June, 2010 “Collectible Selections” Wine Notes

Increasing connectivity.  The richness of online media.  And your positive feedback.  All indicate it’s time to begin an electronic archive of my wine club notes.   Club members can now access my wine notes and recipes to answer your most frequently emailed questions, such as:

Q: “What’s the deal with that wine you featured in our club months ago?  We hid it under our bed and forgot about it.  Now we need to know what it cost, what to serve it with, and how to get more of it!”

A: Easy.  From my homepage (www.DaveTheWineMerchant.com), click the “Blog” link and select the category “wine”.  Then use the search box (look!  I’ts hanging out up there in the top left corner right now!) to find the wine you’re after.   Just type the vintage and the producer and you should find what you’re after (ex. “2006 Arcadian”).

Q: “I keep a notebook with all your notes and recipes from each shipment, but I can’t find the ones that go with (this wine). Before I pull the cork, what should I pair with it?  Is there an easy recipe for it?”

A: Another easy one!  From my homepage, click the “Recipe” link and use the search box to find my recommended pairing.

Q: I just found these great _(insert seasonal ingredient here!) at the farmer’s market!  What can I make with them and what wine should I pair with it?

A: Same as above – go to my recipe blog and use the search box to type in your ingredient, or the season, or just about anything you can think of.  Go ahead – give it a try!

Do you like this new format?  Hate it??  I look forward to your comments, below!

Cheers!
Dave
www.DaveTheWineMerchant.com

866-746-7293

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My Three Collectible Selections

June, 2010 (Summary Listing)

  1. Cain Cuvee (NV6), Napa Bordeaux Blend.  $34 (member price starts at $30.60) (Buy it/Rate it Here)
  2. Lang & Reed, 2008 Cabernet Franc, Lake County. $22 (member price starts at $19.80)  (Buy it/Rate it Here)
  3. Staete Landt, 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand (Marlborough). $21.50 (member price starts at $19.35) Buy it/Rate it Here

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My First Collectible Selection

for June, 2010 (Join Here)

Cain Cuvee “NV6” Napa Valley

Buy It Here $34 (member price starts at $30.60)

A blend of Merlot, Cabernet and Cabernet Franc, this wine drinks well now, but will improve for another decade!

Some 15 years ago, I splurged on a bottle of wine from Cain Vineyard. I saved it for years, waiting for a special night to justify popping the cork on this well-aged treasure.  Being single at the time, I had visions of this wine being an irresistible instrument of seduction.  But it was eventually opened one night on my own, after a particularly difficult day at work. By then it was ten years old, and the pleasure it brought erased the day’s stress so effectively that I even called some wine-loving friend so we could marvel over the wine’s amazingness. It was even better the next night – an indication that the mountain fruit in this wine would have allowed it to improve for many more years in bottle.

Cain Vineyard produces three wines of note – Cain Five (using the five Bordeaux varietals – about $100), the Cain Concept (about $50 – $60) and the non-vintage Cain Cuvee (NV6 stands for Non-Vintage, sixth year) which is is a blend of Merlot (to provide a broad, smooth base) and mountain-side Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, which bring structure and aromatic complexity. 55% of the blend comes from the 2006 vintage, 45% from 2005. This wine will reward cellaring for another five years.

Food Pairings – This blend is more complex and softer than Napa Cabernets, this wine’s moderate alcohol and structure allows it to pair with a wide variety of foods.  But it also is delicious on its own, rewarding the curious palate with an evolving experience as the wine opens up over the course of hours.  A year-round wine, I think you’ll find it more attractive during the summer months if you serve it a bit cooler than during the winter months.

Buy It Here $34 (member price starts at $30.60)

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My Second Collectible Selection

June, 2010 “REDS ONLY” Members (Join Here)

Lang & Reed, 2008 Cabernet Franc, Lake County

Buy it Here at $22 (member prices start at $19.80)

Lang and Reed specializes in Cabernet Franc from California fruit.  Taking inspiration for the world’s best Cabernet Franc regions, their wines have one stylistic foot in Bordeaux and one in the Loire. Try one soon, you won’t be sorry!

Cabernet Franc is common in the Right Bank of Bordeaux, where it is blended with Merlot. It is also common in the Loire Valley, where it is the primary red varietal in my favorite wines from Chinon, Bourgueil and many smaller areas. But the wines of these two regions are entirely different, with those from the Right Bank being riper and more robust wines, those from the Loire being leaner and earthier.

John Skupny (Lang & Reed’s owner/Winemaker, who named the winery after their two sons) combines California’s ripe juiciness with Cabernet Franc’s natural tea-leaf characteristics. The result is a cherry-inflected red wine that seemingly pairs with almost everything.

At Left, Lang demonstrates how to get a brix sample, from shots of his recent visit to the Loire region with his charming new wife, Megan.  Back on this side of the pond, the 2008 Lang & Reed comes from four vineyards – one in the heart of Napa Valley and the other three from the northern reaches of Lake County:

1. Stanton Vineyard: Though only a small percent of the assemblage, this fruit provides the bright, crisp, cherry aroma and flavors in this wine.

2. The High Chaparral Vineyard: Located high up in the red hills of Lake County, just north of Kelseyville, it was planted to Cabernet Franc back in the 70’s. It is planted on its own roots, a true Franc de Pied, which bring deep structure and tannin to the wine.

3 & 4. Cross Springs Vineyard & La Sierra Vineyard: Both vineyards are found above the 2,000 ft elevation in the High Valley appellation of Lake County, rounding out the assemblage of this 100% Cabernet Franc wine.

By The Numbers
Varietal Composition: 100% Cabernet Franc (95% Lake County, 5% Napa Valley)
Alcohol Content: 13.9% by Volume
Total Acidity: 0.53gm/100ml, pH = 3.90
Cooperage: 9 months in 60-gallon French Oak
Production: 3,086 cases

Food Pairings – Another great summer wine, with slightly herbaceous notes that suggest pairing with vegetables, and a richness that suggest said veggies be grilled.  Less structured than its old world counterparts, with a broader appeal and a wider list of food pairing possibilities.  Still, I recommend the usual suspects – goat cheese (especially toasted on crostini), anything with mushrooms, and for those not opposed – pate!   Serve this wine around 60 – 65 degrees – so pop it in the fridge for a half hour before popping the cork!

Wine #2 – the Lang & Reed, 2008 Cabernet Franc, Lake County

Buy it Here at $22 (member prices start at $19.80)

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My Final Collectible Selection

for June, 2010 (Join Here)

Staete Landt, 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand (Marlborough)

Buy it Here $21.50 (member prices start at $19.35)

A premium Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc, and well worth the price.  Rich and herbaceous, with racy acidity and pronounced grapefruit and citrus aromas.

When the Dutch Sea Captain Abel Tasman discovered New Zealand in 1642, he named it “Staete Landt”, which roughly means “Land discovered in honor of the Dutch Republic”. Today the name lends itself very nicely to this winery, founded and run by Netherland natives (and spouses) Ruud Maasdam and Dorien Vermaas.

I met Dorien recently at a large tasting, where her wines were among my favorites. I’ve brought two of their wines into my portfolio – their Sauvignon Blanc and their Pinot Noir – both of which are classic examples of the New Zealand style and terroir.

This wine is so rich and herbaceous, I enjoy it on its own. But it varies from the typical Kiwi mold for Sauvignon Blanc – they pick separately each of this wine’s six different plots of fruit.  The fruit from the earlier picking lends the herb notes and crisp acidity (pH is a low 3.14 – grapefruit is 3.0 – 3.3!) while the later pickings bring fruit with rich tropical fruit notes.  A summer porch wine, this could easily be your appetizer course!

Food Pairings – the citrus notes suggest savory foods with cooked with citrus ingredients.  But it overpowers fruit served on its own as the wine is not sweet, and a dry wine with fruit will seem austere and quite unpleasant.  Good with acidic cheeses such as goat’s cheese, try this wine with a great with grilled cheese sandwiches (use soft bread, buttered on the outside, good melty cows milk cheese, and a bit of bacon or other crisp meat!)  Better yet, take inspiration from the menu at San Francisco’s latest gourmet ghetto restaurant, the American Grilled Cheese Kitchen.  Oysters also beckon, but they need lemon or lime juice and nothing more.  Grilled fish with citrus and capers, or chicken picatta are excellent choices, especially served with spinach wilted in a pan with lemon zest, garlic and a smidge of anchovy paste.

Wine #3 – Staete Landt, 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand (Marlborough)

Buy it Here $21.50 (member prices start at $19.35)

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