Sunday, April 9, 2023

Family Easter and Birthday Celebration Dinner features ultra-premium birth-year vintage wines

Family Easter and Birthday Celebration Dinner features ultra-premium birth-year vintage wines

We hosted the family for Easter featuring an Easter Egg hunt for the (grand) kids followed by a gala dinner that also recognized son Alec's birthday. Alec and Linda prepared grilled Salmon and NY Strip Steaks. 

I pulled from the cellar two ultra-premium birth-year vintage wines for the occasion, from son Alec's birth-year who also had a birthday this week. 

At thirty-two years, this was a study in longevity and age-worthiness of two top labels, one from Bordeaux and one from Napa Valley. Amazingly, they were very similar and equivalent in all respects, with similar character and tasting profiles, fill levels, foils, labels, and importantly the corks were all in ideal condition, for their age. The Ducru cork was a bit soft and spongy and starting to erode, but was still intact. The Diamond Creek cork was remarkably tight and well preserved.

This is another testament to the conditions in our wine cellar for aging fine wines. Both had been in our cellar for decades.

Both had good color and body and, while showing their age and perhaps past their prime, were still very much within their approachable drinking window.

Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, St. Julien, Bordeaux 1990

Lisa Perrotti-Brown of Robert Parker's Wine Advocated tasted this at the Chateau in August 2020 and gave it a drinking window of 2020 - 2028. 

We hold a vertical collection of this label dating back four decades, including birth-year vintages for each of our kids, and many of our grand-kids, several of which we served at their weddings in large format bottles. 

We had the privilege and honor to visit the Château Ducru Beaucaillou estate during our trip to the St Julien appellation of Bordeaux in 2019.

Château Ducru Beaucaillou is named for the "beautiful pebbles", stones found in its unique wine-growing terroir of the Gironde River estuary. The estate sits on an promontory site with views of the river in the center of a hundred-year-old park. 

The Ducru Beaucaillou Chateau is a majestic, Victorian-style castle, which is one of the great symbols of the Médoc, and residence to the owners to this day. 

The original winery and cellars are in the lower level underneath the residence. A new extensive expanded facility was built in recent years.

For 300 years, six families of owners have owned and managed the Château Ducru Beaucaillou estate. which today is managed by the company Jean Eugène Borie SA, which is owned by Mrs Borie, her daughter Sabine Coiffe and her son Bruno Eugène, CEO since 2003, the third generation of the Borie family to head the estate.

This wine is a traditional left bank Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The wine was aged for around 12 months in two-thirds new oak.

Dark garnet brick colored, medium-full bodied, complex and rich blackberry and plum fruits with notes of earth, tree bark, tobacco, tapenade, black tea and leather on a lingering moderate tannin acidic finish. 

RM 91 points. 

This was awarded 91 points by Robert Parker 's Wine Advocate.

Diamond Creek Vineyards "Gravelly Meadow" Vineyard, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1990

A trip to Napa Valley Diamond Mountain by the serious wine enthusiast or collector would not be complete without a visit to the legendary Diamond Creek Vineyards. 

Diamond Creek was founded in 1968 by the late Al Brounstein, and wife 'Boots' (pictured below), a visionary pioneer who defied conventions of the time by planting Bordeaux varietals on secluded Diamond Mountain in the Mayacamas Range at the north remote end of Napa Valley.

Diamond Creek is a case study in terroir - the estate is segregated into four distinct vineyards, each with its own micro-climate, soil type and geography that are revealed in their single vineyard designated Cabernet Sauvignon wines named for the four distinctly different origination vineyards. 

The vineyards of Diamond Creek Cabernet Sauvignon are Gravelly Meadow (5 acres - center left), Red Rock Terrace (7 acres front), Volcanic Hill (8 acres opposite), and Lake (¾ acre). There is also one acre planted to Petit Verdot. 

This is another producer of whom we hold a vertical collection spanning more than two decades. Our collection includes all of the vineyards, many in horizontal collections of the three primary vineyards from a vintage.

The vineyards,  pictured here, are amazingly co-located close to each other yet have distinctive individual characteristics that are revealed in their wines, based on their proximity to the slope approaching the creek that cascades down the mountain, dividing the property. The chateau and tasting room offer a magnificent setting and view of the vineyards on the slope and meadow below and of the opposing hillside.

We visited the estate in 2017 for the Diamond Creek Open House and 2015 Vintage Release Tasting, shown here with Matriarch, proprietor and founder Boots Brownstein. 

We also visited the estate and did a private food and wine pairing tasting back in 2011 as part of our Diamond Mountain Wine Experience - Diamond Creek Vineyards visit and tasting.

In 2020, 52 years after its founding, Diamond Creek was acquired by the Rouzaud family of world-renowned Maison Louis Roederer, whose roots in wine date to the 1700s. The relationship between the Rouzaud and Brounstein families stretched back three decades, with an admiration and mutual respect for one another born of a common love for wine and its role in history, culture and life.  

Like the 1990 vintage Bordeaux above, this too was in ideal condition, with no obvious signs of diminution from age. The fill level, foil, label and cork were as good as to be expected at three decades. 

Dark garnet colored, medium-full bodied, concentrated, rich, complex yet elegant blackberry and black cherry fruits with notes of deep, perfumed, herbaceousness with concentrated currant, cedar and flavors of tea, leather and tobacco on a long, smooth finish.

RM 92 points.

Far Niente Napa Valley Chardonnay 2011

For the grilled salmon, we also served this hearty robust Napa Valley Chardonnay from a legendary producer. 

The Far Niente estate sits along St Helena Highway in the heart of Oakville. Far Niente's history dates back to 1885 when the estate was first established by pioneer John Benson a forty-niner of the California gold rush and uncle of the famous American impressionist painter, Winslow Homer. Benson hired notable architect Hamden McIntyre to design the historic winery in western Oakville which today is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was restored to its original prestige by the Nickel family in 1979.

Far Niente prospered up until the onset of Prohibition in 1919 when it was closed and sat neglected for 60 years until 1980, when Gil Nickel bought and restored the winery and neighboring vineyard over three years. He preserved the Far Niente name which in Italian translates to ‘without a care.’ 
Far Niente constructed wine caves, the first to be constructed in North America since the turn of the century, spawning a whole new standard in California wine country. Over the next 20 years, the winery conducted four more expansions of the caves, bringing the total area to 40,000 square feet.

Far Niente is consistently recognized as a benchmark producer of Napa Valley Chardonnay and Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. 

The Far Niente Estate Bottled Napa Valley Chardonnay is crafted in a blend sourced from superb vineyards, many of which are located in Coombsville, the cool growing region in the rolling hills east of Napa that they've been growing for over 40 years. The climate there is similar to the other source site in the popular Chardonnay appellation of Carneros in south west Napa Valley, but with less wind and deeper, well-drained gravelly loam and volcanic ash soils. The winery states, "the combination of these spectacular vineyards results in the subtle, tropical flavors, complex aromas and uncommon richness that we have long associated with Far Niente Chardonnay."

Winemaker Notes: The 2011 Far Niente Chardonnay opens with delicate aromas of citrus blossom, honeydew melon, pear, flint and toasted almonds. The entry is silky with pear and citrus flavors. Refreshing acidity leads to a juicy finish, layered with toasted oak.

Butter colored, medium bodied, bold full but nicely balanced flavors of citrus, pear and melon with notes of floral and almond on a pleasantly dry moderately acid finish. 
RM 92 points.