Wine buddy and fellow 'Pour Boy' Bill back in town, we held a wine dinner with a flight of reds to compliment Linda's beef tenderloin with roasted red potatoes and medley of grilled asparagus and brussel sprouts.
Bill brought a appellation select Mt Veeder Cuvaison Napa Cabernet and a Château Haut-Batailley Bordeaux 2003.
I pulled from the cellar one of our perennial favorite producers that we've enjoyed together on numerous occasions, Freemark Abbey Estate Napa Cab from 1994. I also pulled an aged vintage Cuvaison Napa Cab 1988 for a mini vertical comparison of the 2007. In the end, moderation prevailed and we didn't get that far in our tasting.
The three wines presented a wonderful comparison of the subtle graduation of three different styles reflecting variations in vintage and terroir - all perfect complements to the dinner courses of cheese, chocolates, entrees and desserts.
Château Haut-Batailley Pauillac Bordeaux 2003
We opened this thinking it might be the starting wine in the progression from light to full and heavier wines in our tasting. Also, as customary in a progressive tasting, start with the Bordeaux Blend with its subtle nuances and greater complexity before moving to the bolder single varietal Cabernets.
It opened with wonderful Bordeaux aromas of earthy leather, dark fruits and floral but was firm and tight with a moderate gripping tannin backbone - yet smooth and polished rather than overbearing. We set it aside and let it open and breath for a bit which it did so very nicely over the course of the evening.
This is probably at the apex of its drinking window, not likely to improve further with aging.
Dark garnet colored with some bricking on the edges, medium bodied, complex black fruits with tones of earthy leather, tobacco and oak, hints of spice and graphite with smooth polished dusty tannins on the modest finish.
RM 90 points.
Cuvaison Mt Veeder Napa Cabernet 2007
I didn't know or don't recall knowing Cuvaison had a presence there or we might have included them in our tour, although they may just have vineyards there while their winery is elsewhere in the valley. Further investigation shows Cuvaison also own and produce wines from the Brandlin Vineyard on Mount Veeder while their winery and tasting room are just below the Mt Veeder foothills in nearby Carneros.
Again, Bill sums it up well in his Cellartracker tasting note - "Dark, inky purple. No signs of age. Lots of bright fruit, typical of the Mt Veeder AVA. Not much nose but cassis, eucalyptus and a bit of tobacco box on the finish. I expected this to be the most forward of the evenings selections but this was overshadowed by a 94 Freemark Abbey Napa Cab and an 03 Haut Batailley."
WCC 89 points.
Bright Ruby colored, medium bodied, bright vibrant black and blue fruits with subtle tones of that classic Mayacamas Mtns eucalyptus and hints of tobacco, floral and oak. Evident are the subtleties of the moderating effects of the nearby San Pablo Bay fog and breezes that waft in over Mt Veeder that soften the tannins and firmer concentrated punctuated fruits more typically found in the upper valley and opposing Napa Valley Vaca range.
RM 89 points. This received 93 points from Wine Enthusiast.
Freemark Abbey Napa Cabernet Sauvignon 1994
Bill and I have enjoyed many Freemark Cabs together over the years including memorable visits to the winery and its wine library. This tasting adds to that legacy with its strong memorable showing tonight.
Dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, initially a bit tight and closed, this evolved to reveal bright vibrant complex black fruits accented by wonderful cigar box and notes of classic Mayacamas Mountain eucalyptus with hints of cassis, spicy oak and cedar that lingered on the long finish.
RM 89 points.