Saturday, June 29, 2019

The Napa Cabs of Summer

Last winter I picked up some Napa Cabs thinking we would have a small tasting. It didn't happen, but I was able to get something going over the summer. I knew Jennifer would love to taste some of her favorites; she's known for her love of Stag's Leap cabs. Karol mentioned his wife's favorite winery, Spring Mountain, and I thought we could use some new blood in our tasting group. Ted has always been known for his love of Napa Cabs. We rounded out the group with Jose, who prefers Zins, but never says no to a tasting.

Recent winery tastings had brought my attention to modern, angular wine glasses. Given we primarily had Pinot glasses and throwing in some toughness convinced me to push the Amazon buy button on Schott Zwiesel, Tritan Crystal, Cabernet glasses. Truthfully, there wasn't much arm twisting involved.

The glasses are beautiful, easy to wash and dry, and a joy to use. We're very happy with our decision, although Sue thinks I went a little overboard with the number of times I clicked the button.

When Paul was preparing their bottle, the cork broke. This worried Jennifer and they decided to give it a taste only to find it off, possibly corked. At Jennifer's insistence Paul ran back to their house and picked up another bottle.

We offered two choices to whet appetites: A 2012 Rhys, Horseshoe Vineyard, Chardonnay and a 2018 Patz & Hall, Sonoma Coast, Rose. We had been cellaring the Chard for awhile and although their vintage chart still said to hold, I thought it was time. It was very nice and its taste improved as it warmed to room temperature. We've really been enjoying the Rose and wanted to share. Not everyone likes Rose, Ted, cough, so we offered the Chard as well.

As a special treat, we offered elk and deer summer sausage on the meat plate, a gift from my cousin's husband Justin. It tasted great and the novelty enticed everyone to try and enjoy. Thanks Justin!

Sue prepared the backyard for our first of the summer event, positioning her flowers and lights to great effect.

We gave everyone three glasses, tasting the six wines in two rounds, followed by a final round of comparisons.


D - 2016 Amici, Reserve came in first place with an average of 3.98. It cost $80. Jose brought this and said "I was planning to get the silver oak, but in my search for it in K&L Wines the Amici also came up, and it had higher ratings. 96 from Jeb Dunnuck, 94 from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, 94 from James Suckling, 93 from Vinous."

B - 2005 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, Cask 23 came in second place with an average of 3.76. It costs $270 from KnL. Paul and Jennifer brought this from her private stash.

E - 2013 Hartwell, Stag's Leap District, Estate came in third place with an average of 3.73. It cost $120. Ted and Shannon brought this.

F - 2014 Crossbarn came in fourth place with an average of 3.66. It cost $46. Sue and I brought this. It was on a list when I was searching the internet. 2014 was supposed to be a great year.

C - 2015 Robert Mondavi, To Kalon Vineyard, Oakville came in fifth place with an average of 3.31. It cost $125. Sue and I brought this. Mondavi was instrumental in the establishment of Napa. I had never tried one of his wines and figured this was a good place to start.

A - 2014 Chateau Montelena, Estate came in last place with an average of 3.27. It cost $130. Sue and I also brought this. Who doesn't want to enjoy a Chateau Montelena? It's a great wine.

I managed to secure the last three places, not a trivial task.

The unveiling almost went wrong given a copy/paste error in my spreadsheet that showed 4 ties for last place. Thankfully we fixed this after the second reveal.

Karol and Amber shared a lovely 2006 Spring Mountain blend with us that we had disallowed from the tasting because it was denoted as a red wine and not a cab. You'd think we would have given Karol a break, but we didn't.