Sunday, June 6, 2021

Truffles Restaurant & Wine Bar B-Town Wine Dinner

Truffles Restaurant and  56° Wine Bar Bloomingon, Indiana Wine Dinner

We traveled to Bloomington, Indiana for a Indiana University sororiety college reunion gathering. Arriving a day early to meet with long time friends, we dined at Truffles Restaurant and  56° Wine Bar. This sells itself as a "chef-driven eaterie serving a range of foods from classic Steakhouse to International fare". They offer an extensive diversified wine list that is unique on the Bloomington dining scene.

The 56 Degrees Bar Wine Cellar is an ambitious venture for the Truffles family owner Mark Kiang who shares his extensive wine collection, with many selections B-T-G (by the glass), by the bottle, or via an online ordering system, with an option for delivery.

He caters to local wine aficionados with a program to sign up for a monthly wine bundle subscription, and receive bottles of wines selected by the owner himself (or bottles to personal choice). Truffles will then provide recipes and pairing suggestions in the wine package and via e-newsletter.

Remarkably, on the front porch of the restaurant was a display of several (consumed) bottles of extraordinary wines that we hold in our cellar, including one very rare label, indeed. The first that got my attention was the current release of Chateau Pichon Lalande, a label we just had the other evening at our gala Pour Boys Wine Dinner.

 The other bottle that really got my attention was a very rare 'red stripe' label of David Arthur 'Elevation 1157' Napa Cabernet (shown right from our cellar). This particular bottling ran to the end of the spool of labels, to the point that there was a red stripe across the label, indicating to the bottling, labeling machine operator that it was time to add a new spool of labels. Several bottles were labeled with these errant labels in the process before the machine was stopped. The producer went ahead and sold these bottles anyway as a novelty in their portfolio selection. 

We visited the David Arthur Estate and Vineyards, at the elevation of 1157 feet, high above the Valley floor on the eastern slope of the Vaca Range. We hold several of those bottles (shown) in our cellar waiting for an suitable occasion to serve a unique novel bottle. Suffice to say, that bottle had been consumed and none were on offer this evening. (David Arthur visit -

I took advantage of the offering of the latest current release Caymus Estate Napa Cabernet B-T-G. Interestingly, I had considered the same label earlier over the weekend at the Del Ray Beach Wine Bar from their extensive B-T-G selection. Notably, the price of both offers was within $1. 

Truffles offered a charcuterie and wine selection as well as several wine friendly small plates. I sampled the Pate' with my selection.

Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

I admit the glass of wine I was served was a slight bit 'skunked' from having been open a bit too long or not handled properly such as by a dispenser system. Not wanting to make a scene or disrupt the mood of the evening, I accepted the glass and factored in the state condition into my tasting. 

Caymus generally does an incredible job crafting a consistent signature style in large volume, vintage after vintage. The Caymus profile provides early gratification with approachable easy drinking at an early age, yet is ageworthy for a couple decades, or more in exceptional vintages. The style is dark in color, round with full rich fruit and ripe, velvety tannins. 

We hold a decade of Caymus vintages in our cellar as an easy to please, popular, dependable, and mainstay label for special occasion as well as special guest servings.

We visited the Caymus estate and winery during ou r our Napa Valley Wine Experience in the summer of 2018

Caymus sources and blends Cabernet fruit from eight of Napa’s 16 sub-appellations, taking advantage of such diversification to enable them to select the best grapes so as to make the best possible wine in any given year. 

Typical of the Caymus profile, tonight's wine that was dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, (setting aside a slight funk most assuredly from the bottle being open and not handled ideally), the ripe black berry and black cherry fruits were accented tones of mocha cocoa, cassis and notes of tobacco and tea with soft smooth lingering finish. 

RM 89 points.

Next I sampled another current release Napa Cab. 

Faust Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

This is the another label that is from the owners/winemakers associated with Quintessa, from the producer Faust, whose property is adjacent to the west of the estate on Silverado Trail.

Some call this label “Baby Quintessa”, since it has common ownership and geographically is from the adjacent Faust property.

We visited the Quintessa Estate and Vineyards during our Napa Valley Wine Experience back in 2003. It was about this time that Quintessa founder Agustin Huneeus and his wife Valeria, were planning and assembling their family portfolio of wines that represent the finest vineyard estates in California and Oregon, that was announced and launched i 2005.

In addition to the Quintessa estate, the family’s vineyard and winery projects include Faust Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Illumination by Quintessa, an aromatic white wine. In 2009, the Huneeus family forged a partnership with Joan and Walt Flowers of Flowers Vineyards & Winery, pioneering vintners who in 1989, established two extraordinary vineyards dedicated to world-class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the extreme Sonoma Coast.

In 2017, Andy Erickson, former winemaker for Screaming Eagle, joined as partners on his red blend project Leviathan, which began in 2004, thereby joining the broader winemaking team. 

The winemaking team at Faust is similar to the team at Quintessa (Michel Rolland/Andy Erickson) minus Rebekah Wineburg but with Charles Thomas (Opus One) and David Jelinek (Copain/Prisoner/Groth). The vineyard sources are from the foothills of Atlas Peak in Coombsville. The wine is aged and bottled at Quintessa’s state-of-the-art winemaking facility, taking advantage of the vineyard pedigree and winemaking prowess of the Quintessa team. This received the big score of 94pts.

This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc.
Dark garnet colored, medium full-bodied, highly expressive black berry and black current fruits with notes with mocha, leather, oak, hints of vanilla with a pleasant moderate lingering finish.

RM 90
Rombauer Napa Valley Carneros Chardonnay 2018
Label from 2014
Prior to dinner, with the starter course, and with her entree, Linda ordered, B-T-G, this Rombauer Napa Chardonnay. We know this label well, hold several vintages in our cellar, but had not yet tasted this current latest release vintage. Hence, like the two bottles above, we had not yet had the opportunity to taste the latest vintage, and were able to do so via the B-T-G offering, rather than having to procure a full bottle. Such is the fun, and convenience of such offerings. 

This release was awarded 90 points by both Wilfred Wong and James Suckling. 

The fruit for this wine comes from vineyards in the Carneros region owned by the Rombauer family, as well as that from select growers including the Sangiacomo family, long-term grower partners who have farmed this land for three generations.  The Carneros region has a cool climate with fog and breezes off San Pablo Bay, at the southern end of Napa and Sonoma Valleys where they converge near there. The San Pablo Bay provides ideal conditions for Chardonnay, consistently resulting in beautiful, fresh acidity and the key sense of balance for this ever popular Chardonnay. Rombauer has been producing Carneros-specific Chardonnay since 1990. This 2018 is another example of this classic style balancing bold fruit and lively acidity. 
We met the Rombauer National Sales Manager at a producer dinner Vin Chicago Rombauer Wine Dinner at Adelle's Restaurant in Wheaton, IL a couple years ago. 
This was pale light yellow with a green hue with notes of peach, hints of pear, honeydew, lychee fruit intertwined nicely with vanilla and spice, turning to soft buttery and subtly spicy acidity on the finish. 
RM 90 points.