My brother came up from San Francisco today, and we visited a range of wineries in Napa and Sonoma Counties (he spit-and quit much earlier than me. He also drove
I did enjoy several wines, and it was a beautiful day. The vineyards are beginning to turn now in patches, and the harvest and crush appear to be well under way. Dutch Henry Winery, immediately east of Saint Helena, had a quite pleasant Cab with the kind of dry tobacco character I prefer. Venge Winery, although I did not like their Cab at all (very flat, imo) had a quite lovely, complex, and rich Merlot and a nice light Syrah. Chateau Monetlena-I splurged and bought the reserve tasting, which was awesome (1999, 2000, and 2002). I liked the 1999 the best, but I have plenty of wine readier to drink, and there was quite a price premium over the 2002, which was already expensive enough. Still, a delicious, rich balanced Cab-the 2002 will be very nice in a few years. Finally, Hanna Winery's awesome Bismark Mountain Vineyard provided a quite complex, multilayered Bordeaux blend that was a reasonable price.
My brother was less pleased with the wines than I was.
For dinner that night, we had a very young but delicious Graves wine, Chateau Smith Haut Laffite Grand Cru Classe De Graves
. These are the same darn grapes, basically, as the California wines we were plowing through, but the wine was completely
different. The richness and savoriness versus the California fruit forward jamminess went amazingly well with dinner (steak with potatos in a merlot sauce that rocked!) My brother commented that this savoriness, this extra something or other was what he found missing earlier in the day. The savoriness was not as pronounced on the nose as the 1998 Saint Emillion that I had opened last week, but if anything, the palette in this younger wine was richer, with more fruit and that delicious herbal savor that appears to be uniquely French.
Was it drinking the wine with food? That could be a factor. But...I will say that I really have a strong palette preference for umami??? the "other" flavor profile (plus sweet, sour, bitter, and salty, I believe). Savoriness-the unattached glutamates-why cheap Chinese restaurants (and others) used MSG for so many years. I love Thai fish sauce, certain salsas, soy sauce, etc.
This is my first Graves wine, and I am impressed at how delicious it was even at such an early age.
...(Humans) are unique in our capacity to construct realities at utter odds with reality. Dogs dream and dolphins imagine, but only humans are deluded. –Jacob Bacharach