Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Oracle Software Silver Oak Wine Tasting

Oracle Software features Silver Oak and Twomey Wine Tasting presented by Silver Oak/Towmey Kathleen McLeod

Strategic Alliance partner software vendor Oracle (tangentially and but remotely related to Napa wine label of same name via Robert and Dave Miner association - no association with Oracle label from Killikanoon) featured an imaginative and classy wine tasting as part of a Covid shut-in remote ISV partner briefing. 

The Oracle Live Webinar event was hosted by and featured Dave Profozich, North American ISV SVP, who presented the ISV Executive Cloud Briefing industry and program strategy and update. Oracle kindly sent us two bottles for the event, the latest release Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet 2016 and the Twomey 2018 Napa/Sonoma Sauvignon Blanc

After the Oracle update briefing, Dave then turned the session over to Kathleen McLeod, VP Consumer Experience for Silver Oak Cellars and Twomey, who lead a virtual tasting of the current release Silver Oak Cabernet and Twomey Sauvignon Blanc.

Kathleen has thirty years industry experience with fifteen years at Silver Oak.  She lead a tasting exposition of each wine, shared the history and philosophy of Silver Oak/Twomey and then lead a general discussion answering questions and sharing perspectives and experiences with the participants.  

The first bottle featured was the current 2018 release of Twomey Sauvignon Blanc.  I wrote more extensively about Twomey in a recent blogpost.

This was an extra special event for me since son Ryan is an Oracle executive, so we attended and shared the experience together. With two of us, it afforded the opportunity to open another bottle of Silver Oak Alexander Valley to do a mini vertical comparison tasting. Ryan opened his 2016 release and I, rather than open my 2016 bottle, pulled from the cellar a 1995 vintage release of the same label. 

 As I wrote when we last opened this vintage release of this label, we hold a dozen and a half vintages of this iconic label and the Napa label, dating back to the birthyear vintages of our kids, '81, '82, '85 and '90, of which we still hold in magnums and some in other large format bottles. 

Notably, we served birthyear vintage Silver Oak Bonny's Vineyard (named after founder proprietor Ray Duncan's wife and co-founder) 1982, and other vintages of the Napa label, at Ryan's wedding from six liter large format and standard size bottles. Bonny's Vineyard was two acres of vines that surrounded the original homestead on the estate.

We also hold six liter bottles of the single vineyard designated bottling Bonny's Vineyard (shown right) for son Alec's birthyear vintage, which we'll serve at his wedding this summer. 

So it is that we know Silver Oak well and often open Silver Oak on special occasions.

Silver Oak Cellars Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1995

Tonight's tasting of this label was consistent with our last opening of this vintage release back in May of last year when I wrote: "Tonight's tasting of  this 1995 Alexander Valley Silver Oak Cab was showing its age as the color had taken on a slight browning on the rim and the fruits were starting to give way to some funkiness and earthy notes.'

"Dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, has a garnet hue with some slight browning at the rim, the black fruits were giving way to aromas of cigar box, leather and herb flavors with hints of cherries and dark chocolate and anise."

RM 88 points - consistent with last tasting in May, 2020. 

This release orignally got 94 points from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and 92 points from Wine Spectator.

As shown, the bottle fill level, label, foil and cork were in ideal condition, testament to the ideal provenance conditions of our cellar.

 While still holding up, this is past its prime and starting to diminish from aging and should be consumed in the next year or so, longer only for the more adventurous. 

Note this interesting perspective based on the longevity predicted for this release by pundit Robert Parker. Parker noted, "given proper cellaring, this wine can be enjoyed now through 2019".

Characterizing notes from Robert Parker, "Critics have argued that the wine does not age particularly well, but that has largely been proven a myth for some vintages. Silver Oak generally is not as long lived as Chateau Montelena, Dunn, or other Napa Cabernets with a 30-40 year aging potential, but they can have a broad window of drinkability, known to be delicious at release, and able to sustain their fruit and character for typically 15 or more years."

Silver Oak Cellars Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Kathleen then lead the group tasting of this current release label, she explained, Silver Oak focuses on one varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon. Each release is selected from the best lots, blended together from numerous estate and grower supplier sources, and aged for two or more years in American Oak. Typically, more is produced or available for production with the best lots selected and released under the Silver Oak brand, with the remaining portion sold off to the trade for bottling under other labels. 

Silver Oak produce two Cabernet labels, this one from Alexander Valley, and another from Napa Valley, each reflecting the profile and character of the two regions - Alexander trending towards being softer, lighter, more delicate and moderate, while Napa tends to be more bold, fruit forward and bigger with its more concentrated Napa fruits - two styles to appeal to two preferences. In a typical vintage, sixty thousand cases are produced of the Alexander, twice as much as the Napa label. 

We have visited both the Alexander Valley winery up near Healdsburg, and the Napa Valley winery and hospitality center during our many visits to the region.

Ryan brought his bottle of this vintage release that he had opened and decanted several hours before the tasting. 

The 2016 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is blended with 94.6% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4.0% Merlot, 0.5% Petit Verdot, 0.5% Cabernet Franc and 0.4% Malbec, and was aged for 24 months in American oak (50% new) from Silver Oak's own cooperage.

Winemaker's Notes:

Our 2016 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is ruby in color with a magenta rim. It has an enticing nose of cassis, blackberry, vanilla, sage and spearmint. Upon entry, this wine builds from potpourri and bramble to a bright pop of raspberry on the mid-palate. A juicy finish with chewy tannins and a medium length, it will provide drinking pleasure through 2042 with proper cellaring. 

This was rated 93 points by Wilfred Wong

Dark garnet colored, medium bodied, bright expressive yet smooth and approachable black berry and black currant fruits with notes of cassis, herbs and hints of mint, graphite mineral and subtle oak on the lingering dusty tannin laced finish. 

RM 92 points.

Towmey Napa Valley Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc 2019 

As I wrote in a recent blogpost, Twomey was founded in 1999 by legendary Ray Twomey Duncan, founder of the well-known known and highly regarded Silver Oak, and sons David, and Tim Duncan. David served as the managing partner and today is Chairman and CEO of both Silver Oak and Twomey having joined Silver Oak in 2002. The name Twomey, (pronounced two-me) is named after their grandmother, Ray's mother, Velma’s maiden name and is also the middle name of several family members.

This Towmey Sauvignon Blanc is sourced exclusively from four estate-owned vineyards, half from Napa Valley and 1/2 Sonoma County Russian River Valley: the Sonoma sources - 35% Merino Estate Vineyard and 15% Twomey Healdsburg Estate Vineyard: the Napa County 50% from Twomey Calistoga Estate Vineyard, 9%, and the remaining 41% from Oakville Estate Vineyard that surrounds the Silver Oak winery there. 

The is is 99% Sauvignon Blanc with 1% Sauvignon Gris.

Light butter straw colored, light body, crisp and lively acidic laced flavors of bright tropical fruit with notes of grapefruit citrus and hints of pineapple with a crisp clean finish. 

RM 90 points.





Silver Oak Cellars Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1995 label

Mollydooker "The Enchanted Path" Shiraz Cabernet

Mollydooker "The Enchanted Path" McLaren Vale South Australia Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2005  

One of my favorite meals is barbecue ribs with baked potato and peas with a robust Shiraz. We submitted papers for a family milestone event and held a personal mini tribute to my recently departed mother by opening this premium label vintage release with dinner for a perfect pairing.

This is the inaugural release of Mollydooker produced by Sarah and Sparkie Marquis who I recently featured in a post about the producers and the Mollydooker brand in a horizontal tasting of Aussie shiraz's.   

We hold a half dozen vintages of this label and pulled this vintage release, the oldest in our collection, as part of proper cellar management. This reduces the chances of keeping wines past their prime drinking window. Of course, variations in vintages need to also be considered, as some vintages have longer lives than others. Collectors need to follow vintage charts or others' tasting notes for absolute guidance on vintage management. That is a reason I often take care to comment on the status of older bottles in our collection.

This is Syrah (2/3) based accented by Cabernet Sauvignon (1/3). 

This unique blend really works with the Cabernet adding breadth and depth to the big black inky purple colored full bodied Shiraz. The result is a powerful full bodied complex wine with concentrated forward chewy tongue coating black berry and black cherry fruits accented by ripe plum and spice, a layer of vanilla and hints of mocha and anise with fine silky tannins on the long finish.

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate gave this wine a whopping 96 points and wrote in their review: "The 2005 Enchanted Path (66% Shiraz and 34% Cabernet Sauvignon aged in primarily American oak, 60% new) is fashioned from relatively young vines. It reveals an amazing opaque purple/blue/black color (always a hallmark of Marquis wines), a full-bodied, powerful, smoky nose, extravagant layers of fruit, spice, glycerin, and extract, full body, superb intensity, tremendous richness, and a seamless personality. It is a textbook example of a southern Australian red at its richest, fullest, and most pure. For consumers with open minds and progressive palates, this amazing red should age beautifully for 10-15 years. Drink through 2021+"

Opaque black inky garnet colored, full bodied, rich, concentrated yet elegant and polished with balanced harmonious black berry fruits exude aromatics that leap out of the glass with notes of plum, vanilla and hints of black pepper, followed by notes of dark chocolate mocha, licorice and spice turning to velvet smooth tannins on a long smooth finish.

RM 94 points.