Sunday, February 10, 2019

Robert Craig Affinity Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Robert Craig Affinity Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Twice this week Linda prepared dinners that called for a hearty red wine. Both times I pulled from the cellar Robert Craig Affinity Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Monday night she prepared baked pork chops with baked sweet potatoes and asparagus spears. Then, for Sunday dinner she prepared a beef roast with carrots, onions and mashed potatoes.

Robert Craig is one of our favorite Napa Valley producers and represents one of our largest holdings in our cellar. We've held many wine dinners with Robert and Lynn Craig and attended many events at the estate and winery. We visited Robert Craig's site high atop Howell Mountain several times with sister Jan and bro-in-law Bill, and Bill and Beth C. One of our memorable trips featured a picnic lunch at the site overlooking the  valley below shown below. It was during that trip that Bill discovered and subsequently sourced Howell Mountain Cabernet, Affinity and Robert Craig Zinfandel which they served at daughter Krista's wedding.

With Robert Craig at the estate high atop Howell Mtn
back in 2008.

We hold as many as two decades of Robert Craig vintages dating back to the inaugural vintage release in 1993. This label, Affinity, represents the Robert Craig Cabernet Sauvignon based blend of Cabernet Sauvignons and other Bordeaux varietals sourced from the various Napa Valley appellations.
Robert Craig flight of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons

Robert Craig offers at least five different Cabernet labels from what he used to refer to as 'three mountains and a valley', referring to his appellation designated premium labels from Mt Veeder, Howell Mtn and Spring Mountain. He used to speak fondly of this label and the QPR - quality price ratio, as he strived to hold the price point of this wine to provide excellent value and be a draw to the Robert Craig brand. The appellation designated labels sold for twenty to thirty percent more. I wrote recently about the discontinuation of the Mt Veeder label after two decades of being one of the flagship labels, and was Robert's favorite.

In recent years, as Robert and co-owner wife Lynn retired and stepped down from running the daily business, the new owners have raised the price point of this label from the mid to high forty dollar range to mid to high sixty dollars, splitting the difference in the entry level price and the price point of the higher premium price appellation designated labels.

Robert Craig Affinity Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Earlier tastings of this label cited this release being "a bit tight and slightly closed on opening, but after an hour opened up to show wonderful black and blue berry fruits".

This week this was more approachable on opening and even appealing in the couple of following days, better than when young. It showed the same profile as earlier, garnet colored, medium full bodied, complex black berry and black currant fruits with slight hint of mocha - nicely balanced and polished with velvety well integrated smooth silky tannins on a nice lingering soft finish.

RM 92 points.

For Sunday dinner, after church, Erin and Johnnie joined us for Sunday dinner and Linda's beef roast. I pulled this 2008 vintage of the Robert Craig Affinity Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon to compare with the 2007 we drank earlier in the week.

Robert Craig Affinity Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Tonight this was consistent with my earlier tasting when I wrote of this wine back in 2011, "Dark inky color, medium-full bodied, black berry, black cherry, and ripe plum fruits with hint of spice and cedar on smooth moderate tannin finish."

RM 92 points. 

Fellow Cellartracker,  sums up this wine well in his tasting note, "At 10 years of age, this is drinking very nicely right now! Blackberry, wild berry, and black cherry fruit up front. Notes of espresso, dark chocolate, licorice, with subtle spice and minerals on the mid-palate. Still has some firm, supple tannins with a nice long finish. The extra age has really done this wine justice."


Mitolo GAM McLaren Vale Shiraz

Mitolo GAM McLaren Vale Shiraz

For relaxed evening watching Netflix after a grueling week of travel, we pulled this vintage Aussie McLaren Vale Shiraz to enjoy with artisan cheeses and beef tenderloin sandwiches.

This wine is from the legendary Australian winemaker Ben Glaetzer. It is named GAM after the Mitolos’ children Gemma, Alex and Marco, and was his first wine made, back in 2000.

Mitolo G.A.M. McLaren Vale Shiraz 2004

At fourteen years, I was expecting this to be starting to turn to a raisin fig profile with the aged fruit starting to turn to leathery earth tones, as some of the other McLaren Vales do such as Rosemount Balmoral and others. Alas, while this may be at or near its peak of its drinking window, it most likely will not improve any further with aging. It probably has started to 'turn' but the accent was to a cross between floral and cigar box - a very interesting and delightful tone.

Dark blackish garnet colored, medium full bodied, the black berry and black raspberry and blue fruits were punctuated by notes of cigar box, roasted coffee and hints of floral. It was a nice accompaniment to creamy Harvarti and sharper Bellavitano cheeses, and the beef tenderloin on toast points. While there is not a hurry to drink up, I would say this will diminish here forward with the fruits giving way to the non-fruit tones of cigar, leather and earth.

RM 92 points.

Jeb Dunnuck of Robert Parker's Wine Advocate gave this 97 points back in 2010 when he noted, "Given where the ’03 is right now and how much younger this wine seems, it could have a long life ahead of it. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this still going strong in another 10 to 12 years. Impressive!" Back in 2005, he wrote, "It should drink well for 15 years". He was right both times. Both times they gave it 97 points. 

James Halladay gave this 94 points and Wine Enthusiast gave it 92 points.