Cain Cuvee has been one of our favorite wines from the first time we tried it. When ever we can find it, in a store or even a restaurant, guess what, that is what is chosen. We affectionately call it “Cain Five Lite” only because it is so affordable in comparison and still delivers quality. It is always a pleasure for me to watch my Bride when she finds the wine when we are out, there are even times when the whole dinner menu selection is altered, because of this wine.
In 1980, Jerry and Joyce Cain purchase fifty-five-hundred acres, part of the McCormick Ranch on Spring Mountain. Their vision was to create a mountain vineyard with the intention of emulating the great wines of the Medoc. The first vintage was in 1985, and in 1986 they were joined by Jim and Nancy Meadlocks, and since the retirement of the Cains, the Meadlocks became sole owners and have continued to follow the original vision. Five generations of a family grew up on the McCormick Ranch and much of the ranch is still in the family’s hands. At one time the ranch was three-thousand acres on both sides of Mayacamas Range and was used for sheep ranching, until it became financially unviable in the 1970’s to continue that business. The homestead is part of the McCormick Sanctuary, through the largesse of the family and has become part of the California State Park System. In 1991, the vision of the Cains became known as Cain Vineyard & Winery.
While Cain Vineyard & Winery makes Cain Five from the original mountain vineyards and Cain Concept is a similar wine made from vineyards from the Benchland, Cain Cuvee is now a Merlot dominant blend and originally it was made each year as a vintage. In the cellar, we still have Cain Cuvee 1996 and 1997 that are still Cabernet Sauvignon dominated and label “The serious art of having fun.” Then the wine changed in 1998 still with the traditional label but now it is Cain Cuvee NV8 and then Cain Cuvee NV9, the numerals designate the year of blending, because the wine is a blend of two vintages and while most wine that is listed as NV means Non-Vintage as in Sparkling Wines, Cain uses the two letters preceding the numeral and it is read as “eN-Vy” and these wines are still Cabernet Sauvignon based. The other wines of this series that I have in the cellar have a new style label and they are Cain Cuvee NV5 and Cain Cuvee NV9 for 2005 and 2009 and now the wines are Merlot based.
Now onto the new wines that we purchased, a library vertical of three eN-Vy years that we bought a case of, without tasting a drop, just based on our faith of the winemaker and his skill and artistry. The labels have changed again and are now a diamond shape and the back label now reads “harvested, vinified and blended for freshness, lightness, complexity and balance.” The wines also carry a Napa Valley designation as the fruit can be from their Spring Mountain estate and from their Benchland vineyards. The labels are also written different. NV12 Cain Cuvee Napa Valley is a blend of fifty percent Merlot, thirty-two percent Cabernet Sauvignon, ten percent Cabernet Franc, four percent Petit Verdot and four percent Malbec. NV13 Cain Cuvee Napa Valley is fifty-one percent Merlot, twenty-eight percent Cabernet Sauvignon, nineteen percent Cabernet Franc and two percent Petit Verdot. NV14 Cain Cuvee Napa Valley is forty-eight percent Merlot, thirty-one percent Cabernet Sauvignon, thirteen percent Cabernet Franc and eight percent Petit Verdot. As you can see, the wines are not a cookie-cutter assembly, but done through plenty of experimentation to get the best wine from the vintages. I am sure that we will have offers from friends to offer their expertise on a vertical tasting or just to help get rid of some of the old dust covered bottles.
Getting two cases Cain Vineyard & Winery wine, certainly put this house on high alert, and we were almost giddy waiting for the actual moment of delivery. From the first time that I had the wine, and then later when my Bride and I shared our first bottle, it has been on a hallowed mantel in our thoughts and cellar. We have had other wines that are lauded by the press and other bloggers, but we keep going back to Cain, when we can find it, which is not often around here. Maybe it doesn’t have the cachet, and to be truthful, that is fine with me, as it prevents the wine from becoming even dearer than it already is. There was a pounding on the front door, and I left my spot in my office on the computer to run down to answer the door, I even went so far as to put on a mask, when I opened the door one case was already on the front porch and the driver was already bringing the second case to the porch. I guess with everything going on, the protocol for signing for the wine has been on hold, maybe because when the driver looked at me, he was pretty sure that I was past the Age of Majority and was probably thinking that the wine was shipped overnight, because who knows how long I would be on this earth to enjoy drinking wine. Any ways, I did not have to sign and by this time, my Bride had left her work station to open the screen door for me, as I carried the cases into the living room.
I went to go get a razor knife and started opening up the packages, and they were the best packaged wine shipments we had ever received, and I would venture to say that we have had plenty of cartons arriving at our door. It was also the first time we had wine sent to us overnight with ice packs enclosed, the Styrofoam bottle holders actually had special slots to hold the ice packs to keep the wine rather temperature regulated. I thought back to the time that we visited Cain, and I had made reservations for us, right after we had booked our flight and the house that we were renting for the week, overlooking the entire valley. Initially, there were only a couple of wineries that I made appointments for, while my Bride and Ms. Yoga had the job of booking a dinner reservation at The French Laundry. There was a lot of logistics for this trip, trying to get everything lined up. Those were great memories that we still carry around from that trip and Cain was definitely one of the highlights and one of the big hits watching my Bride tallying up all the wine while we were there after the tasting. I will actually talk more of the winery in the next two installments, because as jaded as I can be, we were both pretty excited.
The Cain Vineyard is located at the crest of Mayacamas Range that overlooks the Napa Valley and Saint Helena. The four bottles of Cain Concept “The Benchland” 2007, from their library collection, is from vineyards lower down the mountain side going from Yountville to Oakville to Rutherford to St. Helena and all very special real estate of its own. This wine is a blend of fifty-seven percent Cabernet Sauvignon, eighteen percent Merlot, thirteen percent Cabernet Franc and twelve percent Petit Verdot. Cain Concept is handled by the winery the same way as they produce Cain Five (which is the mountain vineyard) and it takes a total of just over three years of production. There are no notes, but I do know the wine is barreled as I have seen them stacked. Now, I can look forward to having some of the Cain Concept 1996 as I am sure it is ready to be tried and there is three left of that wine.
In case you never noticed, I like wine, and I like to talk about wine. I think that I am a rather friendly person, unless I get rubbed the wrong way; and then sometimes it is hard for me to forgive the deed. As I said, I like talking about wine. I have been drinking wine since at least 1969 and have only been writing about wine since May 2012. I am rather slow to accept new fangled concepts, but I did start making notices about this blog on Facebook at the inception of the blog. Later on, I discovered Twitter and I just started that site mid-stream on my writing. After continual prodding from friends and colleagues I started on Instagram, where believe it or not, even though it is owned by Facebook there is much less political stuff there and I enjoy seeing the wines that people tout. I actually began posting my photos as posts on Instagram from my earliest article with a photo, and eventually I will catch up, and all the sites will be in sync.
All that rambling is because I have posted over 2,200 photos and there is a small amount of duplication from over the years of article and there are some photos that I have never posted on Instagram from here. Through the years I have acquired followers and I have followed other accounts; some are wineries, some are wine bloggers, some are wine drinkers and some have absolutely nothing to do with wine (believe it or not). I am not sure when Cain Winery and I met on Instagram, but for me, it was love at first post. I also somewhere along the way began following their “story” posts and they would politely acknowledge my like. Also, I tried whenever I posted about Cain Winery, I would leave the cryptic @cainwinery or #cainwinery and maybe, because I was kind of a pest, a casual discussion began.
I am not sure if I ever told the gentleman that handles the Instagram account about how I first discovered Cain Five at a restaurant, before my Bride had become my Bride, but we were an item by then. My Bride was at shower and I was having dinner with someone I had just met, because the woman he was dating was also attending the shower as well. I had heard about Cain Five from a customer and I had never encountered it until that evening. It was one of the best-selling jobs in my entire career, because I was told, why order a California Bordeaux when you can just order the real thing. I won the argument, fell in love with the wine and truth be told, I think the other gentlemen did as well. Cain Five is one of the dang wines that don’t belong to the Meritage Society, but was making that type of wine before the society was formed along with some of the other old guard Napa wineries that have unique names instead of Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot on the label.
Anyways, as I was chatting with my liaison at Cain, he asked me if I was still buying their wine, especially Cain Five. We had some from our original trip to Cain and we were going to buy a case and we were told as we were placing our order, that we could only buy two bottles, so I was going to buy two and have my Bride buy two, but that was nixed and were told that we could only buy two per couple or household, I understand that she is still there and eventually they put Cain Five on a subscription basis and we were shut out, but we have bought some after market offerings. My liaison offered that we could buy some if we wanted and my Bride was all excited, especially in these lockdown days when the only wine to be bought is at the grocery stores. I was telling the young man, about the current holdings of Cain that we still had eleven bottles, but as I am getting ready for a major shift in the cellar, I found three additional bottles of good tidings.
We are now adding additional wines in all three categories Cain Five, Cain Concept and Cain Cuvée. There was one year of Cain Concept that we bought, and four sets of verticals of the Cain Cuvée and finally an offering of Cain Five from their library holding and then we bought six of the current Cain Five as well. My Bride was ecstatic and so am I, and I have to think of the right moment to try opening up some of twenty-year-old wines and the meal will have to be as stellar as the wine.
The majority of the people that I talk wine with, don’t usually put Darioush Winery and Viognier in the same sentence; most people think of their rich red wines. For the last hundred days or so, I have put on my miner’s helmet with the lamp on it, and have gone excavating in the cellar, as I have decided to bring the cellar up to a more recent set of vintages, though there are still some special wines down there and the right occasion will be found and we will be prepared. My Bride has been above the call of duty, trying out new recipes, as she slowly finds what she has put away in the freezers in anticipation of big family parties and events which were outlawed, at least in our state. One can always be guaranteed that our dishes will be spicy as we both enjoy food with a tang, and I think that subconsciously our wines have been purchased with our culinary likes in mind.
We have only been to Napa Valley once, as strange as that sounds, but when we have two children and five grandchildren in Las Vegas, it is hard to get farther west then there, and Darioush Winery was not on the landscape and Silverado Trail was far less dramatic. The winery was established in 1997 by Darioush Khaledi and is considered one of the places to visit both for its dramatic interpretation of Persian architecture, but also for the consistently high marks that the Signature Series of wines have earned almost immediately. Darioush Khaledi was born and raised in Iran, and his father made wine as a hobby. He immigrated to America in the Seventies a founded a successful grocery chain called KV Mart. While celebrating his Twentieth wedding anniversary, he and his wife visited Napa Valley and discovered California wines, and he decided to buy land and start a winery. One has to look beyond his regal visitor’s center and tasting rooms to discover that he owns vineyards in the Oak Knoll and Mount Veeder AVAs in Napa Valley. The vineyards are planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Shiraz, Chardonnay, Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc. These are used to produce his many Signature series wine and his blends, as well as his flagship wine Darius II Cabernet Sauvignon. The wines immediately attracted Robert Parker who has always shown favor for the big and jammy wines that Napa Valley does so well.
The Darioush Winery Viognier Napa Valley 2001 was made before the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley was granted an AVA in 2004. Oak Knoll has been recognized for having cooler temperatures and a potentially longer growing season, while maintaining the critical acidity of the grapes. The wine is pure Viognier and they use whole cluster pressing and the juice goes directly to the sixty-gallon French Oak barrels for the primary fermentation. The wine was then topped and inoculated for malolactic fermentation, and then aged for seven months Sur-lies with minimum handling. This bottle I had found far from the other white wines, because it is one of the heavier and thicker glass bottles that a lot of winery use to denote all around quality, and the bottle did not fit into my rack structure and was forgotten about and we had probably bought it when it had just been issued, along with some other wines from Darioush Winery. We did not know what to expect and my Bride was ready to give me the evil eye that we had lost a wine from a great house. Lo and behold, this wine was still fresh with fruit and the nose was still aromatic with floral fragrances that I just adore about Viognier. Maybe ten or fifteen years earlier, the wine might have been more vibrant, but there was nothing wrong with this wine for a nineteen-year-old, in fact it was better than some red wines of that age, that I have had over the years.
I am now going to talk about the May New World wine club selection from Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan. They like all of the businesses that took it on the chin, because they were not considered essential clawed tooth and nail through the last three months that they were forced to close. They didn’t take it the easy way, after all they also owned a fine dining establishment in Downtown Detroit that was also closed, so they were looking at no income coming in anywhere. They created their own business by advertising specials and either creating special curbside pick up of wines or they would personally deliver your wines at a set time. Who wants to watch a lifetime of work, disappear in three months. While we were not hurting for wines for the three months, because I actually started being nosy and discovering what is still there, and I am still discovering, we still ordered some wine, plus the monthly wine club selections. Of course, I and all the regulars miss the impromptu wine tastings courtesy of the Coravin system.
The New World club selection for May is Magnolia Court Dorrian Cabernet Sauvignon California 2016. The Miller Family Wine Company’s California farming and ranching legacy starts in 1871, when William and Francis Broome moved from England to begin farming in southern Ventura County. The farming legacy was passed down to William Broome’s granddaughter Elizabeth who married Robert Miller in 1942, and then it became the Miller Family. In 1973 the family developed a vineyard in the Paso Robles highlands and named it French Camp in honor of the Basque shepherds that once populated the area. There is fourteen-hundred acres of French Camp which supplies the Miller Family with their highest quality fruit. The parent corporation is the Thornhill Company, named for William Broome’s son, and they now are into the fifth generation of family control. They make four different branded labels and then they also make limited production runs of assorted wines for multiple businesses for their house wines and private labels.
The Magnolia Court Dorrian is a tribute to the generation of strong woman in the family. There were no production notes for the wine, even though it is listed as a limited production wine. The tasting notes for the wine suggest an inviting nose with characteristics of dark fruits like blackberry and plums, with a hint of vanilla. The wine is also described as fairly light and fresh with decent acidity, though light in structure. I am sure that once we get back into the swing of things for parties, this will be a bottle for us to try as it should be very good with chicken or pork tenderloins.
I am trying to fit in the three months of wine club selections from my club The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan. You may have noticed that basically the world shut down for a period of time and in Michigan after a hundred days, I stopped counting, because of the ups and downs of the lockdown, that is being seen and felt elsewhere as well. Every month, there are two bottles of wine that are selected for the club selection, one Old World and one New World. It is always a mystery, what the wines will be, until the day of picking them up. This past pick-up of wine, I actually picked up three months of wines, because the wine shop was not considered essential, because they only sell wine. They don’t sell beer, liquor, lottery tickets or potato chips.
Famille Cornut or the Cornut family is now in their ninth generation of vignerons and over the years they have shown patience, understanding, dedication, hard work towards a terroir that continues the long history of winemaking. Costieres de Nimes is the southernmost point of the Rhone and only recently after the AOC Costieres de Nimes was granted in 1989, and before that they were VDQS Costieres du Gard and were officially under the administration of the Languedoc; in 2004 there were transferred to the Rhone. To carry the AOC Costieres de Nimes, wines require Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre to make up at least sixty percent of the finished red and rosé wines and the balance can be Cinsault, Marselan and Carignan. There are also white wines that can be made with the AOC and they must be made from Grenache Blanc, Marsanne and Roussanne, but this is a very small amount.
Chateau Guiot Costieres de Nimes Appellation d’Originene Protegee 2017 shows the hard work the Cornut Family exercised when they acquired Chateau Guiot in 1975, the property was only fourteen hectares and is now one-hundred hectares in size and in the last three years a conversion to organic wine making throughout the vineyard. This wine is a blend of half Grenache and half Syrah and aged in a mix of concrete and Stainless Steel to allow the classic red fruits and spiciness of the two grapes to be savored. It will be an interesting wine to try.
I grew up in Southwest Detroit and the Fourth of July holds a very favorite feeling for everyone that I grew up with. The area was a true melting pot of Detroit and everyone got along. Independence Day was the perfect day for the area and it was also the only parade for the area. In the old days J.L. Hudson sponsored the Thanksgiving Day Parade which competed with Macy’s in New York, but only Vernor Highway had the parade and after the parade we all ended up at Patton Park, that was named after “Blood and Guts” Patton, and at the end of the day, there were fireworks that was sponsored by many of the businesses in the actual trading area. There was a pride in the district, even with all the changes, the area was vibrant. For years I was in the different phases of the Boy Scouts of America and eventually I became the Parade Marshall for all the assorted groups in the area and would count cadence for the entire stretch of the parade, and even took the heckling from my friends all along the parade route, as the parade was several miles. Alas, this year there was no independence, our harridan governor tightened the noose around us all again, after a little breath of fresh air. The peaceful protestors, the looters and the vandals did not make the disease margin increase, because none of those people were around long enough to be tested, but some young people in two different bars created an uproar and have caused her to take away our independence, except in small groups. Of course, this is not the case, in the region where are governor has her summer home. Nothing has changed in that region.
Well it was an interesting day as we were going to have a family get-together at one of her sister’s homes, as she has a pool. The day would start off with water aerobics and then would morph into a party and we would actually even celebrate all the birthdays for those that were cheated because of the last hundred days. Even my Mother-in-Law was going to get out of the house to see her family and at 94, she may have missed Mother’s Day, except by a Zoom session, but she felt that enough was enough. My Bride and I started off the day with Mimosas along with Poached Eggs, Bacon and Bagels. We figured that would get us through the start of the day. We then loaded up our car, and perhaps we should get a catering truck. She had either made or prepped the majority of the menu for the day. We were having Potato Salad, Caesar Salad, Fruit Salad, Corn on the Cob, Bratwursts, and Barbecued Pulled Pork. There was also a Pasta Salad and Smoked Chicken from others. She also had packed up assorted cheeses, crackers and other munchies. And there were Lemon Merengue and Key Lime Pies, and she brought a Sander’s Bumpy Cake with all of the honoree’s names on the cake. There was also plenty of gifts being passed out during the day as well, it felt like days of old, if for no other reason but to tweak the nose of our harridan governor.
We started the day with Mumm Napa Brut Prestige NV for our Mimosas. Mumm Napa is located in Rutherford and is one of the leading sparkling wine producers in California. The winery was created in the Seventies under the auspices of G.H. Mumm, one the leading Champagne houses in France. All of the sparkling wines are produced using the Methode Traditionelle and using Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Gris. The first vintage was in 1983 and labeled Domaine Mumm, the name was changed in 1990 to Mumm Napa. This may have been a bit of over-kill for Mimosas, but I am now on a mission to go through the cellar and check on some of the bottles that may have been neglected or forgotten about, or even worse mis-placed. This was a beautiful bottle of sparkling wine on its own and with a tincture of Orange Juice it still was able to shine through. Later in the day, we opened up a bottle of Voga Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie DOC 2019 for a pleasant white wine to compete with the Sumer sun. Voga Italia is a brand of Italian wines launched in 2006 and are instantly identifiable by their cylinder style bottles and resealable caps. They produce white, red, sparkling and sweet wines and they also now make a vodka, and they only market instantly identifiable varieties as well, like Pinot Grigio, Moscato, Merlot, Prosecco and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Venezie in the name, most people think is for Venice, the historic and romantic city of canals, island, bridges and gondolas, but it is actually for Tre Venezie, Triveneto or “Three Venices.” These three are Venezia Euganea, Venezia Giulia and Venezia Tridentina and they were three Italian administrative regions which existed from 1866 to 1919 and now correspond to Veneto, Friuli-Venezie Gulia and Trentino-Alto Adige; Delle Venezie covers the entire area with the exception of Alto-Adige or Sudtirol. The DOC laws allow that the wine must be at least eighty-five percent Pinot Grigio and then there is a long list of local grapes that may be used to blend in. This wine is produced using Stainless Steel and the maturing time is not long, so as to keep the freshness of the fruit. We also opened up a bottle of Podere Ciona Semifonte 2017 and I have tried many of the wines made by this winery. I was reading the history of the winery on their website “Franca and Franco Gatteschi were looking for a place in the countryside to retire to, after many years of working in Italy and abroad, when they came across a small, beautiful, albeit run down property: 100 acres of land, mostly wooded with 10 acres set aside for cultivation, of which 2.5 acres already had vineyards; a house from the 18th Century, abandoned for more than 40 years; and, above all, a view without equal on the Chianti hills, with Siena in the distance.” It really sounds idyllic and makes one ponder how this property was neglected and ignored for years. “They purchased the estate at the beginning of 1990 and they immediately started the reconstruction work on the main house (it took nearly three years). They also set up a small but well- equipped wine cellar for making wine. In 1996 they permanently moved to live on the estate and the following year, the great 1997 vintage, saw the birth of the first “official” wine of Podere Ciona: A Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva.” The Podere Ciona Semifonte Gaiole in Chianti IGT 2017 and is termed a Tuscan Rosso wine. Toscana IGT is the most famous of the IGT designations and it actually has three sub-regions already, and there are ten provinces that are allowed this designation. Tuscany is the home of Italy’s most famous IGT category, but it was where this category forced the hands of wine classification for a new designation, because some of the wine makers felt constrained by the current rules, and originally had to use the lowly Vino de Tavola or Table Wine designation for their new wines. Finally, in 1984, Sassicaia was granted its very own title of DOC Bolgheri Sassicaia and the floodgates were opened. IGT is Italy’s version of the Common Market’s designation of IGP. This particular wine is eighty-five percent Merlot and fifteen percent Alicante Bouschet, the same varietal that they add to their Chianti Classico. This is a high-altitude Merlot planted on a mix of quartz and clay of vines that average about fifteen years of age. The wine has been aged for twelve months in French Oak and then cellared for eight months in the bottle, before being released. Of course, I have always been partial to Merlot and this wine was showing red fruits like plums and cherries and there was still a lot of spice as this was a young wine. I think it was a hit, and I am not sure if I can get anymore, as there were only about five hundred cases produced. There were no organized fireworks for the evening, just random individuals, of course there could have been some real fireworks, if the governor’s husband never was able to get their boat in the water at the marina up North.
We are eating more leftovers in the last hundred days then I can ever recall. It is the lockdown mentality, we make a bigger dinner, so that we can enjoy the meal, maybe once or twice more after the initial meal. We are actually using up some of the food that has been stockpiling in two refrigerators and a chest freezer. We even survived the great toilet paper shortage, because we just naturally buy in quantity, especially basics; we don’t buy bananas like we buy paper products. Anyways, I think it is harder to cook for two, compared to a party, and though my Bride says no, she still cooks for a crowd and hence, I am maintaining my new figure. I actually haven’t gained any weight, but I certainly have not lost any either. Any ways, we are eating more leftovers and then if you toss into the equation a chance to go out, on a limited basis and now we have more leftovers, plus all the regular food that we already have.
I have going through the cellar and bringing up the white wines to put into the wine vault in the family room and then I will rearrange all the red wines that that are allover the basement and the stair case going to the basement. As a precaution, I have been putting two white wines in the refrigerator at the same time, more as an insurance policy, just in case, and so far, we have only encountered one over-the-hill wine, out of perhaps 1500 bottles, so far, the odds have been good. I also have to say that I am really appreciative that my Bride got me The Durand wine opener, as it has been a blessing for opening up all of these twenty-year-old wines. I opened up a bottle of Robert Mondavi Winery Fume Blanc Napa Valley 2001, and the label actually fell off of the bottle in the refrigerator. Some people will probably scratch their head and say that they have never heard of a grape varietal named Fume Blanc, this is all fine and good, now onto this mystery varietal Fume Blanc, that I had opened. Fume Blanc is a marketing name coined by Robert Mondavi for Sauvignon Blanc, which at the time was suffering an image problem, as most people were associating this varietal for a sweet white wine, which it can be when it is in the production of French Sauterne. It can also be a dryer white wine, when it is from Graves in Bordeaux or from the Loire Valley of France. It is from the Loire Valley that Robert Mondavi created this wine term of Fume Blanc playing on the reputation of Pouilly-Fume. The most remarkable thing is that several other wineries including Ferrari-Carano have jumped on the band-wagon and call their dry Sauvignon Blanc Fume Blanc. They also tend to make the wine more in the tradition of the Loire Valley by using both Stainless Steel and used French Oak barrels for the production of the wine, and I also have to say that Fume Blanc is not a trademark name, just one that has been used and accepted; and there are no actually regulations or requirements for this “proprietary” name. I guess the name change has worked over the years, and because this wine is actually a Sauvignon Blanc it should be a pale straw wine that normally is described as green and flinty. This was the second wine that had to be unceremoniously poured down the sink, as it was amber in color and had a foul nose and taste. I cannot blame it on the wine, it was just in the cellar longer then it should have been.
The second bottle which was a backup was a Maison Loui Latour Macon-Lugny “Les Genievres” 2000. Maison Louis Latour is a major negocient of red and white wines, and mainly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the Burgundy region. The firm was founded in 1797 and is still family owned and operated, and with roughly seventy-two acres of Grand Cru vineyards, they have the largest holdings of any producer in Burgundy, as well as holdings in other parts of the region, and they have also started developing other holding in the south of France as well. Macon-Lugny wines fall under the Macon appellation within the much larger Burgundy region, and is one of the most recognized districts in the Maconnais. The white wines are exclusively Chardonnay and the red and rosé wines use Pinot Noir and Gamay. This twenty-year-old Chardonnay still had life in her, the color had definitely darkened, the nose was very soft, but there was still some stone fruit and spices, with a nice finish of some terroir. It was a lovely wine to drink, and it made the leftovers, all that much more special.
It almost felt like a regular day, we were going out to see some family, then kind of a day trip and finally out for dinner. My Bride was going to meet some of her family at one of her sister’s home and do water aerobics in their pool. My Bride is going great guns with her new health regimen and now she is down to the size of when we met and got married. I on the other hand have steadily shown signs of being happily married and then compound that with some medical side affects and let us say that I am more than a few pounds over the weight when we met, or even we married. We had lunch at her sister’s house with all the others that attended and then we were off on potentially an adventure. We were going to get new phone upgrades from our provider, but we could only go to two locations in the state and the closest one was almost two hours away, with no way to guarantee that when we got there, that there would be new phones available, so my Bride was in kind of a holding pattern on her mood. Thankfully all was good and it went relatively smoothly and painlessly, in comparison to another couple that also made the trip from our home city and left empty handed for a couple of reasons and they were not happy. I didn’t realize how far we were, because my Bride is the road warrior of the family or I would have suggested another restaurant to try, but all was good, because she really wanted to go to Rocky’s again.
At her sister’s home, we had a nice barbecue lunch of grilled Bratwursts, Cheeseburgers and Hamburgers. There were also plenty of sides, because people that attended the water aerobics brought sides like fruit salad, potato salad, Cole Slaw and Macaroni salad. There was plenty of food and enough to eat to hold us over until dinner time. When we got to Rocky’s, thankfully we had a reservation, because since they can only be operating at fifty percent, they were filling up quite well. Rocky’s could probably run at full capacity, because it is a mature clientele and even at the bar, not a crowd of hard drinkers like at the two bars that were written up for not doing social distancing, perhaps if they had announced at those two locations that they were protesting there would have been no writeups. At Rocky’s it was all done in proper style, walking in with a mask, until we were seated and you could have swung a two by four around and not hit the diners at the next closet table. We both knew that we wanted the Black Bean Soup and we even ordered a quart of it to go, trust me, it is that good and worth the trip. My Bride had the Potato encrusted Whitefish with a Lemon Sauce and fresh vegetables and I went with the Broiled Shrimps Casino with Basmati Rice and fresh vegetables.
We also took a bottle of wine with us to her sister’s house, especially because after the water aerobicize my Bride deserved something cold and special. I turns out that I had a second bottle of Russian Hill Chardonnay Gail Ann’s Vineyard Russian River Valley 2007. Patrick Melley is a self-taught winemaker and co-founder of Russian Hill and Talawind Ranch wineries. He went from the restaurant industry to making wine himself, back in 1989 he started making wine at home, and then in 1993 he co-founded Benicia Cellars Winery. In 1997, he and his partners moved to the Russian River Valley and founded Russian Hill Estate Winery. I couldn’t find any winemaking notes on this wine, but it was the tenth year that the winery was in existence. The good news is that the cork in this bottle was solid and I poured a wine that also had a deep amber-gold color, looking more like an aged Sauternes. Whereas the first bottle that we had, the nose was light, this bottle still offered some fruit and spice and the taste was subtle with some flavor of terroir, but the finish still evoked alcohol. It actually was a beautiful drinking wine, and more flavorful compared to the first bottle. After all the running around and we were resting at Rocky’s I picked out a very easy drinking white for us to relax with. We had a split of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2018. Kim Crawford is probably the most recognized wine producer from New Zealand and its Sauvignon Blanc is the most popular wine from New Zealand sold in the United States of America. Kim Crawford began in 1996 in Auckland and built a state-of-the-art facility in Marlborough in 2000. In 2003 the brand was sold to the Canadian firm Vincor and the following year Vincor was acquired by Constellation Brands. Kim Crawford was also one of the first in New Zealand to produce an unoaked Chardonnay. Marlborough is the most important wine region in New Zealand and Sauvignon Blanc account for almost eighty percent of the production. The wine is very fruity with a nose promising passion fruit, melons and some spice, with a taste of fresh fruit and acidity and a pleasant finish that kind of beckons another glassful. All in all, it was a most enjoyable day with a couple of charming wines.
Historically, Father’s Day is normally a quiet affair and even more so this year. Fathers appreciate being acknowledged and a dinner is nice. Some men golf, and I haven’t golfed since my college days, I sometimes think that Ben Hogan was my instructor, but I guess I didn’t pay attention to his lessons. Other men like to go out on a boat, my luck it would be the Titanic, especially this year. We are really not into barbecues either, but some people really excel at it. Since the state is just loosening up and we went out for dinner the night before, we were going to have a quiet dinner at home. The good thing is getting phone calls from the children and that is enough reward. We also had a Zoom session with some of the family and that was interesting, as always.
My Bride likes to make a bit of a splash about a Sunday breakfast or should I say brunch. She made Bavarian-style pancakes, those baked monsters, but these didn’t fluff up as much, but the flavor was still there, so all was excellent. We also had bacon, she is always trying to make me eat healthier, but she lets me cheat a couple of times a week. Actually, I am the one that should be on Weight Watchers, but I guess I am not into regimens, she also tells me that it all is about portion control and I guess I still think that I have the appetite of a teenager (at times). I guess it is my way of thinking that I am still young. Later that day, she made Salmon with her Bourbon Sauce along with Corn on the Cob and Snap Peas. Followed by Chocolate Pudding. The funny thing is, that I very seldom have dessert anymore, but the puddings, mousses and Crème Brulee desserts are all hitting the spot. Thankfully, we don’t eat that big every day.
It was another day to enjoy the labors of the cellar. 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 and Korbel is one of those houses that have been grandfathered in using the term “California Champagne.” We now make them in the steakhouse method that we discovered in Las Vegas, which is to fill the glass with Bubbles and a tincture of Orange Juice. I have been raiding the wine cellar and grabbing some wines to try. Some wines come under the category of “that is too good of a wine just for us” or “let’s just have our house wine,” since we cannot have dinner with others, let’s have a little fun. I found a lone bottle of Bernardus Chardonnay Monterey County 2000. Bernardus Winery and Vineyards was founded by Ben Marinus Pon about twenty-five years ago with the intention of creating premier wines in the Carmel Valley. His intent was to produce single vineyard designated wines and a Bordeaux blended wine. Bernardus has three estate vineyards: Marinus planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec; Featherbow planted with Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon; and Ingrid’s Vineyard planted with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. All fifty-four acres of estate vineyards are in the Carmel Valley AVA. To compliment the estate vineyards Bernardus also has contracts with vineyards the Arroyo Seco, Santa Lucia Highlands and others in the Monterey County. I am sorry to say, that Mr. Pon passed away in September of 2019 and his vision will be continued by Robert van der Wallen the current owner, who also understand the passion that Mr. Pon had for his winery. As a non-wine note, they have recently opened Bernardus Golf in Holland, and it will be the host for the Dutch KLM open. Just another sublime winner, a twenty-year-old California Chardonnay that has a reason to be proud. We are really going to have problems drinking the young wines again after all of this.