Monday, January 2, 2023

Merryvale Silhouette Napa Chardonnay with Chicken Tetrazzini

Merryvale Silhouette Napa Valley Chardonnay with Chicken Tetrazzini

Linda prepared a delicious hearty rich Chicken Tetrazzini so I pulled from the cellar a big full bodied Napa Chardonnay as an accompaniment.

This ultra-premium label is from the premier Profile collection of Merryvale, who crafted the first Profile red blend in 1983, from the finest Napa Valley fruit of the vintage. The proprietary Profile brand name first appeared on labels with the 1987 vintage.

For the next 25 years, Profile was the flagship Bordeaux-style red blend of Merryvale Vineyards, branded as part of the larger winery’s portfolio. With the release of the 2012 vintage, Profile revealed a new contemporary look with this label that honors their historic legacy, featuring glass etched silhouettes of the modern-day proprietors — René and Laurence Schlatter, who took the helm from the founder, René’s father Jack in 2008.

It all started in the early 1990s when visionary partners Swiss-born Jack Schlatter and winemaker Bob Levy sought out vineyard sites of exceptional quality and character from which to craft wines.

The Swiss-born Schlatter family became sole proprietors of the brand in the mid-1990s, when Jack Schlatter and his son René acquired this historic hillside site and worked closely with viticulturist David Abreu to replant and redesign the vineyard from the ground up. Beginning in 1997, they planted 25 acres with 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, and 5% Cabernet Franc.

In 2004, the family acquired a parcel of the historic Stanly Ranch property in Carneros, with the goal of producing world-class Chardonnay worthy of joining the Profile Collection. That second estate vineyard now provides the luminous fruit used to craft into the Silhouette label.

Jack Schlatter spent his earlier career selling cotton in Hong Kong and tasting coffee in Brazil, but his favorite passion was great wine. After spending much of his life working hard in industries that held no particular excitement for him, he shifted gears to invest in a business he actually loved when a real estate deal introduced him to Bill Harlan and the other Merryvale founders.

Jack joined the Merryvale founders as a partner in 1991, building the winery’s international presence with his established import/export connections. A few years later in 1996, Jack and his family became the sole owners of the winery, and the Schlatters began to create a family estate. Twenty years later, the Profile Estate Vineyard and Stanly Ranch Estate Vineyard are the foundation of Merryvale.

Jack turned the CEO duties over to son René in 2008 and now offers counsel and support for the family business from his home in Vevey, Switzerland where he lives with his wife, Lilo.

Proprietors René and Laurence Schlatter grew up in the same small town near Geneva, Switzerland, but never met until Laurence’s brother introduced them at the Merryvale tasting room in St. Helena.

Merryvale Winemaker Andrew Wright grew up in the Sonoran Desert. His interest in wine arose when he visited the Finger Lakes wine region of upstate New York while on a post-college road trip. From that point on, he devoured volumes of wine literature and the wines they described, expanding his palate and shaping his philosophies.

Andrew began his winemaking career planting vines in the high desert outside of Sonoita, Arizona. He moved to Napa Valley in 2012, where he worked in the vineyards and cellars of Harlan and Bond Estates, Promontory and The Napa Valley Reserve, as well as Fruition Sciences where Merryvale was a client, eventually taking on winemaking duties there.

This Silhouette is Merryvale's flagship white wine, crafted to the same exacting standards as Profile, crafted from only the best lots from their top vineyards each year.

Striving to create a white wine of the 'utmost integrity, depth and grace', Silhouette is limited production old-world style crafted from the finest Chardonnay grapes of each vintage.

This is sourced (90%) from the best Chardonnay block in the historic Stanly Ranch Estate Vineyard on the Napa side of the Carneros AVA, plus some fruit (10%) from Hyde Vineyard, down at the bottom of Napa Valley where the Mayacamas range foothills meets the flat shorelands of San Pablo Bay.

Producer's Tasting Notes - "Silhouette is everything we love about great Chardonnay— bright, fresh, full, complex, long and delicious. Barrel fermented with native yeasts in the classic Burgundian style, the wine is unctuous and full while expressing the bright acidity of the cool Carneros appellation. Lemon curd, hazelnuts, orange blossoms, and jasmine delight aromatically and on the palate as the wine evolves in the glass. This is a complex Chardonnay, with layers of flavor dancing on the taut line of natural acidity. The long, balanced finish both satisfies and entices—this is a deeply enjoyable wine. An excellent food companion, the wine is also stunning on its own and will continue to evolve over the next 10+ years."

It aged 16 months with the full lees in 40% new French oak, Burgundy barrels from Tronçais, Jupilles and Fontainebleau forests in central France, with light toast.

700 cases were produced.

This was rated 95 points by Jeb Dunnuck of, and 92 each points from Lisa Perrotti-Brown of, Kim Marcus from Wine Spectator, James Suckling, and Wine Enthusiast. 

Producer Notes - "Silhouette is a captivating wine. The outstanding quality of the fruit allows for long native fermentations where we carefully monitor its progress. We are striving for the best expression of Chardonnay; an exercise of balance with one goal in mind: finesse, refinement and complexity. Our intent is to surprise you with this unique, exquisite and noble wine that has the potential to age for 10 years or more."

"The 2017 Silhouette Chardonnay has an intense nose filled with exotic fruit notes including pineapple, stone fruit and tangerine, and a fragrant vanilla finish. The mouth is very round with a nice sweetness and very clean minerality. The wine is dense and ample with a touch of sweetness and citrus (yuzu) finish. A very balanced and elegant wine with a stylish touch of oak and a beautiful finish."

Each vintage, their very best Chardonnay fruit goes into the Silhouette bottling. For the 2017 vintage, the wine is comprised primarily of grapes grown on thee Stanly Ranch Estate Vineyard with a small percentage from the neighboring Hyde Vineyard in Carneros.

The result is a 'beautiful wine with great acidity and drinkability' that Merryvale says is one of the best Chardonnays that they have made.

Silhouette is packaged in a heavy oversize bottle with etched glass markings featuring the silhouettes of each of the proprietors on each side, requiring turning the bottle or multiple images to see them both.

Light straw colored, medium to full bodied, concentrated, rich, round, intense almost obtuse, forward green apple, tropical and stone fruits, notes of guava, pineapple and hints of melon, peach, and nuts, with a long racy acidic finish. Definitely needs some rich seafood or pasta with sauces to balance the acidity and intensity. 

RM 91 points.

Hourglass Napa Red at RH Oak Brook

 Hourglass HG III Proprietary Red Blend at RH - Restoration Hardware Rooftop Restaurant in Oak Brook

New Years Day late lunch early dinner dining out, we dined at the stylish trendy RH Rooftop Restaurant located on the third floor of the RH - (Restoration Hardware) at Oak Brook Center, in nearby Oak Brook (IL). 

RH is a spacious 60,000-square-foot design gallery, part residential, part retail furniture store. The dining room is a year-round skylit garden surrounding a trickling fountains amidst heritage olive trees and glimmering chandeliers under a glass skylit ceiling.

This has become one of Linda's favorite dine-sites that she loves to frequent when shopping at the adjacent upscale fashionable Oak Brook outdoor mall. While we considered a ladies spot with a girlie menu, I must admit RH exceeded my expectations in every respect - ambiance, food, wine - the totality of the dining experience, and intimate dining site.

The glass enclosed dining room provided a serene setting under the dusk sky.

The dining room is bright and airy yet intimate with the soothing accoustics of trickling water from the large central fountain surrounded by warm full grown olive trees.

The chic restaurant also features a wine bar and broad selection of classic curated wines from esteemed US and European vintners offering 60 wines, 40 wines by the glass (WBTG).  

While limited, the winelist features classic notable upscale producers and selections - sparkling, rose, white and red. 

Top rated reds reads like a who's who of top labels including: Caymus Special Selection, Zena Crown Slope, Eola-Amity Hills, Spottswoods St. Helena, Lail Vineyards Blueprint, Kosta Browne Sonoma Coast, Marchesi Antinori Tignanello, Shafer Hillside Select, The Mascot, Napa Valley, La Spinetetta Vignetto Garretti, Barolo, Chateau Rauzan-Segla Margaux Grand Cru Classé, Chateau Mont Reddon Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Penfolds Shiraz, RWT .

The premier top rated whites include: Louis Roederer Cristal Brut and Dom Perignon Champagne, Maison Champy Le Rognet, Corton Grand Cru, Burgundy, Domaine Laroche Chardonnay, Les Blanchots, Chablis Grand Cru, US Chardonnays from Sonoma-Cutrer Les Pierres, Sonoma, Cakebread Cellars  Chardonnay, Reserve, Gary Farrell Hallberg Vineyard and Rochioli Russian River Valley.

The winelist is premium selections with but a few budget or moderately priced bottles, yet the BTG are thoughtfully selected with several options such as our feature selections.  

Our wine pairings were ideal accentuating the enjoyment of the food as well as the wine.

From the limited, focused carefully selected menu we ordered, we ordered for our afternoon lunch/dinner: To share we enjoyed the Burrata with Roasted Peppers, Della Terra Aged Balsamic, Basil, Charred Sourdough. Linda order for her entree the Arugula with Fennel, Grapes, Sunflower Seeds, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Citrus Vinaigrette topped with the Broiled Salmon with Honey, Black Pepper, Brown Butter and Lemon.

I ordered the Shaved Ribeye on Charred Garlic Bread with Emmentaler Swiss, Cherry Peppers, Au Jus, and a side of the Yukon Gold Potato Puree with Chive Butter.

For wine accompaniments, we ordered B-T-G, (by the glass), Chalk Hill, Sonoma, Russian River Valley Chardonnay, and the Hourglass "HG III" Napa Valley Proprietary Red Blend. 

Hourglass "HGIII" Napa Valley Proprietary Red Blend 2019 

This proprietary red blend is from Napa Valley Hourglass, who have been producing ultra premium super high-scoring Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot since their inaugural release in 1997. The estate sits at the northern center of Napa Valley and consists of two vineyards focused on Bordeaux varietals. 

Hourglass wines are crafted by veteran Napa Valley winemaker Tony Biagi who gained notoriety working at some of the Valley's elite wineries including Duckhorn, Paraduxx, Plumpjack, and Cade, where he was founding Winemaker before joining Hourglass. 

Biagi is a sixth generation Californian whose first memories of wine go back to his father making small amounts of wine in his garage. He earned a degree in Fermentation Sciences at U.C. Davis in 1995 before working for the listed well-known estates, then joining Hourglass in 2012.

HG III is Hourglass' proprietary red blend second label produced exclusively from the Napa Valley. Biagi has made a name for himself with the critically acclaimed Hourglass wines, known for elegant tannin structure, rich mouthfeel, layers of silky textural depth and harmonious balance of richness and acidity. Biagi says: “I want my wines to be rich, but if that’s all they are they become one dimensional and monotonous,” he outlines. Writes a leading pundit, "HG III delivers a big, rich, powerful red blend, but always impeccably balanced. A real showstopper, even better with a good decant".

The 2019 HG III harmoniously combines 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petite Syrah sourced from the Hourglass Blueline Estate vineyard and a select few top-of-the-line vineyards.

This is a somewhat unconventional blend, the core trio of varieties all offer distinctive characteristics yet harmony to the final blend: Merlot leads with finesse and approachability, Cabernet Sauvignon elevates with  structure and polish, and Petite Syrah grounds the blend with what one pundit calls 'gravitas and bass'. 

The 2019 vintage was aged 16 months in a combination of new and seasoned French oak, contributing to its multilayered complexity and smooth tannins.

Winemaker Notes: “The 2019 vintage for HGIII is a knockout – an unequivocal example of how this expansive, rich and deeply textured wine over delivers. Tony’s ingenious blend, the core trio of varieties all offer distinction and harmony to the final blend: Merlot leads with finesse and approachability, Cabernet Sauvignon elevates with structure and polish, and Petite Syrah grounds the blend with gravitas and bass. With red and black currant forming the aromatic core, dried herb and fennel are their verdant, savory counterparts. A ripe juicy frame of dark sour and red cherry mingles with inky black cassis laced with fine streaks of dark Belgian chocolate. Undeniably approachable now, and yet with the structure, density, and complexity for great ageability.”

This was rated 94 Points by Master Sommelier Kevin Vogt, and 92 points by Jeb Dunnuck.

I enjoyed this so much I went home and went on-line and snatched up all the remaining bottles in stock at Binny's, our Chicagoland wine superstore. 

Bright garnet colored with hues of purple, medium full bodied, elegant, polished, full round forward,  nicely integrated briary blackberry and ripe plum fruits with notes of mocha dark chocolate, clove spice, hints of vanilla, and delicate floral, with a balanced long finish combining slightly chalky tannins. 

RM 93 points.