a somewhat funky wet cedar with a touch of vanilla and sweet cherry - tightly wound with a tinge of tight tannins and acid on the subdued fruit finish.'

'These notes from 2014 followed my earlier note in 2013 that said, "Its time to drink up as this '97 which is showing its age as the fruit starts to diminish somewhat. Looking at Cellartracker tasting notes, one writer reports this vintage still holding on while another says his is over the hill. While past its prime, this was still very much still inside the drinking window." Showing that continued diminution, I would say that while still holding, this is nearing the end of its drinking window."

This was a fitting wine to open on New Year's eve, twenty years beyond release, suitable tasting with festive holiday buffet foods of sausages, ham, olives and avocado dips and cheeses. 

RM 87 points.

https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=17074

Friday, December 29, 2017

90+ Lot 101 Columbia Valley Syrah

90+ Lot 101 Columbia Valley Syrah

I wrote recently how we would miss this 90+ Lot 101 Columbia Valley Syrah wine when we consumed our last available bottle having enjoyed over the last few years a couple of cases that we gathered from several sources when we discovered it upon release. Being a negociant wine, we can't simply go back to the producer to obtain the next subsequent release. Such is the challenge of getting hooked on such wines, once they're gone, they're gone (unless of course the re-marketer can procure more from the source in subsequent years). More often, that is not possible as these are often one-time wonders, being excess inventory or interim contracts between longer term sourcing obligations between grower, producer, or others in the ecco-system.

Looking for a hearty Syrah to enjoy with cheese and snacks in front of the fire binging on the latest season release of "The Crown" on Netflix, I found another bottle in a case of Syrahs. Alas, once again we will mourn finishing our stash of this wine, while savoring another (surely our last this time) bottle.

Like I've written several times before, this high QPR full throttle fruit bomb was one of the best value, best tasting wines in our cellar over the last few years. This one continues to not only hold its own, but may be at the apex of its drinking window at seven years of age. 
 
Dark inky garnet colored, medium to full bodied, this full throttle Syrah reveals layers of blackberry, black currant and blueberry fruits with tones of cedar, sweet vanilla, caramel and spice with hints of black pepper on a lingering smooth tannin finish. This was perfect for such casual sipping. Wish we had more.

RM 91 points.



Thursday, December 28, 2017

Robert Craig Veeder & Cinq Cépages BYOB at Mart Anthony Chicago

Robert Craig Veeder & Cinq Cépages BYOB at Mart Anthony Chicago

For a casual midweek dinner in the city with fellow 'Pour Boy' Lyle, and Terry, we dined at Mart Anthony a casual cozy neighborhood Trattoria near their pied a terre in the West Loop. I took at Robert Craig Mt Veeder 2001 BYOB to compare with the '97 we had the other night, and Lyle brought a Chateau St Jean Cinq Cépages 2010.

None of us had ever been to Mart Anthony casual Italian restaurant at Hubbard and Racine Streets so this was an spontaneous short notice adventure for a casual mid-week dinner in the City. Suffice to say, everything was delightful, much of it exceeding our expectations - atmosphere, ambiance, services and of course our BYOB wine.

We just happened to drive through the neighborhood passing Mart Anthony on route to Lyle and Terry's west loop condo. So when we were deliberating on where to go for dinner we called and they were able to accommodate us with our BYOB on short notice. As it was, we got one of the last remaining tables for the dinner seating.

We brought two complex full bodied wines that were spectacular complements to our Italian dining selections. I ordered the Veal Monte Carlo daily special, Terry the Sausage and Peppers, and Linda and Lyle both order the daily special Chicken in white wine sauce and spinach.

Robert Craig Napa Valley Mt Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon 2001

I've written often in these pages about our collection of Robert Craig wines, perhaps the most extensive of any other producer in our cellar. We hold two dozen vintages of Craig Cabernets but it was surprising that I had not yet tried this vintage of this label.

I was eager to try this bottle following the extraordinary showing of the '97 vintage bottle we had for our Christmas holiday dinner. As I expected/hoped, this was drinking fabulously, perhaps at the apex of its drinking window, even still at sixteen years of age. Dark garnet colored, medium-full bodied, bright forward firm structured backbone of tangy black cherry and blackberry fruits accented by notes of cedar, spicy oak, leather, tobacco leaf and tea with firm but smooth approachable tannins on the finish.

Based on this tasting, I moved the published Cellartracker tasting window out from 2013 to 2019.

RM 91 points.

https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=48933

Chateau St. Jean "Cinq Cépages" Sonoma County Red Blend 2010

We've been fans of this wine since the late 80's and considered it a mainstay favorite for collecting and cellaring until it won Wine Spectator's Wine of the Year in the early nineties, at which point prices skyrocketed as awareness driven demand outstripped supply. The marketplace exploited the situation and one of our favorite red blends was no longer available or affordable with its customary high QPR. C'est la vie. We tasted the latest release during our visit to the Chateau winery estate during our Sonoma/Napa Wine Experience this summer.

This 2010 vintage may be the best Cinq Cépages I can remember. It is bigger, fuller and more concentrated than any I have had. This was immediately apparent when we opened and poured the dark inky purple thick full bodied juice into the glass while the room filled with bright floral and berry fruit aromatics.

The 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Cinq Cépages is considered a 'Bordeaux Blend' as it contains all five of the predominant Bordeaux Varietals; 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and the rest Petit Verdot with a bit of Malbec.

This was dark inky purple, full bodied, dense, concentrated, muscular, complex with black fruits of plum, berry and currants accented by layers of clove spice, cedar, leather, cigar box and notes of earthy black olive with silky smooth lingering tannins and hints of cassis and dark mocha on the finish. This demands expressive food, full flavored cheese or dark mocha chocolate. This might improve further with several more years of aging as it settles and softens a bit as its a bit obtuse still at this time.

RM 93 points.

https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=1710008

Wine Spectator gave this 93 points,  Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and Vinous both gave it 92 points.

Winemaker's notes: "The 2010 Cinq Cépages is a stunning color in the glass, deep ruby with a subtle violet colored rim. Layered aromas are vivid; black plum, blackberry compote, clove spice, tanned leather and a hint of fresh tobacco leaf. Secondary aromas of raspberry and spiced cherry mingle with notes of violet and pomegranate. The aromas lead to an incredibly juicy palate with flavors of blueberry, cherry and blackberry. Nuanced flavors of espresso and a distinct mocha component add to the complexity. The full-bodied wine has smooth, silky tannins that offer solid structure but do not overwhelm. The wine is plush and approachable yet complex and appealing in the glass. In signature Cinq Cépages form, this wine combines the strength of the diverse Sonoma County region to create a well-balanced, complex and powerful wine."

https://www.martanthonys.com/



Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Venge Napa Valley Oakville Penny Lane Vineyard Sangiovese

Venge Napa Valley Oakville Penny Lane Vineyard Sangiovese 2010

With son Alec visiting from NYC, we were joined by his girlfriend Viviana for a holiday visit. When Viv is around we have fun serving wines from one of our favorite producers, Venge with its 'V' branding prominently displayed on the label/bottle. We just received this lot of Venge Penny Lane Vineyard Sangiovese that we acquired at auction and were eager to try it.

In Italy, Sangiovese is the most widely planted red grape variety accounting for approximately 10% of all vineyard plantings. It is most notably known for use as the only component of Brunello di Montalcino and Rosso di Montalcino, and the main component of the blend Chianti wines. In recent years it has gained notoriety in "Super Tuscan" wines like the well known highly regarded Tignanello. It became very popular blended with Cabernet and some of the other Bordeaux varietal grapes. 

We like to keep some Sangiovese on hand for serving with Italian food. Wines made from Sangiovese usually have medium-plus tannins and high acidity. Sangiovese's high acidity and moderate alcohol makes it a very food-friendly wine. It is ideally suited with Italian cuisine such as tomato-based pasta and pizza sauces with a Sangiovese-based Chianti.

Sangiovese can accentuate the flavours of somewhat bland dishes like meatloaf and roast chicken. A benefit of Sangiovese is that it accentuates herbal seasonings such as basil, thyme and sage that tend to compliment the herbal notes  of the grape. When blended with Cabernet, Merlot or Syrah, the Sangiovese blend takes on the character of those fuller-bodied reds and pair with heavier dishes such as steak and thick soups.

Young Sangiovese tends to have fresh fruity flavours of strawberry and a little spiciness. When aged in oak barrels it takes on the oak notes and well as even tar like flavours. While not as aromatic as Pinot noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Syrah, Sangiovese often has a flavour profile of sour red cherries with earthy aromas and tea leaf notes.

The well known Italian producer Antinori family promoted Sangiovese planting in America when they owned Atlas Peak Vineyards located in the Atlas Peak AVA in the foothills of Napa Valley. They found Californian Sangiovese could be more fruit-driven with floral notes than their Tuscan counterparts.

Nils Venge was an early proponent of Sangiovese in Napa Valley dating back to when he planted and produced Sangiovese wines while winemaker for Del Dotto in the mid to late nineties. We held some of those early vintages of Del Dotto as well as early vintages of Venge Sangiovese. Records show we held these label from the 1997, 1998 and 1999 vintages. We discovered and acquired those wines during our winery estate visits from that period.

Today, Venge produce another vineyard designated select Sangiovese sourced from fruit grown in the mountains on the Antinori family’s Antica Estate. They cite that this is one of just a handful of standing Sangiovese vineyards that remain in Napa Valley today. 

Venge Napa Valley Oakville Penny Lane Vineyard Sangiovese 2010

When I saw this label at auction, I eagerly bought the entire lot.  With limited production, it is not widely distributed and not generally seen here in the Midwest.

Wow. This exceeded my expectations and was bigger, brighter, and more expressive than what I remember or expected. It almost resembled a Syrah.

Dark inky colored, full bodied, rich concentrated extracted fruit, aromatic,almost intense black cherry and black raspberry with notes of tobacco leaf, tea and hints of tar on a smooth silky tannin laced finish. This was super with dark chocolate and begged for a spicy Italian pasta!

RM 92 points. 

This is a  blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Charbono.

https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=1351287

The Cellartracker wine drinking window went out to 2016. Based on this tasting, I pushed it out to 2020!

http://www.vengevineyards.com/

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Del Dotto Napa Gio and Cab Franc 1997

Del Dotto Napa Gio and Cab Franc 1997

With Son Alec visiting from NYC for Christmas, we had Linda's homemade lasagna for late dinner after late arrival from the airport. To accompany dinner, I opened this vintage Del Dotto Giovanni's Tuscan Reserve 1997 from the cellar. We hold a decade of vintages of this wine and opted to open the oldest as its no doubt time to drink as its late in its drinking window life.

Del Dotto Napa Valley Giovanni's Tuscan Reserve 1997 

Clearly showing its age at 20 years, the black cherry and berry fruits are giving way to leather, earth, smoke and a bit of funkiness starting to set in. The garnet color is starting to show some bricking and brownish rust hue on the edges.

RM 86 points.

Del Dotto Napa Valley Cabernet Franc 1997

The next evening we opened another 1997 vintage Del Dotto, this time the Napa Valley Cabernet Franc, which I suspected would be the next oldest drinking, ready to drink varietal from our vintage collection from this producer.

Holding its age better than the Tuscan from the evening before, this too was ready to drink, nearing the last chapter of its drinking window.

My last published tasting notes of this wine were last year when I wrote: "Tonight's tasting was more consistent with notes from a few years ago, dark ruby color, medium to full body, spicy black berry and black currant fruits are still vibrant in this nineteen year old, accented by tones of earthy leather, cedar and tobacco with hints of anise on the smooth tannin finish."

RM 88 points. 




Domaine de Boisrenard and BBQ Beef Brisket

Christmas holiday bbq beef brisket dinner w/ Special Birthyear Vintage CDP

For dinner following Christmas holiday church service we carried out BBQ beef brisket and I pulled a Boisrenard CDP from the cellar for a red wine accompaniment. I first discovered Domaine  Boisrenard while touring Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the Southern Rhone Valley wine region back in 1999. With son Alec home from NYC for the holiday, I pulled a from our cellar collection a special vintage bottle from his birth year for the occasion.

Domaine de Beaurenard (Paul Coulon et Fils) Châteauneuf-du-Pape Boisrenard 1990 


Showing remarkable longevity, this shows no signs of diminution from aging at 27 years, this was consistent with last tasting five years earlier.

Medium to full bodied, slight earthiness and leather accompany layers of black and green pepper that accompany the slightly subdued black cherry and black berry fruits with a hint of spice, moderate lingering tannins.

RM 89 points. 


https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=30341


007 Shiraz-Cab Blends

Ten year old vintage Cab/Syrah Blends highlight tasting

Returning home after returning the Great-grand-parents home after our Christmas holiday gathering, I found sons Ryan and Alec engaged in a comparison tasting of a pair of ten year old 2007 vintage Cabernet/Syrah blends - Lewis Alec's Blend vs. Mollydooker Enchanted Path. What a joy to see son's partaking in my passion of earnest wine tasting. It was remarkable how similar these two wines were being from opposite sides of the globe, California vs South Australia.

I joined them and fetched from the cellar another ten year old South Australian Syrah, Marquis Philips '09' McLaren Vale Shiraz, to compare with the Enchanted Path, for reasons I explain further below.

This is a style of wine that we love and enjoy often with food, cheese, chocolates, or casual sipping. They stand up great to bbq, spicy foods, or simple salads. Both of these were dark inky purple, thick, concentrated, chewy, syrupy and fruit filled accented by spice, clove and sweet oak.

Lewis Cellars Alec's Blend Napa Valley Red Wine 2007

This might also be considered the namesake wine for son Alec who shares his name with Alec Lewis, the grandson of producer Randy Lewis, who was born on the day of harvest and subsequently this wine was named for him and has recurred ever since that inaugural vintage in 1997. We keep a vertical collection of this wine to enjoy when Alec comes home to visit. We just recently consumed our last 1997 inaugural vintage bottle, but still hold ten different vintages in our collection.

I've written much about Lewis wines in these pages as they are family favorites. We visited the Lewis Napa Estate for a private tasting during our Napa Valley Wine Experience this summer.

This '07 Alec's Blend is a blend of 70% Syrah, 20% Cabernet, and 10% Merlot. The alcohol content was 14.7%

Winemaker's notes - "These days drifting the rear wheel of his 4 stroke bike on a dirt oval is Alec's idea of fun, while his 2007 vintage wine is a straight line sprint to pleasure. 70% Syrah, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot, this is one sweet ride, loaded with wild blackberries and laced with mocha, cola, and vanilla oak spice. Super smooth, plush and round, there's plenty of throttle too, with chocolaty tannins and just enough grip to keep the fun serious."

 James Laube of Wine Spectator, gave this 92 points and wrote: "Combines richness with delicacy, offering a firm, subtle mix of plum, red currant, cedar and spice. Gains depth and finesse, with hints of mocha, sage and dried berry. Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Drink now through 2014. 1,400 cases made." (Tasting Highlights, Sept. 14, 2009)"

https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=722677

Mollydooker "The Enchanted Path" Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz McLaren Vale 2007

I write about Mollydooker in my blogpost on their premium Shiraz Carnival of Love. As I've written before in these pages, Mollydooker is the handiwork of the husband-and-wife winemaking team of Sarah and Sparky Marquis. Prior to starting their own label the pair produced under the Marquis Philips brand in partnership with their distributor Dan Philips. Previously, they produced award-winning wines for Australian producers including Fox Creek, Henry’s Drive, Shirvington, and others. The term Mollydooker is Australian slang for a left-handed person as both Sarah and Sparky Marquis are left-handed.


Since 2005, they've focused exclusively on making their own exuberant wines which include a range of Shiraz labels and a variety of Shiraz/Cab/Merlot blends, as well as some adventuresome white wines such as The Violinist, a Verdelho varietal. Their branding features whimsical names and labels with cartoonish characters and illustrations resembling carnival or circus posters in the premium labels 'Carnival of Love' (right) and this 'Enchanted Path' (below).

They source their fruit from 116 acres of vineyards at their winery in McLaren Vale where about 50 percent are planted in Shiraz, with the rest made up of Cabernet, Merlot, Semillon and Chardonnay. Most of their wines bear distinctive whimsical and humorous names and labels with cartoon characters. Never-the-less, many of their wines, while modestly-priced, Mollydookers are often highly rated. Their premium label, 'Velvet Glove' Shiraz retails for $175, however.

Like the Alec's Blend above, this is also Syrah (2/3) based accented by Cabernet Sauvignon (1/3), just without the Merlot that comprises 1/3 of the Bordeaux varietal components in the Alec's Blend. Being from South Australia, it is remarkably similar to the profile of the California based Alec's Blend - dark inky purple, rich, concentrated, syrupy, chewy fruit filled. Both share a profile of spicy, clove accents.

This unique blend really works with the Cabernet adding breadth and depth to the big black inky purple colored full bodied Shiraz. The result is a powerful full bodied complex wine with concentrated forward chewy tongue coating black berry and black cherry fruits accented by ripe plum and spice, a layer of leather and hints of anise with fine silky tannins on the long finish.

RM 92 points.

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate gave this wine a whopping 95 points and wrote in their review: " The 2007 Enchanted Path, a blend of 67% Shiraz and 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, is aged in mostly American oak, 70% new. Purple/black colored, it has a brooding bouquet of spice box, toasty oak, mineral, espresso, black currant, and blueberry. Structured and powerful on the palate, this dense, rich effort requires 5 to 7 years of additional cellaring and will offer prime drinking from 2014 to 2028. 95+ Points (JSM) (2/2009)."

Wine Spectator gave it 91 points  and wrote: "Big, ripe and focused, offering a blast of cherry and plum, with a welcome floral note that lasts through the long, vivid finish. Has a touch of spice as the finish lingers against fine tannins. (HS) (10/2008)".

https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=554810

I added to the mix, pulling from the cellar this Marquis Phillips '09' Shiraz from the same 2007 vintage. I can't help but wonder if and have to presume this is the same Shiraz juice as in the Mollydooker, just without the blended Cabernet. This suspicion is strengthened by the fact this is the last vintage of this label in our cellar, of which we own every release of this wine since its inception.

Marquis Phillips '09' McLaren Vale Shiraz 2007

Like the other Marquis Philips/Mollydooker branding, this features a whimsical cartoon characterization, this time of a 'roogle', which is 1/2 eagle, and 1/2 kangaroo, representing the American Australian partnership of Marquis and US distributor and partner Dan Phillips. As noted above, this partnership disbanded and the Mollydooker brand was born, launched in 2005.

Consistent with earlier review notes, "this 2007 vintage '9' is dark, big, full bodied and concentrated. It is not as complex or polished as some of the other vintage releases. In addition to the black berry fruits accented by mocha, tobacco and leather, there is a layer of graphite in this that has an edge that tends to detract from the fruit."

Lacking the blend of the Bordeaux varietal (s) would explain this wine being more single-dimensional and less complex, yet no less bodied or concentrated.

RM 89 points.

https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=651009


We rounded out the tasting with a total departure from the Shiraz, turning to a 'sticky' or a dessert 'ice-wine' from the legendary Inniskillin from the Canadian Niagara Peninsula. This is not only an amazing wine, but it actually complemented the Shiraz' which were big enough to stand up to the comparison, even when going back to comparison taste against it.

Inniskillin Niagara Peninsula Vidal Ice Wine 2004

We tasted and acquired this wine during our visit to the Inniskillin Winery Estate back in 2013 when I had the pleasure of meeting and tasting with the producer.

This was tea or caramel in color, full bodied, thick, unctuous, smooth and nicely balanced with tones of apricot, hints of peach and citrus giving way to a layer of caramel, subdued honey and brown sugar with a lingering smoky finish.

RM 90 points.

https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=128602



 

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Château Montrose Robert Craig Mt Veeder Cab

Christmas dinner features two vintage wines - Château Montrose and Robert Craig Mt Veeder Cab

For our gala family Christmas dinner, Linda prepared her classic beef tenderloin and ramekins of broiled lobster tails on buttered bread crumbs, with corn casserole, haricot verts, and mashed potatoes. I opened two vintage red wines, Château Montrose  1986 and Robert Craig Mt Veeder Cabernet 1997. For the lobster course I served Porter Creek Russian River Valley Chardonnay.

Trolling the cellar for appropriate wine selections, I was looking at vintage Bordeaux to accompany the beef tenderloin. I recall when it was released, Robert Parker wrote of the 1986 vintage how long lived many of these wines would be so I tucked many of them away for long (er) term cellaring. I'm not sure I intended to keep them this long, but in this case was rewarded here for doing so.

For the lobster course we served Porter Creek Russian River Valley Chardonnay. This is a single vineyard designated wine from old vines from the George's Hill Vineyard.

Porter Creek Russian River Valley George's Hill Vineyard Sonoma County Chardonnay 2014

We discovered this producer, and tasted and acquired this wine during our visit to the winery during our winery visit on our trip to the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County this summer.

Straw colored and medium bodied, initially this was buttery but after opening for a while the citrus notes came through and gave way to a layer of passion fruit with hints of nutmeg on the crisp acidity finish.

RM 89 points.

https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=2519866


Château Montrose St. Estephe Bordeaux 1986

Notes on aging wine - long term cellaring, corks and fill levels ...

Fill level
When I opened this thirty-one year old Château Montrose, the bottom half of the cork was mushy and fill level of the bottle was at the lower neck. Aged wines are measured by the fill level, or the level of the remaining wine in the bottle. Over time a certain amount of wine will inevitably evaporate from the bottle. The effect of such evaporation is that the remaining void left from the departed wine is taken up by 'foreign' air from the outside which can 'contaminate' the wine. Hopefully, when this occurs very slowly over a long extended period of time, the deleterious effect is minimized.
saturated so it was certainly time to open this bottle as it would soon start to be undermined by the failing cork thereby exposing the wine to outside air. To date, though, it had held up and the wine was still fine. At thirty-one years, the

Hence it is important when cellaring and aging wines for an extended period, that effective humidity levels be maintained in the cellar, so as not to be humidifying the room with wine sucked out of the bottles. Also, minimizing variations in temperature is essential since such variations will result in air being sucked into and pushed out of the bottle as the wine expands and contracts from the changes in temperature. So, the stability of the temperature is as important as maintaining the appropriate temperature for aging. Opinions vary on the appropriate cellaring temperature, from 55 to 63 degrees is recommended. The cooler the temperature the more moderate the effects of aging. We tend to keep our cellar cooler than 'normal', closer to 55 degrees than 63, which is more suitable for and allowing for more subtle, longer term aging.

Folks often ask about where and how to store wines for aging. If determining a location for a rack or applicable storage space, opt for the basement or cellar for the obvious reasons of temperature moderation. One should also opt for a place near the sump pump pit where there is a natural consistent reservoir of water to address the humidity challenge, where such exists. This is most important in the dead of cold winter when temps drop and indoor relative humidity reaches dangerous low levels requiring external or supplemental humidification. A humidifier or baby nursery mister work and can help. In extreme (outside) weather, set up a bucket of water with a towel or rolled up newspaper to serve as a wick to help restore indoor relative humidity, anything to alleviate humidifying the air with wine through the corks!

Château Montrose St. Estephe Bordeaux 1986

Winemaker notes ... The wine reveals a dense ruby/purple color with only a hint of lightening at the edge. Fleshy, muscular and powerful, with aromas of red and black fruits, earth and spice, this medium to full-bodied, still tannic, brawny Montrose is not yet close to full maturity.

My notes: Opened and decanted for three hours before serving. This was dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, complex but nicely balanced, slightly subdued blackberry and black raspberry fruits accented with notes of leather, earth and spice with gripping tannins on the moderate acidic lingering finish.

Cellartracker drinking window shows this through 2022 which this tasting supports showing vibrancy still and no signs of diminution or deterioration from age. 

RM 91 points. Wine Spectator gave this 95 points, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate 92 points and Jancis Robinson gave it 17.5/20 points

A blend of 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Franc.

https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=511

Robert Craig Napa Valley Mt Veeder Cabernet 1997

Adjacent to the Montrose we served this Robert Craig Mt Veeder Cabernet from the highly acclaimed top rated 1997 vintage. We hold close to two dozen vintages of Robert Craig Napa Cabernets, probably more than we hold from any other producer. We've visited the estate and winery on several occasions during our Napa wine trips. We have heard Robert say this is his favorite Cabernet from his "four mountain and a valley offerings". 

There is still life left in this vintage label at twenty years of age, showing little to no diminution of fruits or flavor. This was ruby colored with bright, vibrant expressive fruit flavors, rich and concentrated black berry and black cherry fruits with tones of spice and cedar with hints of cassis, vanilla and dark mocha.

RM 92 points. Wine Spectator gave it 94 points,  Robert Parker's Wine Advocate 92 points, and  Wine Enthusiast 91 points. 

https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=6532

http://www.robertcraigwine.com/

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Cliff Lede Napa Valley Imagine Rhapsody Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Cliff Lede Napa Valley Stags Leap District Imagine Rhapsody Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Still catching up with my blogposts for our getaway weekend to visit friends Bill and Beth, Bill opened a spectacular selection of wines, for a wine dinner, for a picnic outing, for casual sipping and for serious tasting. This wine was one such wine from one of our favorite and most colorful producers, Cliff Lede. That comment is partly based on this label or series of labels of single vineyard designated wines from vineyards, or specific sections of vineyards, known as Blocks that Lede happens to name after his favorite, famous, notable or infamous classic rock-n-roll albums or songs. For example, one such blend is derived from Grateful Dead’s "Scarlet Begonias" from the Twin Peaks vineyard and from Cream’s "Sunshine of Your Love" in the Poetry vineyard, and of course this Imagine Rhapsody that Bill opened for this occasion.

Cliff Lede Vineyards was established in 2002 by Canadian born Bordeaux enthusiast Cliff Lede, following his acquisition of a sixty acre estate in the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley. He built a 'A' team with winemaker Christopher Tynan and David Abreu, considered the best viticulturist in Napa Valley, to replant the vineyards. He built a state of the art, 25,000 square foot winery and cave system etched into the hillside overlooking the estate vineyards. We've visited the Lede estate on may of our Napa trips. Our private tasting at the Estate with Bill and Beth was a highlight of our Napa Wine Experience in 2009.

Cliff Lede Napa Valley Stags Leap District Imagine Rhapsody Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Bills comments on this wine: "Rock Blocks are always fun since they change from year to year. The 2007 is medium garnet in color with a touch of bricking at the rim. The color belies the freshness of this wine. This is a bit more fruit forward than the 2008 with notes of bright red fruit...raspberry, strawberry cherry and cola. Less brooding than the 2008 and a touch less structured. This is right at the apex of its drinking window."

https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=8690984

http://cliffledevineyards.com/

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Arns Napa Valley Melanson Vineyard Pritchard Hill Syrah 2010


Arns Napa Valley Melanson Vineyard Pritchard Hill Syrah 2010

Saturday quiet relaxing evening at home, we brought home carry-out barbecue beef brisket and opened this Arns Syrah for what turned out to be the perfect meal. Linda prepared baked sweet potatoes and baked beans for an ideal set of side dishes. I cannot imagine a more ideal food and wine pairing. Absolutely delicious!

We were already fans of Arns Napa Cabernet when we arranged a visit and private tasting with producer John Arns at the estate on lower Howell Mountain during our 2013 Napa Wine Experience. John's wife Sandi Belcher is the winemaker. It was during that visit that we discovered their single vineyard designated Syrah made with fruit sourced from the Melanson Vineyard on Pritchard Hill which I write about in an earlier blogpost.

This wine is so good, I almost don't want to let out the news for fear I'll create more demand and have to compete for it in the marketplace. Supplies are limited as for this vintage of this Syrah, only 80 cases were produced. Arns is available directly from the winery, in select stores in Napa Valley, and at Bassin's MacArthur Wines in Washington DC, (as I explain in separate Arns blogposts) which is where I first discovered it. I pick some up every trip to DC.

As I write this, before I hit 'publish', I just ordered more of this from the winery to ensure I can obtain the latest release and to fill out our vertical collection with the latest release of the Cab.

We just picked up the entire lot that we acquired on Winebid and waited until Saturday evening and this special dinner to open our first bottle. Wow!

This is serious juice. The 2010 vintage was aged in one year old French oak for three years. The concentrated extracted fruit is apparent as soon as you  pour the dark inky purple juice into the glass. Full bodied, thick, concentrated black and blue fruits are accented by a pronounced layer of sweet spicy oak laced caramel that turns to black licorice on the rear pallet with smooth sinewy tannins on the lingering finish.

As noted above, this was a perfect accompaniment to the barbecue beef brisket and baked sweet potato with baked beans making for a wonderfully delicious meal.

RM 93 points.

https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=1809227

https://unwindwine.blogspot.com/2017/11/arns-melanson-napa-syrah-08.html

http://arnswinery.com/

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Day Wines Willamette Valley Cancilla Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014

Day Wines Willamette Valley Cancilla Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014

This is a small production single vineyard designated label of just 250 cases from producer/winemaker Brianne Day of Day Wines, a natural wine producer in Oregon’s Willamette Valley AVA. She is involved in Day Camp, Willamette Valley’s newest winemaking cooperative, a collective home of eleven small producers, including Day Wines,

Day has lived in the Willamette Valley since she was 16 where she was attracted to the orderliness and vibrancy of the vineyards which she found exotic.

While working as a bookkeeper in her 20's, she saved money to  travel throughout the world’s wine regions. For almost two years she explored wine regions and their wines learning as much as she could with a the intent on becoming a winemaker. After studying in Community College she  worked in France, New Zealand and Argentina, before returning to Oregon and to work in and learn the wine business. She  worked for producers The Eyrie Vineyards, Brooks Winery, Grochau Cellars, Belle Pente, and Scott Paul and at Storyteller Wine Company where she learned the retail side of the wine world. She worked as a server and sold barrels for Bordeaux cooperage, Saury, which introduced her to many winemakers throughout the Willamette Valley.

In 2012, she was offered the chance to buy fruit from a friend's family’s vineyard. She did so and started out making 125 cases of single vineyard Pinot Noir that gained the attention of distributors in Chicago and New York City. Since that first vintage, Day Wines has grown from 125 cases in 2012 to 5,000 cases in 2017 and are now distributed in twelve states and three countries.

Fruit for this label is sourced from Cancilla Vineyard, owned and organically dry farmed by Ken Cancilla. The vineyard, identified as source to several producers' labels, is a 20 acre former Christmas tree farm just north of the Yamhill-Carlton AVA in the north-western Willamette Valley. The vineyard sits close to the Coast Range, exactly halfway between Tillamook and Portland. This proximity provides access to coastal rain water.

This 2015 vintage year was exceptionally warm producing especially ripe fruit. The resulting wine was noted by the winemaker as robust and full, with acid & tannins and spicy and floral aromas and flavors in the wine like cinnamon, sweet spices, and black pepper.

Day Wines Willamette Valley Cancilla Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014

This was opaque garnet colored, medium bodied with dusty rose, leather and tangy black cherry tones accented by notes of cinnamon spice and pepper.

RM 87 points.

https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=2238946 

http://www.daywines.com/

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Plumpjack Napa Valley Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon

Plumpjack Napa Valley Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon 1996

For a midweek grilled steak dinner we selected this Plumpjack Oakville Cabernet. We first discovered Plumpjack during our Napa trips back in the mid-nineties. We hosted Plumpjack winemaker Mary Pisor for a wine producer dinner that we held at Meadowood Resort back in 1999. We tasted adjacent vintages of this label at that dinner against top tier Bordeaux. We sourced this wine during our winery visit that year. Ever since, Plumpjack has been one of our favorite Napa Cabernets that we like to serve for special occasions, and one of our favorite winery venues in Napa Valley.

The quaint PlumpJack Winery sits in the heart of Napa Valley’s renowned Oakville region, surrounded by it's 42-acre estate vineyard. The winery building and the vineyard date back to the 1800s, when winemaking pioneers first took advantage of its unique position on the valley floor; the east side of the vineyard lies along the foothills of the Vaca mountain range, and the west side of the estate lies adjacent the Napa River flood zone.

Plumpjack has one of the more interesting heritages having been founded by some of the most notable and colorful characters on the California wine scene - Gordon Getty, Composer, philanthropist, and entrepreneur, and the fourth child of legendary oil baron tycoon J. Paul Getty, and Gavin Newsom, fourth-generation San Franciscan who was elected to consecutive terms as Mayor of the city and now serves as Lieutenant Governor of California.



Meadowood dinner with Mary Pisor Winemaker for Plumpjack Vineyards

Wines Tasted (left):

1995 Plumpjack Reserve
1997 Plumpjack Estate (pre-release)
1995 Venge Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
1997 Plumpjack Chardonnay
1995 Lafite Rothschild
1995 Cos d'Estournel
1995 Pichon Lalande




Plumpjack Napa Valley Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon 1996

Tonight's tasting was consistent with my tasting notes from back in 2009 when I wrote, "Dark berry, currant, black licorice, leather, hints of tar and cedar with a firm tannin finish."

Three years later in 2012 I wrote of this label, "The Plumpjack Estate '96 opened with a big fruit and floral nose, dark garnet color and full body. Aromas and flavors of big ripe black cherry, black currant and black raspberry, a layer of cassis (more pronounced than earlier tastings' notes), finishing with sweet soft oak from the French Demptos oak cooperage, and lingering soft tannins.

At release this was projected to have "a long and vibrant life of more than 12 years." Well here it is at fourteen years showing no sign of diminution whatsoever tempting promise of at least another half decade of enjoyable drinking, so we'll not rush the remaining bottles in our cellar."

Tonight showed the same profile with full floral notes, black fruits, anise, leather and hints of tar and cedar and a firm tannin finish. At 21 years of age, this is past its prime as it is showing its age as the berry fruits are giving way to the non-fruit tones of leather, tar and anise. The most predominant tone at this stage is the layer of cedar or almost a eucalyptus tone that accents the fruits. Still, this is well within its drinking window but should be consumed over the next couple of years as it will assuredly continue to diminish further.

RM 89 points.

I am glad we opened this tonight, not only since it was delightful with our grilled steak, but it offered a chance to calibrate its aging and our planning for consuming our remaining bottles including a couple of Reserve labels from this and adjacent vintages. We hold about a half dozen vintages of this label dating back to to their inaugural release in 1995.

Interesting that Robert Parker wrote in his Wine Advocate - "Aged in 100% new oak, the 1996 Cabernet Sauvignon is an elegant, stylish, black currant-scented wine with good flavor and richness, medium body, and an attractive spiciness. Offering black fruits and plenty of pain grille, it is a good effort. In 1996, there was no Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. As the winery explained, all the grapes came in at the same time and were equally fine, so nothing needed to be culled out. (RP) (12/1998)."

I am not sure how to explain or reconcile his report or the winery's attestation of no Reserve for the 1996 vintage as we hold some as evidence shown in the label picture herein! 


https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=11760

https://plumpjackwinery.com/

Monday, December 11, 2017

Reignac Bordeaux Supérieur 2005

Reignac Bordeaux Supérieur 2005

Watching our alma mater play in the national championship College Cup, we pulled a sipper from the cellar to drink with leftovers from the week. This Reignac Bordeaux Supérieur was perfect for Sunday afternoon sipping with hearty Anglie's Italian leftovers.

Chateau du Reignac dates back to the 17th century and has 200 acres of vineyards sitting on a gravelly plateau overlooking the peninsula town of Saint-Loubès, France, a suburb of Bordeaux adjacent to the Dordogne River.

Bordeaux Supérieur is an appellation, or officially designated wine district in the Bordeaux region in southwest France along the Gironde River around the town of Bordeaux. Bordeaux Supérieur wine is typically produced by single parcels of older vines. To receive the Bordeaux Supérieur designation, the wines must be aged for at least nine months before they can be sold.

As with regular Bordeaux wines, these are blends with the reds being predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with smaller amounts of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and even some Carmenere.

Typically, wines on the north and east side of the diagonally flowing river are predominantly Merlot varietal based, accented by Cabernet Saugvignon, and the rest, the lesser varietals. Wines produced on the south and west side of the river, are typically predominantly Cabernet Saugvignon, accented by Merlot.

There are also some white Bordeaux wines produced. The whites are produced from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grape varietals with smaller amounts of Muscadelle, and occasionally Ugni Blanc, and Sauvignon Gris.

Under the appellation guidelines of French appellation law, in order to be designated a Bordeaux Supérieur wine, it must conform to strict rules. A Bordeaux Supérieur classified wine must come from a vineyard that is planted to a certain density, higher than that of non-classified wines. There must be 4,500 plants per hectare (2 acres per hectare) with a distance of 2.2 meters between rows, compared to 4,000 plants per hectare with a distance of 2.5 meters between rows for regular Bordeaux. This higher density makes it harder for the plants to survive creating stronger deeper roots, and healthier vines for the ones that do. The higher density results in increased concentrated fruit and a lower yield, about 10 percent lower per hectare. Also, the grapes must be picked riper at harvest with higher natural sugar levels resulting in 10 percent natural alcohol level compared to 9.5 percent for regular Bordeaux.

Bordeaux Supérieur wines can be found anywhere in the Bordeaux region, but are mostly found in the area north of St. Emilon and Pomerol (on the north and east side of the River). The result of these differences usually creates a superior wine with a richer and more complex flavor.

Chateau du Reignac Bordeaux Supérieur 2005

Deep ruby/purple color, medium-full bodied, nicely balanced, black currant and black berry fruits, notes of mocha chocolate, anise, graphite and spice box, moderate concentration and acidity, supple ripe tannin makes for pleasant smooth easy casual drinking.

This is a blend of 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon. 

RM 90 points.

https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=212134


Friday, December 8, 2017

Hollywood & Vine 2480 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2002

Hollywood & Vine 2480 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2002

Visiting wine buddy friend TRR working on a collaborative deal, we did a cellar tour where I was assisting Tom in doing some thinning and vintage realignment. We pulled from his cellar this Hollywood and Vine 2480 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon for some enjoyable sipping. I obtained several bottles of this wine a decade ago which I split with Tom which he still holds in his cellar. I consumed mine long ago so it was a treat to taste it again to see how it has aged over time.

Hollywood and Vine Cellars is a Napa Valley producer consisting of two guys from the entertainment business who came together to produce hand crafted, ultra-premium wines. The branding “Hollywood and Vine," of course refers to the famous intersection in Los Angeles, the entertainment mecca, but is also refers to the partnership between friends with a mutual love of wine.

The principles of Hollywood and Vine are actor turned director and screenwriter, Doug Barr, who relocated to Napa Valley from Hollywood in the early 1990’s to try his hand at the wine business, with his longtime friend Bruce Orosz.

The flagship label “2480” refers to the street address of the house on the property on Spring Mountain Road, which Doug acquired from the estate of Maynard Amerine, a pioneer in the California wine industry. Amerine (1911-1998) was one of the pioneers in the wine industry and helped found the Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis, which he joined in 1935. As an author and professor at UC Davis, he taught and mentored many noteworthy names in the American wine business.

Doug found in the old house a copy of one of  Mr. Amerine's textbooks he had written. It served as an inspiration and impetus for Doug to take up winemaking.  One of Amerine’s books was “Wine: An Introduction for Americans,” published in 1965 with Vernon L. Singleton, one of nearly 400 items that he published during his 86 years.

When starting out, Doug sought out and followed the advised of John Williams, owner of Napa Valley’s Frog’s Leap Winery: “Get the best grapes you can find, get the best oak barrels and get the best winemaker.” 

Hollywood and Vine source their fruit from sought after, often hidden Napa Valley vineyards. They recruited talented winemaker Celia Welch, and released their first vintage in 1998. They focus on pedigreed terroir and low yielding clones, applying labor intensive viticultural techniques in the quest to produce extraordinary limited production wines. Their first vintage in 1998 was 140 cases of cabernet sauvignon and 80 cases of chardonnay.

Winemaker Celia Welch studied Enology, the study of winemaking, at the University of California at Daviswhere she earned a B.S. degree in Fermentation Science in 1982. She traveled extensively throughout the winegrowing regions of the Northwest, the East Coast, and New Zealand, and worked in Australia’s Barossa Valley. Returning to Napa Valley, she joined Silverado Vineyards in 1987, became assistant winemaker at Robert Pepi winery and in 1992 began consulting for Staglin Family Vineyard, a small, ultra-premium Cabernet Sauvignon producer. She has been an independent winemaking consultant ever since working for a limited set of ultra-premium Napa Valley clients, primarily with their own estate vineyards, producing Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Chardonnay from vineyard sources that include Mt. Veeder, Atlas Peak, Howell Mountain and Carneros, in addition to benchland locations from St. Helena to Napa.


This 2002 2480 Cabernet Sauvignon was sourced from four distinctive, ultra-premium vineyards on Mt. Veeder, Atlas Peak, the historic JJ Cohn Estate in Rutherford, and the pedigreed Davis Station in Oakville, 1257 cases were produced.

Celia Welch's winemaker notes: "The finished wine displays an abundance of ripe blackberry and black currant aromas, bright plums, sweet vanilla and cocoa tones. The palate texture is bright, rich and mouth-filling, with fresh fruit flavors."

This was dark garnet colored, the room filled with bright expressive fruit and floral aromas upon opening, medium bodied, this was a nicely polished and smooth with, bright expressive black and blue berry and currant fruits with floral, spicy oak and a layer of vanilla and mocha, with hints of tea and cassis on the lingering soft silky tannin finish.

RM 93 points.

https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=46182

http://www.hollywoodandvinewine.com/

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Chateau Haura Graves Bordeaux 2015

Château Haura Graves Bordeaux 2015

Traveling to the Twin Cities where the temps plunged forty degrees to zero degree windchills and freezing rain, for the second night in a row I went to Total Wine to get a robust hearty wine to complement dinner. I found this Bordeaux Graves that is a 'Winery Direct' label that Total Wine sources directly from the producer resulting in good QPR (quality price ratio) at less than $20.

Dark blackish garnet colored, medium bodied, tight firmly structured black fruits of black berry, black cherry and dark plum with notes of smoke, creosote and leather with moderate approachable tannins on the lingering finish. Much like the Northern Rhone Syrah I had last evening, this begged for and was a great accompaniment to smoked cheese and barbecue.

RM 90 points.

Wine Advocate gave this barrel sample 90-92 points. I might have rated it higher had the fruits been more predominant opposite the non-fruit notes.

https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=2376326

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Maison Denuziere Crozes-Hermitage Les Galets

Maison Denuziere Crozes-Hermitage Les Galets, 2015

Traveling to the Twin Cities where the temps plunged forty degrees to zero degree windchills and freezing rain, I went to Total Wine to get a robust hearty wine to complement dinner. This bold firm blackish Northern Rhone Syrah was perfect for smoked cheeses and barbecue back in the hotel. This is a 'Winery Direct' label that Total Wine source directly from the producer. This provided good QPR (quality price ratio) at less than $20.

Dark blackish garnet colored, full bodied, intense concentrated black fruits of blackberry and ripe plum, layers of smokey barbecue and creosote, black pepper and notes of licorice and what Wine Advocate called "caramelized meats"; approachable despite its tight structured core and firm tannins - ideal accompaniment to barbecue and smoked cheeses.

RM 90 points.

Wine Advocate gave it 91 points.

https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=2864709






Monday, November 27, 2017

Duo Napa Cabs - Del Dotto - Diguilio

Duo of Napa Cabernets Cabernet Sauvignon - Del Dotto 2002 and Marco Di Giulio Mt Veeder Progeny Vineyard 2001

With friend Mike in from NYC, we dined at Angelis Italian, our favorite local trattoria. I pulled from the cellar two Napa Valley Cabernets from Italian namesake producers - Del Dotto and Marco Di Guilio for the occasion.

We tasted the Marco Di Giulio Mt Veeder Progeny Vineyard 2001 with artisan cheeses at the house beforehand.

Marco DiGiulio unique hand-crafted wines minimalist style wines were available under the winemakers' label and branding in limited quantities during the 2001 through 2004 vintages. They could be found in the boutique and specialist wineshops in Napa Valley or in the 'after market' via wine auctions. They were classic vineyard expressions of terrior, that unique expression of each vineyards distinctive character, produced in very small quantities of 200 to 300 cases. His approach to winemaking is fairly minimal, rather letting the vineyard and each vintage speak for itself. As he says, he wants to “taste” each vineyard.

Marco produced his wines at Bin to Bottle, a high quality custom crush facility for a number of small Napa Vintners in South Napa where he is a partner.
 Winemaker Marco DiGiulio was born and raised in San Francisco soon after his parents parents emigrated from Tuscany. They become successful Bay Area restaurateurs and Marco grew up exposed to wonderful Italian meals and wine as part of everyday life growing up in the city's trendy North Beach.

Marco developed an in-depth knowledge of winemaking and viticulture through education and experience in the industry. He graduated with a degree in Fermentation Science from the University of California at Davis in 1985.

He spent two years at Buena Vista, then worked as cellar master at Pine Ridge Winery for more than four years before moving on to production manager for Atlas Peak Vineyards. He was appointed as winemaker for Pezzi King Vineyards in 1994. He became the winemaker at Pepi Winery in Oakville in '95. During this time he took charge of the Lokoya brand after the death of celebrated winemaker and mentor Greg Upton. At Lokoya, Marco earned his reputation for making world class Cabernet Sauvignon. Today Marco is no longer is entirely employed by one winery, rather he is a consulting winemaker for a number of high end boutique producers in the Napa area.

Marco also devotes attention to his personal projects: Vintage Wine Estates, Bin to Bottle, Lookout Ridge and Marco DiGiulio Wines where he strives to produce wines that reflect the rugged landscapes of the vineyard sources.
 Marco Di Giulio Napa Valley Mount Veeder Progeny Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2001

This Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon comes from the Progeny Vineyard owned by Betty O'Shaughnessy of the family with the winery bearing their name on Howell Mountain producing wines made primarily from vineyards on that site. The Mt. Veeder vineyard is laid out with steep terraced blocks that cling to a northeastern facing hillside at about 1,400 ft.

The 2001 vintage is considered one of the all time classics in the Napa Valley with a long mild summer, and ideal weather leading up to the harvest that produced wines with optimum intensity and character.

Marco Di Giulio Napa Valley Mount Veeder Progeny Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 -  
Dark inky color. Big floral nose. Mouthful of black berry, cedar, spicy oak and finely integrated polished tannins on a long flavorful finish. 

RM 92 

http://cellartracker.com/w?137762 

Winemaker's Notes: "This wine is all about power.  From its inky deep purple color to its broad shouldered tannins, this is a big wine. On the nose, the first impression is one of blackberry and blueberry fruit with an underlying biscuity note from the oak.  Think berry cobbler in a glass.  On the palate, the wine is mouthfilling and explodes with fruit.  The tannins, while quite evident, are well tamed and there's enough fruit richness to balance them out.  The finish is long and complex, with more black fruit and spice. As for ultimate aging potential, with proper cellaring, I would guess 15 to 20 years wouldn't be too much of a stretch."

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Varied vintage wine flight complements beef brisket dinner


Varied vintage wine flight complements beef brisket dinner

For an impromptu post Thanksgiving dinner, we hosted Dr Dan and Linda over for beef brisket and a broad flight of accompanying wines. This was our first get-together since our Napa Sonoma Wine Experience. One of the highlights of our Napa trip was the barrel tasting in the caves at the Del Dotto estate in Rutherford. Our cases of wine purchased during that trip are shipping this week so we featured a couple of Del Dotto Napa Bordeaux varietals to commemorate that tasting, and to make room for the Del Dotto due to arrive this week.

We enjoyed a broad flight of five wines that maintained a consistent theme of bold, bright expressive tangy spice fruits accented by cedar and eucalyptus notes that perfectly matched the tangy barbecue dinner, and pecan and pumpkin pie desserts. The progressive flight built in intensity, then complexity, then closing on the consistent harmonious theme.

We started the evening with Domaine Serene Evensted Reserve with artisan cheeses and transitioning to opening with the smoked beef brisket. As we got into the medley of Original, Sweet, and Spicy barbecue sauces, we drank a big  concentrated spicy Clarendon Hills Bakers Gully Shiraz. We following with a spicy Del Dotto Cabernet Franc, a perfect transition from the barbecue to rest of the accompaniments and transition to the dessert course. Next we served a Del Dotto "David", signature flagship and namesake wine of the producer. Finally, we closed out with an aged vintage Silver Oak to match the signature oak profile with the pronounced spicy cedar notes of the David.

Domaine Serene Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir 2005

This was the initial vintage of this wine that we discovered eventually culminating in this being one of our favorite Pinots that we keep in the cellar for suitable pairing and enjoyable casual sipping.

Dark garnet opaque color, medium bodied, black berry, black raspberry and black cherry fruits with notes of violet, dusty rose, hints of earthy leather, spice, clove and whisper of white pepper, medium to tart acidity, moderate tannins on the medium finish. Still holding at a dozen years but slight bricking on the edges indicates this is at the end of just beyond its prime drinking window and will continue to decline here forward.

RM 91 points.

https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=373020


Clarendon Hills Baker's Gully Shiraz 2003

Its hard to believe its been a half dozen years since we last opened this label when I wrote this tasting note that still holds true. While this is past its prime and starting to show its age, it is still drinking very well; "Dark garnet inky color, full bodied, concentrated thick chewy, almost coating the tongue - forward black and blue fruits, ripe black raspberry turns to a tone of spice, hint of cedar and kirsch with a slight metallic/mineral undertone - ends with a full, moderate soft chewy tannin finish."

RM 91 

https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=161636


Del Dotto Napa Valley Cabernet Franc 2002

Del Dotto were one of the first producers to bottle Cabernet Franc as a standalone bottling. This is a great wine to keep on hand for special pairing with food highlighting the distinctive characteristics of this varietal.

Like the other wines tasted, this one too at fifteen year is aging very nicely and still holding well within its drinking window. Consistent with earlier tasting notes, dark garnet color, full bodied, bright cinnamon spice, raspberry, hint of cedar and mocha on a big, long silky smooth tannin finish.

RM 92

https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=19187



 Del Dotto "The David" Napa Valley Bordeaux Blend 2002

On initial opening, this was closed and muted, lackluster in all respects, then after about a half hour it seem to explode with a bright expressive nose and burst of fruit and spice flavors. The  tones of eucalyptus and cedar almost made one's eyes water they were so pronounced from the glass.

Consistent with my tasting notes five years ago, now in its fifteenth year, this was still vibrant and lively but will likely not improve further with age. Dark garnet colored, full bodied and bold, complex and concentrated, the Rutherford fruit shows through as the expressive full forward black berry and black cherry fruits predominating with accents of cassis, spice box and Mayacamas cedar / eucalyptus tones. That Del Dotto craftsmanship of layered oak and hints of mocha are apparent on a long soft, plush, layered fine tannin finish.

RM 93 points.

Robert Parker gave this 94 points in his 02/05 review of this wine when he wrote: "The flagship wine, the 2002 David, is a 400-case blend of 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, and 19% Cabernet Franc. The wine has tremendous density and a gorgeously perfumed nose of cedar, spice box, black cherries, and cassis. Opaquely colored, deeply flavored, and rich, with chocolatey ,currant flavors, a savory texture, and a persistent palate, it will drink well for 7-8 years."

https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=74222

Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1989

As the third label from this legendary producer, following the flagship Bonny's Vineyard that was discontinued in the early nineties, then the Napa label, the Alexander Valley bottling shows amazing longevity and staying power. Few people hold this wine for three decades but we enjoy it new and aged.

This bottle actually showed and tasted better than my earlier review a couple years ago. Like the other wines, this one showed the same consistent style and profile as with my earlier tasting notes, when I wrote, "At twenty six years, this was showing its age in the rust brickish color showing on the edges. Muted upon opening, the expressive signature layers of 'silver' oak emerged and amplified over the course of the evening. The slightly astringent acidic black berry fruit was punctuated by a layer of leather, earthy tobacco leaf and black tea before giving way to the layer of oak that permeated the finish. This was a special bottle that showed its heritage and terroir well."

RM 90 points. 

https://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=41259

Notable too is that Dr Dan brought two exquisite bottles for our dinner - Joseph Phelps Backus 2010 and a Sea Smoke Sea Spray 2012, anticipating a grilled steak dinner, which was the original plan. We cellared these and we'll enjoy them together at a future tasting dinner.