Friday, December 23, 2022

Mt Brave Double Diamond Napa Reds at Morton's Steakhouse Naperville

Mt Brave and Shrader Double Diamond Napa Reds at Morton's Steakhouse Naperville

Son Sean and d-in-law Michelle took us to trendy upscale Morton's Steakhouse here in Naperville (IL) for a festive Christmas dinner outing. Morton's are one of the premier upscale steakhouses, with over 65 restaurants nationwide since opening the first in Chicago in 1978. Morton's specializes in steaks with complementary seafood and accompaniments, with each location offering a deep broad extensive award winning winelist. 

Sean, Linda and I each ordered beefsteak entrees, Sean the Waygu, me the surf and turf beef filet with lobster tail, and Linda the beef filet Oscar selection with crabmeat. Michelle ordered the lamb chops. We ordered family style side dishes of creamed spinach and smoked gouda cheese au gratin potatoes.  

Morton's has an award winning winelist that features 275 different selections, mostly American, with an inventory of 1500 bottles, showcased in the elegant glass enclosed wineroom cellar adjacent to and separating the bar from the dining room.

From the winelist I ordered a Napa Valley Mt Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon from Mt Brave.

Perusing the winelist I noted they offered Shrader Double Diamond Oakville Napa Cabernet by the glass. Of course this wine was just awarded Wine Spectator's #1 Top 100 Wine of the Year for 2022.  I couldn't resist and ordered a glass to try this momentus wine only to be advised it was sold out, but they just acquired a case of half bottles of the label, so we took advantage and partook of one.

Mt Brave Napa Valley Mt Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

We acquired a bottle of this label from the 2018 vintage but are holding it, aging in our cellar, so I've never tasted this wine and was eager to do so. 

Mt. Brave Veeder Peak Vineyard was formerly the Chateau Potelle Vineyard, since taken over the powerful expansive Jackson Family Wine Empire. The estate sits high atop Mt Veeder at elevations ranging from 1,400 to 1,800 feet, above the fog line, with the morning sun warming the grapes each day, and cooling at night from maritime breezes wafting up from the San Pablo Bay to the south. The sparse soils are comprised of gravelly loam with large and small rocks that hold the heat into the evenings contributing to the ripening of the grapes. The sparse nutrients and minerals in the soil coupled with the drainage from the steep slanted slopes result in tiny berries with concentrated and complex flavors. 

We toured Mt Veeder during our Napa Valley Mt Veeder Appellation Wine Experience in 2011

The wines of Mt. Brave show the characteristic brambly aromas and blue fruit flavors that are common to Mt. Veeder but are expressed here uncommonly well. They feature intense minerality, well-defined tannins allowing for extended aging, and recognizable mouth-pleasing acidity. The incredible structure suggests an extended development over time, but the wines have been crafted for enjoyment and celebration in the present.

The Mt Brave winemaker is Chris Carpenter known for legendary Napa winemaking for Lokoya and Cardinale, involved since the Mt. Brave project began in 2007. 

Chris, originally from Chicago, earned a BS in biology from the University of Illinois, then an MS in both viticulture and enology from the University of California, Davis. He also holds an MBA in marketing and international business from the University of Illinois. He broke into the wine business with a prestigious research internship at Tenute Antinori in Tuscany and further study at Università per Stranieri di Perugia. Through these experiences he developed an old world sensibility paired with a new world ambition.

This label release is a blend of 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4.5% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec and 1% Petit Verdot. It was barrel aged 21 months in 100% French oak, 80% new.

Winemaker notes on this label: "Grown on the rocky slopes of Mt. Veeder, the 2019 Cabernet shows notes of black cherry, blueberry, and Asian spice. On the palate, the wine has a profound density of fruit that is structured by fine tannins while the perfectly balanced acidity elongates a long savory finish."

This release was award 96 Points James Suckling, 95 points by Jeb Dunnuck, and 94 points by Wine Advocate.

Dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, complex concentrated, bright expressive ripe blackberry and huckleberry notes with cassis, caramel, cedar turning to refined tannins and bright acidity on a lingering finish. 

RM 93 points.


Shrader Double Diamond Oakville Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvginon 2019

This label is from the ultra premium producer Schrader as a separate second brand. We hold a half dozen labels from this brand going back a decade. Double Diamond labels are available from appellations vineyards in Napa Valley, Amber Knolls in Lake County, Mayacamas in Sonoma, and this from the Oakville appellation in Napa Valley, 70% from the legendary To Kalon Vineyard in Oakville. 

The winemaker for Double Diamond (Schrader) is Thomas Rivers Brown. I wrote about him in an earlier blogpost about Double Diamond Amber Knolls Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

What a surprise that a wine from their second label brand would gain infamy and notoriety as Wine Spectator's #1 Top 100 Wine of the Year for 2022. 

I've written in these pages about the consternation when a favored wine gains such notoriety resulting in exorbitant demand drying up availability, and significantly driving up the price from that moment forward.  It was timely and serendipitous that this wine was available at our dining site tonight.

Producer notes - "Our 2019 Double Diamond Cabernet Sauvignon is crafted by winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown in the Schrader Cellars tradition of making the best Cabernet Sauvignon that Napa Valley can offer. A unique expression of the Oakville AVA with harmonious integration of decadent fruit, refined structure, and silky tannins, the 2019 vintage of Double Diamond is ready to enjoy now and will continue to evolve over the next 3-5 years."

Winemaker notes - "The 2019 vintage of Double Diamond offers intricately woven layers of decadent flavor, complemented by exotic spice components and a refined tannin structure. It highlights all the best attributes of what defines Oakville as the epicenter for Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.'

"In the glass, the wine displays a nearly opaque ruby-purple hue. Upon closer inspection, aromas emerge in waves suggesting framboise, nutmeg, toasted cedar bark, plum reduction, and pennyroyal mint. The sleek palate is marked by mouth-watering notes such as blackberry compote, dark chocolate shavings, cassis, oolong tea, flint, and lavender. The dynamic flavors interact on the mid-palate with a vivid harmony, carrying through to the long floral finish, which lasts for up to a minute. With a  pleasing acidity and fine tannic framework, this wine is very enjoyable today and should develop gracefully in the cellar for years to come."

This wine was awarded a rare consensus 94 points from Jeb Dunnuck, James Suckling and of course, Wine Spectator which also anointed it #1 Wine of the Year in its Top 100 wines of 2022. That accolade is awarded based on availability and value as well as quality and distinction. 

Dark garnet colored with hues of purple, medium full bodied, aromatic, elegant, round, nicely balanced and integrated ripe plum, black currant and blackberry fruits with notes of mint, cassis, bittersweet cocoa, tobacco, and hints of sweet caramel, turning to smooth polished tannins on a lingering finish. 

RM 94 points.