I try wines that are all different prices and different varietals. I love finding a new inexpensive wine that I can drink on a regular basis. This week I’m not writing about those wines. This time around, I am writing about stupidly rare wines that won’t make the “by the glass” list at your local Chili’s any time soon. These are wines I tried last night at a “Cult Cabernet” event. I have them listed in the order that I tasted them.
Several of these wines are “Premiere Napa Valley” wines. This is a charity program in Napa Valley. 17 wineries are picked each year and they each make a special wine. There is a barrel tasting for the industry and the wines are auctioned off. Each winery’s wine is sold as a group, so only one buyer buys all of the Premiere Napa Valley production from that winery. Eventually the wines are bottled. They make a minimum of 60 bottles (5 cases) up to a maximum of 240 bottles (20 cases). Since this is a big industry event and a charity event, the wineries outdo themselves to make great, age-worthy wines.
Piña 2009 Wolff Vineyard Yountville Cabernet 15.2%
Piña’s wine maker is Anna Monticelli. She went to UC Davis & has primarily worked in Napa, but her first harvest was at Cheval Blanc in Bordeaux. Piña is located on the Silverado Trail and it is easy to overlook it. I drove down the Silverado Trail on Thursday and my main concern was not having a wreck, not looking for wineries that didn’t have huge signs.
This has a tremendous dark fruit nose. I get blackberry & boysenberry on the nose. There are solid tannins, but there is a supple, velvety quality here that is in no way covered up by the tannin. It has a deep flavor profile with a long finish. There is some dark cherry on the finish. It’s a nice, mouthwatering Cabernet.
On my 2nd tasting it was harder to separate the fruit on the nose. It just smells like dark ripe fruit. After a minute I still get blackberry & boysenberry, but maybe some Bing cherry as well.
Wine Enthusiast gave this 94 points & it runs about $85.
Premiere Napa Valley Nickel & Nickel State Ranch Vineyard Cabernet 2010 bottle #45 of 60 bottles produced 14.5%
There is some earth on the nose here, but in general the nose is muted. The wine was decanted, but it could probably use some more time. Nice tannins & great big fruit. I guess I would pick blackberry as the primary fruit. Truthfully, the tannins are high enough that I am having trouble picking out subtle details. Right now this is kind of just hitting you on the head & saying I am a Napa Cab! I do get some sage & a light hint of leather. I would love to taste this again later, but that isn’t likely.
Aged in 75% new French oak for 17 months. This costs about $250.
Premiere Napa Valley Sterling Cabernet 2010 1st Calistoga 15.2% 20 cases produced
Elegant fruit. This is a “wow!” wine. There is raspberry with cocoa dusting on the nose. I get big tannins, but they don’t overpower the wine like on the Nickel & Nickel. Very long dry finish, that leaves you thinking about it & reaching for more. At the core of this wine there is a fresh fruit center.
This is their 1st Calistoga designated wine. It sells for $110.
Blankiet Paradise Hill Red Napa 2008 15.2%
82.5% Cabernet, 16% Merlot, with the remainder made up of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. Blankiet has only been around since 1996. They are in the Mayacamas Mountains above Yountville. There is ripe fruit on the nose. I get big plum & blackberry. There is delicious blackberry & chocolate on the palate. This is a big & juicy wine with lighter tannins, or maybe just lighter, compared to what I have been trying. I taste cassis & blackberry, & chocolate… with maybe a bit of cherry. The tannins come up a little as I drink it so I think it will age well. I like this a lot.
I tried it a second time & I am really wishing I had a steak with a red wine & cherry sauce. The tannins are good, so the first time around it may have been a reaction to the tannins on the other wines. There is a long finish that accents the chocolate. If I were going to spend $190 on a Cabernet, this is one that would be worth it. Robert Parker gave it a 95+ rating.
Philip Togni Cabernet Spring Mountain Estate 2008 no alcohol % on label
This wine has a classic Cabernet nose. This actually has a Bordeaux nose to it. That Bordeaux feeling continues on the palate. After all of the fresh fruit cabs, this is a dusty cab. It has nice tannins & that “eating fruit while walking on a dirt road” thing that I associate with Bordeaux & Saint Émilion in particular. There is raspberry mixed with herbs & something that reminds me of evergreen. There is some cassis as well.
The winery recently won a tasting in Brussels for its 1990 Cabernet where the completion included La Tour, Margaux, Haut-Brion, Mouton, and California Cabernets. I don’t know how they got away without having the alcohol percentage on the label. That seems like it violates TTB rules.
Premiere Napa Valley Cimarossa Poppy Flat Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 14.7% 60 bottles produced This was bottle 59 of 60.
Plum, raspberry & cherry on the nose. There is a tiny bit of chocolate on the nose as well. I get blackberry with leather on the palate. The tannins are stronger than a young mother’s love, but not as strong as the Nickel & Nickel. There is a little mint here. I didn’t notice it at first, but when I closed my eyes & thought about it, I really got a thin mint taste…if your thin mints were made with 97% cacao instead of milk chocolate. Nice long finish. Once again, this is a nice wine.
The grapes come from a 1.3 acre block with northwest exposure. The wine was aged 22 months in French oak. I thought that the wine was pronounced similar to Cimarron, but it is Italian & it is pronounced Chimarossa. You learn something new every day.
Premiere Napa Valley Saint Supery Rutherford Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 #40 of 240 14.8%
One of the tasting notes with this said that it had a “brandied oak” taste. I have no idea what that means, but I know where they get the brandy idea. This wine doesn’t taste hot at all, but it really has an almost port/brandy finish to it. It does have noticeable oak, but it is pretty well integrated. I think the only part that stands out as oaky is that the dryness of the finish is distinctly from the oak rather than something else. There is cassis & licorice. This is a delicious, complex Cabernet. I don’t know if this is the best of the batch, but it is probably the most interesting.
2nd tasting. This has a really dark color. I think that there was some concentration of flavor & alcohol here from evaporation from the barrel. This is called the angel’s share of the wine. As the wine sits in the barrel, oxygen slowly enters and matures the wine. At the same time, some of the wine evaporates, and that is the “Angel’s Share.” This evaporation isn’t consistent across the board. The alcohol in the wine doesn’t evaporate as quickly as the other liquids. So you end up with higher alcohol and a more concentrated flavor. That gives me that brandy taste. Some people might associate that taste with being oxidized, but that isn’t the case here. On this second tasting I’m getting more of the herbal notes of the wine. I don’t know if that is from this bottle being open longer or just thinking about it more. I also taste mocha, cherry, and black currant. After tasting it a second time I think this is currently drinking the best of the batch. That doesn’t mean it is the best, or will be the best long term, but right now this is a darn tasty wine. This is $160.
Random NFL thoughts after week 10
1) The NFL shouldn’t test for marijuana use.
This does not mean that I am in favor of smoking marijuana, because I’m not. It isn’t because I am in favor of decriminalizing marijuana, although I am. It just seems ridiculous that the NFL & the NFL Player’s Union can’t agree on human growth hormone testing, that the Tour de France does a much better job testing athletes for various performance enhancing drugs (& still managed to let Lance Armstrong slip through). It is that the main drug they seem to make a focus, isn’t a performance enhancing drug. I guess an argument could be made that marijuana is a pain reliever & that makes it a PED, but ibuprofen is a pain reliever & isn’t on the banned list. They are able to give pain shots to players before and during games to get them on the field. So that can’t be the problem. The bottom line is that pot isn’t a performance enhancing drug in the understood sense of the word. Pot smokers don’t build more muscle mass and get hyper motivated to exercise. They don’t get incredible focus during a game like Adderall users claim. Generally it seems to make you more likely to sit on your butt, watch TV, & order pizza. That is probably performance diminishing rather than enhancing. Maybe there is a hacky sack player out there who has data to disprove my contention, but I doubt that they will get around to publishing it.
The NFL needs to work on their real problems, and marijuana use by players doesn’t make the top 10. When they can get all their players to take a taxi home after a night out drinking or get them to quit waving guns around like gangsters, maybe they can spare the time to worry about pot.
2) I can’t believe it, but the New York Giants have a chance to win the NFC East. They have been the beneficiaries of some amazing luck over the last few weeks. They played the Vikings when the team lost its mind and started Josh Freeman when he didn’t know the playbook and had no rhythm with his receivers. Next, they played the Eagles. Michael Vick came back too soon from a hamstring injury and re-injured it. That put 3rd string rookie Matt Barkley in and he looked like a 3rd string rookie. So they won despite not scoring a touchdown (the first time they have won that way in 11 years). They got their bye week and then played the Raiders with Terrell Pryor gimping around with an injury (which will keep him out of the next game) & managed to beat them by 4 points. This Sunday they get to play the Green Bay Packers with Aaron Rodgers out, their initial backup quarterback out, & now their practice squad quarterback Scott Tolzein starting. If I were Tony Romo, I would be worried about what could happen between now & November 24th when the Giants play the Cowboys. Quarterbacks with a game coming up with the Giants have the health of a drummer for Spinal Tap. I’m expecting spontaneous combustion.
The NFC East is pretty bad this year, but it would be even worse if the Giants manage to win it without having to beat any teams with a healthy starting quarterback. Realistically, when you consider how they have played and their remaining schedule, they shouldn’t do any better than 6-10, but the last few weeks have been amazing for them.
3) I really am surprised at how fast and how far the Texans have fallen. I know that the defense isn’t the same without Brian Cushing. I know that they have had more than their share of injuries. It still doesn’t add up to 7 losses in a row. They have been competitive in the last 3 games, but have lost all three by a combined 7 points. I actually thought the team had a shot at the Super Bowl this year and now I think it is likely we will see a new coaching staff there next year. They should win 3 of their next 4 games (Raiders, Jags, Patriots, Jags), but I can’t see them winning more than 6 games this year and that should do it for the coaching staff.
4) The new NFL timeout emphasis for injured players is a disaster waiting to happen. The NFL just distributed a video saying that the league office tells officials to call an injury time out any time they believe that a player is injured, whether they ask for it or not. I understand that they are trying to promote player safety, but this has some real opportunity to be a problem. Here is a potential scenario. Team A is behind by 1 point in the 4th quarter. They complete a pass in bounds to the 10 yard line & race to the line of scrimmage to spike the ball to kill the clock with 9 seconds left because they have no time outs, and then kick the winning field goal (we’ll assume that the kicker is not Texan’s kicker Randy Bullock). Player X is hopping on one foot as he gets to the line, but he makes it on time. Under the regular rules, team A stops the clock and kicks the field goal and wins the game. Under the new emphasis, the referee notices that player X looks injured. He calls for an injury time out. Since team A is out of time outs, there is a mandatory 10 second run off. The game is over and team A loses. That may seem farfetched, but I can absolutely see it. Maybe the referees wouldn’t want to call it when it might determine the outcome of the game, but in that case, they probably shouldn’t call it at all if they can’t call it consistently.