Our monthly lunch group had another stellar event recently with a requested wine theme of California Cabernet Sauvignon from 2000 or older. All but 2 wines were from California, the other 2 being from Washington.
As usual, we were superbly served by our waitress of excellence, Tina, and a 5 course meal paired with the wine theme and prepared by the consistently good and creative, Chef Humberto. The ambience of the Library Room we are graced with offers a private, isolated, serene setting which is equally perfect and appreciated.
Asian BBQ lamb meatloaf wrapped in bacon with Hawaiian coleslaw.
Hanger steak marinated in Italian salsa verde with arugula, white bean blue cheese and tomato tarragon vinaigrette.
Braised beef short ribs with roasted Brussel sprouts and mushrooms.
Cypress Grove cheese, triple cream, extra sharp cheddar.
Our starter wine:
2006 JACQUART BRUT- this was a splendid bottle among others i`ve enjoyed recently; it had the requisite bright acidity along with upfront and nicely honed flavors of citrus, pear and green apple accompanied by nice minerality and a touch of saline; by mid palate more specific notes of lemon zest appear and join in for a crisp and palate cleansing refreshment.
We then proceeded to move through 15 fine Cabernets, 2 from Washington, starting with a flight of 4 and then adding a bottle or 2 successively. WE started with old and went to young.
1960 INGLENOOK CLASSIC CUVEE NAPA- this had an amazing youthful color with no bricking and maybe just of hint of aging which is not a surprise given the provenance of this bottle from one of our attendees who bought it upon release; as amazing as the color was, the taste profile was equally so; I found a bit of earthy cedar, mint, licorice, leather and roasted plum along with black currant; the serving temperature was perfect as it was just a bit below room temperature having been out of the cellar for about an hour; for those who LOVE “aged” wines, this has to be the cat`s ass.
1978 SPRING MOUNTAIN CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA- well, well, another star of yesteryear showing up and joining the show; this had absolutely no sign of aging in any respects, color or otherwise; in fact, the color scheme was of red purple; the nose had really nice inviting fruit and spices with a touch of pepper and clove to compliment the bright red cherry notes that were most evident; the taste was sensational and just kept on coming; it seemed very youthful and maybe not even fully matured as the flavors were not what I would denote as being tertiary; the hallmark of this bottle was the consistent spicy fresh red and black fruit that came in early and stayed the course through a long finish; I went back later on and re-tasted and if anything, it was even better and it re-confirmed, this was my WOTD; 12% abv.
1969 MONDAVI NAPA CABERNET SAUVIGNON- the nose had some funk in it and although it faded some, it did not completely dissipate and was experienced throughout and later on when re-visited; the tertiary flavors of sweet, dried cranberry and cherry were delightful enough to make this a quite quaffable wine.
1987 RIDGE JIMSOMARE VINEYARD MONTE BELLO RIDGE CABERNET SAUVIGNON- named after Jim, Sophie and Marie Schwabacher who bought the vineyard in 1936, this came from one of 3 Monte Bello vineyards that also has mostly Zinfandel with a bit of Chardonnay planted; this wine was made entirely from fruit from this vineyard which was normally used to blend into the Monte Bello and Santa Cruz Mountains wines and today in the Monte Bello Estate wine; this bottle showed some bricking; there was some leather and olive in the nose and the taste included cigar, cedar, talc and spicy red and black cherry; it was full bodied and held on for a decent finish.
We now began to add an additional bottle or more to the wines already poured. Fortunately, we had some extra stemware for some of us to hold onto the initial flight and still move on:
1988 OAKFORD VINEYARDS NAPA CABERNET SAUVIGNON- the nose was redolent with earth, leather and mildly sweet black cherry that continued on with some black currant coming in at the end; it was pleasant enough and had decent mouthfeel, but finished on the dry, astringent side.
1995 ARAUJO EISELE VINEYARDS NAPA CABERNET SAUVIGNON- not the best bottle IMHO; the nose had some veggie character initially that fortunately eased up and the wine became much more enjoyable with mildly sweet milk chocolate accents to black fruit with a dose of blueberry; this may have been better served after a bit of decanting.
1995 DOMINUS ESTATE NAPANOOK VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA- 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 6% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot; the label was very distinguished showing a gold seemingly embossed signature of proprietor, Christian Moueix; this bottle was not so much distinguished; the nose was quite muted and the taste profile had more tertiary notes of dried red cherry which faded past mid palate and it finished very dry.
1997 ARROWOOD CABERNET SAUVIGNON SONOMA- 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot, 5% Malbec, 5% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc; “unfined/ unfiltered”; the color was a deep dark purple denoting youthfulness and the fruit profile substantiated such with nice fresh cedar and chocolate laced black currant and blackberry which kept on growing as the flavors expanded; it was medium bodied and had a nice soft texture; this had lots of charm and finesse and when I remembered the Sonoma source it fit more of what I would expect.
1997 CHATEAU POTELLE MT. VEEDER V.G.S. CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA- along with others, I visited this winery many years ago and spent an afternoon of lunching and tasting and laughing and sharing some time with the very eccentric owner, Jean-Noel Fourmeaux, his wife Marketta and family; just to employ the V.G.S. designation which stands for exactly what one would surmise was cause enough to know were dealing with someone who expresses a different slant on things than the norm; this bottle, among others, was purchased at that visit; it was actually pretty decent with no signs of aging, an inviting nose that had saddle leather, earth and rich, dark fruit aromas and a taste profile of the aforementioned along with prevalent black cherry, currant and berry notes; the tannins were still in place almost dominating past mid palate, but then not.
1999 CHATEAU MONTELENA CALISTOGA CABERNET SAUVIGNON CUVEE NAPA- 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot; one of my top favs on the day if not the top, this just hit it on all aspects; it was young and vibrant, playful and exuberant; in perfect balance, it gave up so many pleasurable subtle nuances of finesse and elegance yet with some power, depth and complexity; there was some acceptable sweaty horse saddle, new leather, spicy blackberry and plum staying on for the full, long experience; great bottle.
1998 DUNN VINEYARDS HOWELL MOUNTAIN CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA- I`ve often thought a good winemaker will do a decent job in off vintages; I approached this one with that in mind; Randy did not get it done at least in so far as this bottle was concerned; there was some funk in the nose and some weird fruit and tastes that kind of came and went when the preference would be for it to not even show up at all; I moved on.
2000 BEAULIEU VINEYARD [BV] GEORGES de LATOUR PRIVATE RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA- we got a good bottle here; it had some eucalyptus, sage, expressive fruity black currant, black cherry and blackberry served up in a medium to full body with a fine silky texture and nice length.
2001 BRANDER RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON SANTA YNEZ VALLEY SANTA BARBARA COUNTY- from one of our attendees whose Cabernets consistently shine even though his winery is more renown for Sauvignon Blanc; this bottle had mint, almond, talc and later on some vanilla extract showing up along with luscious black fruit and even some blueberry; it was very tasty with nice mouthfeel and a sustained finish; I was not surprised that it held its own against some very good competition.
2003 QUILCEDA CREEK CABERNET SAUVIGNON COLUMBIA VALLEY WASHINGTON- this and the next gem was brought by one of our illustrious members and quite generous of him to do so [and he had a Colgin to back either up]; this was spicy and offering a rich bounty of flavorful black cherry which had some accents of talc and sandalwood; it was full bodied, layered with a scrumptious unfolding of more flavors and held on for a long finish; 14.3% abv.
2003 LEONETTI CELLARS RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON WALLA WALLA VALLEY WASHINGTON- in perfect balance, this shined all the way through and gave consistent pleasure with a so inviting nose of violets, mint chocolate and spicy black fruit which continued on and was joined by a touch of licorice, cigar box and s more descript taste of blueberry and blackberry with a latent appearance of black currant; it was smooth and long and a real treat of excellence in liquid form; 14.3% abv.
We finished with a special dessert wine:
2005 JORGE ORDONEZ & CO. MALAGA SELECCION ESPECIAL NO. 1- made from Moscatel [Muscat], this wonderful dessert in a glass gave up loads of caramel, ginger and candied red apple with a honeyed lemon meringue mousse to just ensure the complete treat; thick and creamy, long and forever at least for the next few hours.
This was another in a lineup of fabulous luncheons month after month, year after year, decade after decade. Life is especially good with these kind of passionate, sensory satisfying and shared experiences among like minded folks.