Special Feature: Products Sally Recommends
Oriel Wines--A Better (or at least a new) Mousetrap
Preisers' Reserve: With its offices and buildings semi-shielded from the Silverado Trail by majestic landscaping, one hardly realizes that behind those trees and vineyards is an old stone winery that sits atop 22,000 sq. feet of subterranean caves and houses some of the world's finest wines. Rudd Vineyards, with owner Leslie Rudd entrusting his wares to highly regarded winemaker Charles Thomas, produces quality at every turn.
Though we usually feature only one wine per column as our Reserve, today we showcase two, both of which represent the best of what Napa Valley offers. The 2003 Rudd Oakville Estate Proprietary Red ($125) blends all five Bordeaux varietals into a stunning wine of structure, flavor, and finish. One of those rare releases that is truly worth the price tag. The 2004 Rudd Bacigalupi Chardonnay ($60) continues the Rudd tradition of offering a Chard that combines Old World finesse with the power of the New, leading to a confluence of characteristics pleasing to all. We said once before we were searching for the right name to describe wines that meld California and Burgundy, and we have coined one -- CaliBur, as in, "The Rudd Bacigalupi is a CaliBur."
Oriel Wines -- A Better (or at least a new) Mousetrap
Someone is always coming up with a better idea. Such is perhaps the case with John Hunt, a long time wine aficionado who has founded Oriel Wines. Launched nationally in 2006, Hunt takes old world, locally focused winemaking traditions and blends them with modern day business practices. He hopes to turn the premium wine business on its head by creating one international brand that consumers will know and trust.
Mr. Hunt has commissioned two dozen of the most esteemed winemakers in the world to make wines under the Oriel banner. These masters include Philippe Melka (consulting winemaker for Bryant Family and Vineyard 29), Alain Raynaud (winemaker for some of the most sought after small production wines in Bordeaux as well as consultant to Colgin), and John Duval (winemaker for Penfold's Grange). Each winemaker will seek to create a tiny quantity of a truly handmade wine that expresses the best of the local soil, fruit, climate, and culture, and put them under the Oriel label. As Hunt says,
The premium wine market can be very confusing,
Even for those who know about wine. There are
over 60,000 wine labels available today. Oriel's
goal is to provide high quality, small production
wines from some of the worlds' top winemakers,
and to make these wines a bit more affordable.
Oriel winemakers are given a blank canvas when making wine and are encouraged tocreate expressions of their terroir, with no restrictions. They make decisions on vines,vineyards, yields and barrels, without worrying about a winery accountant eschewingquality over cost. They are proud to be a part of the all-star winemaking team year after year, but will drop out of the Oriel line-up for a year if their region happens to have a poor vintage.
Each bottling indicates the origin/region of the wine; the vineyard location with longitude and latitude coordinates; the grape varieties; and includes the winemaker's signature on the bottle. Currently, the largest production of any one of the Oriel wines is less than 3,000 cases, with most hovering around 500. Most are priced in the $15 to $25 range.
Monthly Wine Report
Recommended Highly -- Seek Them Out:
Blend: 2002 Amizetta Complexity ($39); 2003 Frazier Memento ($95).
Cabernet Sauvignon: Reynolds Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($90); 2003 Honig Bartolucci Cabernet Sauvignon ($75); 1999 Truchard Cabernet Sauvignon ($40).
Chardonnay: 2002 Chalk Hill Estate Chardonnay ($38); 2003 I-M Chardonnay ($17); 2004 Lambert Bridge Chardonnay ($26).
Petite Sirah: 2004 Rosenblum Pickett Rd. Petite Sirah ($24).
Pinot Noir: 2004 DuNah Sangiacomo Vineyard Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast ($45); 2004 DuNah Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast ($45); 2003 Flowers Andreen-Gayle Pinot Noir Cuvee ($45); 2003 Lynmar Quail Hill Pinot Noir ($37); 2004 Reynolds Family Carneros Pinot Noir ($45).
Roussanne: 2003 Truchard Roussanne ($25).
Viognier: 2005 Rosenblum Kathy's Cuvee Viognier ($18); 2004 Turnbull Viognier ($30).
Zinfandel: 2004 Rosenblum Richard Sauret Vineyards Zinfandel ($32).
Well Worth Buying -- Be Happy When You See Them:
Cabernet Sauvignon: 2003 Frazier Cabernet Sauvignon ($55); 2003 Honig Cabernet Sauvignon ($35); 2001 Richard Perry Cabernet Sauvignon ($45).
Blend: 2002 Amizetta Estate Reserve ($42); 2003 Lambert Bridge Crane Creek Cuvee ($70 --a bit high).
Chardonnay: 2003 DuNah Tre Cuvee Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast ($38); 2004 Reynolds Family Corlotto Vineyard Chardonnay ($27); 2003 Sedna Napa Valley Chardonnay ($26).
Pinot Noir: 2004 Reynolds Family Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($45).
Sauvignon Blanc: 2005 Nobilo Icon Sauvignon Blanc ($15).
Syrah: 2002 Richard Perry Syrah ($35).
Zinfandel: 2004 Lambert Bridge Maple Vineyard Zinfandel ($40 -- a bit high).
We Liked Them:
Blend: N/V Gustavo-Thrace Third Bottle ($11); 2001 Pacific Star Dad's Daily Red ($12).
Chardonnay: 2003 DuNah DeDee's Vineyard Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast ($40).
Sauvignon Blanc: 2005 Cliff Lede Sauvignon Blanc ($20).
Not For Us:
Merlot: 2003 Viansa Lorenzo Merlot ($45).
Pinot Noir: 2004 Robert Sinskey Carneros Pinot Noir ($34).
With a Big Red . . .
When we have the pleasure of tasting a red wine with character and boldness, our imaginations immediately begin to search for just the right dish with which to enjoy it. Beef usually comes to mind, as does lamb. What has not popped into our heads much (until now -- read on) is buffalo. However, at the Aspen Food and Wine Classic we sampled fresh buffalo provided by the Old Fort Trading Company of Morrison (a suburb of Denver), Colorado. No one in the tasting tent that day could deny the succulent flavors of this fresh cut of meat. Ah, but when shipped, it arrives vacuum packed and frozen. How would that affect flavor and texture?
The good folks at the Old Fort were primed to answer that question by sending us some samples to try. That we did, and we were more than impressed by the filet and the rib eye on the bone, which were both tender and juicy. We were not as enthralled by the tougher strip. Still, we would gladly enjoy the first two at any time.
Now, for those who are already thinking that one shouldn't eat meat too often, we say that they have not studied the nutritional and other benefits of buffalo. Incredibly, to us at least, buffalo has fewer calories than skinless chicken (143 per 100 grams to 190), and much less than select beef (201), choice beef (219), or even sockeye salmon (216). Fat? 1/5 that of choice beef and 1/3 of skinless chicken. The all important cholesterol count? A touch less than all of the others mentioned here. And, finally, it bests all in iron, and all but the salmon in Vitamin B-12.
With all the good taste and excellent nutrition, there seems to be no reason not to enjoy buffalo on a regular basis, and pair it with a beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, or Petite Sirah. www.FortTradingCo.com 303-697-9831 877-229-2844
Pleasant Surprises of the Week
We attended a seminar at the Palm Beach Four Seasons last week where some "killer Cabs" were featured. We knew most of them, and they drank as expected. However, the surprise was the 2002 Frog's Leap. We like the folks at this winery, and so were happy to discover that this wine, which we first tasted last year, has continued to improve to the point of being a significant player.
And, finally, we finish here as we finished dinner last night, by recommending the luscious screw topped 2005 Mollydooker "The Boxer" Syrah and Sparky Marquis. At $20/bottle, do not miss it.
Wine writers and educators Monty and Sara Preiser divide their time between Palm Beach County, Florida and the Napa Valley in California. They publish the world's most comprehensive guide to Napa Valley wineries and restaurants titled, appropriately, The Preiser Key to Napa Valley.