We went to the first graduation party of the season and according to my Bride there is like a total of eight in the next month or so. There must have been something in the water to have that many kids all graduating at the same time. Can we say no vacation? I don’t think it will be that severe, but it will definitely cut into the better restaurants, perhaps. High school graduation parties are a rite of passage, especially for the children of parents that survived the Great Depression, but now this is the next generation watching their children graduate and I think high school is an accepted norm. I know that in my parent’s age group, plenty of teens did not graduate, but went to work, or volunteered for the Armed Forces in World War II, there was a war on back then, and even in my generation there were some who quit school to take jobs in the manufacturing sector or were drafted in the days of Vietnam.
We went to home of the graduate and his parents had a big tent erected in the backyard, with a smaller tent adjacent that had side panels and that was the food area. There was plenty of assorted salads, vegetables and fruit. There was an assortment of cheeses and crackers and big pre-sliced hero sandwiches. I made a beeline to a dish that I haven’t had in years, because my Bride has this insane idea that she is going to make me live forever. It had been so long, I wasn’t sure if my internals could handle it, and whether I was going to have heartburn later. I threw caution to the wind and I basically only piled my plate with crispy fried chicken, and by the way, I did survive. Mother Nature acted up a little bit and it did rain some, just enough to make the grass under the tent where we were getting muddy, so our group went to one of the tables in the garage and my Bride went to the Sweets Table.
We did bring our own libations, just in case, and I heard that there was wine, but I didn’t see it, but I am sure that it was there. On our first trip to Carmel-by-the-Sea we bought a leather wine bag, that holds two glasses, two bottles, a cutting board, utensils, a waiter’s corkscrew and then I throw in some other accoutrements in there as well, and at times I have even gotten three bottles in there. The first bottle was Mer Soleil Santa Lucia Highland Reserve Chardonnay 2016, and this wine is part of the Wagner Family of Wine, as in Caymus of Napa Valley. The family first started winemaking in the Napa Valley after purchasing seventy acres of land in 1906, of course that was short lived as Prohibition arrived and wiped out the majority of winemakers. In 1972, the Wagner family re-entered the wine business with the launch of Caymus Vineyards. Sixteen years later, Chuck Wagner branched out and started planting Chardonnay vines in the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation, beginning the production of Mer Soleil Chardonnay. By 2001, Chuck’s son Charlie F. Wagner II had taken the reins and in 2005 he created the unoaked Silver Chardonnay label, which I have tasted and written about. In the 1990’s they began the Mer Soleil label, though it was originally called “Barrel Fermented Chardonnay.” So now they make two versions of Chardonnay, the Silver which is unoaked from Monterey and the Reserve which is from the Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey. The wine is aged from twelve to fifteen months in French Oak for a rich creamy texture. For the Wagner Family of Wine, this is a very small production of nine-hundred cases and they feel that it has the aging potential of eight to ten years which is quite impressive. This Reserve Chardonnay was a nice big wine and evokes Burgundy, but so far, every Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that I have had from the Santa Lucia Highlands has done this for me. This was a Wagner wine in the tradition of a Caymus Special Select, in my humble opinion and not a wine for all the restaurant across the country. The second wine was the Midnight Cellars “Nebula” Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 hails from Paso Robles in California. A business man from Chicago retired and bought a one-hundred-sixty-acre ranch with twenty-eight acres currently planted with vines in Paso Robles in 1995 and it is the home for three generations of families that are maintaining the winery. Midnight Cellars is the twenty-ninth established winery in Paso Robles and they are in the newly designated area known as Willow Creek District. The “Nebula” is ninety percent Cabernet Sauvignon and the balance is Merlot. The wine was aged for eighteen months in French Oak, the production was seven-hundred-sixty-five cases and is completely sold out at the winery. This was a big wine and one of the cousins stopped by to try the red wine that we had brought and he was bowled over by the bigness of the wine, and he also grabbed the bottle to look at the proof, and it is not something that I normally look at when I am having wine. He said that at 15.9% it was the biggest wine that he had ever had. He really enjoyed that wine and then some more. I think my Bride liked the Chardonnay more, and as for me, I really enjoyed them both. Onward and upwards to celebrate the other graduates.