Saturday, April 24, 2021

St Emilion duo for Tomahawk beefsteak dinner

St Emilion duo for Tomahawk beefsteak dinner 

Dr Dan and Linda joined us for Saturday night dinner - (my) Linda prepared grilled Tomahawk ribeye steaks with mashed potatoes and haricut verts. Dan brought from his cellar a 1er Grand Cru Classe Chateau Canon St. Emilion so I pulled another St Emilion Grand Cru Classe' for a comparison tasting. 

Prior to dinner we had a special select Domaine Carneros sparkling wine brought by Dan that we tasted with a broad selection of artisan cheeses.

We finished the evening with a duo of chocolates, Linda's homemade chocolate brownies alongside a chocolate cake brought by Dan and Linda. With the chocolate flight we sipped a Warre's Vintage Port.

Taittinger Domane Carneros
Le Rêve Sparkling Wine 2011

This is from the famous French Champagne house Taittinger, whose US presence dates back to when Claude Taittinger of the noble family began searching for a worthy U.S. counterpart in the late 1970s. In 1987 he selected a 138-acre parcel in the heart of Carneros, down at the bottom of Napa Valley near where the Napa and Sonoma valleys intersect. There he established the California sparkling wine house, Domaine Carneros, capable of producing a luxury blanc de blancs in the style of Taittinger’s Comtes de Champagne in France. He hired Eileen Crane as founding CEO and winemaker to oversee the development of the winery and vineyards and to produce a quintessential California expression of the Taittinger style in Carneros. Of course, authentic Champagne is only produced in the Champagne region in northern France, all others are simply 'sparkling wines', even those produced in the méthode traditionnelle champagne method and style.

Their first California cuvée, appropriately named Le Rêve (the dream), was this blanc de blancs, crafted of 100 percent estate-grown Chardonnay. 

The Domaine Carneros château is a California wine country landmark along the Sonoma highway connecting Napa and Sonoma valley, completed in 1989. It's architecture was inspired by the classic 18th century Château de la Marquetterie in Champagne, France - home of Champagne Taittinger.

In 2020, after a successful career spanning 42 years, Crane passed the torch to a new CEO, Remi Cohen, who now carries on the Taittinger tradition of visionary female leadership. Ushering in a new era of Domaine Carneros, Cohen brings two decades of experience in all facets of the wine industry to the château. Crane also passed the torch as head sparkling winemaker to new sparkling winemaker, Zak Miller, who worked for over a decade with Eileen as a member of the winemaking team.

The heart of Domaine Carneros has always been around sparkling wines, with distinctive styles ranging from the classic vintage-specific-dated Brut cuvée, to the luxury Le Rêve Blanc de Blancs. Domaine Carneros farms 6 vineyards in the Carneros AVA, four of them within 4 miles of the Chateau. The Estate Vineyards now total 400 acres, 225+acres devoted to Pinot noir and 125+ acres planted with Chardonnay.

Le Rêve is the ultra-premium flagship label, a highly respected tête de cuvée - Domaine Carneros' finest sparkling wine that has frequently been named America’s Best Sparkling. French for “the dream,” Le Rêve is crafted from 100% estate-grown Chardonnay, crafted from five organically grown estate clones of Chardonnay, produced using the traditional method of Champagne, and aged in the bottle for a remarkable, unheard of five to six years sur lie before release.

From the Winery: The 2011 growing season experienced frost in the vineyard and ended the season with a very cool summer, resulting in a reduced crop size resulting in rich concentrated fruit.

Golden colored, medium bodied, intensely flavorful with notes of lemon citrus, apple and pear with hints of lime, wet stone and spice and what Wine Spectator refers to a fresh ginger on a tangy lingering acidic finish. 

RM 91 points. This release was awarded 95 Points by Wine Enthusiast,  94 by Insider, and 93 Points by Wine Spectator.

Château Canon 1er Grand Cru Classe' St-Emilion 2011

We tasted this label during the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (UGCB) 2011 Vintage Release Tour Tasting in Chicago, back in 2014. This is one of our absolute favorites from the Bordeaux Right Bank appellation St Emilion. We've enjoyed this label dating back to the memorable 1983 vintage. The Chateau Canon property is owned by the proprietors of the haute couture house of Chanel.
This is a blend of 70% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, with 13.55% alcohol, aged in 70% new oak.  
This release was rated 93-95 points by Wine Enthusiast. 93 points by James Suckling, 90-92 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, and  91 points by Wine Spectator.
Tonight's tasting was consistent with my tasting notes from that tasting back in 2014, but actually improved from a decade of aging. Wine Spectator cited for this label, best drinking through 2022. 

Château Canon - Dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, floral aromas with firm, concentrated sweet red and black raspberry fruits accented with tones of kirsch and tobacco leaf with firm but silky soft tannins on the long smooth lingering finish.  

Tonight, RM 92Points, improved from 91 points for the release tasting.

Château Vignot St. Émilion Grand Cru Classe' 2007

To pair and compare with the Château Canon, I pulled from the cellar this St. Émilion from a near mid-term vintage. I thought and hoped I had a bottle of the Château Canon but I was mistaken.

This Grand Cru is a class lower than the 1er Grand Cru of the Canon and the rankings accurately fit their tasting profiles with it being less complex, less polished and smaller in its presence. It did improve further after being open for 60-90 minutes to more closely resemble the bigger rival, but it never reached its more lofty standing.

Dark garnet colored, medium bodied, slightly 'flat' or flabby in comparison to the Canon, notes of dusty floral, dark berry, notes of tobacco, leather, spice and subtle oak with moderate tannins on the lingering finish. 

RM 87 points.

With the chocolate course we opened this twenty-five year old vintage port which was probably at the apex of its drinking window and profile. We hold this label going back to the kids' birthyear vintages in 1982, 1985 and 1990, so watch for further tastings of this label in future family dinners and celebrations.

Warre's Porto Vintage Quinta da Cavadinha 1995

We featured this wine during a tasting back in 2017. Consistent with that earlier tasting notes. 

Dark blackish garnet coffee colored - full bodied, a bit of an edge of sweet black fruits, layer of smokey creosote with hint of expresso, cedar and cassis and dark black cherry on the finish. 

RM 89 points.