Saturday, June 17, 2023

Pour Boys Impromptu Wine Dinner on the deck

 Pour Boys Impromptu Wine Dinner on the deck features top flight Napa Cabernets and medley of reds and whites

We hosted a short notice impromptu wine dinner with Pour Boys Dan and Lyle Saturday evening on the deck. Linda prepared grilled New York Strip beefsteaks with stuffed mushrooms, toasted cheese bread, mashed potatoes, gezpacho soup and tomato and burrata salad. 

Dan and Lyle brought some classic wines from their cellars and I matched or complemented each with matching labels from our cellar, plus several selections to accompany and complement the dinner.

I also pulled a couple of bottles I was eager to try. Following our recent gala Pour Boys Winers and Diners Cityscape wine dinner where Cos d' Estournel was one of the WOTN - Wines of the Night, I was eager to try this aged vintage Cos from our cellar, but held it for a special occasion such as tonight when I could share it with fellow oenophiles. 

Similarly, I recently acquired this 100 point Alvaviva Concho y' Toro Chilean red wine, the Chilean property of the legendary first growth Bordeaux producer Baron Phillip Rothschild, that I was eager to try and share. 

Lyle brought from his cellar a premium Beringer Private Reserve Napa Cabernet so I matched it with a David Arthur from the same vintage, 2008. Additionally, we opened this aged vintage Cos that I was eager to try following the WOTN (Wine of the Night) showing of this label at Terry and Lyle's gala Pour Boys dinner recently.

Dan brought from his cellar a vintage premium Aussie Shiraz, Clarendon Hills Clarendon Piggot Range so I pulled a near age label, Montes Folly. We also matched these with the 100 point Alvaviva Concho y' Toro Chilean red wine from the Baron Phillip Rothschild Chilean estate, that I was eager to try and share.

For a starter, prior to dinner and with the chilled gazpacho soup and a tomato, burrata balsamic salad course, we opened a casual easy sipper Napa Valley Rutherford appellation Sauvignon Blanc. Later in the evening we also opened this aged dessert wine.

To close the evening with the grilled peaches on angel food cake and fresh chocolate brownie desserts, I opened another Beringer label, Nightingale Sauterne blend style dessert wine. Look at the dramatic difference in the color of these two white wines! 

The flight:

  • Long Meadow Ranch Napa Valley Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc 2018
  • Beringer Private Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
  • David Arthur Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
  • Chateau Cos d' Estournel St Estephe Bordeaux 1979
  • Clarendon Hills Clarendon Piggot Range Shiraz 2011
  • Montes Folly Shiraz 2010
  • Baron Phillip Rothschild Almaviva Concho y' Toro Chile 2017
  • Beringer Nightingale Botrytized Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2004


Long Meadow Ranch Napa Valley Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc 2018 

Long Meadow Ranch farms in 3 counties over 2,000 acres of grapes, olives, fruits, vegetables and pasture. The Mayacamas Estate is rugged 650-acre landscape nestled in the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains also gave way to a long, sweeping meadow, thus the name Long Meadow Ranch was born. 

Their restaurant tasting room hospitality center is on St Helena Highway as you enter town from the south.

Winemaker notes - “A beautiful growing season produced another early and expeditious harvest of outstanding quality. Our overnight picks and slow cold fermentations resulted in rich aromas of pink grapefruit, lemon verbena, and lychee on the nose that carry through to lime zest, lemon curd, and guava on the palate. Crisp, clean, elegant, and mouthwatering, the always versatile Sauvignon Blanc is fit to quaff and pair.” – Justin Carr

Beringer Private Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

This is the flagship Cabernet from one of the most storied producers in Napa Valley. Beringer dates back 1868, when Jacob Beringer, emigrated from Germany, and settled in Napa Valley 1869 where the rocky hillside soil and fertile valley floor resembled that of vineyards back home in Germany. He became cellar foreman for Charles Krug, one of the first commercial winemakers in Napa Valley. In 1875, he and his brother Jacob purchased 215 acres adjacent to Charles Krug in St. Helena for $14,500. The Beringer Brothers' first harvest and crush followed in 1876 producing nearly 40,000 gallons of wine, or 18,000 cases, that first year. 

The Beringer Cabernet was named #1 Wine of the Year for the 1986 Cabernet by Wine Spectator (1990 edition). Six years later, Wine Spectator named the 1994 Chardonnay #1 Wine of the Year (1996 edition) - this is special because not only is it the first time a white wine has ever garnered that top spot, but Beringer was the first and only winery to ever have both a red and a white wine in that top slot. 

Former Chief Winemakers Myron Nightingale and Ed Sbragia created the Private Reserve program in 1977 as the flagship labels of the portfolio. The Private Reserve Chardonnay was introduced with the 1978 vintage, and together these wines have earned three decades of extraordinary accolades, including two "Wine of the Year" awards. The 2015 and 2016 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon vintages were awarded back to back 99-point scores.

The fruit for this 2008 vintage release was predominantly (80% St. Helena, 18% Steinhauer) sourced from the Home Vineyard on the Beringer estate just on the outskirts of St. Helena. This vineyard was part of the original 215 acres Jacob Beringer purchased in 1875. The Cabernet Sauvignon planted on the sloped sedimentary soil of this 48-acre vineyard has been a key component of our Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon since 1982.

The remainder of the Cabernet was sourced from the Steinhauer Ranch vineyard, located at 1,800 feet on Howell Mountain, this 36-acre vineyard of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc sits above the fog, exposed to cool mountain temperatures and high solar radiation. The vineyard is named in honor of Beringer's longtime vineyard manager Bob Steinhauer.

The final blend includes a touch of Petit Verdot (1%) and 1% Cabernet Franc sourced from the Howell Mountain AVA Bancroft Ranch Vineyard. The mountainous 89 acre vineyard has nutrient-poor, rocky soils at 1,800 feet, and produces the intense Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc in this Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

Winemaker Notes - "The 2008 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon shows youthful characters of fresh blackberry, black cherry and blueberry, and has bright characteristics of blackberry and blueberry aromas, accented by notes of toast, graphite, cedar and brown spices. The palette is rich and supple with seamless, mouth-coating tannins. The rich, juicy fruit core is highlighted by flavors of cassis, blackberry, sweet cocoa and a light savory note. A nice acidity lifts the fruit and carries it into a prolonged, pleasing finish."

This was awarded 93 points by Stephen Tanzer and 92 points by Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator. 

Dark inky purple colored, full bodied, dense concentrated but superbly balanced and integrated, bright expressive ripe sweet blackberry and black raspberry fruits predominate with layers of cassis, dark mocha, with hints of oak, vanilla and graphite. Wine Spectator set the drinking window through 2023 and it certainly appeared to be at its apex. 

RM 94 points. @beringervyds @beringerwinery

David Arthur Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

The superb Beringer Cabernet was ideally matched by this premium label from the southern end of the Vaca Mountain range of Napa Valley. I pulled this 2008 vintage release to compare with the Beringer for a mini-horizontal tasting. 

We have fun with this label produced by the Long Family on the Long Family Ranch, high atop Pritchard Hill. We visited the David Arthur Napa Valley Estate Vineyards and Winery during our Napa Valley Wine Experience in 2013. We were joined on that trip by the other of  the Ned Long daughters, wife Linda and sister Pat, who grew up on the Long Family (no relation) farm in Indiana.

David Arthur Vineyards was founded in 1985 by brothers David and Bob Long on land their father Don Long purchased in the late 1950s. David settled in Napa Valley in 1977 and learned the wine business from the ground up working at nearby Chappellet, Joseph Phelps and Schramsberg. 

David prepared the Long Family Ranch site in 1978-79 and planted the first grapes in 1980. Don’s youngest son, David Arthur, founded the winery with his then wife, Joye Dale, in 1985 with the purchase of 30 French oak barrels. The first vintage was the 1985 Chardonnay followed by the first red wine, Meritaggio, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Sangiovese in 1992 and then Cabernets.

David and Joye’s daughter, Laura Long, now work side by side with her father running the day-to-day operations of the winery and vineyards.

This David Arthur Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 was awarded 93 points Wine Enthusiast. 

This was a great comparison tasting of the same vintage Beringer, both showing superbly at fifteen years of age, likely both at the apex of their drinking windows.

This is blended with 11% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc.

Dark ruby purple colored, medium full bodied, slightly softer and more focused and less complex than the Beringer, since this is sourced from but one single vineayard site, black raspberry and black currant fruits with notes of vanilla, cocoa, hints of mineral, mint, toasty herbs and oak.

RM 93


Chateau Cos d' Estournel St Estephe Bordeaux 1979

As noted above, we tasted together this label from a near recent vintage at Lyle and Terry's dinner recently. Hence I was eager to share this aged bottle of the label. 

We drove by the magnificent historic Chateau estate and vineyards that sit on the road on the edge of St Estephe as you round the bend and climb the gentle hill from the Pauillac appellation. 

This release was awarded 92 points Wine Spectator, Three Stars from critic Michael Broadbent.

Wine Advocate said this was "the best of the 1979 St-Estephes" for the vintage. 

At forty years, it was time to open this bottle and we weren't sure what to expect. The label, fill level and foil and most importantly the cork were all in amazing condition, looking more like they were half their age. In 1998, at twenty years, Robert Parker noted "this wine has aged slowly". The longevity was impressive, especially considering this was a 375ml half bottle, another testament to the provenance of our wine cellar!

This showed minimal signs of diminution from age with decent color, bouquet and fruit flavors - ruby/garnet colored, medium bodied, amazing resilience with its flavors and bouquet of black cherry fruits, notes of cassis, and some vanillin, oaky scents. 

RM 89 points.

We then moved to the bigger more robust Syrahs. 

Clarendon Hills "Piggott Range Vineyard" Syrah McLaren Vale South Australia 2011

This is a label we have enjoyed for more than two decades having discovered it in the '90's. This is our favorite label from this producer who produces several Rhone varietal wines in single vineyard designated labels.

Clarendon Hills is a small family-run winery based in Clarendon, South Australia. The company was founded by biochemist, Roman Bratasiuk, in 1990 when this biochemist and wine lover decided to produce his own wine. Though he'd never trained as a winemaker, Roman was guided by his refined palate and scientific knowledge. Following his favorite producers and preferred styles, Roman sought to make a version of the wines he loved. 

This vintage release of this label was not as big or fruit filled as the other releases I have tasted, taking on a little bit more menthol and acidity than the more complex concentrated fruit flavors of some other vintages we have tasted. 

From an earlier review of this release, "One Cellartracker reviewer MMack gave it 92 points and compared it to a CDP (Chateauneuf du Pape). Vivino reviewer DcLaxFan also likened it to a Rhone, he wrote "From a winery founded by a biochemist, the Syrah opens with a nose of smoked meat, mulberry, tapenade, and plum. Savory mouth of prunes, brisket, cassis, and earth. A wild, smoky, meaty feel like a Rhône Vacqueyras."

Dark inky purple, full bodied, full round blackberry fruits with notes of cassis, bacon fat, black tea and tapenade. The fruit is more subdued than other vintages of this label.

RM 91 points.

Previous tastings of this label: 


To compare with this label I pulled this near vintage, same varietal release from a different part of the world, Chile.

Montes Folly La Finca de Apalta Syrah 2010

From an earlier tasting, Montes Folly has been cited as the best Syrah in Chile. It is the first ultra-premium Syrah to be sourced from Chile. The grapes for this Montes Folly grow on the steepest hillsides of the Finca de Apalta vineyards in Apalta, Colchagua, Chile, where the vines have adapted best and have found good balance between yields and vegetative expression.

The terroir driven soils are of granitic origin and primarily consist of decomposing rocks from high above in the chain of mountains that crosses the valley, and therefore the soils in this sector are rather thin and poor in organic matter with a good percolation capacity, which enables the roots to explore the entire profile in search of water.

The grapes are hand-selected and sorted on special selection sorting tables. The vinified wine is then aged in French oak barrels for 24 months.

The 2016 release of this label was awarded 96 points by James Suckling.

Not in the class of the 'old world' Northern Rhone Hermitage Chave, this 'new world' or emerging market Syrah represents the art of the possible of what is coming from the emerging wine producing regions and nascent producers.

More new world style like a big Australian Syrah with its complex concentrated forward fruits, almost obtuse when compared to the Chave, dark inky purple with blackberry and black raspberry fruits highlighted by notes of spice, cassis, currants, mocha and hints of black olive.

RM 92 points. @MontesWines

And, with the pivot to South America, Chile, I opened this highly rated red from the same region.

Almaviva Baron Phillip Rothschild Concho y' Toro Chile 2017

Almaviva is a partnership between Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, Chairman of the Advisory Board of Baron Philippe de Rothschild SA, and Eduardo Guilisasti Tagle, Chairman of Viña Concha y Toro S.A., formed in 1997 to create exceptional Franco-Chilean wines and launched in 1998.

Almaviva was the first wine in Chile produced under this French Château concept, based upon exceptional terroir, one unique bodega (estate vineyard site) and one technical team – the three of which are dedicated exclusively to the production of one wine seeking unparalleled quality and excellence. The Château concept was introduced in the XIX century in France as a way to honor creative mastery of winegrowers from Bordeaux.

The vineyards are in Puenta Alto to the south of Santiago, Chile.

Almaviva wines are produced under the joint technical supervision of both partners.

Using the Bordeaux Classification system of producers, created back in 1855, Liv-ex published a 2017 Classification of Bordeaux where Almaviva is ranked as second growth. Liv-ex published its fifth Classification of Bordeaux. Like the original classification of 1855, it places fine wines into five classes based on price and visibility. For the first time, this year’s Liv-ex classification has been extended to include regions beyond Bordeaux.

Almaviva was classified as a second growth. This ranks it alongside world renowned brands such as Opus One, Dominus, Vega Sicilia and Bordeaux’s Pichon Baron and Leoville Poyferre, among the finest wines in the world and top one in South America.

According to the producer, the name Almaviva, despite it's Hispanic sonority, belongs to classical French literature: Count Almaviva is the hero of The Marriage of Figaro, the famous play by Beaumarchais (1732-1799), later turned into an opera by the genius of Mozart.

The label design pays homage to Chile’s ancestral history, with three reproductions of a stylized design, which symbolizes their vision of the earth and the cosmos.

The label bears the name Almaviva in Beaumarchais’ own handwriting. 

This is made from a blend of classic Bordeaux varieties, in which Cabernet Sauvignon predominates at 65%, with Carménère, 23%, Cabernet Franc, 5%, Petit Verdot, 5%, and Merlot at 2%.

It was barrel aged 19 Months in new French Oak.

Producer's Tasting Notes - Deep, intense and opaque ruby red. The nose reveals a generous, powerful and layered bouquet of ripe cassis and blackberries, interwoven with hints of mineral, fine notes of vanilla, coffee, black pepper and earth. Dense and full-bodied, the wine fills the mouth with round, ripe and refined tannins, leaving an overall impression of balance and persistence. Produced from an extremely warm, but superb vintage, this well-structured wine of balanced acidity strikes a wonderful combination of elegance and power, with a very promising long aging potential."

This was rated 100 points by James Suckling. 

Despite it's pedigree and superior ratings, this was a bit disjointed, perhaps needing more time in which to integrate and settle. Dark garnet colored, medium bodied, tightly wound and structured black berry fruits with notes of cassis, black tea, leather and earth.

RM 91 points.

Beringer Nightingale Botrytized Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2004

In light of the Beringer Private Reserve served earlier, I pulled from the cellar this Beringer French Sauternes-style dessert wine. This is named for Myron Nightingale who joined Beringer in 1971 as the 5th winemaker and developed this special wine.  

This is a classic French Bordeaux Sauterne style blend of 70% Semillon and 30% Sauvignon Blanc.

Winemaker Notes -  "This very special wine offers a golden hue and features aromas of apricot nectar, creme brulee, vanilla and honey. Rich flavors of butterscotch, stone fruit and spice, with just a slight hint of cigar box, coat the mouth and linger for a long, luxurious finish. Whether paired with a cheese course or rich dessert, Nightingale is a wonderful way to end a meal."

According to the producer's website: "The techniques used to make this special botrytised dessert wine were developed by Myron Nightingale (Beringer winemaker, 1971-84) and his wife Alice. The Nightingales spent three decades developing their method for making a wine in the style of the classic French Sauternes. The Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc for this wine were vinified separately and combined only after 23 months of barrel aging."

This was awarded 90 points by Wine Spectator.

Back in 2012, ironically, on the same date, I wrote in tasting this wine,  "Golden yellow on release, this eight year old is taking on a weak tea honey colored hue that will continue to darken with age. Medium to full bodied, scents and flavors of honey, apricot and melon finish with a subtle layer of smoke that moderates the fruit and sweetness." Eleven years later the color has darkened further to a deep golden orange rust color as shown. The sweet fruit is more subdued having taken on more of that smoky tobacco leaf, tea tones.

RM 89 points. @beringervyds @beringerwinery