Sunday, July 4, 2021

Gala Holiday Family Dinner - BBQ and Fine Wines

 Gala Holiday Family Dinner - BBQ and some extraordinary Fine Wines

The family gathered at son Ryan's for a gala 4th of July holiday celebration featuring BBQ, a selection of craft beers and fine wines and holiday fireworks. Son Ryan carefully selected and smoked and grilled four racks of ribs. We brought four side dishes from Sharko's BBQ - baked beans, cole slaw, creamed spinach and mac and cheese. 

For pairing with the BBQ we assembled a flight of spectacular wines: I brought a special birthyear vintage bottle of Penfolds Grange Aussie Shiraz,  Ryan opened from his cellar a Guigal Côte-Rôtie and Alec brought a Château Pape Clément Bordeaux. 

Prior to dinner we had a selection of chips and dips. I brought a bottle of Rose' that Ryan, Linda and I discovered and acquired at the producer during our visit to the Long Shadows Cellars hospitaly center and tasting room in Woodinville. I also brought a special bottle of birthyear vintage Charles Heidseick vintage champagne.

Ryan prepared incredible BBQ ribs with hand crafted rub, smoked for six hours in home trimmed applewood, then grilled. 

 Erin prepared a festive artfully decorated American Flag cheesecake with blueberries and red raspberries and strawberries. 

 With the appetizers, snacks and cheesecake we opened a celebratory Charles Heidseick 1990 birthyear vintage champagne and a Rose'.

 To celebrate the holiday, Sean put on a fireworks display for the kids. 

Long Shadows Wineries Julia's Dazzle Pinot Gris Columbia Valley Rosé 2017

We discovered, tasted and acquired this wine while visiting the Long Shadows Cellars hospitaly center and tasting room in Woodinville, WA during our  Seattle Culinary and Washington Wine Tour

We normally don't drink Pinot Gris or Rose' wines but were captivated by this and found it a unique label for our cellar, perfect for as occasion such as today, especially since Ryan was with us when we discovered this label. 

This is from the Long Shadows collection from vineyards in the Horse Heaven Hills appellation of the Columbia River Valley in Central Washington State. 

This is produced and bottled independent of Long Shadows, owner producer Allen Shoup tasked  winemaker Gilles Nicault to craft a dry rosé to share with family and friends. This result, "Dazzle" was an instant hit. The wine quickly affirmed Shoup’s long-held belief that Americans would one day develop an affinity for this food-friendly wine, particularly perfect on a warm summer afternoon.

Gilles set aside a special block of Pinot Grigio and gave it extended time on the vine to develop a bright tint through slow fermentation, then added 2% Sangiovese to the blend for color. Named after Allen’s granddaughter, Julia's Dazzle is light pink in color and offers aromas of strawberry and orange peel. It is a dry style but with sweet fruit flavors and clean sharp acidity creating a light and refreshing finish.

Winemaker's notes: "Fresh and lively with bright aromas and flavors of ripe strawberries and melon complemented by a racy acidity that lingers across a clean, dry finish." 

Charles Heidsieck Brut Millésimé Champagne 1990

Sharing and enjoying this bottle recently, and again tonight with son Alec and the rest of the family, was especially memorable as he was with us when we visited the Champagne wine region in northeast France back in 2006.

This vintage release was awarded 97 points from Wine Spectator and 94 points from Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar. 

As written in the recent tasting blogpost, this was a delightful surprise showing and drinking well, meeting all my expectations for this bottle. I was a bit concerned when upon opening and releasing the cork under pressure, the seeming pressure and resulting 'pop' were less than expected. Never-the-less, as hoped, the foil, cork, label, fill level and resulting wine were all ideal, showing little sign of diminution from aging. 

Amazing, impressive with life still left in this 31 year old vintage Champagne. 

The color was dark gold colored with intense, complex, dry, finely integrated layers of zesty citrus fruits accented by notes of roasted almonds and paine grille with hints of fresh dough, smoke, and pineapple with a long bright vibrant finish. 

RM 92 points.


The wine flight also included the remains of the St Emilion Bordeaux L'Arossee we had left over from the previous evening dinner

E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie Château d'Ampuis 2008

The Guigal domain was founded in 1946 by Etienne Guigal in the ancient historic village of Ampuis, home of the legendary wines of the Côte-Rôtie. Some of the historic vineyards are over 2400 years old, bordered by small terraced walls dating back to the Roman period. Etienne Guigal arrived in the region in 1923 at the age of 14 and produced over 67 vintages of wine over his storied career. 

Guigal handed over the reins to his young son Marcel Guigal in 1961 when he was afflicted by an illness that left him blind. Over the years, Marcel expanded the Guigal brand and holdings buying out Vidal-Fleury in 1984, the Jean-Louis Grippat estate in Saint-Joseph and Hermitage in 2000, and Domaine de Vallouit in Côte-Rôtie, Hermitage, Saint-Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage.

In the cellars of the Guigal estate in Ampuis, they produce wines from the great appellations of the northern Rhône Valley: Côte-Rôtie, Condrieu, Hermitage, Saint-Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage. They also expanded to produce wines from appellations of the Southern Rhône, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Tavel and Côtes-du-Rhône, which are also aged in the Ampuis cellars.

Winemaker notes for this label: "The hallmark of Chateau d'Ampuis is an unbelievably seductive perfume full of sweet red fruits, black fruits and spices, and an elegance despite the intense concentration of fruit. Chateau d'Ampuis defines what a great wine should be with its beautiful balance, complexity and length."

This was awarded 93 points by Wine Enthusiast who wrote, "In this difficult vintage, Guigal's Chateau Ampuis bottling shines. The kinky nose features exotic notes of celery seed, cracked pepper, hickory smoke and mixed berries, while in the mouth the wine shows ample fullness and intensity without losing any of the silky character that makes Cote Rôtie special. Drink now–2020."

This was an ideal pairing with the smoked BBQ but was overshadowed by the more complex and elegant Grange and the bigger bolder more concentrated and more complex Pape Clement. 

This was dark garnet color, medium-bodied with black fruit and notes of herbs, smoke, pepper and tapenade with soft tannins on a long rather acidic finish. 

RM 92 points. 


Penfolds Grange Shiraz 1990

This is a legendary bottle from a legendary producer and label. Penfolds and Grange are considered the most famous and prestigious labels of Australian wines dating back to the first experimental release in 1951. At 170 years of age, Penfolds is one of the oldest producers in Australia. They were named Australian Wine Producer of the Year 2014 by the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC). Their  flagship wine is this ultra-premium Grange, one of the most prestigious labels in the world as well as from Australia.

This release from the 1990 vintage year, Alec's birth year, was a Wine Spectator Wine of the Year in 1995.  I've written more extensively about this release of this label in earlier blogposts.

This was acquired as part of a OWC, (original wood case) upon release and has been held in our cellar ever since. The fill level of this bottle, at 31 years was lower neck, appropriate for its age, while the tissue, label, foil and cork were perfect, having been held in the original wood case in our cellar since release. 

Consistent with earlier tasting of this label, dark garnet colored, medium-full bodied, flawless, elegant, polished, harmonious, perfectly balanced, silky smooth flavors of concentrated black berry and black raspberry fruits with notes of vanilla, licorice, spice, black truffles and oak with hints of spice and cedar turning to fine grained tongue puckering tannins on the long lingering finish.

RM 95 points.

Wine Spectator gave this 98 points, James Halliday 97 points, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate 95 points, and Jancis Robinson gave it 18 out of her twenty point scale. 

James Halliday said it was 'destined to be one of the greatest Granges'. Wine Spectator called it  'magnificent, exotic, a veritable cascade of opulent flavors'. The Rewards of Patience - Fifth Edition (2004) called it Outstanding and projected its Drinking Window from now to 2040. Southcorp Wines said, 'The 1990 vintage was the kind that winemakers only expect to see once or twice in an entire career'.


Château Pape Clément, Pessac-Léognan Graves Grand Cru Classe 2015

Alec brought this bottle from his cellar, one of a case of this wine he received from his best buddies for his 30th birthday. This is especially memorable and fun to share as I consulted with and advised his friends on selecting this label for this special gift. Its hard to believe or imagine one could serve another bottle that matches or tops the legendary 1990 Grange label above, considered one of the best releases of that prestigious label in history. 

This is one of four Grand Cru Classé wine châteaux owned by Bernard Magrez. He went into the wine trade when he left school at the age of 16, and proclaims he was totally self taught from books and great discipline.

In 1961, when he was 25 years old he traveled to the USA and discovered the super market. On his return to France, he set up his own company, specializing in whisky and port. Selling his port to the French Carrefour hypermarket in France, it became the second most popular brand of port in the country. Over time he expanded the range of spirits eventually capturing the market. 

In the 1980s, he set his focus on top-end wine estates and he acquired Château Pape Clément, the famous Graves Grand Cru Classé, which had been classified for thirty years by then. He then acquired Château Fombrauge, a Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé, followed by Château La Tour Carnet, a Médoc Grand Cru Classé since 1855; and finally, Clos Haut Peyraguey, a Sauternes Premier Grand Cru Classé. He became the only person to own four prestigious wine estates at the same time.   

He has since acquired vineyards in eight different countries: Morocco, Spain, Portugal, Japan, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, and the US, for a total of 43 wine estates comprising over 1,000 hectares (2,470 acres) of vines. 

Château Pape Clément is one of the oldest Bordeaux Grands Crus, dating back to the 13th Century. The estate’s vineyard established by Bertrand de Goth, who in 1305 became Pope Clément V, the name subsequently given to the Château. The first harvest was in 1252.  The historic estate and brand were acquired by Bernard Magrez in 1980. 

Château Pape Clément is located in Pessac in the Pessac-Léognan appellation contrôlée within the wider Graves wine region of the Left Bank of Bordeaux. We drove through the area during our Bordeaux wine tour in 2018 as the Chateau and estate are but eight miles from the Merignac Bordeaux Airport.  

This is one of the top labels, Vinous calls it "one of the stars" from this top vintage from Bordeaux. It was rated 99 points by James Suckling, 97 points by Jeb Dunnuck, 96 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and Vinous, and 95 points and a Cellar Selection by Wine Enthusiast. This could arguably be the best bottle of Australian wine one will ever taste, at any price, Of course it is also one of the most expensive bottles of Australian wine to be found. 

This was a perfect pairing with the grilled smoked BBQ ribs, however, this wine would be a perfect pairing with pretty much anything! 

This is a blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc, It was aged 18 months in 80% new French oak.

Dark blackish garnet purple colored, medium-full bodied, complex and concentrated yet elegant and polished, perfectly balanced and integrated notes of black currant, black cherry and black berry fruits accented by notes of truffles, cassis, tobacco, hints of dark mocha, spicy clove and graphite turning to smooth polished supple tannins on the full lingering finish. 

RM 96 points.