Monday, July 4, 2022

Family Holiday BBQ Wine Cook-out

Family Holiday BBQ Wine Cook-out Features Family Favorites

Son Ryan and D-in-law Michelle hosted the family for a traditional Independence Day holiday cook-out and we opened several nice wines for the occasion. 

We enjoyed family, yard games with the traditional competitions in 'bags' and other, and culminating the day with celebratory fireworks.

Ryan smoked beef brisket and chicken and opened from his cellar a medley of whites and reds and I brought a couple reds for the occasion.

Cliff Lede Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2019

We've written much about Cliff Lede wines in these pages, one of our favored producers. The Cliff Lede winery estate and vineyards with their picturesque sculpture gardens at Yountville Cross Road and Silverado Trail are one of our popular visits during our many trips to Napa Valley. One of the more memorable was our private tour and tasting during our Napa Wine Experience 2009.

Normally one of our go-to wines we keep stocked for pleasurable casual sipping, today, we were introduced to a new label (below) from down under, one Ryan considers one of his go-to wines. 

This is a blend of 85% Sauvignon Blanc, 12% Sémillon, 3% Sauvignon Vert.  The juice was fermented in 68% French oak barrels, 30% stainless steel tanks, and 2% concrete eggs. 

This was awarded 93 Points by Wine Enthusiast and 90 Points by Wine Spectator.

Straw colored, light bodied, complex and structured but rather restrained, notes of melon and apple with hints of lemon meringue, tangerine with crushed rock and stone on the finish.

RM 89 points.


Cloudy Bay New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc 2020 

I failed the blind tasting of these wines even with a fifty fifty chance of getting it right. I swore the Cloudy Bay was the Cliff Lede with its sprites of peach fruit. This overshadowed the Lede, normally one of my favored Sauv Blancs. 

Founded in 1985 by David Hohnen and winemaker Kevin Judd their Sauvignon Blanc put New Zealand wine on the map. Cloudy Bay joined Veuve Clicquot in 2003 and became part of the LVMH family in 2010.

Cloudy Bay’s legacy began in Marlborough with Sauvignon Blanc and now includes Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pelorus méthode traditionnelle. The spirit of adventure continues with Te Koko, a barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc, and Te Wahi, a sophisticated Central Otago Pinot Noir from their two special southern vineyards.

Winemaker Notes: "The 2020 Sauvignon Blanc is bright and focused, with appealing and expressive aromatics of ripe grapefruit, makrut lime and passionfruit on the nose. The palate is mouth-watering , with zesty lime, lemongrass and juicy stone fruit characters melding together, underpinned by a subtle minerality. The vibrant concentrated fruit and freshness bestow poise and balance, and lead though to a long and impressive finish. A wine that will age gracefully for many years."

Straw colored, light bodied, aromas of floral, fresh and vibrant with aromatics of bright citrus, kaffir lime, orchard blossom and passion fruit, flavors of peach predominate with a crisp clean sharp tangy finish.

RM 91 points


Philip Melka CJ Cabernet Sauvignon 2001

For a family gathering I brought from our cellar a family oriented wine, this label a tribute to Philippe and Cherie Melka's children with its child's handprints on the label. I took this in tribute to our two new granddaughters additions to our family this year, Lavender and Marylin.

We've recently been enjoying Philippe Melka's handicraft in the Long Shadows Vintners Series with his Pirouette label. 

When I last wrote about this label a year ago I said, 'at twenty years this is clearly past its prime drinking window and starting to diminish from age', but that was refuted tonight with this bottle. 

The fill level and label were perfect and the cork was near so as well. There were no signs of the cloudiness reported in that earlier note, leaving me to believe that tasting was an aberrant bottle. Tonight, this resembled and was consistent with previous, earlier tasting notes.

This was dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, the vibrant dark blackberry fruits were accented by earthy flavors of cedar and tobacco with notes of tar, smoke and hints of mocha.

RM 91 points.


Fleury Estate Lauren Bryce Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Ryan collects this wine as a member of their wine club and has amassed a vertical collection of their various labels. We first met Brian and Claudia Fleury at a Del Dotto event in their earliest days when they were just starting Fleury Estate back in 2000.

The Fleury Estate lies just south of St. Helena in Rutherford with a tasting room, winemaking facilities and a 11 acre estate vineyard. Fleury Estate Winery also owns 50 acres of premium vineyard land in the key locations of Napa Valley with vineyards in different appellations and elevations which enables them to craft consistent, high quality Napa Valley wines year after year. 

The cork of this thirteen year old disintegrated upon opening and the bottle had a slight funk to it which blew off for the most part after a while - but the bottle was clearly an off bottle. Never-the-less I found it enjoyable and notable drinking for the occasion. 

I defer to my tasting notes from this label from two years ago since it was somewhat consistent and perhaps a more fair representation. 

From earlier tasting in 2018: This (vintage) was dark blackish inky colored with full body, rich concentrated bright, vibrant, forward unctuous fruits of sweet ripe dark berry, black raspberry and currant fruits with notes of dark mocha and sweet toasty oak turning to nicely integrated tannins on a full chewy lingering finish.

This was delicious, very much my preferred style and profile, but perhaps too sweet for some folks' palette! That day I gave this 94 points. 

Today, likely due to bottle variation I give it a 91.


Mollydooker Carnival of Love 2017

We have fun with the whimsical labels of Mollydooker with their cartoonish characters and circus poster themed labels. But, there is nothing whimsical about their big full-throttle Shiraz in their premium label Carnival of Love. We adopted this and the companion Enchanted Path labels years ago for family celebration dinners.

This is one of our family favorites that we collect and serve at special family occasions. I featured this producer and label in an extensive blogpost back in 2018, and in an broader exposition of their portfolio earlier back in 2014, and most recently in February of this year.

'Carnival of Love' has become one of our family tradition wines which began when we started serving at wife Linda's and then family birthday parties, since Linda is a Lefty. We love this style of this big opulent forward Shiraz.

The Carnival of Love Shiraz is one of their best and has made the Wine Spectator's "Top 100" twice, the 2012 was #2 in 2014, recognized as the #2 Wine in the World, and that year, Mollydooker was named Winestate's Wine of the Year for 2014.

Winemaker notes for this release: "This McLaren Vale Shiraz is powerful and expressive. Lifted aromatics of dark berries and smoky oak leap boldly from the glass. With a satin like palate; cherry and satsuma plum flavors develop into decadent dark chocolate and licorice. Complex flavors, phenomenal depth and perfectly polished tannins are what makes this Carnival of Love one to be savored and celebrated."

This is 100% Shiraz. The grapes were grown on the Gateway vineyard in McLaren Vale, and the juice was barrel fermented and matured in 100% American oak and 100% new. 

This release was awarded 94 points by Wine Advocate and 93 points by Wine Spectator.

Dark purple garnet colored, full bodied, rich, concentrated, textured, juicy velvety smooth raspberry and cherry fruits with notes of caramel, cedar, oak and spice on a tongue coating lingering finish.

RM 93 points. 

Ryan also served Mollydooker Two Left Feet Shiraz Cabernet and Austin Hope Paso Robles Cabernet. I'll feature them in a follow-on tasting post.