Sorry for the interruption, but last week’s cataclysmic weather, which the mayor of Clayton wimpishly referred to as "inclement" in a telephone message to his constituents, turned off electricity and telephones at our house for a few days.
Returning to more pleasant subjects, however, we’ve talked recently about rose wines for summer, and we’ll deal with an excellent one later, but a marvelous red wine got in the way.
Mount Veeder Winery, a property high in the Mayacamas Mountains overlooking the Napa Valley, released a reserve red wine a few months ago, and it’s a beauty. It qualifies as a meritage wine, and it’s expensive, at some $80 retail, but I think it’s worth every cent. Winemaker Janet Myers blended four of the five classic Bordeaux grapes – 93 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 4 percent Cabernet Franc, 2 percent Malbec and 1 percent Merlot. Petit Verdot, the fifth Bordeaux varietal, was not in this vintage’s blend, though it can be and sometimes is.
Mount Veeder, now part of the Icon Estates group, has been producing fine red wines since 1973, with a Cabernet Sauvignon and the Reserve Red coming from three vineyards at 1000 to 1600 feet above the Napa Valley. The ‘02 reserve red is a rich garnet color, with highlights bouncing here and there as the wine is swirled in the glass. The aroma is hearty with dark fruit, with hints of tobacco and coffee here and there. In the mouth, the wine is big and bold, rich and hearty, showing intense, complex flavors and a long, subtle finish that keeps reminding the drinker just how tasty it is.
Of course, the 2002 vintage has had sufficient time to smooth out the rough spots; it benefits from 22 months in new French oak and it’s a classy, stylish California offering.
Returning to the rose, the ‘05 Vin Gris of Pinot Noir from Robert Sinskey is a spectacular wine. Beautifully made to keep a hint of Pinot Noir’s particular flavor in its charming pink color, it is light and lovely, with superior fruit and just a perfect drink to go with a summer meal, or even just a glass of wine on a front porch or rear deck after a long day at the office.
Speaking of Pinot Noir, a solid wine comes from Clos du Val, whose ‘04 release (about $24) is flavorful and extremely fruity, with berries in the aroma and flavor and a smoothness that makes even this young wine exceptionally flavorful. Try it with grilled salmon.
Rodney Strong, Duckhorn‘s Golden Eye label and the Gallo family also have tasty Pinot Noirs on the market. Strong’s ($19) is from the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County, with solid fruit overtones, while Duckhorn, using fruit from Mendocino County is a little on the high side ($52) but with superb balance and a delightful finish. Both are from the 2003 vintage. The Gallo Family Sonoma County Reserve ($15) is from ‘04 and is a solid offering, though it needs more age to be as smooth as the other two.
And a pair of superior releases from the same grape of different names – Australian Shiraz from Tintara ($18) and California Syrah from the C. G. DiArie ($30) in the Sierra Foothills, north and east of Napa. Tintara’s is a great value, a 2004 wine of big berry flavor and a good, if slightly short, finish. The DiArie wine, from 2003, has a similar rich roundness with overtones of berries but has a longer, smoother finish. Both are first-rate wines, with superior balance.