2007 Alpha Omega Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, California, Napa Valley (4/10/2011)

Blueberry and chocolate behind a formidable and (for now) insurmountable wall of rather rough tannins. Wine is currently showing rather angular. Some smoke, tobacco, and earthy notes peek out on the finish.  My wife didn’t like this wine but I think it shows some promise as a more traditional styled Cab.  It needs some years to smooth out. 89 now but will probably top a 90 for me in 3-4 years. (89 points)

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I had a chance to do a side-by-side tasting comparison of these two wines this past week.

The 2008 Butterdragon is fairly closed right now and needs hours of air to start to show its stuff.  I recorked a bottle and a couple of days later it was much more expressive.  The ’08 vintage, in my opinion, is going to display more depth than the ’07, but it is going to take some time.  My recommendation right now is to hold your 2008 Butterdragons for a few years.  Surprisingly for this vineyard, the 2007 Baconbrook was more open for business.  After just an hour of air, it’s really singing with a great, complex finish.  While cellar age is still the watchword with Baconbrook, you can enjoy the 2007 now with a bit of advance planning.

I’m going to try to regularly update drinkability reports in this Vintner’s Journal.

2002 Bressler Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena (3/23/2011)

Wow. This wine is firing on all cylinders right now. Dark and rich with waves of mouthfilling dark fruit flavors that coat the mouth and last for almost a minute. Creamy mocha, or even hot chocolate. Hint of mint on the nose. Smokey. Big, but balanced. This wine is showing its very best right now. Drink over next 3 years. (94 points)

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The Bressler was the perfect partner to take to dinner at Asena Restaurant in Alameda.  This was our first visit — but hopefully not our last — to this small restaurant specializing in Mediterranean cuisine.  The flavors of Italy, North Africa, and Turkey are all presented in delicious style.  Service, mostly by the owner himself, was friendly and warm but sometimes seemed a bit disorganized even though the restaurant was far from full during most of our meal.  I think he (the owner) may have been doing a bit too much schmoozing with all the guests at the expense of following up on drink orders, leveling a table that had a disconcerting wobble, and generally orchestrating the dining experience.  This is not a big gig in our book: we’d probably prefer this homey approach over cold efficiency.  The food was mostly wonderful with highlights including crispy breaded artichoke hearts with lime aioli ($6.95), house-made humus and flatbread with linguiça ($7.25), and paella with chicken, linguica, Mediterranean mussels, prawns, leeks, saffron, and rice ($19.95).  Members of our party also raved about the shrimp special though I didn’t catch the details on that one.  The “miss” on the menu was grilled lamb tenderloin with mint-burgundy demi glace ($20.95).  The lamb was tasty enough and cooked to the right temperature but two of us really had our hearts set on the mint in this recipe — loving that flavor with lamb — but alas, the mint was subtle to the point of non-existence.  For dessert, the blood orange cheesecake, chocolate pot de creme, and tiramisu were all wonderful.  Corkage was a very fair $12.

On March 17th before going over to a birthday party for our neighbor Patty Day:

(I kid you not, her parents were real comedians)

2005 Brogan Cellars Pinot Noir My Father’s Vineyard – USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley (3/17/2011) I don’t have any green beer for St Patrick’s Day so a wine with an Irish sounding name will have to do. Flat color, light bodied with cola, spruce, green tomato. Needs time. (88 points)

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  • 2001 Peter Michael Les Pavots – USA, California, Sonoma County, Knights Valley (3/13/2011)
    Sweet, full, mouthfeel, with berry, cassis, and milk chocolate flavors. Still really big and primary. I was checking in on 01’s and if this is any indication, it still isn’t time. By now, I was expecting a little more complexity from a wine that used to have such a promising future. Hold it a few more years and then drink before 2018. (89 points)

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Gary Lipp of Coho Wines was at a neighboring table at the Pouring for Passover benefit for Bay Area Midrasha this past weekend.  I had the pleasure of trying his 2008 Coho Stanley Ranch Pinot Noir.  This delicious cool weather Pinot had a “just right” level of delicate fruit and impeccably balanced acidity: one of the best wines I’ve had out of the Carneros region in a long time.

  • 2007 Charles Krug Winery (Peter Mondavi Family) Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, California, Napa Valley, Yountville (2/20/2011)Brooding, cherry liqueur, wood smoke. Medium tannins are a little rough around the edges. Nice enough, but overpriced at more than 3 times retail at the River Horse Cafe in Park City, Utah. River Horse is a great restaurant but I would be more impressed with their Wine Spectator wine list award if the list was fairly priced. This wine is worth $20, not >$60. (87 points)

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1999 Domaine du Pégaü Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Réservée – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape (1/7/2011)

Lovely nose of dark fruits with grilled meat and charcoal. Full bodied with flavors of rum soaked cherries, wood smoke, bacon, and a hint of newly tanned leather. Excellent with just pop and pour. (92 points)

1999 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Crau – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape (1/7/2011)

Way too young, tart, and tight… not expressing much at this time with just a pop and pour. Sour cherry and a bit of charred wood are peeking out now but my guess is this wine will improve dramatically with a few years and/or hours of air. Unfortunately, circumstances didn’t allow a decant. (88 points)

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  • 1959 Château Pape Clément – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan

My late father-in-law appreciated fine Bordeaux and after his passing, my wife inherited several cases of his collection. This bottle was from that collection. Like most of the bottles, this was past its prime but an honor and a joy to drink it on the occasion of my wife’s birthday. We got to enjoy two gifts from Bob Match that night: my wife’s presence and a bottle from the past. Fill was just in to the neck. The cork was soaked and soft, but came out intact. Very light in weight, cedar with raspberry and pencil lead. The finish, while short, was of dried cooking spices. The wine quickly faded, but not before reminding us that wine is more than just a beverage to quench your thirst and satisfy our hedonistic side. Sometimes, it is memories in a bottle.

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