Saturday, August 6, 2022

Pour Boys Wine Dinner

Pour Boys Wine Dinner

With my Linda out of town for the weekend, Dr Dan invited me over for Friday night dinner. I pulled from the cellar a vintage Bordeaux Blend for the occasion. 

Dan prepared delicious pork loins with seasoned with hot pepper peach bourbon sauce, roasted potatoes and a medley of grilled vegetables.

Prior to dinner, Dan and Linda served a broad assortment of artisan cheeses, shrimp, olives, charcuterie, nuts and chocolates. 

Pour Boys visiting Chateau St. Jean, Sonoma
I selected a producer that the Pour Boys visited, including Dan and Linda, on our most recent Sonoma County Wine Experience, the last of numerous visits to the estate and Chateau over the years - Chateau St Jean in Sonoma Valley. 

In addition to the legendary flagship label Cinq Cépages - which means five flavors or varieties, I also brought another Chateau St Jean label, Belle Terre, their Late Harvest Riesling dessert wine. 

Chateau St Jean is one of the premier producers in Sonoma County and their winery chateau estate is a showcase highlight of the Sonoma Valley - certainly the most elegant and fashionable tasting experience setting that we've experienced there. We enjoyed visiting there numerous times over the years for a comprehensive tasting experience that offers some of their Reserve and Library selections not available in the as our Napa Sonoma Wine Experience in 2009.

Our private tastings at the 1920's chateau with views of the Grand Lawn and Estate Vineyards and in the Reserve Room have been the highlights of our trips to the region.

Chateau St. Jean Cabernet Sauvignon Cinq Cépages 1997

We've enjoyed the Cinq Cépages label since its release in the late eighties. Chateau St. Jean "Cinq Cépages" was one of the first classic Bordeaux Blend labels from the region and has always represented good value, high QPR relative, to the top Bordeaux labels. 

This was one of the last releases before the 1996 release was annointed Wine Spectator #1 wine in the annual Top 100 list in 1999.  Chateau St. Jean Cinq Cépages was the first Sonoma winery to be awarded the prestigious “Wine of the Year” award from Wine Spectator Magazine. At that time the release price was $28, a remarkable value at the time. From then on, the label exploited its #1 legacy and notoriety and boosted the price point, but it still represents reasonable comparable value at near $100.    

We have a vertical of this up to the recent vintages - this was the oldest release in our cellar so we pulled as part of cellar management, but also to compare to two other 1997 vintage Napa Cabs we opened last weekend.

This release was awarded 96 points by Wine Spectator, 94 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and 90 points by Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

The fill level, foil, label and most importantly, the cork were all in prime condition.  At twenty five years this was at the apex, in its prime drinking window, showing no signs of diminution from aging whatsoever. This exceeded my loftiest expectations and showed even better than the two 1997's we opened last weekend. This was definitely the WOTN - Wine of The Night.

The 1997 Cinq Cepages is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and the balance Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, and Petit-Verdot, aged in 50% new and 50% one-year old French barrels. Robert Parker writes, "this is California's answer to a big, rich St-Emilion".

Stephen Tanzer writes: "At once sweet and structured. Finishes with big, dusty tannins and very good length. The most promising vintage to date for this bottling. (ST)"

Dark garnet colored, medium-full bodied, smooth polished, complex but balanced and nicely integrated black berry plum, currant and black cherry fruits with notes of mocha, toffee, spice, cedar, aise and herbs with a smooth finish. 

RM 94 points.

Linda served strawberry shortcakes with fresh fruits and I opened the Late Harvest dessert wine. 

Chateau St. Jean Alexander Valley Belle Terre Vineyard Special Select Late Harvest Riesling 2006  

Château St. Jean has been producing several white wine labels from the Belle Terre Vineyard since the 1975 Chardonnay Belle Terre and 1976 dessert Riesling. The Belle Terre Vineyard is owned by the Dick Family, which over the past three decades, has built a reputation as one of the premier grape-growing families in the region

The vineyard is in the Alexander Valley AVA (American Viticultural) Area just north of Healdsburg, in Sonoma County. The Russian River flows through the valley. The region was named for Cyrus Alexander, a 19th century landowner and grape grower. The AVA includes 15,000 vineyard acres, much of it rich, alluvial soil layered on a bed of gravel, similar to many vineyards in Bordeaux. 

Today Alexander Valley is home to some of California’s most admired wineries, including Simi, Stonestreet, the Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Silver Oak Cellars, and of course Chateau St Jean based in Sonoma. 

This Special Select Late Harvest Riesling is produced only in top rated vintages from botrytis-affected fruit that is carefully hand-selected from the Belle Terre Vineyard.

Upon release, this wine is straw colored, and with its high residual sweetness, can be a long lived wine, capable of aging for decades. As it ages, it becomes darker, turning from straw colored to golden, taking on more brown hues resembling weak tea, then stronger darker tea, and eventually dark blackish cola or coffee colored. At fifteen years, this was already blackish colored, like cola, akin more to one that is several decades old. 

Normally this would be predominant ripe ripe apricot, peach and lemon fruits with sweet notes of fruits and honey. This release the sweet fruits were more subdued interlaced with notes of tea, expresso and bitter dark chocolate with bright acidity on the lingering finish. 

RM 89 points.


Over the course of the evening, Dan opened a selection of red wines from his cellar. 

  • Long Shadows Saggi Red Blend - Sanviovese, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
  • Kathryn Hall Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
  • Il Valentiano Brunello Di Montalcino Reserva 2015 
  • Entrepreneur Diamond Mountain Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Long Shadows Saggi Columbia Valley Red Blend - Sanviovese, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

We're members of the Long Shadows wine club and hence get regular Vault Key Club release allocation shipments of their top labels of which we share our case lot with Dr Dan. We've written in these pages about the Vintners Collection wherein Long Shadows collaborates with world class winemakers to craft varietal compositions from Washington State fruit

This label is inspired by the great wines of Tuscany and father-son winemaking team Ambrogio and Giovanni Folonari, winemaker Gilles Nicault crafts Saggi in the style of its original winemakers.

The 2018 Saggi is a Columbia Valley Blend: 58% Sangiovese, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 12% Syrah. The Sangiovese is sourced from two distinct Washington State Sangiovese vineyards, both planted in 1998. Both sites with have terrior of well-draining soils, important to managing Sangiovese’s vine vigor and controlling berry size. Candy Mountain Vineyard Sangiovese is a warm vineyard that delivers grapes with ripe, black currant aromas and flavors. Boushey Vineyard Sangiovese, grown in the Yakima Valley, is a cooler site that brings brightness and balanced acidity to the blend. 

The Cabernet Sauvignon comes from Stone Tree Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope, included to add a silky texture to the wine. The Syrah adds a darker hue and another layer of complexity.

Winemakers' tasting notes: "Easily one of our favorite Saggi bottlings to date, this wine showcases the quality of our vineyard sites and the warmth of the growing season. A brilliant garnet-red, the 2018 Saggi is elaborately fragrant, brimming with red cherries, ripe strawberries and notes of nutmeg. Vibrant and
well-integrated with balanced natural acidity, this is a textured wine with great richness and flavors that linger across a generous finish. Drinking beautifully now, the wine’s concentration and structure also make it an excellent candidate for the cellar."

This is becoming a go-to wine for us for Sangiovese complemented Italian cuisine, but bigger and bolder than your typical Sangiovese Brunello di Montalcino. Son Alec, who also shares in our club allocation cites this as one of his favorite wines.

Tonight, this stood out from the others with its big bold style, bright garnet-red colored, full bodied, nicely balanced and well integrated vibrant forward fruits of raspberry, red cherries and ripe strawberries with fragrant floral and notes of nutmeg and clove spices. 

RM 93 points.