Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Williamsburg Winery Wessex Hundred Vineyard Wiliamsburg, VA

Williamsburg Winery, Wessex Hundred Vineyards in Williamsburg, VA

Returning from OBX, the Outer Banks, the North Carolina Atlantic barrier islands, we passed through Williamsburg,Virginia and visited Williamsburg Winery, one of the largest wine producers in the State. 

Williamsburg have about 40 acres of vineyards, designated the Wessex Hundred Vineyards, on the 300 acre Estate just outside Williamsburg. 

They also source grapes from numerous vineyards around the state of Virginia, and source some juice from the Central Valley in California. 

Williamsburg produces about two dozen labels, a complete line-up from light whites to full bodied Chardonnay, to a flight of full bodied reds and several dessert and 'specialty' wines. 

On the Estate they grow Bordeaux varietals, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec as well as a selection of white grape varietals; Viognier, Traminette, Alborino, Vidal Blanc and Chardonnay

They are replanting older vines and increasing their vineyard plantings on the expansive property. The Williamsburg Estate vineyards layout and compositions are shown in the image graphic.

Williamsburg has an Estate Winery with tasting room, a Connoisseurs Club VIP center for Wine Club members, and an area for special events.

Also, on the property is the Gabriel Archer Tavern and Restaurant, named for Captain Gabriel Archer who commanded the
Susan Constant, Discovery, and Godspeed ships that landed on the shores of Virginia in In 1607. After exploring several sites along the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, the colonists, fearing pirates and Spanish competition, decided to explore further inland and settled on the site where The Williamsburg Winery now stands.

There is also Cafe Provencal, (left) a fine dining bistro restaurant founded by Wessex Hundred Founder Patrick Duffeler, which brings the style and culture he experienced from extensive travels in the South of France, to showcase the output of Virginia farms, and those in surrounding states, and the fruits of the vines to create a true farm-to-farm dining experience.

The Williamsburg hospitality center has a tasting room that offers two tasting flights, a standard selection of five different wines, and a 'Reserve' flight offering one's choice of seven different wines.

We chose the 'Reserve' flight and selected the five 'big reds' along with one white, their Estate Grown Chardonnay, and one dessert wine, a White Muscato and Vidal Blanc blend.

All in all, the whole experience including the wines exceeded my expectations. This is a serious operation that sets high standards for fine wine and earnestly strives to produce a range from good value, high value QPR entry level every day wines, up to premium priced fine wines.

At the high end, they lack the fruit driven richness and fullness of California or Washington State or French wines, and frankly make the Washington Columbia Valley wines from our recent trip, our Seattle Culinary and Washington Wine Tour,  out there look really good, with great value. Never-the-less, this probably represents the best of Virginia wines, certainly from our limited exposure, and offers a wide range of options from the casual sipper to collector selections.

The servers in the tasting room were knowledgeable and could speak to each wine and its sources, compositions and style.

Our wine tasting flight:

Williamsburg Winery John Arundell American Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Estate wines are those where at least 75% of the grapes in the bottle are grown on the property of the producer. They carry on the label the appellation or AVA, the American Viticultural Area in which the vineyards lie. Wines that are not appellation specific will carry the name of the larger designation region in which the grapes are grown. Wines that are a blend of grapes from a broader region will carry a broader designation accordingly. This is the first wine I have recall ever seeing that designates American as the designation of the source of the grapes. 

This is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from the Lodi AVA in the Central Valley of California about seventy miles east of Napa Valley. 

This is a simple easy drinking every day wine, garnet colored but light-medium bodied with black raspberry fruits accented by bright acidity, notes of mocha, earthy floral and hints of vanilla. Its not sophisticated or complex but then it is under $15 thereby a reasonable value QPR wine at this sub-$15 price point. 

RM 87 points.
Williamsburg Winery Barrel Aged Virginia Claret 2016

This is a blend of Bordeaux varietals: 37% Petit Verdot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 31% Cabernet Franc. 

Following the discussion above about specificity of the geography from which the grapes are sourced, this label is designated 'Virginia' Claret. It is a blend of Bordeaux varietals sourced from different sites across the State of Virginia. 

The notation on the promotions for the wine cite it is "Made from a combination of grapes sourced from Wessex Hundred and from our partner growers from around the commonwealth." We're told the Cabernet Sauvignon is grown in northern and central Virginia while  the other varietals, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc are sourced on the Estate.

This is a lighter more opaque ruby colored wine with raspberry, and cherry fruits with notes of black olives, soy, tea and hints of vanilla and  oak with moderate soft tannins on the lingering finish.

Williamsburg Winery, Wessex Hundred Petit Verdot 2016

This is another Bordeaux varietal: 100% Petit Verdot, a vineyard designated label, Estate grown fruit from the property. 

Bordeaux producers use Petit Verdot to add structure and color to their wines and this certainly exhibits those qualities of the varietal. 

This is dark inky blackish purple garnet colored, full bodied, firm structured with bright expressive black berry and black raspberry tones accented by dark coffee, earth and hints of cocoa, cola, leather and fig with whisper of charcoal turning to pronounced cloying but approachable smooth tannins and tones of oak on the lingering finish. 

This could well be WW's best wine, or their best quality value wine. In any event, it is likely the best expression of the terrior or fruits produced on the estate. This was Linda's favorite of the flight of wines. 

Reserve Wine Flight 

Gabriel Archer Reserve Red Blend 2015 
This wine is named for the historic Founder of the property, and is only produced in the finest vintages. The Reserve wines represents the signature style of the Williamsburg winemaker. The Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from the Crozet vineyards in the center of the state while the rest of the fruit is Estate grown on the property.

This is a blend of traditional Bordeaux varietals: 36% Cabernet Franc, 25% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Petit Verdot and 7% Malbec.

Dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, black berryand black cherry fruits are accented by notes of cassis, mushroom and hint of eucalyptus with earthy leather and herbs turning to hints of oak. 

RM 88 points;  90 points - Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate (August 2017)


Adagio Red Wine Blend 2015

This is the flagship wine of Williamsburg Winery, a blend of Petit Verdot (58%), Merlot (15%), Tannat (15%), and Cabernet Franc (12%). It is packaged in a large heavy oversize bottle with a very large bung, with painted labeling on the front, with a traditional paper label affixed to the rear. It is priced at a premium price-point of $75 per bottle.

This was dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, complex black berry fruits with notes of vegetable, wood and charcoal, tones of dark chocolate mocha and hints of menthol camphor and floral turning to cloying tannins on the lingering finish. 

RM 90 points. 90 + points - Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate (August 2017).


Williamsburg Winery Petite Fleur Muscato 2017
This is a blend of two white varietals: 56% Muscat Ottonel and 44% Vidal Blanc. The Muscat Ottonel is sourced from partner producer growers in Charlottesville, VA; the Vidal Blanc is sourced from the Wessex Hundred Vineyard on the Estate in Williamsburg, VA. This is another wine designated as a 'Virginia' wine.

This was an interesting, pleasant drinking wine, nicely balanced, straw colored, medium light bodied, white peach flavors with notes of apricot and pear accented by tropical fruits, with notes of vanilla on a nice acidic viscous finish. 

RM 89 points. 90 Point Rating – Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate 



Saturday, September 22, 2018

Le Yaca Restaurant Wine and Dine Experience

Le Yaca Restaurant Williamsburg Wine and Dine Experience

During our weekend getaway to historic Williamsburg, Virginia, we dined at Le Yaca fine dining French Restaurant.

The Le Yaca story dates back to 1964/65 in the little village of Le Praz in the French Alps.

In 1968, a second “Le Yaca” opened in the southern French coastal town of Saint-Tropez. In 1980, the third Le Yaca moved to the United States and opened in Williamsburg, VA.

Daniel Abid was one of the first chefs at the Williamsburg location who was instrumental in growing the popularity and reputation. Abid acquired Le Yaca in 2001. A fourth location opened on High Street in Williamsburg in 2014.

We dined at the High Street location.  I took advantage of the Chef's Five Course Tasting Menu and selected the chef's wine pairing with each course (shown below).

Linda chose the LE SAUMON D’ECOSSE, poached filet of fresh Scottish salmon. Her dessert selection was the LA VERSION FRANÇAISE DU TIRAMISU, Chef's version of tiramisu, served with Espresso ice cream (shown below).

For her wine accompaniment we ordered from the winelist Ramey Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2014.

The Chef's Tasting Menu and Wine Pairings:

Menu Dégustation

diver sea scallop
maine lobster tail
truffle vinaigrette
Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Réserve, Champagne, Non-Vintage

magret duck breast
seared foie gras
caramelized white peach
port reduction

Château Puy-Servain Haut-Montravel Terrement 2009

(Substituted for the Petit Guiraud Sauternes, Borde
aux, 2012)

Rosé sorbet granité

classic brown butter sauce

Domaine des Gerbeaux Pouilly-Fuissé, Burgundy, 2015


 and ... 

La Fleur D;Or Sauterne 2013
And finally for the dessert course, this decadent, over-the-top ...

Grand Marnier soufflé

Pineau des Charentes (Rosé)


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Dunham Cellars 'Trutina' Columbia Valley Red Wine 2009

Dunham Cellars 'Trutina' Columbia Valley Red Wine 2009

Following our recent trip to Woodinville, Washington to taste Washington State wines in our Seattle Culinary and Washington Wine Tour, wines we continued our exploration by opening this Trutina Walla Walla Red Blend from our cellar. It was perfect with grilled sirloin steaks and scalloped potatoes with haricot verts.

We have a vertical collection of Dunham Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Red Wine Blend going back a dozen vintages to the nineties. How delightful to discover these Bordeaux varietal wines from Columbia River Valley in Washington, not well known for being a Bordeaux varietal region.

This was our first vintage of Trutina, a second label from Dunham at a lower pricepoint that offers great QPR (Quality to Price ratio) in this complex and expressive red wine blend. We're finding many of these Columbia Valley Reds have great quality and aging ability and offer great value over their French and California counterparts.

While not as complex or polished as the flagship label, Trutina was very impressive going on a decade of age. This showed bright garnet and inky purple color, medium full bodied with huge aromatics of floral and lavender with full forward bright vibrant flavors of black currant and black cherry fruits with a layer of sweet caramel mocha on a full cloying lingering tannin finish.

The blend is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 6% Syrah, and 4% Malbec.

RM 92 points.


Monday, September 17, 2018

Matthews Yakima Vally Red Wine Red Bordeaux Blend 1999

Matthews Yakima Vally Red Wine Red Bordeaux Blend 1999 

We continued our exploration of Columbia Valley Bordeaux varietal wines, following our recent trip to Woodinville, Washington to taste Washington State wines in our Seattle Culinary and Washington Wine Tour. We drove by Matthews Cellars' tasting room and it was on my shorlist of spots to visit but it was especially crowded each time we passed. As with the other tastings from that trip, this reflects significant QPR - Quality Price Ratio, especially relative their French and Northern California counterparts.

For midweek grilled beefsteak dinner, I pulled from the cellar this almost twenty year old Columbia Valley Bordeaux Blend, the last remaining bottle of a lot I bought at auction, and the oldest  remaining bottle of similar labels from this era. Much of the fun or intrigue of wine collecting and tasting is comparing a label over time as it ages, and comparing it with its' peer group, bottle from the same appellation - Yakima Valley AVA - same terrior, soil type and climate, and from the same price range.

Often, typically tasting notes will be similar, subtle bottle variations aside, show gradual signs of aging, amplified as they reach their apex and go beyond their prime on the aging curve. Since I acquired this lot of bottles at auction, its impossible to determine the provenance of each of the bottles, where they were sourced and how they were stored over time. Hence it is not surprising to find subtle bottle variations. This lot was the case as three of the four bottles were consumed in the year they were acquired, each showing slightly differently.

This bottle was held another eight years and was consistent with the median of the other tasting experiences. 

This was a blend of Bordeaux varietals, 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot and 11% Cabernet Franc.

Our last tasting of this wine was back in December 2011 when I wrote; "Surprising over-achiever for our gala Christmas beef wellington dinner - this was more polished than earlier tastings, full bodied, complex, vibrant and expressive with layers of blackberry, black currants and cherry fruits, a layer of spice, black tea and cassis with hints of tar, leather and tobacco on the lingering moderate tannin finish."

Earlier that year in Sept 2011 I wrote: "I found the fruit to be moderate upon opening but brighter and more expressive the second day; complex and polished; blackberry, black currants and cherry fruits, and eucalyptus with a layer of spice, black tea and cassis with hints of tar, leather and tobacco on the lingering moderate tannin finish.'

And, earlier that year in Feb 2011 I wrote; "Dark inky color - medium - full bodied - firm black berry and black raspberry fruits are giving way to a tar, leather, cassis and hint of tobacco as this wine is passing its prime."

This week the wine was consistent with the latter two tasting notes, with slight diminution of the fruit and structure as the non-fruit tones of leather, tea and tobacco were starting to be more predominant over the bright black berry and black cherry fruits.

Same rating as the earlier two tastings, RM 88 points.


Sunday, September 16, 2018

Uriah Spring Valley Vineyards Walla Walla Red Blend

Uriah Spring Valley Vineyards Walla Walla Red Blend

Following our trip to Woodinville, Washington to taste Washington State wines in our Seattle Culinary and Washington Wine Tour, wines we took this Spring Valley Vineyard Washington State Columbia Valley Red Blend to our favorite Italian Trattoria BYOB for Saturday night dinner.  We hold close to a dozen vintages of this label and for tonight's dinner I pulled this 2004 vintage release, the oldest, to cycle our collection accordingly.

We know this wine well having tasted numerous vintages over the years so it was good taste it again after our tasting numerous other labels from the region recently. We gained further appreciation for the quality of Columbia Valley red wines and the state of the art there in producing wines comparable to the top labels from Bordeaux and Napa Valley.

This is a single vineyard designated wine, with 100% of the fruit from the Spring Valley Vineyard. Like many of the other wines we tasted from the region, including the wine from our nieces in-laws that we wrote about in our recent posts, Spring Valley wines are family owned and operated. The  land that has been farmed by the Corkrum family for five generations and this vineyard was planted in 1993. We wrote about our delight with our wine discovery and a family connection to a multi-generation family owned and operated Walla Walla producer in our blogpost Den Hoed Andreas Walula Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

This is from the Columbia Valley, Walla Walla appellations. Like many of the other wines we tasted in our Columbia Valley tasting, this forty acre vineyard is planted in Bordeaux varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, and Syrah.

The terroir has been determine and has proven to be an excellent environment for growing Bordeaux varietal grapes. The elevation lies between 1,200 and 1,500 feet, on south-southwest facing hills where the vines are planted to follow the north-south slope of the hills in vertical rows to provide the vines optimal sunshine, cold air, drainage, and takes advantage of the reflective nature of the surrounding hills.

As I wrote, these wines rival the wines from Bordeaux and Napa Valley but are available at a fraction of the price for comparable wines, providing great QPR - Quality Price Ratios. This gap will most assuredly close as they gain more attention and notoriety in the years ahead. 

This is a serious wine, a red blend in the Bordeaux Right Bank style, meaning it is a blend of Bordeaux varietals predominantly of Merlot. The blend is 60% Merlot, 31% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 4% Petit Verdot. It was aged 16 months in 95% French oak and 5% American oak barrels.

Serge Laville, the winemaker wrote in his release notes: "Aromas of ripe blackberry, plum and harvested wheat introduce a complex palate with flavors of currant, cherry and hints of liquorice and leather. Powerful and firm tannins resonate on the long, elegant finish.

In my tasting note from 2009 I stated this needed more time. In my last tasting note in 2017 I said, 'Its time!" Tonight, this wine has matured and improved with further aging and was better still, consistent with my recent tasting back in May of this year when I wrote below.

"Much better, smoother and more approachable than last tasting five years ago when I said it needs more time. Its time! Dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, smooth polished forward aromatic black currant and black berry fruits give way to hint of nicely integrated oak turning to tones of minerality, black cherry and dark mocha chocolate with hints of anise and tobacco."

We drank half the bottle with dinner last night, and it was even better today with grilled tenderloin for our Sunday afternoon dinner! Its showing elegance and finesse and smooth polished texture with velvety tannins on the long finish. This is definitely as its apex in its fourteenth year!

RM 93 points.



Saturday, September 15, 2018

Kathryn Hall Vertical Tasting - Hall Wine Release Tour 2015

Kathryn Hall Vertical Tasting and Hall Wine Release Tour 2015

Kathryn Hall and the Hall Wine Club and marketing team hit the road this week to celebrate and promote the release of the flagship Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon for the 2015 vintage.  They conducted two tastings, a vertical tasting of Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 through 2015, and a tasting of select labels from the 2015 vintage release. Fellow Pour Boy, Dr Dan and me and our two Lindas attended the Chicago event held at the W Hotel, conveniently located a short walk from the office.

A highlight of the main event was the chance to meet Kathryn Hall, and to have her sign a copy of her and husband Craig's New York Times bestseller book, A Perfect Score

The book chronicles Craig and Kathryn Hall's twenty year journey from amateur winemakers to the ultimate achievement, recipients of an almost unheard-of perfect score from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate.

A PERFECT SCORE tells the tale of their meteoric ascendancy in Napa Valley restoring the historic St Helena winery into the site and tourist attraction it is today, the building of their Rutherford facility and the tug-of-war between Napa Valley localism and tourism. Its an enchanting tale of the Halls' account of the art, soul, and business of a modern winery.

We appreciate it when producers come to our fair city and try to support such activities. It shouldn't be surprising since Chicago was recently recognized as “best restaurant city in America” by Conde Nast Traveler. The declaration was from the magazine’s list of best restaurants in Chicago.

Hall Wines have gained great notoriety and recognition since they acquired the historic St. Helena Bergfeld Winery in 2003. That historic winery in St. Helena was once the home of the Napa Valley Co-Op, producing 40% of Napa Valley’s wines.  Today it is the site of the Hall St Helena winery and hospitality center.

Previously, in 1995, the Halls acquired the legendary Sacrashe Vineyard in the hills of Rutherford which today houses their private residence, state of the art winery and magnificent caves and tasting room.  The caves double as an art gallery. Our visits to the Hall Rutherford site have been highlights of several of our Napa Valley Wine Experiences including our trip in 2013 and again in 2017.

I enjoyed sharing with Kathryn, that we have held, (and since drinken) Sacrashe Vineyard single vineyard select Cabernet Sauvignon dating back to their early days with the 1998 vintage.

It was also an honor and privilege to be able to briefly compare notes of common acquaintances from my days in national security intelligence and Kathryn's time serving as the Honorable US Ambassador to Austria.

Today, Hall’s estate vineyards encompass more than 500 acres of classic Bordeaux varietals; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc.

The wine flight selections for the 2015 release tour were a family affair, for labels named for
Kathryn, the flagship Cabernet Sauvignon, and Walt 2015 Pinot Noir, named for Kathryn's  family maiden name, Walt.

Such release events are an important part of our wine collecting strategy since we collect specific horizontal collections in the birthyears of our kids and grandkids, as well as vertical collections of select signature labels for each of them. Indeed, these birthyear collections and our large format bottles for such were the subject of our feature when our cellar was featured in Wine Spectator in the Collector column in June of 2001.

Also served was the 2015 release of “Jack’s Masterpiece,”  an annual release of signature Cabernet Sauvignon named for Hall’s former winemaker and current President, Mike Reynolds, and the label artwork created by Mike’s then 18-month-old son Jack, as a Father’s Day gift, back in 2012.

We have fun with these wines, selecting the Sauvignon Blanc and one of the premier Cabernets for our holiday Christmas packs, with card coined, deck the Halls!

Last year, I helped source for son Alec and his leadership, the spectacular Hall Exzellence ultra-premium Cabernet Sauvignon for their holiday client recognition appreciation gift. 

Tonight's release tasting flight:

Hall Vineyards Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (not shown)

Hall Vineyards Napa Valley Jack's Masterpiece Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Hall Vineyards Walt 'Bob's Ranch' Sonoma Valley, Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2016

Hall Kathryn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Additionally, the Hall team hosted a separate, SOLD OUT vertical tasting of the classic flagship namesake Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon showcasing the vintages from 2011 through the current release 2015.

Steadfast Chicago Wine Dinner

Steadfast Chicago Wine Dinner

Kathryn Hall and the Hall Wine Club and marketing team hit the road this week with their Regional Release Tour to celebrate and promote the release of the flagship Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon for the 2015 vintage.  We attended the Chicago event held at the W Hotel, conveniently located a short walk from the office.

Before dinner we dined at Steadfast in the Kimpton Gray Hotel, another one of Chicago’s celebrated historical buildings. The gray Georgia marble dining room has been granted landmark status by the US Historical Society.

This was our first visit to this new establishment of the Fifty50 Restaurant Group that features New American cuisine in a chic, trendy upscale, chef-driven restaurant. The headliners are two noted up and coming chefs, Chris Teixeria and Ender Oktayuren.

Executive Chef Chris Teixeria was James Beard Award semifinalist in the "Rising Star Chef of the Year" competition for his work at Homestead on the the Roof in 2015.

Chef Ender trained and competed with 5-Time Olympic Medalist Chef Tim Bucci, and was Executive Chef at World of Whirlpool in Chicago and was Garde Manger Sous Chef at Sixteen in Trump Tower and Hotel when they earned their Michelin Star. 

Steadfast is located in the center of the Chicago Loop in Financial District, near the Theater District. The atmosphere is cosmopolitan, high energy, airy and light, but a bit noisy, fitting for the urban setting but not best suited for a business or intimate dinner.

Steadfast offers a carefully selected sufficiently broad winelist for the menu. As usual, we studied the list ahead of time and already had our selection pending any specials or other discoveries once on site. We were looking forward to introducing to fellow diner and 'Pour Boy' Dr Dan a wine featured and collected during our recent Seattle Culinary and Washington Wine Tour and our visit to the Long Shadows Wine Cellars

We wrote in these pages recently of our visit to Long Shadows Winery tasting room in Woodinville, WA and joining their top level wine club to ensure access to their selection of wines crafted by notable world class winemakers. Indeed we intend to share our three case allocation between son Ryan and Dr Dan.  

Hence, I was looking forward to present and showcase to Dan one of the selections, Long Shadows Pedestal Merlot, crafted by Michael Rolland, PhD and winemaker from several of the world's most exclusive wineries from Bordeaux and California. Pedestal Columbia Valley Merlot 2015 is blended w/ Cabernet sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

Alas, Manager and Sommelier Daphne advised us they had just sold their last bottle of Pedestal.  This forced an audible to select another wine suitable for the dinner, but not big, bold and robust so as to overshadow the upcoming tasting to come. 

Being predisposed to drink a Merlot we opted for the Ridge Monte Bello Vineayard Merlot, 2014. 

Ridge Estate Monte Bello Vineyard Merlot 2014

Ridge Monte Bello estate and vineyard sit high atop the Santa Cruz Mountains above Silicon Valley to the east and the Pacific coast just fifteen miles to the west. It lies in the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA, California’s coolest cabernet producing area. The Monte Bello vineyard ranges in elevation from 1300′ to 2700′ above sea level. Its distinctive terroir of soil, elevation, exposure and cool climate, produces wines that are impeccably balanced and capable for long-term aging. They are known for their firm acidity and minerality.

While not in the better known Napa or Sonoma, Monte Bello Vineyard is planted in Bordeaux varietals and the flagship Ridge Monte Bello Label, a Bordeaux Blend, has often been called America’s First Growth, as it has a long history and is one of the finest domestic examples of a classic Bordeaux blend.

This label, branded the Estate Merlot, is 100% Merlot sourced from the famed vineyard. in which cabernet sauvignon predominates.

Winemaker notes: "The 2014 reflects the driest year on record that brought significant water stress to the vineyard. After twenty-one months’ aging in American oak, this complex Merlot has developed wonderfully and will be most enjoyable over the next ten years. 

Saturated ruby color. Ripe cherry fruit, chaparral, black tea, toasted oak, and clove spice. Well-defined mountain fruit entry, rounded tannins, sweet oak, lengthy finish showing limestone character."

We found this dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, bright vibrant forward bold Cherry and Black Berry fruit flavors with sprites of clove spice and black tea, sweet oak and full rounded lingering tannins with bright acidity.

RM 91 points.




Our Entrees:

Steadfast Salmon

Steadfast Pork Chop

Steadfast Diver Scallops

Steadfast Bourimoundie

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Pilcrow Napa Pym-Rae Cabernet at Harry and Izzys

Pilcrow Napa Valley Mt Veeder Pym-Rae Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Visiting Indy and dear friends Eric & Cathy, we dined at Harry & Izzy's steakhouse. Imagine my surprise and delight to see this label on the winelist. Ironically, I brought a Marco Di Guilio Mt Veeder Napa Cab from our cellar to drink before dinner. We all visited Mt Veeder together  during our Napa Valley Mt Veeder Wine Experience 2011.

Recently, I wrote in these pages about Marco Di Guilio Pym Rae Vineyard Cabernet and about the end of an era of Robert Craig sourcing grapes from this vineyard over more than two decades. That was do to the passing of vineyard and estate owner Robin Williams and the sale of the property to a third party.

Meanwhile, in the interim, Sara Beers founded the Pilcrow label sourcing fruit from the property and released this label for two years, the 2014 and 2015 vintages.

Harry and Izzy's is the sister restaurant to legendary St Elmo Steak House, an institution in Indianapolis since 1902. It is named after the owners Harry Roth and Izzy Rosen, longtime friends since High School and partners in St Elmo since 1956. After decades of building St. Elmo Steak House into a hugely successful business, they recently opened Harry and Izzy as a more casual and trendy chic environment.

Earlier in the evening we drank the Marco di Guilio Mt Veeder Progeny Vineyard Cabernet 2001. The ideal drinking window for this wine is probably in between the eighteen year old and the four year old, one probably slightly past its prime but still very much in its acceptable  drinking window, and the other a few years away from reaching its apex.Then at dinner, we found the Pilcrow and naturally jumped at the opportunity to try it.

Pilcrow Napa Valley Mt Veeder Pym-Rae Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2014


See the notes the Mt Veeder Cab below to imagine how this will age over time.

Marco di Guilio Mt Veeder Progeny Vineyard Cabernet 2001

This is one of several vineyard designated select labels from winemaker Marco Di Guilio. At seventeen years, this is probably past its prime but not yet showing any serious diminution from age, but not likely to improve any further.

Consistent with early tasting notes in 2009 and 2011, "Dark inky color. Full bodied, big floral nose. Mouthful of black berry, sweet black raspberry (more predominant a few days later), cedar, spicy oak and a slight hint of anise; full finely integrated polished tannins on a long flavorful finish". The fruit flavors are just beginning to give way to non fruit tones of leather and tobacco leaf. Hence, my review is reduced from 92 to 91 points.

RM 91 points.



Pride Mountain Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2002

Before dinner we also opened this Pride Napa Cab, 2002 from high atop Spring Mountain in the central Mayacamas range on the east facing slopes above St Helena. We visited the winery back in our Napa Wine Experience back in 1999.

This was bright garnet colored, full bodied, bright vibrant forward black berry and black cherry fruits with notes of mocha chocolate and hints of cedar and expresso with smooth silky tannins on a smooth polished lingering finish.

RM 92 points.