Month: June 2020
Dinner last night with a magical 2018 Maritana Chardonnay Sonoma County Russian River La Riviere. While Donald had many years ago produced Chardonnay’s but has been known as an industry leader for his Pinot Noir’s. I was expecting a good solid wine, but what my palate tasted was “total astonishment”. First on the eyes, the clarity and brightness was ethereal straw golden yellow. It was a refined and delicate Chardonnay with soft lemon custard and a Red Delicious apple, mildly sweet with a caramel finish. As the wine settles in the back of mouth, a minerality of a babbling brook or creek came to mind. This wine was of another spectrum of quality found only in wines in a much higher in price range ($100). This wine reminded me of the higher end Kistler Chardonnay or Peter Michael Chardonnay, specifically La Carriere. Current price is $55.
A skillet prepared swordfish in a Mediterranean style with minced garlic, lime juice, fresh lemon juice, basil, balsamic vinegar, pinch of Cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, lemon infused olive oil, Himalayan Sea salt and a variety of colored grounded peppercorns. Also a mix of long grain and wild rice with a garden salad.
For a complete story on Donald Patz’s wines see: https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2018/12/06/maritana-vineyards-four-aces-on-the-first-vintage/
Lunch today with a 2018 Maritana Chardonnay Sonoma County Russian River La Riviere. While Donald had many years ago produced Chardonnay’s but has been known as an industry leader for his Pinot Noir’s. I was expecting a good solid wine, but what my palate tasted was “total astonishment”. This wine was of another spectrum of quality found only in wines in a much higher in price range ($100). First on the eyes, the clarity and brightness was ethereal straw golden yellow. It was a refined and delicate Chardonnay with soft lemon custard and a Red Delicious apple, mildly sweet with a caramel finish. As the wine settle in the back of mouth, a minerality of a babbling brook or creek came to mind. This wine reminded me of the higher end Kistler Chardonnay and Peter Michael Chardonnay, specifically La Carriere. With Maguro sashimi, wasabi and fresh ginger.
For a previous story on Donald Patz and his amazing line up of wines click on: https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2018/12/06/maritana-vineyards-four-aces-on-the-first-vintage/
Did an encore of a previous dinner for a couple who liked the post on the Flat Iron steak with Blue Cheese and chive butter. The changeup last evening, was to taste two different and exquisite wine from Vinoce Vineyards in a side by side comparison with the meal. The wines were a 2017 Vinoce Cabernet Sauvignon from Saint Helena and 2016 Vinoce Cabernet from Mount Veeder.
Started the evening with a “secret recipe” lemon drop martini with lemon/sugar rim and appetizers.
Last night seared and grilled (BBQ) Flat Iron Steak topped with Blue Cheese-Chive Butter. Accompanied by twice baked potatoes with cheese, sautéed broccoli & mushrooms, toasted sourdough garlic & butter bread and a Greek salad (Feta cheese, toasted almonds, olives, purple onion and tomatoes). The steak was marinated 36 hours in red wine vinegar, cloves of garlic, cracked black pepper, dried Rosemary leaves (crumbled), dried oregano, Kosher salt and olive oil. The Chive butter used unsalted butter, crumbled Point Reyes Blue cheese, chopped fresh chives and cracked black pepper.
Dessert was individual lemon berry cheesecake parfaits, with berry a preserves and topped with blue berries.
Our guests and friends provided the lemon drop martinis and the rich, decadent dessert, to introduce and conclude the meal. Thanks Steve and Darlene Besst.
Conclusion on the Wines
The 2017 Vinoce St Helena was a smooth and pleasant wine to be enjoyed with or without food. While a year younger than the other wine for the evening, the blackberry and dark cherry sprung to life on the nose and palate. The tannins were subtle and a bit muted, but provided for a rounded and drinkable wine. The finish was bright with acidity and a hint of tobacco. The prepared meat, with the spices, tended to override the supreme qualities of the wine.
The 2016 Vinoce Mt Veeder worked magic with the meal. It was a big Napa Valley Cabernet with defined tannins and well structured. The darker coloring in the glass gave a hint as to its pedigree. On the nose and palate, dark fruits, vanilla pipe tobacco, blackberries, black cherries, pepper and residual oak provided the perfect infusion, along with the acidity, to match the seared flat iron steak and spices. The finish was especially long lasting with layers of complexity and delight.
So if you want a wonderful sipping wine, the 2017 Vinoce St Helena would fill the bill. If you wanting a wine to pair to an intensely season meat dish, the 2016 Vinoce Mt Veeder is a right on target.
For more information on Vinoce Vineyards, see a previous published story at: https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2020/05/18/vinoce-vineyards-2016-mt-veeder-cabernet-franc/
A mix up with a vineyard proved to a great thing for Frog’s Tooth Winery located in Murphys, California in the Sierra Foothills. They were expected to get close to two tons of fruit from a small vineyard in Healdsburg, California (Sonoma Valley). Instead they received less than a half of ton of grapes. They originally decide to use it for blending. They used 100% new French oak barrels. Processed it using cold maceration or a cold soak was used pre-fermentation. This provided a richer color and more fruit forward flavor. As it developed, they regrouped and opted to sell it as a standalone 100% varietal wine. Unfortunately this only allowed them to produce 24 cases of this spectacular wine! Rather than label the bottle, they silkscreened the bottle to further highlight it as special product.
This wine was almost “black” in the glass with a high viscosity. On the nose and palate, ripe plum, licorice, a black cherry/fig compote and tobacco element were very present. The finish provided a strong earthiness and mineral residue which lasted some time. This gave this wine an “old world feel” in the mouth. Will Houle, the winemaker, in my humble opinion, just made his best wine! It is avaialbe for $75.
Now if you can’t secure it quickly as they will sell out from the tasting room, have no fear as they have secured an Alicante Bouschet vineyard in the Sierra foothills for the next release. By the way, Frog’s Tooth Winery tasting room will be re-opening on June 12th. Hint: get up there quickly if you want a unique and tasty Alicante Bouschet.
For a complete rundown on Frog’s Tooth Winery, see a previous story at: https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2019/07/11/frogs-tooth-vineyards-a-big-jump/
Paired this wine with a taco salad this week and it was remarkable.
This wine was a “true dark horse” in more than one way. First I had previously never tasted anything from Kenefick Ranch, so it was a bit unknown. But as soon as it was poured, with its dark violet and crimson coloring, I knew something truly special was about to happen. Sure enough. from out of nowhere, this wine became an instant winner!
The Kenefick family has roots back to Ireland as farmers. They made their way originally to Iowa and then Minnesota. Tom Kenefick was the third in his family as a physican and then went on as a practicing neurosurgeon in San Francisco. He found the property of 250 acres in 1978. On site, the goal was to focus on Bordeaux style varietals. Today they produce Petit Sirah, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and a red blend. Also they have a few whites, like Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache Blanc and a white blend. Most of the wines are award winning with scores in the 93 to 95 point range.
This 2016 Cabernet Franc is Estate grown in Kenefick Ranch sustainable farmed vineyards in Calistoga. The wine consists of 82% Cabernet Franc, 9% Merlot and 9% Petit Verdot. It was aged 18 months in 65% new French oak and 35% neutral French oak barrels. Only 400 cases were produced. On the eyes, it is bold and begs one to be introduced to its welcoming and bright personality. On the nose, red cherry and plum swell into the olfactory senses. Once on the palate, soft leather, sweet pipe tobacco, chocolate and cherries swirl in the mouth. And when it warms up, the hint of pyrazine, the scent of green bell peppers wafted in the air as all good Cabernet Franc’s do. The finish was strong and long lasting. It will go at least another 10 years in the cellar. This wine was rated at 94 points and is priced at $50.
At California Wines and Wineries Annual Cabernet Franc Wine Competition it was rated by the Professional Judges for a Gold Medal. The People’s Choice Judges, gave it a Bronze Medal.
So this “unknown dark horse” came out galloping to the winners circle. Can’t wait to taste some of their other Bordeaux varietals as I know they are thoroughbred stallions!
Tonight Grilled (BBQ) Flat Iron Steak with Blue Cheese-Chive Butter. Accompanied with Yukon Gold mashed potatoes with cheese and a Caesar salad. The steak was marinated 36 hours in red wine vinegar, cloves of garlic, cracked black pepper, dried Rosemary leaves (crumbled), dried oregano, Kosher salt and olive oil. The Chive butter used unsalted butter, crumbled Blue Cheese, chopped fresh chives and cracked black pepper.
Tried two Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines, La Quercia 2010 DOCG and a 2012 Lavs Vitae DOCP. Both conveyed a dark old world aromas, tastes with red/dark fruit, tobacco with structure and earthiness. Preferred the 2012 as the 2010 had just a hint of sweetness.
Then an apple crumb pie ala mode with a Ruby Port. High marks to Susan Becker Kelly!!! A great meal & wines with friends from the Bay Area.