Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Paradigm 1995 Oakville Cab

Paradigm 1995 Oakville Cab

My overseas flight arrangements were disrupted and rescheduled so I had four hours to chill before heading back to the airport. I pulled from the cellar a half bottle 'split' of this aged Paradigm Napa Cab to enjoy with some artisan cheese and biscuits. Its convenient to keep on hand 375ml half bottles for occasions where a couple of glasses suffices and opening a full bottle is too much.

Paradigm Oakville Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1995

We tasted and acquired this wine during our Napa Valley Wine Experience visit to the Estate back in 1999. I last wrote in these pages abour Paradigm and our visit in March of this year.

In 2010 I tasted this release and wrote: "Fragrant, soft supple tannin, medium body, the layers of cherry and black currant fruit are being overtaken by earthy leather, licorice, and herbs, with under-currants of spice and cedar."

Three years later, my last notation on this release, I wrote I had consistent tasting experience.

Five years later, at 24 years of age, this wine is showing its age and is in the last phase of its acceptable drinking window.

Tonight, the color is starting to give way taking on a faint and subtle but apparent rust brown tinge. The nose is beginning to take on a slight barnyard dry grass funk, and the fruits are starting to give way further to non fruit notes of earth, smoke, creosote, and leather, with the still apparent notes of licorice, spice and cedar. This was tasted from a 375ml half bottle which may have contributed to the diminution from aging, as smaller bottles age less well than larger format bottles.

RM 86 points,


Sunday, April 28, 2019

Birth-year Wine Commemorate Milestone Event Celebration

Birth-year Wine Commemorate Milestone Event Celebration

Son Alec got engaged and we opened a birth-year vintage special bottle to commemorate the occasion. For our sons' birth-years we hold several full and mixed cases and several large format bottles of their birth-year vintage releases to open for special occasions. For our oldest kids, both married, we served their birth-year vintage release wines in large format bottles at each of their weddings.

Our large format collections were the basis of our wine collection and cellar being featured in the Collector Column in Wine Spectator Magazine back in June 2001.

Tonight we pulled from the cellar a 1990 Napa Valley Silver Oak to toast his and fiancee Viviana's special day. We also opened a fun label toasting Viv, from Venge Vineyards with their signature "V" on the bottle.

Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1990

We acquired several of these bottle at auction over he years to hold for special occasions. Robert Parker's Wine Advocate gave this wine 93 points upon release back in 1994. 

We drank this with some aged ten year old cheddar cheese and then with flank steak dinner with grilled asparagus. 

Still holding its own after 29 years, this is past its prime drinking window but still drinking okay but should be consumed over the next couple years, which we will! 

Dark garnet colored, this is starting to show slight bricking on the rim, medium full bodied, bright vibrant black berry fruit with tones of tobacco, cigar box, cassis, minerals, and spice with overlaying layer of that signature infused oak on the lingering tannin finish.

RM 89 points.


We also opened this recently acquired Venge Chardonnay for the occasion. This was great with baked brie and blueberries with roasted almonds.

Venge Vineyards Carneros Brown Ranch Vineyard 2017

This is from the Brown Ranch Vineyard in the Napa Los Carneros AVA District off of Old Sonoma Road, down at the bottom of Napa Valley where the foothills of the Mayacamas Range reach down to the flatlands just above San Pablo Bay. The area is ideally suited for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with the cool breezes wafting in from the bay.

This was golden straw colored, medium full bodied with big round mouthfeel, bright notes of green apple, tones of pear and citrus with subtle highlights of rich creamy caramel and light butterscotch, honeysuckle and floral, round acidity on the tangy finish.

RM 92 points.



Saturday, April 27, 2019

Gemstone Facets Napa Bordeaux Blend

Gemstone Facets Yountville Napa Valley Red Wine 2005

For a casual Friday evening at home after a long grueling week, and prior to an even more grueling extended business travel trip coming up next week, I pulled this from the cellar for some special enjoyable tasting with Linda with a selection of artisan cheeses. We'll look back on this weekend as a very special milestone in our family befitting this label. 

A unique small production premium label, a Napa Valley Bordeaux Blend, it is packaged in a painted bottle.

I've been saving this for a suitable occasion befitting the brand name.

Only 515 cases were produced of this Proprietary Red Blend. Robert Parker's Wine Advocate gave this 90 points. The blend is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc and 11% Petit Verdot, aged in 100% new French oak for 19 months prior to bottling.

This was dark garnet colored and medium full bodied, bold and bright vibrant, slightly obtuse, black and red currant and ripe plum fruits with accents of bright floral and cedar, mocha chocolate and notes of anise with moderate lingering tannins on the structured finish.

RM 91 points. 


Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter Family Dinner Features WLW Reserve

Easter Family Dinner Features WLW Reserve

The family gathered for Easter dinner featuring Linda's beef tenderloin, haricot verts, and mashed golden potatoes. Ryan and Michelle brought salad and Erin and Johnny brought chocolate bunny cake. Prior to dinner we had shrimp cocktail, assorted cheeses and vegetables and dip.

For salads and pre-dinner Ryan brought a vintage Pierre Paillard Les Maillerettes Champagne and I opened a Stonestreet Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc.  For dinner I pulled from the cellar a twenty year old Whitehall Lane Winery Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

Pierre Paillard Les Maillerettes Champagne Blanc de Noir 2010

This is one of Ryan's favorite Champagnes that he brought from his cellar for the holiday dinner. Blanc de Noir means it is Pinot Noir based vs. Chardonnay based which would be called Blanc de Blanc, the result being bigger and more powerful than Champagnes being Chardonnay based or a blend in between.

This release got 92 points from Vinous and 91 points from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate. 

Parker writes "... sweet cherries, great purity and elegant intensity. Full-bodied, round and fruity on the palate, but pure, fresh and precise, this is a superb Pinot with great elegance and length. Lovely salinity."

This powerful Pinot Noir Champagne comes from a less than 1/2 acre parcel in the grand cru of Bouzy planted in 1970 called Les Maillerettes. These old Pinot vines are the source special selections from the Paillard family and provides bottlings, which will cellar for a long time.

RM 89 points.

Stonestreet Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc 2015

I opened this simple, pleasurable light drinking wine for before dinner or  sipping out on the deck over the course of the delightful spring afternoon. Sauvignon Blanc is one of the purest most natural easy sipping wines which we try to keep on hand for such occasions.

The Winemaker writes about this label, "This Estate Sauvignon Blanc is a blend of several blocks planted at 900 ft. elevation. It displays everything one would expect from Sauvignon Blanc grown at altitude in rock-driven soils: exotic fruit character grounded by serious textural and structural components.

Wine Enthusiast wrote, "Stonestreet consistently delivers complex, refreshing renditions of Sauvignon Blanc. Grassy on the nose, with an exotic tease of pea shoot, it seemingly vibrates on the palate with lemon, grapefruit and apricot flavors."

Straw colored, light medium bodied, this was bright notes of grapefruit and green apple with tones of passion fruit and hints of pear and peach on the tangy finish.

RM 88 points.

Whitehall Lane Winery Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1999

We visited Whitehall Lane Winery on just south of St Helena on St Helena Highway during our Napa Valley Wine Experience 2018. We tasted selections from their broad portfolio including their current release premium Cabernet label.

This was a perfect complement paired with the beef tenderloin, and or it would've gone well with hearty cheeses or the darkest chocolate.

This was dark garnet colored, full bodied, complex and tightly structured with black berry and black currant fruits accented by tones of creosote, earth, leather, dusty charcoal, hints of cedar and oak with firm tannins on the long lingering finish.

RM 92 points.


Reignac Bordeaux Supérieur 2005

Michelle's mother and sister Agnes toured our wine cellar and were eager to taste a Bordeaux Blend. I pulled this Reignac 2005 as a good representative bottle, at thirteen years of age from a good vintage and well rated.

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate liked this release and gave it 93 point. Wine Spectator gave it 90 points.   

This is a blend of 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is from fruit sourced from a large 200-acre vineyard on a high plateau in the Bordeaux Supérieur appellation near the village of Saint-Loubès.

This is dark inky blackish purple, medium full bodied, firm structured black berry and black cherry fruits with notes of tobacco, leather, graphite, spice box, anise, cedar and leather with big, ripe, dusty tannins on a long lingering finish.

RM 90 points.


Saturday, April 20, 2019

Pour Boys Reunion Mini Tasting Cliff Lede and Hall Napa Cabernets

Pour Boys Reunion Mini Tasting Cliff Lede and Hall Napa Cabernets

Fellow wine buddy and 'Pour Boy' Bill C, and Beth, returned from Charleston for the weekend and stopped in for a visit. Bill brought with him a Cliff Lede Stags Leap District 2010 Cabernet to share. We had open from the night before a Hall Napa Cabernet 2006, and we opened a Cliff Lede 2006 for a mini horizontal and vertical tasting.

This was especially fun because both Cliff Lede and Hall have been highlights of several of our Napa Valley Wine Experiences that we have shared together. Some of these highlights are chronicled in the following features:

Rick, Linda, Beth and Bill at Cliff Lede, 2009
Hall Rutherford Estate Cave Tour and Appellation Tasting 2017

Napa Wine Experience 2013 - Hall Rutherford Estate Wine Experience 2013 - (below)
Blogpost at http://unwindwine.blogspot.com/

Cliff Lede Stag's Leap District Vineyard & Winery Visit - Autumn '09 (right)

Later, we also pulled from the cellar a Piedra Hill Howell Mtn Cabernet to round out the flight.

We started the flight with this 2006 Hall Napa Cabernet

Hall Napa Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Back in 2013 and then again in 2015 I gave this label 93 points. This time and the most recent tasting back in February I gave this 92 points, indicating the bright vibrant fruits are starting to give way subtly to the non-fruit accents cited below.

 Consistent with earlier tasting notes when I wrote, "Dark garnet colored, medium to full bodied, a symphony of flavors accented by bold expressive black berry and black raspberry fruits with highlights of anise and mocha with tones of cedar, sweet toasty oak and clove spice and hints of earthy leather turning to a smooth polished lingering finish."

After being opened a day, this is predominant anise licorice and smoke on the black berry fruit with hints of cedar and clove spice on the finish.

RM 92 points.


We then pivoted to the Cliff Lede 2006 release for a mini horizontal tasting (comparing multiple similar wines from the same vintage), and then moved on and added the 2010 release for a mini-vertical (comparing multiple vintages of the same or similar label). Such is the fun of a comparison tasting.

Cliff Lede Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Back in 2014, I wrote this about this release: "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."

Three years later in 2017 I appended my journal with this note, "Consistent with earlier tasting notes, (see). 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.



Cliff Lede Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
We hold this label in our cellar but hadn't as yet tried it so this was a special treat.

Bill published his tasting notes of this day in his Cellartracker posting: "Medium garnet color with a hint of brown. I think this is simply a characteristic of the wine as there is no evidence of diminished quality and the same color characteristic exists in a 2006 Lede consumed side by side. Perfumey nose. Deep, rich and full bodied. Flavors on the palate include milk chocolate, pepper, baking spices and tar. Drinking very well now but plenty of staying power."

WCC 92 points.

We tasted this label together back in 2014 at a dinner hosted by Bill and Beth that was featured in this blogpost, https://unwindwine.blogspot.com/2014/10/select-california-cab-comparison-tasting.html.


Piedra Hill (WH Smith) Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

This is from Bill Smith, the original owner of La Jota, and the current proprietor of W.H. Smith on the Sonoma Coast.

Garnet colored, medium bodied, lighter and softer than I expected from a Howell Mountain Cabernet, core of black raspberry, black cherry, notes of herb, cedar, anise and hints of dark unsweetened chocolate and cappuccino.

RM 88 points.


Tasting at the magnificent Hall Rutherford winery -
Bill, Beth, Rick, Linda, Rodger and Pat
Laurie and Andy, 2013

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Spectacular Wine Flight highlights Etta Restaurant Dinner

Spectacular Wine Flight highlights Etta Restaurant Dinner

Our hosts Mike and son Matt
Friend Mike D flew in from NYC to host a special wine dinner and brought a spectacular wine flight for the occasion. He generously featured a few of his favorites as well as some extraordinary premier labels representing the best of the best of their varietal or appellations and vintages.

This dinner follows an earlier gathering of this group when colleague Matt hosted a dinner with Chef Zubair Mohajir who prepared a Wazwan Supper Club dinner.

Tonight's dinner was held at Etta neighborhood restaurant in trendy Bucktown Wicker Park on the near northwest side of Chicago, one of the hottest new venues in the City.

Etta is the latest sensation of Danny Grant who earned two Michelin stars for RIA Restaurant and who also overseas popular Maple & Ash steakhouse on Chicago's Gold Coast.

“For the Table”

Etta is rustic, bright and lively with large windows and an open patio deck upstairs. The main ground floor dining room is centered around a wood-fired hearth serving wood-fired pizzas, six different house-made pastas, and salads all featuring farm fresh ingredients from locavores across the region, served in their “For the Table” family style.

For the dinner, Mike selected a special menu to accompany and complement the spectacular wine flight featuring a selection of the finest labels from some of the best vintages from a range of old world and new world regions, that he brought from his cellar for the occasion.

The Etta staff provided superb attentive, professional wine service of the BYOB wine

Mike D's wine flight for the occasion
 The menu and wine pairing selections:

First Course  

Second Course

Giuseppe Quintarelli Rosso del Bepi
Veneto IGT Corvina Blend 2002

Soldera (Az. Agr. Case Basse)
Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Sangiovese 2004

Château Mouton Rothschild
Pauillac Bordeaux 2000

Bryant Family Vineyards
Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Glazed Lamb and Big Reds flight

Château d'Yquem
Sauterne Sémillon-Sauvignon Blanc Blend

Tom R and buddy, Owner/proprietor
checking out special menu and wine flight

The Etta proprietor/owner checked in on us and our special menu selection and joined us for a taste of some of our premier labels.

The flight shown below featured a selection of the finest labels from some of the best vintages from a range of old world and new world regions.

Rick Wine Note and Comments:

Pol Roger "Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill" Brut Champagne 2006 

This is a classic special labeling, made only in the very best vintages, from this legendary Champagne house. This label is a blend that is predominantly Pinot Noir, as preferred by the label namesake, Sir Winston Churchill, the exact blend is a closely guarded family secret.

This vintage release got 98 points from Wine Enthusiast, 95 points from Wine Spectator's James Suckling and Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 

Readers of these pages know, while I love Champagne, I do not represent to have a discriminating palette for such, hence I defer to the pundits on such tastings. Robert Parker wrote about this label, "Very clear, precise, ripe and complex bouquet with fruity and refreshingly chalky, nutty and brioche notes. Full-bodied and complex on the palate, the 2006 is supple, round and rich but also fine, elegant, fresh and well structured. It has a harmonious yet tight, persistent and very promising finish that puts this silky textured,  with rich and expressive flavors of peach tart, raspberry sorbet, candied ginger and orange peel, and sleek acidity that leaves a mouthwatering impression on the satiny finish."
92 points from Wine & Spirit - "A classical style of grande marque Champagne, Pol Roger’s tête de cuvée has seamless elegance and clarity of fresh citrus flavor. Rather than minerality and ripe fruit, it’s more about airy fragrance and spicy lemon zest, firm and cool."

Jean-Louis Chavy Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Perrières 2015  

Giuseppe Quintarelli Rosso del Bepi Veneto IGT Corvina Blend 2002 

Rosso del Bepi is named after Valpolicella founding father Giuseppe Quintarelli. The 2002 Rosso del Bepi was a declassified release of their legendary Amarone yet showed the Quintarelli signatures, according to Vinous Anthony Gallous.

This was imported by the legendary Kermit Lynch who brought Loire Valley and many other French wines to America. This is the first non-French label I've seen from them.

Dark garnet color, medium full bodied, more approachable than a fully classified vintage Amarone, never-the-less big, bold, deep and complex yet nicely integrated and balanced black cherry fuits with notes of prune, earth, spice, tobacco leaf, hints of cigar box and vanilla.

RM 90 points.

Soldera (Az. Agr. Case Basse) Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Sangiovese 2004


Mike cited this as his absolute favorite or one of this favorite wines. Anthony Gallon of Vinous gave this 97 points and wrote in his review of this wine, "Soldera’s 2004 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva is just as beautiful as it has always been. Super-refined and finessed, the 2004 is one of the most aristocratic, nuanced wines Soldera has made over the last four decades. I imagine the 2004 will reward readers with several decades of exceptional drinking. It is of course quite young today, but all the elements are so balanced, the wine is pretty much impossible to resist." (AG) 1/2015.

I love Sangiovese, especially with zesty Italian pasta dishes with cheese and bolognese sauces. Unfortunately, this was served with the Spicy meatballs with "Sunday sauce" that was very bold and aggressive and overpowered my pallet and this wine. Thankfully, I begged off finishing the course to save my discernment for the rest of the wine flight. I may tolerate big over the top bold assertive wines, but I'm a wimp when it comes of pepper spices.

Cellartracker consensus score for this wine is 95.2 - high praise, indeed.


Château Mouton Rothschild Pauillac Bordeaux 2000 

A classic First Growth Bordeaux from a classic vintage. Mouton Rothschild of course are known for their artist labels, each vintage release adorning a customized label featuring art from a renowned artist - even the empty bottles are collectors items!  I have a Mouton  Rothschild Artist Series Label Library page devoted to the subject. The 2000 vintage release replaced the painted label with an enamelled illustration of the gold-encrusted Augsburg Ram from the Chateau’s own Museum of Wine in Art. 

This release was awarded 97 points by Wine Enthusiast, 96 points by  Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 95 points by Vinous and Wine & Spirits, 94 points by Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, 93 points James Suckling and Wine Spectator.

Dark blackish ruby garnet colored, medium full bodied, complex but balanced and polished with black fruits accented by smoky cedar, violet, kirsch, coffee and notes of mocha, floral, spice and oak with elegant silky tannins on the lingering finish. 
This is a blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14% Merlot and while balanced, polished and elegant has firm full tannins that should provide graceful aging for fifty years. 

RM 94 points.

Bryant Family Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 

Another classic label, from Napa Valley, Bryant Family Vineyards from Pritchard Hill, in the neighborhood of exclusive legendary cult-producers Harlan, Screaming Eagle and Colgin, and more earthly yet respectable premium labels David Arthur and Del Dotto's newest ultra-premium brand and label from their new property Villa Del Lago.

This 2009 Bryant Family release got 97-98 points from Wine Spectator's James Suckling, 97 points from Vinous, and
96 points from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, Wine Enthusiast and Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, and 95 points from Wine Spectator. (I share these metrics because many of us find our preferences align with certain reviews and it provides a good basis of comparison). 

Robert Parker cited this is a candidate for 'wine of the vintage'. Wine Spectator cited it a "Cellar Selection" as a notable Collectable.

Dark garnet colored, full bodied, rich concentrated and powerful yet elegant and polished with nicely balanced and integrated bright vibrant blackberry, plum and black currant fruits with tones of spice, oak, mocha, expresso and hints of cassis and cedar turning to a firm but silky smooth long lingering finish. 

RM 96 points.  

For all the pomp and fist pumping through the flight, while some of the other wines were more complex, or richer or more concentrated fruit, this had the best balance of complexity and pure enjoyment of bold vibrant flavors, my favorite of the evening! Not surprising perhaps that California Napa Cabernets represent the largest holding in our cellar.

Penfolds Grange (Hermitage) Shiraz/Syrah Blend 2005  

It is always a treat and special pleasure to taste Penfolds Grange. In the photo above of flight of the Big Reds above, this one is on the right, based on tasting order of lightest to heaviest, most concentrated wines. I suggested that tasting order and it proved to be correct, being the biggest and most concentrated, complex of the Big Red portion of the tasting flight. This is a style we love and hold much of in our cellar. Its a bit over the top for some, but a style we favor.

Penfolds Grange is the 'First Growth' wine of Australia if there was such as designation. Penfolds Grange has been Australia's classic premium label going back to the 1950s, it is highly sought after by collectors. It has been listed as a "Heritage Icon of South Australia."

 One of my prized holdings in my wine cellar is a OWC (Original Wood Case) of this label from the 1990 vintage, designated Wine of the Year by Wine Spectator, and birthyear of son Alec. I still remember picking that case up at Berry Brothers & Rudd wineshop in London and carrying it back on the plane! So it was back in the day!

Another fond memory of this wine was tasting it with Penfolds Grange Global Ambassador, DLynn Proctor. What fun to meet DLynn in person having enjoyed watching his pursuit of his Master Sommelier Certification in the entertaining documentary movie SOMM which is a feature on Netflix. What irony that I read recently that DLynn is now Wine Director for Fantesca Winery in Napa, one of our favorite collectables.

Folks that have followed this wine over the decades still refer to it as "Hermitage", a moniker if carried from the early years till it was dropped in the early nineties.

This release was awarded 97 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator, and 96 points by James Halliday.  

This vintage release is a blend of 4% Cabernet Sauvignon highlighting the Syrah, aka Shiraz fruit, 85% of which is from the Barossa region of South Central Australia with the remaining proportions coming from McLaren Vale and Coonawarra.

Dark inky garnet colored, rich concentrated, full bodied, Wine Spectator describes the nose as "a bit animal with some smoked game, mincemeat and bacon notes'. The fruit is ripe blackberry and black currant with a hint of blueberry with notes of tar, coffee, earth, black truffles, anise and hints of pepper and spice on the long finish of fine grain nicelly integrated tannins and crisp acidity.

RM 95 points.

Château d'Yquem Sauterne Sémillon-Sauvignon Blanc Blend 1990  

This Classic First Growth Bordeaux dessert wine is pure nector in a glass. From the historic 1990 'vintage of the century' that was provided no less than three Wine Spectator 'Wines of the Year' (1992,93,94).

This vintage release was awarded 99 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 96 pointsby Wine Advocate's Neal Martin, and 95 points by Wine Spectator and 94 points by Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar.

Parker wrote that this "is one of the richest Yquems I have ever tasted, with 50-100 years of potential longevity. An awesome Yquem! Anticipated maturity: 2003-2050+"

Medium gold honey colored, full bodied, unctuous, concentrated and layered but superbly balanced and elegant, spice, honey and dried orange peel aromas. flavors of caramel, toffee, honey with smokey notes. extraordinary sweetness cut by harmonious acidity on the long finish that lingers for a minute or more.

RM 94 points.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Del Dotto Giovanni's Tuscan Reserve 1999

Del Dotto Giovanni's Tuscan Reserve 1999 For Celebration Dinner

For Dr Keith's 98th birthday, the family hosted a gala celebration dinner and I took BYOB a magnum of this twenty year old '99 vintage wine to commemorate his 99th year. We hosted the dinner at Theo's in Highland, IN just across the border attended by 36 kids, grandkids and great-grandkids. The Tuscan blend was a great complement to the aged steaks and ribs that most of us ordered.

Del Dotto, being a family owned and operated business and a favorite destination in Napa Valley that many of our family members have enjoyed, its a natural and customary selection for our family dinner. Del Dotto is one of the largest holdings in our wine cellar and has been the highlight of several of our Napa Valley wine experiences including our Napa Valley Wine Experience 2018. and our Del Dotto Piazza Delicacies Food and Wine Experience in 2017.
 Del Dotto Giovanni's Tuscan Reserve 1999

Our last tasting of this wine was ten years ago, back in 2009 in its tenth year, on June 7th, mother Evelyn's Birthday, another similar occasion for this wine selection, when I wrote, "Medium bodied, blackberry, black cherry fruit, leathery cedar and black tea on the moderate tannin finish."

RM 88 points. 

Tonight's tasting experience was consistent with my notes commemorating that earlier tasting. Ten years older and later, this was still drinking well, showing no diminution of age, albeit not likely to improve with any further aging. We served this from a magnum which likely contributed to its aged condition, as large format bottles tend to age better, longer.




Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Hidden Ridge 55 Degree Slope Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Hidden Ridge 55 Degree Slope Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Pulled this bottle from the cellar for mid-week dinner with grilled burgers. This label was produced by noted winemaker Marco DiGuilio, whose wines we own under his own and several other labels dating back two decades. The vineyard site sits high in the Mayacamas Mountains on the western side of the range on the eastern slope overlooking the Sonoma Valley side of the mountain. It is named for the steep slope of the mountainside which contributes to extreme drainage which contributes to the stressing of the vines resulting in rich concentrated grapes.

This is a collaboration project of Marco and Timothy Milos, successor and consulting winemaker for the property. Timothy has worked for Stags Leap, Opus One, Anderson Vineyard, and Cliff Lede Vineyards. He works with Marco DiGiulio on projects in Napa and Sonoma counties, making wine for several luxury brands.

In addition to Hidden Ridge Vineyard in Sonoma County, he also works for one of our favorite Mayacamas Mountain-top discoveries, Rubissow Wines, whom we visited during our Napa Valley Mt Veeder Wine Experience in the Spring of 2011.

Hidden Ridge Vineyard is nicknamed, the "Impassable Mountain" because it took ten years to develop due to the 55% slope of the ridgetops. The Hidden Ridge Vineyards consist of 21 blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon in some of the most isolated areas of the Mayacamas Mountain Range along the Napa-Sonoma County line - located at 38 29'50.95 N, 122 34'09.40 W.

In an enclosed valley on steep mountainside slopes with eastern, southern and northern exposures. The terraced slopes and lean soils challenge and stress the vines resulting in small - berried intense fruit.

I first discovered this wine at Morton's Steakhouse in Crystal City, Arlington, near Washington DC where it was available by bottle or by the glass. During the ensuing years we enjoyed the 05, 06 and then the '07 vintages there. We also picked up the '05 at BRIX in Napa and tasted at dinner during our Mt Veeder appellation trip in the Napa and Sonoma Mt Veeder area.

Like the earlier vintages this is dark garnet colored,  full bodied and concentrated rich with layers of dark berry fruits with notes of anise, mocha and tones of that Mayacamas signature cedar and camphor or eucalyptus before turning to dried herb, tobacco and tea on the lingering silky tannin finish. 
RM 91 points.



Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Les Tourelles de Longueville 2001

Les Tourelles de Longueville 2001

Les Tourelles de Longueville is the second wine of Château Pichon-Longueville Baron, a Second Growth estate of the Pauillac appellation. Les Tourelles is named after the château’s distinctive turrets.

In the 19th century the impressive looking chateau with multiple turrets and grand grounds was part of a larger estate that included Chateau Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. In 1850 the estate was divided in two -  the current Pichon Longueville Baron, often nicknamed Pichon Baron, and Comtesse de Lalande.

The domaine belonged to the Pichon family until 1933 when it was sold to the Bouteiller family. It was managed by their descendants for the next fifty years until it was sold to the French Insurance conglomerate AXA Millésimes in 1987. AXA invested in a significant renovation program of the château, the wine cellars and the technical installations. They hired Jean-Michel Cazes of Lynch-Bages to supervise the vineyards and winemaking.

The property has 168 acres of vineyards that produce about 35,000 cases a year. The blend is usually about 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc.

This property’s wines are nowadays considered amongst the most renowned of Pauillac. Les Tourelles de Longueville, formerly the second wine, has become a separate cru. Les Tourelles de Longueville comes from a vineyard that is adjacent to the legendary First Growth Château Latour.

The Pichon's were top wines of the just released 2016 vintage and were highlights of the recent release tasting at the UGCB. This second wine of the portfolio can represent great value in excellent vintages when all boats rise with the tide.

This was tasted from a 375ml half bottle.

Dark garnet colored, medium bodied, black fruits with leather, earth, tobacco, herbs and cigar box  - an ideal compliment to midweek grilled steak dinner.

RM 88 points.