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.

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.

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."