Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cab Corner

Once a year my friends and I get together and blow it out. Phil is always gracious enough to host the venue and supply tremendous appetizers, as well as great wine. It is typical that everyone who comes to the party should bring something; it could be a dish to share or a bottle of wine sure to impress. Actually, it has become somewhat of an unspoken challenge to bring a wine that no one has had before or better yet a bottle on someones bucket list.
My favorite foods of the evening were: homemade pasta sauce, castelvetrano olives, roasted pork tenderloin (Phil's specialty) and a Riesling cake. The wines were numerous and all quite good. However, there were a couple of block busters.

It seems the night was dedicated to the king, Cabernet Sauvignon. I brought a bottle of 2009 Vineyard 29 CRU Cabernet. The wine has Philippe Melka oozing out of it. I love his wines and even though the 29 CRU is reasonably priced at around $50 (Bryant Family sells for $300) the wine showed his style of deep fruit, fine tannins, and a multi-layered finish. Aromas and flavors of cassis, raspberry, cherry, pepper, cocoa, and toasted coffee were identifiable immediately. The wine only needed 15 minutes to open and show off its racy youth. I believe this wine will smooth out over the next five years and taste even better.

I think Frank brought my favorite wine of the evening. We were blessed to try a 2008 Caymus Special Selection Cabernet. The Caymus went through proper decanting and breathing procedures before we were allowed to meet its acquaintance. I was able to try this wine two times. The first time, it presented itself as a bit tight and uncomplicated, even though the fruit aromas were developing nicely. It smelled ripe with cassis, vanilla, spice, and plum. The tannins were fine and integrated but they were blocking the wines full potential.

Later in the evening, while everyone else was onto the next wine of the night, I found old man Caymus resting on the counter; I think they all forgot he has there. I dared to pour another taste. Raising my glass with nobody around, I felt like I was stealing something, I reintroduced the Cabernet to my palate. WOW! The wine had sat for an hour and turned into a silky goblet of fruit. The tannins had softened and allowed the full development of the fruit and accenting aromas to step forward. I read this morning that the 2008 was the first year Caymus blended Merlot into this wine. I think it showed great foresight and I believe the Merlot helped the wine achieve a silky, smooth, almost symphonic texture.

I love discovering these beauties.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry Christmas

The past four weeks have been chaos and work weeks with 70 hours of physical labor. We shipped 1500 gift baskets out in three weeks. Now it is time for a little relaxation.

 It is Christmas Eve and I am preparing dinner; roasted chicken breast with Penzey's Fox Point Seasoning, oven roasted potato wedges, roasted corn and green peas. The plates are going to look so festive. I definitely deserve a glass of wine tonight.

Down the steps I go. What is in the cellar that will go great with this simple but flavorful meal? I think a white wine, a Chardonnay even. What do I have from Cameron Hughes? I see a Santa Barbara lot 180, Arroyo Seco lot 273, I got it; this is the winner, Willamette Valley lot 215.

Cameron Hughes wines always come through for me; red or white it doesn't matter. His wines start with great fruit from great vineyards. Cameron seems to nail it every time when it comes to complete balance of his wines. He brings the best out of his juice, great fruit on the palate, balanced acidity, and character that is true to each AVA designation.

This Chardonnay from the Willamette Valley, Oregon is perfect. The nose is packed with gold delicious apple and danjou pear aromas. The flavors are a harmonious combination of apple, pear, lime and a minerality that finishes on the palate. I can taste the vanilla, from malolactic fermentation. Love, love, love this Chardonnay. The only thing is C.H. sells out of these lot numbers quickly, so I don't know if I'll be able to get more.

Christmas morning. It has been four weeks since I had an opportunity to sleep in and I wake up at 4:30 am. Oh well, we have 30 people coming over for brunch so I guess I will get started. I put up the tables, helped prep the food and most importantly I have the beverage department ready. O.J., milk, Martinelli's Sparkling juice for the kids, Asti for Mimosas, and I am trying something new this year; I call it my Holiday Spritzer.

This drink is so simple. Just mix 50% Martini & Rossi Rose with 50% Oceanspray White Cranberry-Peach. You can decorate the rim of the flute with a long pick spearing sugar coated cranberries and a mint leaf. This is definitely a girly drink, but the low alcohol and juice is inviting at 10:00 am.

Happy Holidays and a Healthy New Year Everyone.