Saturday, February 25, 2017

Trefethan Napa Valley Oak Knoll Chardonnay

Trefethan Vineyards Napa Valley Oak Knoll District Chardonnay 2014

Enjoying a quiet afternoon at home in front of a movie, Linda prepared succulent lobster tails and lobster bisque. We planned to accompany this with a buttery, silky smooth Chardonnay, so I pulled from the cellar a Trefethan Vineyards Napa Valley Oak Knoll District Chardonnay

We visited Trefethen Vineyards and Estate in southwest Napa Valley during our Napa Wine
Experience in 2013. Trefethen's success with Napa Valley Chardonnay dates back more than thirty years when in 1979, their Trefethen 1976 Chardonnay was named “Best Chardonnay in the World” at the Gault Millau World Wine Olympics in France.

Trefethen attribute much of their success to their Estate vineyards (shown left) in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley with well-drained, loamy soils, and the marine-influenced climate with soft breezes and gentle fog that roll into southwest Napa Valley off of the San Pablo Bay, helping develop Chardonnay grapes with rich, balanced flavors. 

The 2014 vintage in southern Napa Valley was exceptional. Setting aside the severe drought early in the year and the significant earthquake that struck Napa just as harvest began, the 2014 weather during the growing season was close to absolute perfection. This allowed growers to time harvesting the grapes at their optimum peak ripeness which yielded an extraordinary wine. It was  ideal for casual sipping and as an accompaniment to our afternoon dinner.

This was butter colored, medium bodied, buttery and smooth with what the producer describes as "A classic Trefethen Chardonnay, .... with enticing aromas of Granny Smith apple, clover honey, honeysuckle and nutmeg. Clean and bright flavors of tropical fruits, peach and crisp citrus envelop your taste buds".

This is 100% Chardonnay sourced from the Estate Main Ranch Vineyard (shown above) there in the Oak Knoll District Appellation of Napa Valley that is adjoining and across the road from the winery and estate, on Hwy 29 as you enter Napa central valley just north of the town of Napa.

RM 90 points.

Venge Scouts Honor Vieux Telegraph bbq dinner

Venge Scouts Honor, Vieux Telegraph highlight bbq rib dinner

Venge Scout's Honor Napa Valley Red Wine Zinfandel Blend 2013

We were invited to the kid's house for Friday night dinner with the grandkids. Ryan prepared rubbed smoked ribs and served this classic BBQ wine, Venge Scout's Honor Zinfandel Blend. I write in these pages often that every cellar needs some Zinfandel at hand for such an occasion and this one is as good as it gets. I brought along a vintage aged Vieux Telegraph CDP (Chateauneuf-du-Pape) for comparison.

I wrote about the 2013 vintage Venge Scouts Honor in my initial tasting blogpost last year. This is one of the best vintages ever for this label that is a tribute to their late beloved Labrador Retriever, Scout. We actually had the privilege of 'meeting' Scout when we visiting with founder/patriarch Nils Venge at the Penny Lane vineyards property back in the mid-nineties. My notes for this wine go back to the 1998 vintage.

Decades later, the wine is now made by his son Kirk Venge. In the past few vintages they have improved vineyard quality significantly with more “old - vine” plantings of the fruit source for this blend and it has taken the wine to another level resulting in a spectacular full bodied, delicious, hedonistic red wine. The complex blend takes Zinfandel into another dimension over typical Zins, that while being big fruit bombs, tend to be more single dimensional and less sophisticated.

This is a unique blend with a foundation of old-vine Zinfandel (71%), dry-farmed Petite Sirah (15%), old-vine Charbono (10%), and finishing with mountain vineyard Syrah (4%) that packs a wallop at 15.4% alcohol. Robert Parker notes that this may be the best Scout's Honor Venge Vineyards has  made. 

This was even better than when we tasted it last year with the fruit being more balanced and settled predominating more over the other complex notes - dark inky purple colored, full bodied, bold, jammy, chewy, tongue coating, mouth puckering, concentrated, complex yet smooth, polished and balanced, delicious sweet black raspberry, blueberry and black cherry fruits with notes of violets, dark mocha, truffle, anise and spices, with an long finish that almost tastes like candy. 

RM 93 points; Robert Parker gave it 94.

I brought along this aged 1996 vintage CDP to compare and complement the ribs.

Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Crau 1996

A visit to this legendary producer was one of the highlights of our trip to Chateauneuf-du-Pape a few years ago.

This was my last bottle of this vintage for this label and its just as well as it is reaching the end of its drinking window.

Already brownish color tones with heavy bricking on the rim with a cloudiness setting in, medium bodied, the rich berry fruits and spice tones have are overtaken by a preponderance of green vegetal notes of green olive and note of barnyard earthy wet grass.

Perhaps this was a slightly tainted bottle as other Cellartracker reviews don't indicate this level of diminution as yet. It was still drinkable and a bit intriguing, not as bad as it sounds, but nearing end of life none-the-less.

RM 84 points.