Saturday, November 30, 2019

Spring Valley Vineyards 'Nina' Syrah 2017

Spring Valley Vineyards is a Family Affair commemorating the line of wines to family members and historic ancestors including 'Nina' Syrah 2017

Part of the joy I get from collecting wine, beyond enjoying the wine, is the blending of wine with history, geography, travel with associated reading, photography and my web blogging.

Spring Valley Vineyards' fun and distinctive branding strategy where each of the labels features a historic member of the family dating back to founder patriarch Uriah Corkrum. The names given to Spring Valley Vineyard wines are a tribute to the family members who have farmed the same land where the vineyard and winery now sit northeast of the town of Walla Walla.

Following the tradition of Uriah, Katherine, Frederick, and Nina Lee Corkrum, Shari Corkrum
Derby and her husband Dean Derby continue to operate the wheat fields, vineyard and winery.
The hard work, traditional values and deep family ties that have kept the ranch going for over
100 years are mirrored in Spring Valley Vineyard’s signature offerings.

We discovered and started collecting Uriah back around 2004 and expanded our collection of Spring Valley wines ever since. We visited the Walla Walla tasting room and then the vineyards northwest of town during our Walla Walla Wine Experience last year.

Uriah Corkrum was born in Walla Walla (Washington) in 1866 and began farming in the 1880s. He lost everything in the depression of 1893 but persevered and, in 1897, acquired land in the area known as Spring Valley that is the site of the vineyards today. Uriah is featured on the flagship label Uriah Spring Valley Red Blend.

Uriah Corkrum’s wife Katherine was a native of Wales who immigrated to Walla Walla Territory in 1897. She and Uriah had four sons, including Frederick Corkrum. She is honored on her namesake label of Katherine Corkrum Cabernet Franc.

Spring Valley produce a Cabernet Sauvignon-based blend that is named for Frederick Corkrum, son to Uriah.

Nina Lee was the wife of Frederick Corkrum. They met while she was performing for her vaudeville troup visiting Walla Walla and performing at a local theater, they married in 1929. She adorns the label of Nina 100% Syrah.

Frederick and Nina has a daughter  Shari, who grew up in Spring Valley.
 Shari Corkrum married Dean Derby in 1954 and their marriage is memorialized with the Derby label, a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. We had the pleasure of meeting Dean Derby during our visit to the vineyards during our Walla Walla Wine Experience last year.

Muleskinner is the label for a 100% Merlot that is named for Frederick Corkrum’s job as the ranch’s head Muleskinner, the person who cared for and drove the mules in all aspects of the farming operation before the advent of the Caterpillar® tractor.

Spring Valley Petit Verdot is named for Sharilee (pronounced Sher’ a lee) Corkrum Derby, granddaughter of Spring Valley founder Uriah Corkrum.

The complete lineup of Spring Valley wines featuring the family member labels is featured in a boxed set. Shown is our set commemorating the 2013 vintage releases.

 Nina Lee Spring Valley Syrah 2017

As noted above, this 100% Syrah is named for the wife of Frederick Corkrum. They met following her vaudeville performance at the local theater in Walla Walla. They married in August of 1929 and began their struggle to stay afloat during the Great Depression.

Following Frederick’s death in 1957, Nina Lee, who didn’t want to depend on anyone for her livelihood, continued to operate the ranch on her own. Nina Lee passed away after 21 years of successful farming.

The 2017 Nina Lee Syrah is primarily a blend of the original block of Syrah planted in 1998 and the ‘Steep Hill’ Vineyard block. The fruit was picked with 30% whole cluster with 2% being Viognier. The wine is very refined and delicate. The blend of 98% Syrah and 2% Viognier was aged 19 months in 100% French oak, 47% new, 53% neutral oak.

Purple garnet colored, medium-full bodied, concentrated blackberry and raspberry fruits with notes of earth, floral violet, mocha, smoke and a hint of pepper and orange zest.

RM 91 points.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving feast and wine flight

Thanksgiving feast and wine flight

We gathered for customary Thanksgiving dinner feast with turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, yams, green bean casserole, brussel sprouts, cranberry salad and fresh baked crescent dinner roles. We served an accompanying wine flight.

From the cellar I pulled a classic Champagne, then a white Bordeaux blend, a California Zinfandel, then friend Jared stopped by and opened a Barbaresco Nebbiolo. Jared Gelband is wine director at the legendary Italian Village restaurant. When he stops by, we can often count on him to bring an interesting label to share and compare.

Bertrand Senecourt Beau Joie Special Cuvee 'Sugar King' Demi-Sec NV Champagne

A blend of 50% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, & 20% Pinot Meunier for the sweetest of champagnes.

This Beau Joie Champagne is distinctive in it's packaging with the bottle 'wrapped' in a basket-like shroud of 100% copper — Triple Black Limited-Edition Bottle. The 'Suit of Armor' is inspired by the Armor worn by the knights that protected the Kingdom.

From their website:

The copper scrap in transformed into artwork – In order to avoid the unnecessary waste of valuable copper, Beau's encasing is uniquely created from 100% second-generation copper scrap and turned into a functional piece of artwork.

Functionality – Beau's innovation-driven, functional design was specifically designed for the hospitality industry. No one knows more about serving the finest products and creating an experience than the industry itself.

Beau’s suit of armor keeps the champagne colder longer, reducing the amount of energy required to bring the bottle to serving temperature and eliminating the need for ice bucket storage during consumption. It also provides improved grip when opening and serving, while the bottle’s rubber punt ensures enhanced stability when pouring.

The bottle’s patented design also allows for decorative enhancements such as flowers or plumes to complement the distinct design aesthetic of individual venues.

Light golden straw colored, light, refreshing, clean, crisp, flavorful, nicely integrated and balanced fruits. Delicious.

RM 92 points.

Château Picque Caillou Blanc, Pessac Leognan, Graves, Bordeaux 2011

We recently pulled from the cellar this white Bordeaux and took it BYOB to local seafood eatery Chinn's 34th Street Fishery in Lisle (IL). As I wrote that night, we hold a half dozen bottles of this White Bordeaux Blanc, too oft overlooked in the cellar, passed over for something more exiting as we're Red Bordeaux drinkers. That night, we pulled this to try and actually brought a back-up wine in case it wasn't up to the call. The gals liked it a lot.

This was a nice accompaniment to turkey, dressing and the potatoes and veggies.

Golden colored with slight brownish hues, nose of citrus and stone, notes of mineral melon with a layer of slightly grassy undertones, yet pleasant with nice balance and acidity. A nice match for the seafood entrees.
Time to drink.

RM 88 points.

Carlisle Sonoma County Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 2014

They say Zinfandel is ideal with turkey, the balanced forward full bodied fruit goes well with the dry white meat. It sounds awkward when it is also ideal for BBQ, but it seems to be so. This zinfandel is supplemented with 11% Petite Sirah.

This wine was highly rated getting 92-94 points from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and Vinous, 93 points from Wine Spectator, and 92 points from Wine Enthusiast. I don't necessarily share their enthusiasm although it was tasty, easy drinking and a nice compliment to our holiday dinner. 

Dark garnet colored, medium-full bodied, bright, expressive forward complex black berry and black raspberry fruits, notes of anise, pepper, hints of vanilla and oak.

RM 91 points.

Friend and wine buddy Jared stopped by and brought this Barbaresco Nebbiolo to share. Readers of this blog will know Jared Gelband as the Wine Director at Italian Village, whom we visit often for wine dinners.

Pertinace (Cantina Vignaioli) Barbaresco Vigneto Marcarini Nebbiolo 2013

This producer Cantina Pertinace is a winegrowers' cooperative which identifies with its territory, the region and DOCG appellation of Barbaresco. The label is named after a great historic local personality, Elvio Pertinace, who was born in Alba, in the hamlet in which the winery is located.

 The winery is located in Pertinace in Treiso, Piedmont, one of the four villages in the Langhe famous for the production of Barbaresco DOCG. The coop and Vignaioli winery was founded in 1973 and is comprised of thirteen members. They all shared a tie with the Langhe hills and the same objective, to build a business and brand based on the best wines possible, produced from the Nebbiolo grape from Barbaresco.

The started to bottle their wine the late 70's, expanded their facilities in the 80's, upgrading to the latest state-of-the-art technologies, and added their own bottling in 1990.

Today, the coop consists of fifteen members including the original historic founders, the winery producing 700.000 kg of grapes, totaling around 450 thousand bottles in the name of Barbaresco. Their distribution now reaches globally with presence in the United States, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Poland, South Korea and Hong Kong.

The wine, 100% Nebbiolo spends 18 months in Slavonian oak casks.

Bright Ruby red color, medium-full bodied, bright black cherry and red berry fruits with notes of plum, prune and black tea with hints of nutmeg, clove and cinnamon with round velvety tannins on a fruit filled finish.

RM 90 points.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Arns Melanson Vineyard Syrah 2010

Arns Melanson Vineyard Syrah 2010

For a end of week unwind evening we opened this Napa Syrah with a selection of artisan cheeses, crackers and fresh fruit. We discovered and acquired this wine during our visit to the Arn's estate on lower Howell Mountain during our Napa Wine Experience in 2013. 

Arns Estate Vineyards and Winery, is a small artisan boutique producer primarily known for their handcrafted Arns Estate Grown Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, situated on the lower tier of Howell Mountain on the eastern slope above the town of St. Helena. They also produce this Syrah that is sourced from the Melanson Vineyard down in the southeastern corner of Napa Valley above the town of Napa on Pritchard Hill.

John Arns, Rick, Linda, Bill
Readers of this blog know we love big full throttle Syrah/Shiraz which comprises a third of our cellar behind Bordeaux and Napa Cabernet. We didn't expect to find one at a Napa mountain fruit Cab producer. Moreover, ironically, we also spent an afternoon up on Pritchard Hill this Napa trip.

Arns wines are produced by John Arns and partner Sandi Belcher - John managing the viticulture and Sandi tending to the winemaking. The property has been in the Arn's family since the 1950's when it was acquired by Arn's parents as an escape from the city down in Berkeley. The elder Arns planted vines in the 1960's to sell to local wineries. John and his brother, Steve took over the property and John continued developing the vineyards.

John Arns manages the viticulture, overseeing tending the vines for several producers around Napa Valley. This  includes Syrah varietal vines that he planted at 1400 feet up on Pritchard Hill back in the early 1990's. The clones are from Joseph Phelps Vineyards. This provides fruit for this, the 7th vintage release of Arns Napa Valley Syrah. What a discovery and pleasant surprise! 

The rocky terrain of the mountain elevation with the long warm growing season results in complex, powerful but polished, forward  flavors of black berry and hints of blue fruits, at nine years of age the fruit is giving way to layers of anise and cassis with hints of smoke, mocha and clove, violets, leather and olive on a long lingering firm but silky tannin finish. This is much like a big Southern Aussie Shiraz. 

RM 92 points

Only 80 cases of this were produced. We tasted and acquired the 2008 vintage release at the winery, and then purchased this later vintage as well.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Château Mont Redon CDP 2014

Château Mont Redon Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2014 at Historic Gaslight Club at Chicago O'hare

A midweek business dinner meeting with a colleague laying over at O'Hare Airport, we dined at the Gaslight Club at the Airport Hilton Hotel. The Gaslight Club is a Chicago institution dating back to the 1950's when a group recreated the historic Chicago speakeasy's from roaring twenties and prohibition eras on Chicago's Gold Coast. Over the next decade Clubs opened in New York, Washington, Paris and this O'hare club in 1973. In 1956 the New York Club opened it's doors in a plush old mansion where Elizabeth Taylor was New York's favorite Gaslight Girl and filmed scenes there for the movie 'Butterfield 8', for which she won an Academy Award. Today, O'hare is the only remaining club, but it retains that old ambiance with its rustic decor and a live entertainment, tonight a piano singer.

For a upscale premium steak house, the Gaslight Club winelist is minimalist with but a few selections from which to choose - twelve Cabernets, five French, three Italian and Pinot Noir, and four Merlot and Red Burgundies, a single Zinfandel and Petit Syrah. Hoping to order a Bordeaux with our steak dinners, I selected a St Emilion but rejected the bottle when it in fact was a lesser satellite St Emilion appellation upon presentation. 

Hence I opted for this Châteauneuf-du-Pape, not my first choice for grilled prime steak but it served the bill. 

Château Mont Redon Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2014

I visited Château Mont Redon in Châteauneuf-du-Pape during my Rhone Wine Experience in 1998

Château Mont-Redon Vineyard
Château Mont-Redon owns 186 hectares in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation, of which 100 are planted with vines. The vineyards are ideally sited with classic Châteauneuf-du-Pape terroir,  “diluvium alpin” soil and the noted Châteauneuf-du-Pape “galet’s” or round, heat absorbing pebbles that have been shaped and polished over thousands of years by the Rhône River and spread over time along the appellations high plains. 

In some portions of the vineyard this layer can exceed 2 meters in depth forcing the vines roots deep in search of the layer of red clay that lies beneath. Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre grown in these conditions produce wines that are generous, powerful, tannic and concentrated. Mont Redon is sited on the highest plateaus of the appellation where it captures the Mistral dry southern winds that blow up the river valley from the Mediterranean. The Mistal winds serve to dry the vines and the soil reducing the chance of fungus or rot. To minimize disturbance to the vines from the wind, they are trimmed low to the ground as shown in the picture.

The Rhône River valley soils are ideal for increasing the aromatic character of Syrah, Cinsault and Mourvèdre - the primary grape varietals in the CDP blend. We visited Châteauneuf-du-Pape again just this summer

Mont Redon vinifies each varietal separately, then ages 50% of the wine in small oak barrels in the cellars for 12 months with the remainder remaining in cask. The wines are then blended and aged an additional 4 months prior to bottling.

The Mont Redon Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a blend of all 13 varietals authorized within the appellation including primary Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Mourvedre.

Winemaker's Notes: Inky hue violet deep violet rim. Intense nose with red fruit aromas combined to complex smokiness. Palate with tight and focused tannins. Enjoyable now but require few years of bottle maturation to fully integrate aging notes. Very elegant and refined finish.

Dark garnet colored, medium bodied, black berry and black cherry fruits accented by notes of black pepper, smoke, hints of tobacco leaf and leather. 

RM 89 points.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Donna Olga Brunello For IV Dinner

Donna Olga Brunello For IV Dinner

Tenute Donna Olga Brunello Di Montalcino and Sondraia Super Tuscan for Italian Village Business Dinner

For a business partner dinner, we dined at my usual haunt,  Italian Village Chicago, for all the reasons I cited in recent blogposts - close to office, central location, three restaurants, three chefs/menus, extraordinary wine cellar, Chicago historic dining institution, great food and dependable, professional service. 

As usual, Jared Gelband, Wine Director there, knew I was coming and pre-selected a special bottle for our dinner. Often, these selections are off the winelist, being evaluated for inclusion but not yet acquired in sufficient quantity to support listing. Or, they're end of bin selections being dropped from the list, as it was in this case being the last remaining bottle in the cellar. 

Managing a wine list of over 1200 selections is a mighty chore requiring diligent care and attention. With dozens of lists in print, its a significant effort to update the production volumes. You want to avoid the chance of presenting a wine offering and not being able to fulfill it thereby disappointing or aggravating a patron. Hence you don't want to produce a new version of the list with only one or few remaining bottles and risk not having it available for diners once that last bottle has been consumed before the list can be updated and republished. Regular customers such as me provide that buffer to consume remaining stock that may have fallen off and is being dropped from the list. 

So it was tonight, we consumed the last remaining bottle of a thirteen year old vintage label. Only restaurants with extensive or thoughtfully managed cellars and wine lists, or select ones that specifically acquire aged vintage releases, can offer aged vintage select labels to their diners.

Italian Village offers not only a broad and diverse selection but  also a vertical selection of numerous vintages of a label, as witnessed by their recent Wine Producer Dinner featuring Priscilla Incisa della Rocchetta from Tenuta San Guido when they served eight different vintages of flagship Sassicaia from the winelist dating back to 1998 with the dinner. 

Tenute Donna Olga Di Olga Pulusa Brunello Di Montalcino 2006

From the Italian region Montalcino near Siena, the appellation or Italian DOCG Brunello di MontalcinoDonna Olga. Donna Olga is named for Olga Peluso Centolani, a passionate woman of wine and the producer. The estate consists of 11 hectares (24 acres), but only 4 of them are cultivated by Donna Olga with selected clones of Sangiovese Brunello for this label, with annual production of 20.000 bottles of this Brunello di Montalcino.
Dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, firm structured backbone, nicely balanced, whisper of spearmint and vanilla highlight complex black berry fruits, notes of earthy spice tobacco and leather with nice balance of acid firm gripping but silky smooth tannins on the lingering finish. Must be at its apex at a dozen plus one years. 

RM 92 points.

We also drank this Super Tuscan. 

Poggio al Tesoro Bolgheri Superiore Sondraia 2015

As I wrote in an earlier blogpost about this wine, "Jared knows I favor Bordeaux varietals and big full bodied fruit forward complex blends. Wow! He pegged it with this selection. Who would think you would find this style in an Italian wine?'

"From the Allegrini brand known for Amarone comes this classic Bordeaux blend from the Bolgheri region - Cabernet Sauvignon (65%), Merlot (25%) and Cabernet Franc (10%).'

"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. 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."

Winemaker's notes: "Intense ruby red in colour, the nose opens with nuances of cherry and plum and deep notes of black berries, followed by aromatic herbs and a pleasant spiciness. It is elegant and seductive on the palate, revealing considerable body, great structure and balance, and silky tannins."

I give this 91 points.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Chinn's 34th Street Fishery

Chinn's 34th Street Fishery JetFresh Seafood and BYOB Picque-Callou Blanc

Casual Monday night dinner with Sister Jan visiting from SoCal, we took her to a local favorite dining site, Chinn's 34th Street Fishery in Lisle (IL) featuring their JetFresh Seafood. Chinn's is a local treasure that is under the radar and under-rated.

As I've written in these pages, Chinn's features "jet fresh" seafood, literally jetted in daily from quality providers in the leading seafood markets - Hawaii, Alaska, the Atlantic, the Pacific, Florida, Louisiana and other centers where they have something to offer on any given day. 

Having a taste for something light and refreshing on a Monday night, and hosting Sister Jan in from Huntington Beach, it was a challenge worth taking, to showcase seafood selections in the flyover Midwest interior to someone living adjacent the California Pacific coast.

The menu at Chinn's is prepared daily, featuring that day's catch from the source seafood markets. I've often said that if you live in a coastal area that is a seafood producer, you are subjected to the day's catch from that port. Here, we have access to the day's catch from a number of ports from all the coasts.

Chinn's not only offers the broadest variety of fresh seafood, but they prepare a daily special 'Seven Ways' in their daily "7-way fish" - PREPARED ONE OF 7 DIFFERENT WAYS - CHARGRILLED • BLACKENED • BATTER FRIED • SAUTEED • BAKED GRECIAN • STEAMED ORIENTAL • STIR FRIED.

This nights fresh seafood offerings included:

Scampi - Grilled, Stuffed, Dejonghe, Stir Fried, Chili, Coconut

On this day, three of us ordered the Hawaiian Monchong, the fresh catch from Hawaii. Tacked to the wall in the entryway was the bill of lading showing the shipment arriving at O'Hare overnight delivered the previous day's harvest. It was delicious and the portion was huge - easily sufficient to share. Sean and Michelle order the Grouper, blackened. It too was delicious. Dinners are served with choice of potatoes, coleslaw and Chinn's signature garlic bread rolls.

Lastly, to top of the dinner, we brought BYOB from our cellar this French White Bordeaux. Chinn's have a liberally generous corkage policy making it an even greater dining bargain value.

Château Picque Caillou Blanc, Pessac Leognan, Graves, Bordeaux 2011

We hold a half dozen bottles of this White Bordeaux Blanc, too oft overlooked in the cellar, passed over for something more exiting as we're Red Bordeaux drinkers. Tonight, we pulled this to try and actually brought a back-up wine in case it wasn't up to the call. The gals liked it a lot.

Golden colored with slight brownish hues, nose of citrus and stone, notes of mineral melon with a layer of slightly grassy undertones, yet pleasant with nice balance and acidity. A nice match for the seafood entrees.
Time to drink.

RM 88 points.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Ducru Beaucaillou Vertical Showcases Pour Boys Wine Dinner

Ducru Beaucaillou Vertical Showcases Pour Boys Wine Dinner

Following our trip to St Julien - Bordeaux recently where one of the highlights of our trip was a visit and tour of Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, and another, our visit to Château Branaire Ducru, we were eager to explore a vertical tasting of the Second Growth grand vin.

During our recent Pour Boys Sassicaia owner dinner, I suggested we focus our upcoming dinner on Bordeaux - St Julien and offered a range of producers I could support. Over the ensuing weeks we selected Ducru-Beaucaillou as our featured producer for this evening's dinner. As noted by the boys at dinner, not many small groups could muster a vertical tasting of such a great wine spanning three decades.

Our dinner was hosted by Lyle and Terry and it was our first time there to see their new wine cellar. Lyle and Terry's pied-a-terre is in the city in Chicago's trendy West Loop neighborhood. The area has exploded in recent years with the new McDonald's world headquarters and the nearby Fulton Market district and its emergence as a high tech mecca anchored by Google and many others. The meteoric rise in popularity and property values in the area not only justifies Lyle's investment in his custom designed and built cellar, but suits the upscale feature requirements of upscale neighborhood residences.

Lyle and Terry prepared a spectacular dinner of beef tenderloin with roasted potatoes, asparagus, butternut squash, all capped off by Terry's decadent orange cake and cheese cake desserts with chocolate ganache, fresh berries and cherry jubilee.


Before dinner, they served grilled breaded scallops, salmon and an assortment of artisan cheeses, cheese dips and olives. The opening dinner course included a dinner salad and cream of mushroom soup.

John kicked off the appetizers and early courses with a garagiste Champagne.

Tarlant NV Champagne

The white wine flight consisted of a selection of premium and ultra-premium chardonnays from Burgundy, south central California Santa Rita Hills, and north California Sonoma County, and a Riesling.

The white flight:

Domaine Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Ruchottes 2012
Sea Smoke Streamside Santa Rita Hills Chardonnay 2012
Peter Michael Ma Belle-Fille Sonoma County Chardonnay 2006
Dönnhoff Tonschiefer Riesling Dry Slate 2018 

To pivot or transition from the whites to the Bordeaux red flight Steve brought this Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Burgundy.

Domaine François Gerbet Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Suchots 2010

The red Bordeaux flight:

Château Ducru-Beaucaillou 1989
Château Ducru-Beaucaillou 1998
Château Ducru-Beaucaillou 2000
Château Ducru-Beaucaillou 2009
Château Ducru-Beaucaillou 2014

Le Croix de Beaucaillou 2008 
Château Branaire-Ducru 2016
Cos d'Estournel St Estephe 1996

After dinner, the dessert was accompanied by two dessert wines:

Chateau Coutet Premier Cru Classe Barsac 2013
Niepoort Vintage Port 1977

Friday, November 8, 2019

Andretti Montona Super Tuscan 2016

Andretti Montona Super Tuscan 2016

Friday night, dinner out, we dined at our favorite local neighborhood trattoria, Angeli's Italian where we took this BYOB Italian selection - Andretti Montona Napa Valley Super Tuscan. We wrote about Andretti Napa Valley Winery during a recent tasting blogpost.

We discovered and acquired this wine during our Napa Valley Wine Experience last year during our visit to the Andretti Napa Valley Winery and joined their club to get regular allocation deliveries of their Reserve premium selections. We should probably cancel our Andretti Club membership. We received the same wine down to the label and vintage release this year that we received a year ago.

Moreover, the wines are not necessarily Estate bottled, meaning the grapes for the juice in the bottles are not necessarily grown on the property, but rather, may have been purchased from contract growers. Lastly, with all due respect to the legendary Indy Racecar driver, Mario Anrdretti and his benefactor investor partner in the winery venture, former CEO of K-Mart, who also helped sponsor Andretti's racing team, they are tenant wine producers, not landowners or winery estate owners. I would prefer to support family owned farmer/grower winemakers who produce wines from grapes produced on their properties. This allows the focus on terroir and its impact on the wine from vintage to vintage, as a basis for comparison over the years, and as a comparison against other similarly situated terroir focused wines.

Andretti Montona Reserve Napa Valley Super Tuscan 2016

Having just written the comments above about this wine, and all the reasons that we may not continuing buying and collecting such, I now admit, this may be the highest performing Montona Reserve label we have tried from Andretti. This wine tonight exceeded our expectations for this producer and label release. At a super premium list price of $110, it should be a top performer.

This is a blend of Italian varietal Sangiovese (50%), and Bordeaux Napa varietals Cabernet Sauvignon (46%), and
Merlot (4%).
The Winemakers' notes on this wine: "The Montona Reserve Super Tuscan is an intense and complex wine achieved by blending our finest barrels of Sangiovese with our favorite Bordeaux varietals. Deep ruby red in color the 2016 Super Tuscan is bursting with aromas of rosewood and violet, followed by candied cherries and dark plum. On the palate the fruitiness explodes in your mouth with bright flavors of cherry, raspberry and plum layered with toasty vanilla and silky smooth tannins. Enjoy this wine with grilled meats, braised short ribs, or your favorite aged cheeses."

This was aged 20 months is 50% new French Oak.

RM 92 points. 

Sunday, November 3, 2019

BBQ Ribs and Syrah Syrah

BBQ Ribs and Syrah Syrah - Clarendon Hills Piggott Range and Marquis Philips '9'

The family gathered for son Ryan's birthday and Linda served Salmon and BBQ Ribs with buttered potatoes, asparagus and baked beans. Ryan and I went down in the cellar and he picked out two wines he wanted to try as an accompaniment.

With the BBQ ribs, son Ryan chose from our cellar two Australian Mclaren Vale Shiraz' - a Clarendon Hills Piggott Range and a Marquis Phillips '9' - both from the 2004 vintage.

Clarendon Hills Piggott Range Shiraz 2004

As written in my earlier tasting, this luscious Australian Syrah was given a 96 point rating by Robert Parker, stating "A superstar effort, it reveals off-the-chart richness, complexity and intensity. Floral-scented, exhibiting a distinctive minerality along with wonderful blackberry and cassis fruit, and a hint of wood. The mid-palate and finish are both long, textured and intense. It needs 2-3 years of bottle age and should keep for a minimum of 2 decades."

This winery Clarendon Hills is the namesake of the town and area around Clarendon which was established in 1845. Many of the vineyards surrounding the winery are over seventy years old; the gnarly and twisted bush vines are dry farmed and the grapes are hand picked. The soil profiles of each vineyard are very different with the Piggott Range known for the rock and shale. This is a hillside vineyard planted in the 1960's adjacent to the Onkaparinga Valley. The soil there is notable by it's absence rather predominant with solid rock and shale torturing the vine roots to reach deep for nutrients to survive. Low yields rarely exceeding two tonnes/acre produce deeply rich fruit with firm structure and tannins. 
Consistent with earlier notes, this exhibited a rich dark purple color, full bodied, and full smooth polished aromas and flavors of raspberries, blueberry, blueberries and smoked meat with notes of spice and floral elements with hints of oak with nicely integrated silky tannins on the lingering finish. However, the fruit was more subdued and a bit leaner than the full throttle profile of previous experience a few years ago.

This exhibited a rich dark purple color, full bodied, and full smooth polished aromas and flavors of raspberries, blueberry, blueberries and smoked meat with notes of spice and floral elements with hints of oak with nicely integrated silky tannins on the lingering finish.

It seems with this latest tasting of this label, the fruit seems more ripe or extracted so as to be a bit more raisiny with a subtle tone of graphite or a metallic note - perhaps or most likely attributable to aging at this stage of life - fifteen years of age. 

RM 92 points.

Marquis Phillips '9' McLaren Vale Shiraz 2004

Our Cellartracker records show we still hold almost four cases of this label from seven different vintages.

From previous tastings of this release I wrote: "This is huge full bodied, deep dark inky color. Almost overpowering forward over ripe black berry, raisin, blue berry fruits, hints of caramel, vanilla, glycerin and cedar. Firm, full chewy unctuous tongue coating tannins that reveal more blueberry, vanilla, mocha on a long alcohol finish. Begs for bar-b-que or like food."

Similar to the 2004 Piggott Range Shiraz above, this too is starting to show its age and lose some of the vibrancy of its fruit. At fifteen years of age this is starting to show a bit of heat from the alcohol as this starts to wane and pass its prime drinking window.

RM 88 points.