Sunday, April 17, 2022

Easter Celebration Dinner Wine Flight

Gala Easter Celebration Family Dinner with Wine Flight

The family gathered at our house for a gala Easter celebration dinner including an Easter Egg hunt for the (grand) children. We were joined by cousin, niece Becky and husband Keith, visiting for the weekend, and in-laws, Frank and Marylisa visiting the new parent kids and newest grandaughter Marylin, in from Naples. 

Linda prepared an extensive dinner with salad, baked ham, scalloped potatoes, french toast, baked beans, baked pineapple and apples, steamed broccoli and more. Prior to dinner we served a selection of artisan cheeses with crackers, fresh shrimp cocktail, smoked salmon, a broad assortment of French pastry maccaroons, fresh fruit, and other delectables.

I pulled from the cellar a flight of wines for the various courses.

Besserat de Bellefon - Cuvée des Moines brut Rosé Champagne 

Long Shadows Dance Columbia Valley Chardonnay 2019 

Calera Ryan's Vineyard Mt Hollister Pinot Noir 2010

Cliff Lede Napa Valley Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 

Les Brulières de Beychevelle 2016

Besserat de Bellefon "Cuvee des Moines" Brut Rosé Champagne

The Maison Besserat de Bellefon was founded in Aÿ in 1843 by Edmond Besserat. Originally from Hautvillers, he imposed his artisanal know-how creating cuvées that he sold to renowned hotels, restaurants and wine merchants of the day. After Edmond, his grandsons, Victor and Edmond, followed in his footsteps continuing his pursuit of excellence and high standards, one as technician, the other as emeritus taster. 

In 1920, the marriage of Edmond with Yvonne de Méric de Bellefon, of the noble Champagne house, sealed the beginning of the legend of Champagne Besserat de Bellefon and endowed the House with the family coat of arms.

This label, the Cuvée des Moines was conceived in 1930, comprised of a selection of the best Champagne wines. In the best vintage years, Besserat de Bellefon selects the best plots to produce the best wines of Champagne. 

Each non-vintage Besserat de Bellefon cuvée rests in the cellar for a minimum of three years; the vintage cuvée remains there for a minimum of five years, ageing in the cellar much longer than the minimum period required by the Appellation.

Besserat de Bellefon "Cuvee des Moines" Brut Rosé Champagne

This label of Besserat de Bellefon Cuvee des Moines Brut Rose is now part of the house of Besserat de Bellefon Simplicité Line in the brand portfolio. 

Besserat Bellefon produces a range of pure, fresh, lean and elegant low-pressure wines that do not undergo the typical malolactic fermentation. The Champagnes of Besserat de Bellefon are unique in that they are made at only 4.5 atmospheres of pressure across the range rather than the standard 6. The resulting quality, first-class Champagnes are made specifically to be paired with food, or are ideal served as aperitifs or celebratory sipping.

The NV Brut Rosé Cuvée des Moines is a blend of 45% Meunier, 25% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay.

This release was rated 92 points by Wine Spectator, 90 points James Suckling and Robert Parker's Wine Advocate.

Bright golden pink orange colored, ripe and tangy red boysenberry and yellow peach fruits are framed by crisp juicy dry acidity, chalk and smoke notes with hints of almond, lemon and ginger accents on the finish.

RM 92 points.


Long Shadows "Dance" Columbia Valley Chardonnay 2019

This label, Dance has special significance in that our daughter-in-law Vivianna's sister, Grace, was a career professional performing arts dancer having studied dance at New York Fordham University and then traveling with the world famous Alvin Ailey dance troupe. 

It was a great fun to serve this in tribute to Grace, who was just engaged to be married, to Vivianna and their parents, Frank and Marylisa, who joined us for our festive holiday dinner.

As written in this pages a couple of weeks ago, we discovered this label on the Catch 35 wine list during our dinner there a couple of weeks ago. We've been Long Shadows Key Club Members since our visit to the Woodinville tasting room during our Washington Wine Experience when we visited the winery tasting room in Woodinville back in the fall of 2018.

We receive a case of Long Shadows wines every quarter and hold several cases of their labels in our cellar and this was the first time we have seen or heard about this label, purported to be the latest addition to the portfolio.

Following our enjoyment of this wine at our recent dinner, I promptly called Long Shadows and ordered a case of this limited release label, "Dance" as part of my wine club entitlement allocation. 

Winemaker's Tasting Notes - A layered, aromatic wine that displays minerality and white blossom fragrances with flavors of white peach, apple and a hint of baking spice woven throughout a subtle, creamy texture.

The aromas intrigue on the nose, with notes of clarified butter, straw, spice and pumpkin. The palate shows depth and breadth to the stone fruit flavors but also sophistication. The balance is exquisite.

The result is a rich, yet refined Chardonnay with a beautiful viscosity that carries the mid-palate
while the acidity persists across a lengthy finish.

Light straw colored, medium bodied, rich crisp clean green apple with notes of baking spice, pumpkin, stone fruit and hint of citrus on a bright tangy finish.

93 Points


Calera Ryan's Vineyard Mt Hollister Pinot Noir 2010

In the spirit of the family celebration, I pulled from the cellar a birthyear vintage wine of our eldest grand-daughter, Lucy, this single vineyard designated wine from an estate vineyard with son Ryan's name. 

Calera are one of the legendary classic California Pinot Noirs. Founder Josh Jenson was the pioneer of California Pinot Noir. 

As I have written in these pages, any lover of Pinot Noir would benefit from reading The Heartbreak Grape,  A California Winemakers Search for the Perfect Pinot Noir by Marc de Villiers, 1994, Harper Collins.  

This is a wonderful true story that starts when Devillers becomes captivated by a wine served at a holiday party. The story evolves as his journalistic curiosity leads to researching the wine and its origins - the story of  Josh Jensen and Calera winery. 

He chronicles the challenges and travails of developing the Pinot Noir grape in California, and then turning it into a business, an industry, and pursuing a dream. 
The name Heartbreak Grape speaks to the challenge of pioneering bringing the Pinot Noir grape varietal to America - finding the right terrior, climate, terrain, soil, drainage - all the elements required to produce this wine. It then follows the story of an entrepreneur following his dream to build a business and a brand.  
From the namesake vineyard bearing son Ryan's name, I keep a half dozen vintages a label in our cellar for tasting during such family gatherings. This, 2010 vintage release, is the oldest in our cellar, selecting the oldest as part of appropriate cellar management. 

We've held onto this vintage release since it is a birthyear wine of one of our grandchildren. Also, it was the special 35th Anniversary Release Vintage, hence I was holding it for the possibility of gifting it or serving it from someone's 35th Anniversary celebration. 

Calera is an oenphile's wine - the rear label is one of the most imformative of any producer's label I know of, with detailed information on the vineyard, geography, harvest, location and terroir including a map of the estate of the vineyard sites.  

As shown, this release is 100% Calera Estate fruit from the 13 acre Ryan Vineyard at 2200 feet elevation on Mt Harlan in the Gavilan Mountains nine miles from Holister, California, twenty miles inland from Monterey Carmel on the Pacific Coast, ninety miles south of San Francisco.

In any event, this label was awarded 94 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 92 points and *Cellar Selection* by Wine Enthusiast and "Outstanding" by Allen Meadows - Burghound.

Dark ruby colored, starting to take on a slight bit of discoloration at a dozen years of age, medium bodied, the complex flavors of plum, dark cherry and dried rose petals are showing slight diminution of the fruit from aging, turning to a textured tangy acidic firm tannin laced lingering finish. 

RM 88 points. 


Ryan brought from home the remains of a bottle he had opened the night before. 

Cliff Lede Napa Valley Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Our visits to the Cliff Lede estate winey and vineyards have been a highlight of several of our Napa Valley Wine Experiences. Since son Ryan and fellow Pour Boy Bill C both are club members and receive regular vintage release allocations of this producer, we opt to collect a different producer, thereby affording all of a greater variety of tasting experiences. 

This Diamond Mountain appellation label is one of Ryan's favorites from his broad collection from this producer. We've enjoyed several vintages of this label with Ryan and Bill

Winery notes: "Our Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon comes from exceptional, low-yielding vineyards with volcanic ash and gravelly loam soils in the Diamond Mountain appellation, nestled in the Mayacamas Range on the northwest side of Napa Valley. The sun-drenched mountain vineyards have late afternoon breezes that ripen the fruit slowly and evenly. Both sites are planted to extraordinary old vines on a steep incline with historic Napa field selections and produce age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignon with dark fruit, intense structure, minerality, and perfume." 

This was dark garnet colored, full bodied, complex, rich concentrated brooding layered black berry and black raspberry fruits accented by notes of graphite, dark mocha chocolate, tobacco leaf, leather and smoke on a tongue coating long finish. 

RM 93 points.


Les Brulières de Beychevelle Haut Medoc 2016

I found this label at Binny's, our wine and beverage super store recently. We know this producer well, having visited the Chateau Beychevelle estate vineyards and winery in St Julien Bordeaux during our visit to the region and appellation a couple of years ago.  

We hold several vintages of the grand vin Chateau Beychevelle dating back more than three decades, but have never seen this more pedestrian entry level label from this producer, so I was compelled to pick some up to try.

Clearly not the grand vin, or their second label sophistication or quality, but at a fraction of the price, this represented reasonable QPR - Quality Price Ratio for simpler every day sipping, a 'pizza' wine as I refer to such wines. Notably, this is a Haut-Medoc appellation labeled wine, not from the more prestigious and distinctive St Julien appellation.

Dark garnet colored, medium-full bodied, black cherry and black plum fruits accented by notes of smoke, herbs, green pepper, leather and a bit of wet earth and tar with a bright tangy acidic finish. 

RM 88 points.