Thursday, April 8, 2021

Tomahawk Rib-eye Dinner features Robert Craig Affinity Duo

Tomahawk Rib-eye Dinner features Robert Craig Affinity Duo and perhaps the best Affinity ever

With son Alec and daughter-in-law Vivianna staying with us, Linda prepared spectacular grilled tomahawk rib-eyes for dinner, carefully prepared 'Pittsbugh style', with grilled onion rings, haricot verts and whipped potatoes. I pulled from the cellar this duo of aged vintage Robert Craig Affinity's from the 2000 and 2007 vintages as a mini-vertical tasting of this label, one of our favorites.

We hold many fond memories of dinners, lunches and other tasting events with Robert Craig and partner and wife Lynn during many of our Napa Valley wine tours, and hearing Robert talk about this label.

This is the Bordeaux Blend of the Robert Craig portfolio that Robert always took immense pride in as his entry level introduction to his 'five mountains and a valley' appellation select Napa Cabernets. He took pride in holding the price point on this level which provided great QPR - quality price ratio value. He also took pride in this providing early gratification quality drinking at an early age, yet as shown tonight, it has some longevity for aging for a decade or more. 

I wrote year before last, after Robert's passing in a Tribute to Robert Craig, when the business turned over to new leadership, the price of the Affinity label understandably crept up to 'market' pricing, a not insignificant increase. Current 'published price' for this at several merchants is $89. I used to try to buy it at sub-$50 prices. 

Robert never promoted or played up the fact this label was a carefully crafted  Bordeaux Blend comprising all the Bordeaux varietals. He did promote it as an introduction to the portfolio of Robert Craig Napa Valley Cabernets.

I've written often that Robert Craig wines are one of the largest holdings in our cellar collection. We hold more than two dozen vintages of this label dating back to the inaugural release in 1993, as well as several of the single appellation designated selections. I question how those earliest vintages have held up and need to consume them, both as part of cellar management and thinning our collection. This tasting was part of that effort. 

Robert Craig "Affinity" Napa Valley Bordeaux Blend 2000  

This showed more fruit, balance and complexity than recent earlier tastings, perhaps due to its ideal complementary pairing with the grilled beefsteak. 

Still holding its own, and while it won't improve further, its probably at the end of its apex, but still well within the acceptable drinking window, again showing the age-ability of Robert Craig and other carefully crafted Napa Valley Cabernets.

At two decades this is still holding its own, past its prime perhaps and not likely to improve with further aging, but drinking nicely and no need to hurry consuming any remaining bottles. 

Dark purple/garnet colored, medium to full bodied, this initially opened to a slight funkiness that revealed its age, which soon burned off to a complex, polished, nicely balanced sophisticated Cabernet with forward black berry and black raspberry fruits with a layer of pleasant, sweet, spicy oak accented by hint of tobacco leaf, black tea and leather, turning to tones of black cherry on the lingering moderate tannin finish.

RM 92

Robert Craig "Affinity" Napa Valley Bordeaux Blend 2007 

This release was awarded 96 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and 92 points Wine Enthusiast.

We first tasted this wine from a barrel sample and acquired this release during the Robert Craig Howell Mountain Harvest Party '09 back in 2009. 

Robert Parker wrote in 2009, "Give it 2-3 years of cellaring and drink it over the next 15 or possibly 20 years. This is the best group of wines I have ever tasted from Robert Craig Winery. Not only is there not a single disappointment in this portfolio, but these are all noteworthy wines, with thrilling levels of quality. Moreover, they are moderately priced for Napa Valley as well as ageworthy. I think these are the finest wines that I have ever tasted from Robert Craig Cellars."

Wine Enthusiast wrote of this release, 'Craig has produced his best bottling since the late 1990s'.

This year’s blend is heavier on the petit verdot, with a composition of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, 8% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Malbec.

This exceeded my expectations for this label and indeed was one of the best drinking Affinity's in memory. At fifteen years, this seems to reaching the apex of its drinking profile.

Dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, elegant, polished and smoothly balanced, black berry and black currant fruits with notes of mocha chocolate and spice, hints of cassis, smoke and cedar with smooth silky tannins on a lingering cloying finish.

RM 93 points.