This was going to be a litmus test, as this was going to be the first family get-together since my Mother-in-Law passed away. My Bride went overboard trying to make it special as she views herself as the peacemaker, and she also has the unenviable task of being the executor and co-trustee of the estate. I like to tease her, that she must have done something really terrible once, that her mother assigned her this position. At least most of the invitees attended and only one of the birthday recipients didn’t show. As per usual, they arrived late, and the affair ended a little early.
My Bride did her best and I laud her for her efforts. She decided to make two different styles of ribs, so she began slow cooking them the night before, after we removed the muscle tissue on the back of all the ribs and cook them into workable size sets of bones. She finished most of the ribs with barbecue sauce and she made some for me basted and soaked in Molé sauce. She also tried a recipe that I read about, roasting a head of cauliflower stuffed with garlic, drizzled with mustard and olive oil and then topped with grated Reggiano di Parma. For the early attendees we had fresh fruit, cheese and guacamole. Since I was one of the honorees, I went and found something interesting to start out with a bottle of Galante Vineyards Blackjack Pasture Cabernet Sauvignon Carmel Valley 2001. Jack Galante’s great-grandfather James Frank Devendorf was the founder of Carmel-by-the-Sea in 1900. He later built the Pine Inn and the Highlands Inn (that I have wrote about from our trips). Jack’s parents purchased a cattle ranch and in 1983 began a vineyard. In 1994 Jack built a winery using the estate vineyards. The vineyards were sold in 2020, but the still has the rights to the grapes for this winery. I tried to get some basic information, but they never responded, which is a pity, because they are still selling Library wines from this era, and this wine was excellent. I used my Durand and the cork came out perfectly for a twenty-one-year-old. I opened the bottle before the guests arrived to allow it to breath. The wine still had a beautiful hue for a Cabernet Sauvignon and it offered striking notes of dark fruit and spices. On the palate was dark cherry, cassis, some chocolate and tobacco, the tannins had mellowed beautifully and a really nice long finish of terroir. My Bride came back for seconds quite quickly.
While the first courses were being enjoyed there was still Scalloped Potatoes, Sautéed Brussel Sprouts with Balsamic and Marinated and Roasted Pork Tenderloins. After I opened the first bottle, I opened a second bottle, just because. We had Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars “Artemis” Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2003. The winery was founded in the early 1970’s by the Winiarski family on land that would eventually become part of the Stags Leap AVA, and they became famous when during the Judgement of Paris tasting of 1976, they beat Mouton-Rothschild and Haut-Brion in the blind tasting. The estate is two adjoining vineyards Stag’s Leap Vineyard (SLV) which has volcanic soil and is planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, some Merlot and a little bit of Petit Verdot. The Fay Vineyard is alluvial soil and the same mix of plantings. Stag’s Leap Wine Cellar is not to be confused with a nearby producer Stags’ Leap Winery and they had a legal war and the position of the apostrophe came out of the legal battles. Then they both joined forces to try to fight the name of Stags Leap District AVA, which eventually through the courts was decided that it would have no apostrophe. In 2007, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars was sold to Washington’s Ste. Michelle Estate and Tuscan’s Marchesi Antinori. This particular wine “Artemis” contains juice harvested from both vineyards (forty-one percent) and some non-estate vineyards and is basically all Cabernet Sauvignon and a few points of Merlot. The wine is aged for eighteen months in French Oak, of which a third is new. The critics notes at the time called the wine “overly soft with ample tough tannins. Nearly Cab the wine is rich in cassis and blackberry flavors and dry. Could surprise after, but it’s a gamble.” Nineteen years later, the wine was still very dark with notes of blackberry, cassis and spice. On the palate the tannins had mellowed and the dark fruit was still evident with an abundance of enticing spices and a nice decent finish of terroir. For their opening wine, it held up extremely well, though in hindsight, I think that I would have started with this wine first, just because it was a little lighter in heft.