Thursday, August 29, 2019

Poggio al Tesoro Bolgheri Superiore Sondraia 2015

Poggio al Tesoro Bolgheri Superiore Sondraia 2015

For a business dinner downtown, I dined at my usual dependable dinesite, Italian Village, Chicago. Its my regular routine site for business dinners for a number of reasons - its a short walk from the office, its in the center of Chicago's loop, its reliable and dependable, its got a broad variety with three restaurants under one roof, and I know the staff there as a 'regular' and I can depend on impeccable service. I also know the restaurant so well, that when I plan on dining there, I'll invariably specify which particular table I prefer, depending on the occasion, number of diners, and the desired mood for the event.

Tonight, I hosted two valued business partners visiting from Europe and India, so Italian dining was a safe and acceptable cuisine.

As usual I left the wine choice to Wine Director and wine buddy, Jared Gelband who often has a special wine to showcase or share. Often these wines are or are not on the winelist, perhaps because they are new, or on trial, or not available in sufficient quantity to make the list, or other reasons. Sometimes, he shares a taste of a special bottle that is being served for a very special occasion.

In any event, Jared knows my tastes, preferences, and budget and always has something to offer. Tonight was no exception. I don't know if this wine is on the wine list, but it was extraordinary and worthy of checking out, and going out and buying some if you can find it.

Poggio al Tesoro Bolgheri Superiore Sondraia 2015

This is a Bordeaux Blend. I would've failed identifying this as an Italian wine opting for a California Cabernet with its rich full bodied rich ripe sweet fruit. It presented a residual sweetness almost extreme for a Bordeaux blend but much to my liking. Complex, full bodied, elegant, balanced with nicely integrated fruit, notes of mocha and cinnamon spice, it has a long lingering finish of silky smooth gripping tannins.

This profile would probably be too much for most, especially Bordeaux enthusiasts, but I found it wonderfully delicious and perfectly matched to the brown sauce of my Veal Marsala at Italian Village Chicago.

RM 93 points. 

Records show we also tasted this label back in February. A rather new label, be on the look out for this and be prepared for it to be in short supply, or for the price point to increase as it becomes popular. 

The blend is 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc.

From Tuscany, it is known as a 'Super Tuscan'. This is from the Italian producer Allegrini who are primarily known for Amarone's.

The Allegrini family acquired the 170 acre Bolgheri property with the Poggio al Tesoro vineyard in 2002. It was the first vineyard bought by the Allegrinis.

The Le Sondraie site sits next door to the legendary Ornellaia vineyard, It was previously rented before the acquisition. The 125 acres vineyard is planted in Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and a small amount of Vermentino.

The winemakers are Nicola Biasi and Lorenzo Fortini.
 Most of the Cabernet Sauvignon fruit for this blend was sourced from the seven acre Via Bolgherese vineyard which lies 56 metres above sea level. The terroir consists of well drained coarse red sand and gravel,  and a layer of clay at a depth of 120cm. The Merlot, Cabernet Franc and the remaining Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend are sourced from the 30 acre Le Sondraie vineyard situated 35 metres above sea level. The well draining soil is a mixture of clay and sandy silt, with high levels of magnesium and iron.



Sunday, August 25, 2019

Constant Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 1998

Constant Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 -
The adventure, joy, and perils of holding vintage wine for a couple decades or more ...

Son Ryan came over for the evening and we went down and dug deep into the cellar to pull out this aged 1998 vintage release Constant Diamond Mountain Vineyards Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. We acquired this wine at the Estate during our Napa Valley Wine Experience back in 2011. My early blogpost of our visit to Constant Diamond Mtn Vineyard was here.

Bill & Beth, Bill & Jan, the late Freddie Constant,
Linda and me.
I’ve written often about the 1998 vintage Napa Cabernets. It was widely panned as being a subpar vintage, especially after the much heralded block buster ’97. As a result, prices on the 98 releases were lower, especially after a couple of years when 98’s were still sitting on the shelves and the vintage was considered lackluster relative to the range of choices of more favored releases.

Lo and behold, IMHO this represented an opportunity to pick up quality wines at bargain prices when compared to the higher price points on the highly rated releases. Ironically, a decade, and now two decades later, those wines were and are often tasting very nicely and in some cases are on par equivalent to some of the other vintage releases.

Often, ‘off’ vintages can provide great QPR (Quality Price Ratios). Of course, perhaps just as often, off vintages are just that, ‘off’ in terms of quality in some way or other, due to whatever shortcomings that vintage suffered, excessive heat, not enough rain at the right times, or too much rain at the in-opportune times, all suppressants to the realized quality of fine wine.
This disparity was magnified perhaps by the fact that the much heralded 97 vintage in many cases, never achieved its lofty accolades and expectations – too closed, too tight, too subdued, or some other diminution of expectations.

Perhaps its time will come as the ‘lesser’ 98 reaches and surpasses its prime drinking window and eventually end of life, while the 97, a longer lived vintage, lives on, and perhaps still realizes the apex of its potential, late in life. It can happen. . So, caveat emptor. Don’t be afraid to invest in ‘off’ vintages. The price differential can be significant with savings of 50% or more.

Often, only in such years are some of the higher rated, ranked wines approachable or affordable. Take advantage to experiment, if you dare. You might be mightily rewarded. Or, your lowered expectations will be met.

Another related point, my wine buddies have heard me talk about my experience with a case of Dominus Proprietary Red Wine that I purchased on release back in 1986. Dominus, the Napa Valley project of legendary Bordeaux owner/producer/winemaker Christian Moueix often trades at super premium prices, and tends to be a long lived wine, in the tradition and style of sophisticated, complex Bordeaux’s.

Those early Dominus labels featured pencil sketch drawings of Christian Moueix on the labels for the first decade, up until the 1991 vintage release.

With that 1986 Dominus, I was patient, and waited, and opened a bottle of the 1986 around 1989 or 90. It was lackluster, rather closed and tight. I waited another couple years with the same effect. This exercise was repeated several more times until about 2006, when at twenty years of age, two decades, it showed complexity, polish, balance, breadth and depth – the attributes of its true character and potential one might hope for or expect from the pedigree’d label. Alas. That is what Dominus is supposed to taste like. But then, ahah, I only had three bottles left to experience its magnificence.

While its fun to enjoys one’s investment in a cellar, with case lots of wine, to experience how a wine will age and mature and hopefully improve over time, there is the real risk of drinking your wine too early, or holding it too long. I now realized I drank many of my Bordeaux from quality 1980’s era vintages too young. But, I also fairly often come across a bottle that I held on to too long, especially if it got overlooked or lost in the cellar, or just got passed over too many times for something more appealing or exciting. Such is the art of collecting fine wines.

Most folks would think that we hold onto our wines too long and drink them too late. Count my wife, Linda in those ranks. We look at it as part of the adventure.

Constant Diamond Mountain Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1998

My previous tasting of this label was in March of this year when I had a similar tasting experience and wrote: "Some bottles of this vintage are at or nearing their end of life and need to be consumed. While at the end of or past its prime drinking window, this bottle was still holding its own, maintaining its fruit and some of its terroir character and profile.'

"Dark garnet colored with some slight bricking in color, medium bodied, the black fruit is giving way to notes of earth, spice, leather and hints of vegetable with modest tannins. Time to drink up but this was still pleasant drinking."

Tonight, this 1998 Constant was drinking very nicely – probably as good as ever, and most assuredly not likely to improve any with further aging, and very likely to start to diminish from this point forward.

Not for the casual feint of heart drinker, son Ryan and I enjoyed it and its ‘maturity’ immensely, and we opened something more ‘youthful’, or ‘approachable’ for Linda and the others.
Bon chance!  

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

PORTER Kitchen & Deck Chicago Riverfront Dining

PORTER Kitchen & Deck Chicago Riverfront Dining

For a global team meeting of one the portfolio product teams, we dined at Porter Kitchen & Deck on the Riverside Plaza just up-river (Chicago) from our offices.

Porter Kitchen & Deck advertises that they feature American cuisine and classic cocktails in an elegant and relaxed setting.

Like our offices, Porter is located along the edge of the Chicago River, and from tableside and its Riverside patio, it offers spectacular views of the north loop and River North cityscapes from its setting opposite Wolf Point at the junction of the three branches of the Chicago River.

The location of Porter Kitchen and deck offers views of some of the most interesting and exciting architecture in the city including the award winning and highly acclaimed 150 North Riverside Plaza building in which it is situated. The building dramatically cantilevers from a center base to extend out over the front and riverfront appearing as if it might tip over. The site on the riverfront offers not only great scenery but also a front row seat of the bustling riverfront and boat traffic which on this summer evening was a non-stop parade of tour boats, water taxis, luxury and sporting pleasure boats and industrial barges as well as kayaks and small boats darting around the traffic like water bugs on the surface.

That Wolf Point location is at the junction or intersection of the three branches of the Chicago River,  which is the basis for the 'Y' on the City of Chicago official logo, representing the junction of the North and South branches of the river where it meets the east branch that connects with Lake Michigan. 

The logo is called the "Chicago municipal device", as set forth and defined in the Chicago municipal code:

 “The municipal device, for use by the varied unofficial interests of the city and its people, shall show a Y-shaped figure in a circle, colored and designed to suit individual tastes and needs.”

The "Y" symbolizes the Chicago River’s three branches, created in 1892 for a Chicago Tribune contest. In 1917 the City Council made the flag, seal and municipal device official city symbol. It can be seen in municipal and commercial buildings around the city. Certain City agencies have it as part of their logo or inscription.

Perhaps the most famous or best known use of the "Y" is embedded in the sign of the famous Chicago Theatre (shown above).

View from our office, 150 N Riverside Plaza
is top of river on left, opposite the construction
tower at Wolf Point.

We have views of the Wolf Point site from our 28th floor offices, lobby, board room and conference rooms looking up the river (shown left).

Located in the new 54-story skyscraper on the edge of the Chicago River, Porter Kitchen & Deck features classic American cuisine in a trendy, elegant and relaxed setting in a prime location.
They offer somewhat limited lunch, dinner and bar selections include entrées, fresh seafood, salads and sandwiches. The Porter bar serves craft beers and classic cocktails along with a limited selection of WBTG (wines by the glass) and a narrow, limited, sharply focused wine list.
The restaurant, while located in a central convenient location, is awkward and a bit confusing in its access. While it is visible at river level when crossing the Randolph Street bridge, you can't access the restaurant directly from the street-level sidewalk. Nor can you descend the outdoor staircase where the restaurant's logo appears on a signage for the building and other primary tenants, because the door at the bottom is locked. To access the restaurant, one walks inside the office building, and if you're paying attention so as not to overlook it, turn immediately right to a poorly marked elevator bank, where you descend down to the riverside level and restaurant.

Breathtaking architecture of 150 North Riverside -
Porter Kitchen and Deck riverfront setting -
Photo courtesy TripAdvisor
Porter describes its food as "American," an accurate characterization, but the selection is rather limited and unimaginative. So too is the winelist. Fittingly, their description of themselves is accurate and sums it up, "New American cooking, martinis and craft cocktails."

Porter describes its food as "American," an accurate characterization, but the selection is rather limited and unimaginative. So too is the winelist. Fittingly, their description of themselves is accurate and sums it up, "New American cooking, martinis and craft cocktails."

Naturally, being a wine guy who generally selects a restaurant based on its wine list, or BYOB policy, this would not be my choice or on my select list except for a business focused lunch or dinner. In those circumstances, I would likely rule it out as it borders on the side of being noisy, even boisterous, offering little chance for a serious business discussion over the cacophony.

Never-the-less, our food and accompanying wine selections were adequate and suitable for the occasion starting with a Oregon Chardonnay for an opener.

Bethel Heights Estate Eola-Amity Hills Chardonnay 2014

Pale gold color medium bodied, pleasant easy drinking, crisp, nice purity, notes of white peach, melon, lemon and hints of lychee and mineral, with a clean and refreshing finish. 
90 pts.
This was pleasant and refreshing with our starters and salad course.

We then moved on to a full red with or entree courses.

Enrico Serafino Barolo 2013

Strangely, the winelist was narrow with a few limited selections of Pinot Noirs and a couple of selections of Cabernet and Merlot. Then, there was this Italian Nebbiolo which offered an interesting 'best buy', decent QPR (quality price ratio) based on the slim offerings. 

Wine Spectator gave this wine 92 points and wrote: "A polished red, displaying tobacco, eucalyptus and muted cherry flavors, backed by a dense matrix of tannins. All the components are here, but this needs a few years to integrate and mellow. Best from 2021 through 2033. (BS)"

John Downing, K&L Wine Shop Staff Member  wrote this review:
The Serafino 2013 Barolo seems hidden within our Italian section yet is one of the better Barolo values going. It is both wonderful to open now or to place in the cellar a few more years. It's sure to please those looking for a very well-priced Barolo as well as anyone wanting to try Barolo for the first time. 

I liked it and found it pleasant and suitable drinking for my burger entree selection.

RM 91 points.

I'll defer to fellow Cellartrackers who offered these perspectives on this label:

Bright, light cherry colour, great nose from long distance on pour - violets, white pepper, liquorice and fresh tar, complex and volatile (in a good way), slightly underripe but refreshing cherries on palate, great balance with subtle grip, complexity carries through finish of red fruits into tobacco and black pepper.
Excellent wine with notes of red and dark fruit with tobacco. Flavor changes dramatically with oxygen. Will be excellent in a few years time.
Nose of dried cherries, flint, touch of garrigue. Mouth feel is dry with astrigent tannins. Some red fruit but overpowered at this point by large amount of barrique. Will be more balanced and amazing in 4-5 years.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Goosefoot Chicago Anniversary Celebration Dinner

Goosefoot Chicago for Anniversary Celebration Dinner

For our anniversary, we took a getaway weekend to the City (Chicago) and dined at Michelin star goosefoot® restaurant. Goosefoot is BYOB which we prefer since we can bring our own selection of wines from our extensive cellar, and drink better wines that are much better than are available on all but a few winelists, or that we might not otherwise be able to afford or justify at restaurant winelist prices.

We stayed in the city at the Westin Riverfront Chicago, a wonderful setting with river views and locale to trendy restaurants, sites and museums. We spent Sunday afternoon at the spectacular Art Institute of Chicago and toured the special Manet exhibition.


goosefoot is a modern fine-dining BYOB concept restaurant in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood owned and operated by Chef Chris Nugent and wife Nina since 2011.

The name goosefoot® is not due to a fondness for feathered friends or feet, but rather, is based on a passion to cook with the highest quality seasonal ingredients grown and sourced from small artisan farms.

Chef Chris and Nina explain: "A goosefoot® or chenopodium genus is actually a plant family of great significance to the culinary world. There are 150-varieties in the family and some of the species in the genus have leaves that resemble the foot of a goose. A few of our favorites are: Chioggia beets, strawberry blite, Swiss chard, Bull’s Blood, Bordeaux spinach, lamb’s quarters, red orach, epazote and quinoa."

Nina Nugent designed the interior of goosefoot® to reflect Chef Chris Nugent’s food: "think classic yet modern, nuanced, approachable and convivial. Like the food and service, the guests will find surprises and detours through the interior."

This weekend that we dined there was the fiftieth anniversary of the Woodstock music festival in New York. The restaurant was adorned with relics of the flower power movement, videos of the rockfest, and music from the period. 

Chris Nugent grew up in a restaurant family in Endicott, New York. As a youngster, upon losing his parents, he lived with chef John Daly and worked at the acclaimed Drovers Inn, an upscale classic French Restaurant in Vestal, New York.

He studied at Johnson and Wales University, College of Culinary Arts in Providence, Rhode Island, and after graduating, he worked at several fine restaurants, including Boston’s Radius, and Tru, Grace, and Zealous in Chicago. We used to be great fans of Zealous during its heyday. In 2009, Nugent was invited by two-Michelin star chef John Campbell to spend time in his kitchen at The Vineyard at Stockcross, located in England.

Chef Nugent worked at some of Chicago's finest restaurants including  Prairie, Mid-America Club, MK, and Park Avenue Café and honed his craft under highly acclaimed chefs Stephen Langlois, Andre Bienvenu, James Beard award winners Rick Tramonto, David Burke, Michael Schlow and Michael Kornick. 

Chef Nugent’s first executive chef position was at Bêtise in Wilmette, Illinois in 2001.

In 2005, Nugent became executive chef at Les Nomades in Chicago where he earned rave reviews and accolades. We also dined at Les Nomades during this period for a special gala celebration dinner. Zagat Survey said of Les Nomades,  “Number one for food in Chicago”, 2010/2011. Under Nugent’s leadership, Les Nomades received ‘four stars’ from the celebrate Mobil Travel/Forbes Guide, and AAA ‘Four Diamond Award’, 2005 through 2011. Chicago Tribune Dining Awards ‘Best Classic Restaurant,’ Phil Vettel, 2011 – Chicago Sun-Times Restaurant of the Year, Pat Bruno 2010 – James Beard ‘Best Chef-Great Lakes’ semi-finalist, 2010 and 2011. Phil Vettel awarded chef Nugent ‘four stars’ in the Chicago Tribune, and Pat Bruno, Chicago Sun-Times, ‘three and a half stars’ in 2009. Chef Nugent received ‘three and a half stars’ from Chicago Magazine and was awarded ‘Rising Star Chef of the Year’ from Magazine in 2008. Nugent’s first fan, Sherman Kaplan of North Shore Magazine, gave him a perfect ‘K-Rating’ of ’20/20′ in 2005.

At goosefoot®, Nugent crafts seasonally inspired menus, a blend of disciplined French technique and 'a passionate forward thinking modern vision', showcasing the restaurant’s relationships with regional small artisan farmers.

The goosefoot® multi-course menu:

diver scallop/lemongrass/coconut/lobster
roasted corn soup/crab/potato/sunflower froth
nina’s pasta/truffle/parmesan/pecorino
spring angus beef
yuzu/apricot/naartjie/olive oil
“goosefoot®” vanilla/matcha tea/truffle/rose hip/pink peppercorn
boysenberry/cacao nibs/cassia buds/caramelized almonds/elder flower/56% chocolate
goosefoot® chocolate

For the special dinner occasion, we pulled from our cellar a selection of several wines and Champagne. Prior to dinner, we drank 'L' Champagne by VDVeuve Doussot at the hotel with snacks and cheese enjoying the river views from our executive suite. For dinner, we drank a selection of wines we brought from our cellar, selected to match to the extensive food courses: Fantesca Russian River Chardonnay, Marquis Philips (Mollydooker) Integrity Shiraz, and Suduiraut Sauterne.

The dinner courses:

diver scallop/lemongrass/coconut/lobster

roasted corn soup/crab/potato/sunflower froth

nina’s pasta/truffle/parmesan/pecorino
spring angus beef
yuzu/apricot/naartjie/olive oil

“goosefoot®” vanilla/matcha tea/truffle/
rose hip/pink peppercorn
boysenberry/cacao nibs/cassia buds/caramelized
almonds/elder flower/56% chocolate

The wines:

Fantesca Estate Sonoma County Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2009

We acquired this label during one of our visits to the Fantesca Estate on Spring Mountain in Napa Valley. We visited Fantesca in 2009, 2011, and in 2007, and hosted producer Dwayne Hoff in Chicago back in 2006.

This label is produced by the legendary winemaker Heidi Barrett and was her first Chardonnay project. World-renowned winemaker Heidi Barrett has been dubbed ‘the first lady of wine’ and ‘the Queen of Cult Cabernet’ by top wine critic Robert Parker. She has been honored with five 100-point scores from the major critics during her career. Heidi is well-regarded for the exceptional finesse and quality of the wines she has crafted over the years.

In addition to Fantesca, she also consults to notable producers Amuse Bouche, Paradigm, Lamborn,  and has her own labels, La Sirena and Barrett & Barrett. She has worked previously with Screaming Eagle, Dalla Valle, Jones Family, Grace Family, Vineyard 29, David Arthur, Barbour Vineyards and Showket.

We first met producers Dwayne and Susan Hoff when they acquired the Spring Mountain property in St Helena and created Fantesca. Dwayne visited us in Chicago during one of his early promotion tours for the 2004 release of Fantesca Cabernet. We visited the winery several times during our Napa Wine Experiences. We hold a vertical collection of more than a dozen vintages of Fantesca and their Chardonnay is one of our favorites.

Golden straw color, brilliant clarity. aromas of subtle floral, accents of pear, green apple and lychee, hints of fresh citrus, nicely balanced,  luxurious mouthfeel with refreshing nice, crisp acidity,

RM 92 points.

Marquis Philips 'Integrity' Mclaren Vale Shiraz 2001

This is the premium release from Marquis Philips, precursor to Mollydooker. and their Velvet Glove premium label. We acquired this at auction a decade ago ... packaged in special gift box - awaiting a suitable occasion for gifting or serving ... OTBN - Open That Bottle toNight! 

This got over-the-top 99 and 97 point ratings from Parker who called it 'virtually perfect'. 

Back in the day, winemaker and producers Sarah and Sparky Marquis considered this the finest they had ever produced. 

We hold a couple dozen bottles of their wines dating back two decades. 

Ironically, we hosted Aussie colleague Peter F this weekend in Chicago and it turns out he is a personal friend of Sparky back in Adelaide South Central Australia! 

Integrity packs a walloping 16.2% alcohol but didn't come across as the least bit overpowering. Parker cited the anticipated maturity out to 2020 so it was supposedly still at but nearing the end of its apex. 

Inky dark garnet purple color, full bodied, big rich concentrated and multi-dimensional, but not as big, forward or unctuously rich as some that we have had, the fruit was also a bit more subdued than expected, black berry fruits accented by white floral, cassis, leather, tobacco, tea and hints of vanilla with fine smooth silky tannins on a long finish. Perhaps the fruit has subsided over the almost two decades. 

RM 93 points. 

Château Suduiraut 1er Cru Classe Sauterne 2002

We enjoy sweet unctuous desert wines with salads, cheese or deserts. This was a nice finisher, a perfect complement to the final course. 

This is a classic Sauterne, a blend of Semillon (94 %) and Sauvignon Blanc (6 %). Château Suduiraut is considered to be one of the finest Sauternes.

The history of Château Suduiraut, dates back to the 1600’s. It was classified as a Premier Cru during the official 1855 wine classification programme. The French conglomerate AXA Millésimes acquired Suduiraut in 1992. 

Golden honey, dark amber colored, full bodied yet delicate, nicely balanced fruit and floral aromas, complex roasted and candied notes of apple, vanilla and honey, medium sweetness and a long smooth silky finish.  Not as sweet and unctuous as some vintages, the fruit is more subdued lacking the apricot nectar and honey of some vintages. This showed plenty of botrytis, with predominate notes of smoke, marzipan, almond, ripe apple, and hints of vanilla on the tongue cloying finish.

RM 91 

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate rated this wine 90-93 points, Wine Spectator, 90 points.

Linda and me, anniversary night.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Lewis Ethan's Syrah - Piazza Del Dotto Sangiovese

Lewis Cellars Ethan’s Syrah 2016 Del Dotto Sangiovese 2015 Angeli's Italian

As a warmup, but prior to going into the city for our anniversary weekend getaway, we dined at our favorite local neighborhood trattoria Angeli's Italian. We took BYOB two of our favorite easy drinking wines for the occasion. We were joined by son Sean and Michelle. 

The two of our favorite wines that we took are both drinking superbly at this time and while young, they will not likely improve significantly with further aging. I wrote recently about the joy's and challenges of selecting wines at the right time during their aging profile.

Piazza Del Dotto Napa Valley Sangiovese 2015 

We tasted and acquired this wine during our Del Dotto Estate Cave Tour and Tasting last year. 

A perfect complement to the Angeli's Italian cuisine, this Italian varietal Sangiovese from Napa Valley has become our 'go-to' wine as our regular BYOB selection when dining there. It goes especially well with two of my favorite regular dishes there, the Veal Marsala and the Portabello Mushroom Ravioli, both with a brown sauce.

This was delicious and everyone loved it making me wish I had more than the single case we  acquired on release.
I did acquire more, albeit of the follow on 2016 vintage during our visit to Piazza Del Dotto during our Napa Wine Experience 2018
Our first recorded tasting note of the 2015 was when we first took it BYOB to Angeli's
My notes from a previous tasting three months ago. "This was dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, this was delicious with sweet ripe raspberry fruits accented by notes of vanilla and almond with supple smooth silky tannins on the lingering finish.

RM 92 points.

We added another favorite wine to the special evening ...

Lewis Cellars, Ethans Syrah 2016

Wine Buddy and fellow Pour Boy Bill, and Beth, visited from Charlotte and brought this wine BYOB for our dinner together at Angeli's. We enjoyed it so much I picked up some for the cellar and brought this tonight for our dinner. 

We visited Lewis Cellars together during our  Pour Boys' 2017 Napa Wine Experience

I've often written in these pages about the fun we have with this branding, with its signature 'L' on the label, ala Laverne and Shirley, or wife Linda, or her mother Lucy, or our daughter Erin Leigh, or her daughter, our first grandchild/daughter Lucy!

That coupled with the Hoosier heritage of Randy Lewis, Indy 500 race driver from our native Indiana, and, their affinity to family, naming labels after their grandkids - Alec, Ethan and Mason,  we adopted Alec's Blend as a signature label for son Alec and feature it at family celebrations, we more often than not open Lewis wines for family occasions, such as tonight.

This label, Ethan's Syrah, is made from cooler-climate vines, from mountain fruit crafted from small lots selected from Mt. Veeder and Pritchard Hill at the south end of the Vaca range on the eastern range, and Mayacamas range, respectively, on the western range forming and overlooking Napa Valley in between. 

Lewis Cellars Syrah is a nod to the great Rhône wines it's modeled after. It is aged in American oak. 

We love Lewis' style of big, spicy, concentrated wines that are balanced, yet full of black fruit and mature, mouth-coating tannins.

This was stunningly good. Dark inky blackish purple, full bodied, concentrated, rich, the 100% Syrah fruit explodes in the mouth with flavors of ripe blackberries and blueberries, notes of spice, smoke and toast. and spice, tongue coating, chewy tannins on the long finish. Spectacular! 

RM 94 points. 

Winemaker's notes on this wine, "Savory  and  sweet  with  ripe  boysenberry  and  blue  fruit, lavender,  pancetta  and  white  truffle,  it  exudes  an  earthy,  engaging  character.  Vivid,  clean  and focused   on   the   palate,   the   wine  finishes   with  a  flourish  of  mineral   and  white  pepper."

Wine Spectator also gave this 94 points; "Plush yet well-structured, with luxurious blackberry, mocha and smoky spice flavors that build richness toward refined tannins. Drink now through 2025. — T.F."