• 2003 J Vintage Brut, Late Disgorged, Russian River Valley ($90/bottle)
• 2008 Domaine Serene Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir ($65/bottle)
• 2007 Chappellet Pritchard Hill Cabernet Franc($65/bottle)
• 2006 Merryvale Profile ($175/bottle)
It would be a shame to not open bubbles on one's birthday, and the 2003 J Vintage Brut from the Russian River Valley was an incredible wine to start the evening with. This sparkler, a blend of 49% Pinot Noir, 49% Chardonnay, and 2% Pinot Meunier, was dry and crisp with lively acidity. Toasted almond, pear, baked bread flavors with a citrus finish--very tasty! Although we enjoyed this bottle at my house prior to going to dinner, it would have been an inspired match to the seared ahi crudo and raw oysters that we ordered as our first course.
Of the red wines that we opened to pair with dinner at Picco Restaurant, the 2008 Domaine Serene Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley was everyone’s favorite! When I blogged about the Domaine Serene Yamhill Cuvée a few months back, I was very impressed with the wine and didn't think it could get any better than that. But the Evenstad Reserve, rated 94 points in Wine Enthusiast and 93 points in Wine Spectator, was a spectacular wine that is deserving of very high marks. It opened up beautifully with an elegant perfume and silky texture. In the glass, it was concentrated and powerful without sacrificing finesse. The palate offered effusive black cherry, ripe raspberry, sweet plum, and hints of licorice, herbs, and spice. This wine was amazing on it’s own, but it paired perfectly with the Sonoma duck breast and leg confit.
The 2007 Chappellet Pritchard Hill Cab Franc was good, but I think it should have been decanted. It was still youthful with chewy tannins and a core of black fruit. It was a terrific complement to the Kobe Beef-style sliders with sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions and blue cheese.
I was particularly excited about the Merryvale Profile. I conferred with a friend who works at the Merryvale Tasting Room in St. Helena and he said the 2006 vintage was drinking nicely. But as I found with a lot of the older vintages I tasted last month, the once-powerful 2006 Profile had mellowed considerably. It was almost too drinkable, if that makes sense. The tannins were soft and the fruit flavors were nuanced. I got more spice on the palate than anything else. I was expecting an extremely complex wine, but the cellaring seemed to have drawn out its complexities; for a 94-point wine according to Wine Enthusiast, [sadly] it didn’t wow me.
By midnight, there wasn’t a single drop of wine left in any of the 14 wine glasses on our table. I had such a wonderful time and I'd say that the wines were enjoyed by all!
[This wines from J Winery and Domaine Serene were received as a sample from the winery; please click on the individual wines for links to the website for purchasing info.]