– Taken by me at a local tavern in June 2012.
On the 28th of June 2012, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House in New York City hosted a winemaker dinner for Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars. Attending from the wineries were David Duncan, President and CEO, and Daniel Baron, the head winemaker. The dinner was part of the Silver Oak Tower Tour 2012, celebrating 40 years of Cabernet Sauvignon production by Silver Oak.
Silver Oak produces two Cabernet Sauvignons. One is produced with grapes harvested from Napa Valley, while the other uses grapes from Alexander Valley. The Duncan family, Silver Oak’s owners, established Twomey in 1999 when they acquired the Soda Canyon Ranch in Napa Valley. Twomey Cellars produces a Merlot, four types of Pinot Noir, and a Sauvignon Blanc.
I found out about the wine dinner by way of my neighbors, who asked if there would be interest in attending. Let’s see…Del Frisco’s, second best steakhouse in New York City, check. Silver Oak, premier producer of Cabernet Sauvignon, check. Great wine and great food with great friends, check. That decision didn’t take very long.
Rockledge Vineyards is located in the St. Helena section of Napa Valley in California. The winery produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Merlot.
The 2009 Rockledge Vineyards The Rocks Cabernet Sauvignon was a red blend composed of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot (percentages unavailable). The label listed ABV was 14.5%.
I first tasted The Rocks at a wine tasting at Restaurant Nicholas in 2011. I couldn’t recall my exact impressions so I decided to give the wine another try.
On the 9th of May, 2012, Undici restaurant hosted a wine dinner with Giacomo Neri featuring the wines of the Casanova di Neri winery.
Casanova di Neri is located in the town of Montalcino in the Tuscany region of Italy. In addition to Brunello di Montalcino, the winery produces grappa, olive oil, and several red wines using Sangiovese as well as Cabernet Sauvignon.
The dinner at Undici was overbooked. As a result, the courses were completely mismatched from their intended pairings. This was unfortunate as Chef Giovanni puts a great deal of thought into pairings for the wine dinners at the restaurant, and he is very good at it.
Still, the evening presented an opportunity to sample some delicious wine and taste some great food.
On the 24th of April, 2012, Undici restaurant hosted a wine dinner for Podere Cantina Oddero.
Oddero, located in La Morra in the Piemonte region of Italy, is run by two sisters, Mariacristina (Cristina) Oddero and Mariavittoria Oddero. The Oddero family has been producing wines at their estate since the 18th century. At the dinner, I had the good fortune to meet with Christina and her niece, Isabella, who is the winery’s spokesperson.
Over the course of the evening, we tasted seven wines expertly paired with four courses by Undici’s executive chef Giovanni (this man is one great chef!). There were actually five courses and eight wines, but I missed the dessert course. Great Italian wine plus great Italian food resulted in a great wine tasting experience.
In February of 2012, Restaurant Nicholas hosted a wine dinner featuring 12 different wines from the Burgundy region of France. I had previously not been particularly fond of wines from this area. The dinner at Nicholas changed that.
Domaine Faiveley, founded in 1825, is located in the town of Nuits-Saint-Georges in the Burgundy region of France.
The 2009 Faiveley Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Lavieres was 100% Pinot Noir. This vintage was aged for 14 to 16 months in French oak barrels (roughly 30% new). The label stated ABV was 13%.
As a 2009, I drank this wine much too early, but it was difficult staring at it on each trip to the cellar and wondering if it was as good as it was at the dinner. I can now definitively state this was a great bottle. And this is one of their lower end wines.
Bastianich Winery is located in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region in the northeast section of Italy. They produce a number of red, white, and rose wines.
I had the pleasure to meet Joe Bastianich in November 2011 at wine tasting dinner hosted by Undici restaurant in Rumson, NJ. Despite having completed the NYC Marathon the day before the dinner, Joe was a gracious speaker with his passion and knowledge for wine clearly coming through. It was at this event I first tasted the Vespa Rosso.
The 2008 Bastianich Vespa Rosso was a red blend, composed of 50% Merlot, 30% Refosco, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc. The varietals were aged separately for 18 months in French oak, and then spent an additional year combined aging in the bottle.
I had a fond memory of this wine from the dinner. This time around things didn’t turn out as well.
Salt Creek Grille, in Rumson, NJ, hosted a wine dinner featuring Duckhorn Vineyards on the 12th of April, 2012.
When it was founded, 30 years ago, Duckhorn, based in Napa, California, initially focused on Bordeaux varietals, with specific attention on Merlot. Today, the winery produces a wide range of reds, whites, and blends, with grapes sourced not only from Napa, but from neighboring Sonoma Valley as well.
Wine dinners are always interesting events. Each restaurant has their own thoughts on how it should be done, and no two are alike. Many places pour wine freely, while others limit you to an ounce or two (boo). Some establishments change their format from time to time (which can be so annoying when you like their previous format and set your expectations!). The social aspect is also always up for grabs. If you are not with a group, you never know who will be seated near/next to you. I have sat next to novices, who were much more knowledgeable than I. I have sat with novices, who were self-proclaimed experts (but were obviously not). I have sat with experts, who were very willing to educate those around them. I have sat with connoisseurs, who did not care to share their thoughts (but they usually do by the end of the evening!). Essentially, it is a wild card, but the event (read: the wine) is always interesting.
Overall, Salt Creek Grille did a good job with the evening.