Our bi-weekly dinner group celebrated Memorial Day with a memorable dinner in the home of a friend of one of our members. It was a perfect setting prior to and during sunset hours with magical views of Santa Barbara, the Pacific Ocean and Channel islands from high atop the city in the Rivera neighborhood.
Our gracious host with help from a friend, prepared seriously delicious courses as well as arranging our table set up with colorful flowers and candles. Each participant brought small dishes to share and all food complimented our wine theme of “cultish” Cabernets plus appropriate fill ins.
NV PAUL DANGAN BRUT- shared by one of our members who sells this bubbly, it`s a good QPR offering delightful notes of citrus, pear and stone fruit notes with a streak of minerality running through it along with some chalk and saline; it prepared my palate nicely for all to follow.
2006 TAITTINGER COMTES de CHAMPAGNE BLANC de BLANC BRUT- I bought a 6 pack trusting this house would deliver as usual with another splendid vintage champagne and was pleased that was the case here; since about 2000, I`ve noticed a distinct stylistic change and this followed suit with what I`ve experienced as it offered sheer elegance, bright acidity, vibrant citrus fruit with lemon and lime being most prevalent; there was a slight hit of spice and a noticeable absence of the toasty brioche, crème brulee notes so redolent in the “older” vintages; although it will certainly benefit with some age, it is in fine balance now and promises to evolve into a most worthy top of the line champagne.
NV BILLECAT-SALMON BRUT ROSE- this bottle was typical of the usual pleasing rose it has been so long recognized for being, it had the requisite mild strawberry and red cherry flavors with a touch of spice and cinnamon along with a frothy mousse; again, this rose is more about elegance and sophistication which this has provided beautifully for many years.
2007 HOSPICE de BEAUNE MEURSAULT- GENEVRIERES CUVEE BAUDOT JEAN-MARC-ROULOT 1ER CRU- the hallmark of this bottle was the mouthfeel which was creamy, smooth and rich; also what was carried through to the end was very delightful; there was mellow citrus, apple and kiwi fruit as well as a trace of minerals and flint; very satisfying.
We now had 8 wines served blind in pairs revealed after each flight of 2 were tasted followed by other treats including dessert wines.
#1 1995 BRYANT FAMILY VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA- this wine got off to a rousing start with its still deep dark youthful color, but aromatics of more tertiary fruit; I got some clove, earth and toasty black cherry in the nose which continued on with cedar infused dried black currant and blackberry joining in; the tannins were fairly stiff and seemingly not yet fully integrated, if they will ever be.
#2 1997 ARAUJO ESTATE EISELE VINEYRAD CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA- showing dark, rich purple color, beautiful balance is magnificently achieved along with a welcomed relief from the dry tannins from the first wine; this was more silky soft and easy on the palate; expressive dark chocolate black fruit is accented with a bit of cedar; it had a medium body and seemingly was more approachable and one that I would expect to carry on like this for years to come.
#3 2007 OUTPOST TRUE VINEYARD HOWELL MOUNTAIN CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA- the color was very young and vibrant suggesting youth and vitality which is ‘true” to the max;
Thomas Rivers Brown got it totally right and correct with this wine; it had amazing aromatics that were so inviting and I just had to oblige; licorice infused dark fruit with some mild chocolate jumps out of the glass and continues on all the way through to the back end; it`s got good mouthfeel, has nice layers of fruit expressions and all with soft tannins; clearly a winner for me and candidate for WOTN at this point before even knowing the producer.
#4 2011 SCREAMING EAGLE SECOND FLIGHT CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA- it seemed somewhat discombobulated, very young, tight and shut down; there was some cedar, leather and chocolate blackberry notes that were overwhelmed with bracing tannins which dominated from mid palate on; it seemed to have all the stuffing to evolve into something much more approachable and once the vintage was revealed, I could understand why this may be somewhat closed and different; even at that, there is a strong hint of a lot more, it`s just not time yet; it need lots of time.
#5 2008 SCREAMING EAGLE CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA- showing youthful deep dark purple color, this had a uniqueness to it that I`m still searching to find the right words to describe what that translates to; at the least, it was atypical from others on this night up to this point; it was big and yet not bold; it was hot but not overwhelming so; it was loaded with dark fruit with some blueberry and plum with accents including licorice; I got that it was a “Cultish” wine and it was a big boy; like the last wine, it needs time, lots of time.
#6 2013 MYRIAD CELLARS BECKSTOFFER DR. CRANE VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA- serious juice with upfront aromas and flavors just ready to please; it very fruit forward showcasing blackberry, plum and black currant and a dollop of spice and licorice to season it just right; seemingly youthful as in the color and young, fresh vibrant fruit; soft tannins make this more approachable at this early stage; there`s power and finesse captured in this bottle; great wine.
#7 2007 SLOAN CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA- 80% Cabernet, 15% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc; young, vibrant and playful, this was a big fruit bowl of wonderful fresh, dark fruit with lots of help from spiced coffee, chocolate and toast notes that sent this taste explosion throughout the palate; it was actually initially pretty intense, but the soft tannins served to lighten up the eye opening blast and the wine just glided from the front to the back with a pleasant finish.
#8 2012 KAPCSANDY FAMILY CELLARS STAR LANE VINEYARD ESTATE CUVEE CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA- 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot; deep, dark, rich purple color; the nose suggests some seriousness here and that is what prevails; big, complex, stately, concentrated, spicy dark chocolate black currant, blackberry, plum and black raspberry notes are just the bomb; it has depth, layers of goodness unfolding and an oh so velvety texture with a long satisfying finish; loved it on this night and know it will shine for many moons to come; one of my candidates for WOTN if not THE ONE.
That ended our blind portion of the wines.
1983 CHATEAU BOYD-CANTENAC MARGAUX- my first endeavor into this vintage for this Chateau and it would have been OK if I`d passed, at least for what this bottle offered; the nose was very funky, the tertiary dried dark fruit had some earth and saddle leather accents and it finished somewhat dry; fortunately, I still had some of #8 in another glass and went back to refresh my palate with increasingly fond apprecaition.
I later on learned there were 2 more wines poured, but sitting at a side table next to the main group proved to be a bad decision in this instance as they drank 1984 Phelps Insignia and 2012 Kenzo Estate “Lindo” Proprietary Red from Napa.
2 dessert wines:
2005 ALBAN VINEYARDS ROTTEN LUCK VIOGNIER T.B.A. EDNA VALLEY CENTRAL COAST- honeyed apricot in a thick maple syrup texture with some maple also showing up, but more apricot flavored.
2001 JOH. JOS. PRUM GRAACHER HIMMELREICH AUSLESE RIESLING- this hits it on all levels; the nose is signature Auslese with sweet petrol and minerals which continue on and are joined by some flint and iron with ripe vanilla flavored honeyed apple; it had bright acidity and a mouthfeel that just complimented the entire experience; this was another wonderful dessert wine from this consistently fabulous producer.
All in all, a grand evening with good people enjoying good food, wine, views and the end of another day of joy on this planet with a special salute to those who have sacrificed for our country.