Friday, November 26, 2021

Diamond Mountain Cabernet Duo

Diamond Mountain Cabernet duo for Tomahawk Rib-eye grilled beefsteak dinner

Sister Jan and Bro-in-law Bill visiting from SoCal for holiday and family festivities, we pulled from the cellar a couple of classic super premium Cabernets for a Tomahawb Rib-eye beefsteak dinner. Bill chose two wines where Jan and Bill accompanied us to a pair of private tastings at both estates during our Diamond Mountain Napa Valley Wine Experience in 2011. - Constant Diamond Mountain Vineyards, and Diamond Creek Vineyards. At seventeen and eighteen years of age, this was a good vintage comparison of two vintage wines perhaps at the apex of their drinkability. 

As shown, both bottles' fill levels, labels, foils and corks were in ideal, near perfect condition - another testament to the provenance conditions of our wine cellar.

Diamond Mountain Vineyards Gravelly Meadow Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 

We last tasted this Constant Diamond Mountain Vineyard Napa Cabernet Cabernet 2004 during the Coronavirus shut-in in the spring of 2020. As I wrote in a blogpost at that time, we discovered and acquired this wine when we visited the spectacular picturesque Constant Vineyards estate high atop Diamond Mountain during our Diamond Mountain Appellation Napa Valley Wine Experience in 2011.

We're approaching the end of a case of Constant wines we acquired then, and again, tonight we were rewarded for being patient as this wine has continued to develop very nicely. At seventeen years of age it still has life left and may be at its apex, perhaps still benefiting from continued graceful aging.

Our tasting and visit back then were hosted by proprietor Freddie Constant, founder and proprietor. Sadly, Freddie passed away in 2014. All of our group that were there remember him fondly and toast him each time we drink his wine.

The Constant Diamond Mountain Vineyard sits at the peak of Diamond Mountain on the Mayacamas Range separating Napa Valley to the east and Sonoma Valley to the west and is one of the area’s highest, oldest, and smallest wineries in the region. At 2121 feet above sea level, it may be the highest, or certainly one of the highest, vineyards in the region.

Constant Diamond Mountain Estate Vineyards

The Diamond Mountain District appellation, one of the smaller Napa wine districts, sits just south of and above the town of Calistoga in the northwest corner of Napa Valley.

The unique terroir and micro-climate at the very top of Diamond Mountain provides grapes with optimal sun exposure and elongated ripening periods, The sun drenched slopes with their rocky terrain and volcanic soil produce rich concentrated Bordeaux varietal fruit.

Today the area is home to some of the most notable and prestigious labels including the namesake label Diamond Mountain vineyards. Our afternoon on the mountaintop retreat was one of the more memorable settings from our many Napa Valley trips.

Constant Diamond Mountain Vineyard was established by Freddy and Mary Constant in 1993. While they started producing small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon then, their first vintage release under the Constant Diamond Mountain Vineyard label was in 1995. They proceeded to build a winery on the estate producing their wine under the Constant label and brand. In 1999 Wine Spectator wrote that Constant was “a new can’t miss Cabernet, this vineyard is able to produce stunning wines on a consistent basis.” The original winemaker was the notable Philippe Melka. With the 2009 vintage, Paul Hobbs took over as consulting winemaker.

In 2016, Aries Liu and Sai You became the property’s caretakers with the continued commitment to producing some of Napa Valley’s best Bordeaux varietals.

Constant Diamond Mountain Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

I believe this is the best, most memorable Constant Cabernet I have had and may be, at sixteen years of age, at the apex of its drinking profile and window.
Deep garnet purple color, medium-full bodied, delicious concentrated but smooth and elegant and nicely balanced ripe blackberry and black raspberry fruits with hints of black currant, notes of spice and graphite.

RM 92 points. 

The blend includes small amounts of Cabernet Franc and Merlot.

Diamond Creek Gravelly Meadow 2003 

We visited Diamond Mountain Wine Experience - Diamond Creek Vineyards with Jan and Bill and were hosted by matriarch founder Boots Brownstein. 

A trip to Napa Valley Diamond Mountain by the serious wine enthusiast or collector would not be complete without a visit to the legendary Diamond Creek Vineyards. Founded in 1968 by the late Al Brounstein, a visionary pioneer who defied conventions of the time by planting Bordeaux varietals on secluded Diamond Mountain in the Mayacamas Range at the north remote end of Napa Valley.

This is one of the four Diamond Creek labels - all single vineyard designated bottlings from one of their distinctive four vineyards. Diamond Creek is a case study in terroir - each of its four vineyards with its own micro-climate, soil type and geography that are revealed in their single vineyard designated Cabernet Sauvignon wines - named for their four distinctly different origination vineyards. The vineyards of Diamond Creek are  Gravelly Meadow (5 acres - center left), Red Rock Terrace (7 acres front), Volcanic Hill (8 acres opposite), and Lake (¾ acre), plus Petit Verdot (1 acre) to the left outside of frame. The vineyards as pictured below, are amazingly co-located close to each other yet have distinctive individual characteristics that are revealed in their wines.

Our visit to the chateau and tasting room provided a spectacular tasting experience with the magnificent setting and view of the vineyards on the slope and meadow below and of the opposing hillside.
The private tasting at Diamond Creek chateau offered an elegant tasting experience showcasing their wines harmonized by Diamond Creek cabernet sauvignon reduction with petit beef tenderloin and artisanal cheeses.

We visited the estate again during our 2017 Napa Valley Wine Experience for their release tasting of the 2015 vintage Diamond Creek releases at an Open House held at the Estate. 

Diamond Creek Gravelly Meadow Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 

Our Cellartracker records indicate we have a dozen vintages of this label dating back to the 1983 vintage, birthyear of our daughter-in-law, Michelle. We served that wine from magnum at her and son Ryan's wedding. 

K&L Notes indicate that "This muscle-bound Cabernet hails from Diamond Creek's second coolest mesoclimate. The five-acre Gravelly Meadow vineyard was originally a prehistoric river bed. Today, this stony, gravelly soil drains rapidly, and the vines must struggle for moisture. Gravelly Meadow is also this esteemed winery's lowest yielding vineyard, typically producing a Cabernet that is earthy and a touch cedary, as well as jammy with ripe blackberry with a spicy expansive finish. This one needs time. And more time. After which it will blow you away." 

This was awarded 93 points by Wine & Spirits,  90 points by  Connoisseurs Guide. 

Tonight, this was dazzling, not as forward, bright or vibrant as the more expressive Constant, more subdued but full, round, perfectly balanced, elegant and polished. Dark garnet colored, medium-full bodied, complex black fruits with earthiness, truffles, dark mocha chocolate, hints of mint on a moderate, smooth tannin laced lingering finish. 

RM 92 points.