Saturday, May 27, 2017

Deep Sea Santa Barbara County Syrah

Deep Sea Santa Barbara County Syrah 2008

Trolling through the wine cellar, I uncovered several bottles of this Deep Sea Santa Barbara County Syrah. Records show I purchased 16 bottles of this label and have consumed ten, so there should still be a few at hand, buried in the cellar somewhere - perils/joys of having an extensive collection.

At nine years old, its probably at the prime of its drinking window and likely won't improve further with ageing so its time to drink up. We had a bottle with bbq at home the other night, then took a bottle to Daughter Erin and Johnnie's for Memorial Day bbq rib dinner - an ideal pairing.

My tasting notes indicate we last had this label on the 4th of July for holiday bbq dinner, just like this tasting.

As posted earlier, I chronicled my discovery of this wine and what I learned about this producer and label in an earlier blog posts.

Consistent with earlier notes ....

Dark inky purple, full bodied, thick, concentrated, chewy black and blue berry fruits with a layer of alcohol, tones of caramel and vanilla, turning to hints of black pepper and mint on a moderate tannin laced lingering finish.

RM 90 points.

Earlier blogposts:

Monday, May 22, 2017

B-day wine-flt Darioush-Chappellet

Birthday dinner features a medley of favorite wines ...

For a dinner on my birthday, Linda prepared grilled strip steaks, mashed golden potatoes, green beans and corn, followed by chocolate silk pie with fresh berries. Bill and Beth C joined us, back visiting from SC wrapping up real estate. I pulled from the cellar Darioush Napa Valley Cabernet which was the wine we had at our first wine event together years ago. I selected a 2000 vintage bottle from the near dozen vintages available, as the one most ready to consume. For a mini horizontal tasting, to pair with it for a comparison, I pulled another 2000 vintage Napa Cab, Chappellet Pritchard Hill. Bill brought a Giscours Bordeaux.

Darioush Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2000

For my birthday dinner, I pulled from the cellar one of nearly a dozen vintages we hold of this top flight Napa Cab. We've enjoyed Darioush Cabernet at several visits to their magnificent winery Chateau on the Silverado Trail in Napa, and at special events including a special Darioush Wine Dinner at Everest in Chicago. We had a special barrel tasting at the winery back during our 2003 Napa Wine Experience.

My last tasting notes for this wine were back in 2010, when I wrote "dark color - big forward firm intense dark fruit - black cherry, dark berry, tobacco, cigar box and touch of leather. Not for the feint of heart - needs big bold food."

This showed bright vibrant dark sweet berry fruits, was smooth polished and well balanced with layers of accent tones of mocha, tea and tobacco leaf, with a firm backbone of silky tannins on the finish.

RM 92 points,

Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon Pritchard Hill Estate Vineyard 2000

We tasted this wine with Bill and Beth at the winery during our Napa Valley Wine Experience in 2009.

At seventeen years, this is not showing any signs of diminution. This was more subdued than the Darioush, almost closed and tight in comparison. Dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, dark blackberry and black cherry fruit with tones of graphite, black tea, earthy leather, and tobacco.

Château Giscours 2004

Giscours is one of the typically reliable higher QPR (qiality price ratio) value Margaux Bordeaux which were the highlight of this years 2014 release tasting.

I wonder if this bottle was perhaps tainted a bit. Garnet colored, medium bodied, there was a bit of earthiness barnyard funkiness permeating the black cherry, tea, graphite and leather, hint of spice and cassis, giving way to lingering acidity and tannins.

A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Merlot (32%), Cabernet Franc (5%) and Petit Verdot (3%).

Fonseca Guimaraens Vintage Porto 1995

Excerpts of various fellow Cellartracker members' tasting notes ...

"An explosion of sweet black cherry and plum flavors in the mouth, followed by dark, dark chocolate, coffee, and lovely chewy tannins, with a finish that goes on and on and on.'

"Nose is Leather and dark sweet fruit, with perfect alcohol. The palate is beautifully balanced with tobacco, leather, a spicy element and strong fruit undercurrent without being too jam..'

"Remarkably concentrated, long and velvety. Great acids breaking up the small sweetness. Ends with distinct tannin and much fruit. Leather restrained today, and only on the mid-palate. Quite dramatic array of spicy notes and dried fruits of various kinds.'

"Incrementally even better than before. I've had a bunch of bottles of this since 2008 and it has stayed remarkably consistent. Dark, dark fruit on the nose with leather, integrated alcohol. Palate is balanced with tobacco, modest spice component, leather, and big fruit undercurrent yet still has an astringency that keeps it organized."

Friday, May 12, 2017

Raymond Burr Sonoma Dry Creek Cabernet

Raymond Burr Sonoma County Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1994

For a Friday night home dinner of grilled steaks, golden potatoes and sauteed spinach, I pulled from the cellar this vintage Raymond Burr 1994 Cabernet that had been waiting for the right occasion to be consumed, a candidate for OTBN - Open That Bottle Night.

When dining at home and having wine, I invariably strive to pull older bottles from the cellar as they need to be consumed and there is risk of holding them too long, beyond their drinking window. This wine was past its prime and was in the late stages of its drinking window. Enjoying such wines is an adventure and is not uncommon for one with an extensive wine cellar.

Raymond Burr and partner Robert Benevides planted their first Cabernet Sauvignon vines in 1986 and bottled their first vintage in 1992. Raymond was only able to taste this vintage from the barrel before his passing in 1993. 

Based on the price tag still adorning the bottle (shown below), I can trace this purchase back to AJ’s Fine Foods Wine Cellars, an upscale grocery and wine shop in Scottsdale that I used to frequent during trips there. It often had unique small production selections such as this one.

Only older folks or TV buffs would remember or even know who Raymond Burr was. He was a Canadian-American actor, primarily known for his title roles in the television dramas Perry Mason in which he played a courtroom lawyer. The series ran from 1957 to 1966 and Burr received three consecutive Emmy Award nominations and won the award in 1959 and 1961 for his performance as Perry Mason.

Following Perry Mason, Burr played the title role in the television drama Ironside, San Francisco Chief of Detectives Robert T. Ironside, who was wounded by a sniper during an attempt on his life and, after his recovery, uses a wheelchair for mobility. His role in this hit series crime drama showed a police officer with a disability, ran from 1967 to 1975 and earned Burr six Emmy nominations and two Golden Globe nominations.

According to wikipedia, "Burr's early acting career included roles on Broadway, radio, television and in film, usually as the villain. His portrayal of the suspected murderer in the Alfred Hitchcock thriller Rear Window (1954) is regarded as his best-known film role. He won two Emmy Awards, in 1959 and 1961, for the role of Perry Mason, which he played for nine seasons (1957–66) and was featured in a series of 26 television films (1985–93).

Burr's portrayal of Perry Mason defined his career and became the quintessential persona of a lawyer. The day after Burr's death, American Bar Association president R. William Ide III released a statement: "Raymond Burr's portrayals of Perry Mason represented lawyers in a professional and dignified manner. … Mr. Burr strove for such authenticity in his courtroom characterizations that we regard his passing as though we lost one of our own." The New York Times reported that Perry Mason had been named second—after F. Lee Bailey, and before Abraham Lincoln, Thurgood Marshall, Janet Reno and Hillary Clinton (amazingly), in a National Law Journal poll that asked Americans to name the attorney, fictional or not, they most admired.

His second hit TV series, Ironside, earned him six Emmy nominations and two Golden Globe nominations."

Burr appeared in more than 50 feature films between 1946 and 1957. He was awarded a star on the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6656 Hollywood Boulevard in 1960. Burr was ranked #44 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time in 1996.

Burr and his life and business partner Robert Benevides owned and operated an orchid business and a vineyard in the Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley. His primary interest was orchids where they operated nurseries in Fiji, Hawaii, the Azores, and California, and were responsible for adding more than 1,500 new orchids to the worldwide catalog.

Besides orchids, in the wine business, they grew Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and grapes for Port wine on the property in Sonoma County.

Burr died in Healdsburg, CA in 1993 before the first release of his wine. Benevides subsequently renamed the Dry Creek property Raymond Burr Vineyards (reportedly against Burr's wishes).

So, the wine business was perhaps secondary to his acting career and nursery business, Burr and Benevides were initially growers more than wine producers.

According to the rear label, this wine was produced and bottled by J&J Winery in Geyserville and would actually have been produced the year after Burr's death.

In 2006, Phyllis Zouzounis was hired as winemaker. “Phyllis was very thorough in checking us out,” said Benevides. “She walked the vineyard for two weeks, tasting the wines and talking to the crew, before she agreed to the job.” Her diligence paid off as Raymond Burr wines won a number of gold medals and a Sweeps prize at the 2008 San Diego Wine Competition.

The current fate is unclear as their website has gone dark and the domain name is available for sale.

The label states this 1994, "arguably the top vintage of the decade .... heralds the formidable quality Raymond Burr dreamed of achieving from his Dry Creek Vineyards." It states 875 cases were produced of this label - a blend of 91.5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8.5% Cabernet Franc.

Reflecting the quality and age-worthiness of that 1994 vintage, and the quality of the wine, at 23 years of age, this still showed bright vibrant cherry fruits accented by earthy leather and notes of cedar.

RM 88 points at this stage.

Only after I'd published this post and gone back to update my wine Journal Index did I realize I had purchased two bottles of this wine and drank the other fifteen years ago. Here is my journal post of that tasting, at which time I gave it the same rating back in April 2002.

A visit to the Raymond Burr Vineyards and tasting room is chronicled in this You-Tube video, featuring the 2006 vintage of Raymond Burr Cabernet.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Del Dotto Napa Valley Sangiovese 1999

Del Dotto Napa Valley Sangiovese 1999

With Beth C back from SC for the week, we met for a midweek dinner out at Angeli's Italian, our favorite neighborhood trattoria. I took BYOB this Del Dotto Napa Valley Sangiovese 1999, one of our go-to wines for Angeli's since we don't have an extensive Italian collection in our cellar. We consumed all of our early vintage releases of this label so we recently acquired a few bottles of this 1999 at auction for immediate consumption.

We discovered this label during several visits to the winery and vineyards back in the nineties. At that time, it was unique as Del Dotto were pioneers in Napa Valley Sangiovese under the direction of legendary Nils Venge,  wine maker for Del Dotto at the time. They planted some in front of the estate on the burm along Hwy 29 just south of Zinfandel Lane. And the rest, as they say, is history.

The wine pairing was ideal with our entree selections, simple, cheese ravioli with bolognese sauce and an order of their Italian Sausage and Peppers.

With Dave Del Dotto during one of our Napa
visits to the Estate around the millennium

While clearly past its prime and showing its age as the fruits start to subside and give way to tones of leather, tobacco leaf and tar, this is still drinking nicely and has some life left and pairs well with pasta and hearty sauce.

Dark blacksh garnet with a slight hue of brickish rust starting to set in, medium full bodied, tones of black cherry and black berry fruits starting to give way to a layer of leather tobacco leaf. hints of creosote and a bit of fig.

RM 88 points.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Lede Vineyards Duo for Surf-n-Turf Dinner

Cliff Lede Vineyards Duo for Surf & Turf Family Dinner

For a gala (pre-) Mother's Day Sunday Brunch family dinner with four generations of family, great-grandparents, and grandkids, Linda prepared a delicious surf-n-turf with grilled marinated sirloin beef and lobster tails, with boiled buttered potatoes, grilled asparagus, and sweet corn on the cob.

Our wine accompaniment, a duo of Cliff Lede Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc were perfect matches for each of the highlight entree courses.

Also complimenting dinner was a caprese salad with beefsteak tomatoes and a dessert of Erin's homemade cheesecake with fresh whipped strawberry puree'.

Our visits to the sixty acre Cliff Lede Vineyards and winery estate in the Stags Leap district of Napa Valley with its art gardens and gallery were a highlight of several of our Napa trips including Ryan and Michelle's recent getaway Napa weekend just last month.

Cliff Lede Vineyards Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2015

This is our latest release of one my favorite Sauvignon Blancs which I consider among the best representations of Sauvignon Blanc, which typically is the truest expression of the varietal fruit. This vintage release is actually a blend composed of 82% Sauvignon Blanc, 14% Sémillon, 3% Sauvignon Vert, and 1% Muscat Canelli varietals. The result is a complex wine with layers of fruit flavors that blend together in a harmonious pleasant drinking wine.

The fruit for the Lede label is sourced from vineyards in the eastern Rutherford appellation (old vine Musqué clone and Sémillon), a vineyard in the southeastern hills of Napa Valley, grapes from a cooler climate vineyard on the east side of Napa, and some old vines of Sauvignon Vert from the Chiles Valley in eastern Napa County.

Light straw colored, medium-light bodied, harmonious nicely balanced layers of subdued citrus, peach, pear and lychee fruit with a refreshing crisp clean, smooth acidity finish.

RM 90 points.

Cliff Lede Vineyards Napa Valley Stag's Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

We stocked up on this vintage release of this Estate label back in '06 to hold to commemorate the wedding year of daughter Erin and son-in-law Johnny. The vintage was ideally suited with conditions perfect for the fruit set and ideal ripening that resulted in very concentrated wines that will mark 2006 as one of the great Napa vintages.

Fruit for this vintage release was sourced from the finest blocks of the Lede estate Twin Peaks Ranch vineyard on Napa Yountville Cross Road, as well as from the hillside terraces of their legendary Poetry vineyard on the eastern foothills of the property overlooking Silverado Trail and the eastern valley. The blend in this release is 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, and 2% Malbec.

Consistent with tasting notes three years ago when I wrote, "Six years after release, the 2006 Lede Estate Cabernet seems to be reaching its stride at the apex of its tasting curve. Medium full bodied, deep ruby color with full forward blackberry and black and red currant fruits with tones of mocha, clove spice and hints of tar and sweet oak on a smooth polished flavorful lingering finish."

The notes of mocha were replaced with tones of leather, tobacco leaf and hints of cedar as this passes its tenth year. 

RM 91 points.