The Best Laid Plans

Tradition has it, that we have a brunch on Christmas Day at my Mother-in-Law’s house and everyone eventually gets there. The snow had kind of abated, but there was still some more coming down, but the travel time was not that bad. Everyone was a bit tired after the night before and the long drives that everyone had. It was a nice simple brunch of pastries, design your own omelet, fresh Kielbasa, bacon and Mimosas. It is hard to think of a brunch without a Mimosa. Mimosas are a very simple drink for an early day drink of orange juice and something bubbly. I have always been of the belief that when one has a mixed drink, the liquor can be a standard grade and not a top shelf item. I mean Canadian Club is fine for a Whisky Sour, but if I am having a Canadian neat, then I prefer Crown Royal. The same holds true for a Mimosa, I think it would be a sin to use Dom with orange juice, so we used Korbel California Champagne, which is produced in the time-honored way of “Methode Chanpenoise” and it is a blend of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, French Colombard and Pinot Noir. A perfect way to start off the day.

Normally after the Christmas Brunch, we end up going to another house for dinner, but they are only going to do it every other year, because of their son’s marriage and his new in-laws live in another state, that is life and families all make adjustments. My Bride was going to try to have everyone come to our house for a dinner, but over the years other traditions have been enjoyed. We ended up going home and having a nice quiet dinner of some of the leftover ham and Armenian Pilaf from the night before that my Bride had made. After having a big meal, the night before and then the brunch, we really were not ready for another big meal. I guess maybe we are slowing down, or maybe just maturing.


I went down to the cellar and grabbed a split for the two of us to enjoy and I thought I would look for something different and interesting. There is always a chance that a split may not have as long of a shelf life as a full bottle or a magnum, I thought it was time to check it out. We shared a bottle of Duckhorn Vineyards Howell Mountain Merlot 1995. Duckhorn Vineyards was one of the pioneers of Merlot in Napa Valley when everyone else was interested in Cabernet Sauvignon. Howell Mountain is one of the most prestigious sub-region AVA’s in Napa Valley, and they were awarded the designation in 1984, Napa Valley was awarded their designation in 1981. There is no actual Howell Mountain, but it is a long and narrow hillside (mountain side) and named after the Howell Mountain Township, which is up above Calistoga. Since we had bought the wine at the winery and I am such a pack rat, which has helped over the years writing about wine, I actually found the winery tech sheet. The wine is 76% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc; and 96% of the fruit was harvested from Howell Mountain and the rest was from Napa Valley. The wine spent twenty months in French Oak of which half was new. I was a little concerned because the cork crumbled as I tried to open the bottle, and I had to decant the wine using a funnel and a coffee filter, and it was a good thing that I did decant it, as there was a lot of sediment that had settled on the side of the bottle during all of that cellar time. The nose was delightful and filled the room during the decanting period. The color had softened and was not as deep as a young Merlot would have been, as it had a little brown in the mix. The taste was sublime, the tannins had all mellowed out and it kind of reminded me of an aged Chateau Cheval-Blanc, it was that smooth; and it was too bad that we only had to oversized glasses of the wine to enjoy.

About thewineraconteur

A non-technical wine writer, who enjoys the moment with the wine, as much as the wine. Twitter.com/WineRaconteur Instagram/thewineraconteur Facebook/ The Wine Raconteur
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