My First Parker 100
Fusion Lunch and Fancy Cali Wine
Another stab in the belly of the beast that is Californian wine. After this tasting I can say without reservation that if I am to drink California on a regular basis, I am going to refinance my house, feed my children lentils and crusty bread, and become accustomed to paying $100 plus for a bottle of wine. In short, I find the entry level and mid-priced wines too sweet and chewy, over-oaked and generally lacking the subtlety that is required for good food matches. However, the extravagantly priced wines, at least in part, are charming, densely fruited and wonderfully complex wines that are unique in the world of wine. Thanks to the folks at Reserve and Selection for the invitation and without going into the lunch menu, here are some of the best selections from feast at Le Piment Rouge.
Abreu 1997, Madrona Ranch, Cabernet Sauvignon ($400…importation)
We finished with this, and it was served alongside of all things..a chocolate brownie. Incredible. Wether this merits 100, 4 popcorn bags, ‘full wood’ or other rating, it is undeniably a very fine wine. Opulent and elegant, it was packed with cassis, other dark fruits and a fabulous texture that can be best described as earthy and meaty. It was phenomenal with the chocolate ganache, a real treat.
L’Aventure 2001, Estate Cuvée, Stephan Vineyard ($100…saq)
My revelation from the tasting, winemaker Stephen Asseo has established himself in Paso Robles and brings french savoir-faire to Cali terroir like nobody else that I have tasted. We tried the 2000 and 2001 vintages, with the 2001 being the winner. He believes in lots of foliage on his vines and looks for the best balance between sugar and phenolic acid at harvest time, and it shows in his wine. His mix is Syrah with Cabernet and Petit Verdot, The high percentage of Petit Verdot (30%) in the 2001keeps the wine super tight, the French oak is used judiciously and the result is a wine that remains undeniably Californian with jammy fruit, zin-type spicing, a luscious tannic structure but held together with enough acidity to keep it fresh.
Silver Oak Cellars, 1996, Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($$$unknown)
A more classic Californian Bordeaux blend of 91% Cab and Cabernet Franc, I liked the underlying sweet spices of cinnamon and nutmeg that came out as we ate out Blackberry and whiskey infused Filet Mignon. Perhaps lacking a touch of acidity, it was still a pleasure to drink and didn’t kill the plate as so often happens with big Cali Cabs.
And One white…
Cigare Blanc 2003, Bonny Doon Vineyard ($35… importation)
97% Rousanne and 3% Grenache, this is Rhone white without the slight oxidation that one encounters with much of French wine made with similar grapes. Very ‘fleurs blanches,’ and packed with peach and pear flavors, I would have liked it to be a bit uglier, as a slight oxidation would have kept it fresher. But a fun drink and it worked well with the yellow fin tuna tartare.