Beaulieu Vineyard 2006 Georges de Latour Release Party

Beaulieu Vineyard (BV)Sometimes life just nicely comes together.  Sitting down at the end of the 2009 North American Wine Bloggers Conference in the sunny courtyard of Dry Creek Vineyard, I happened to sit across from one Jill Dever (Twitter). She being the Visitor Center Coordinator at Beaulieu Vineyard and the newly minted social media queen of all that is BV. We got to chatting and she mentioned that BV was really looking to expand its presence in social media, particularly with wine bloggers.  A card swap, a few introductions and a new wine journey had begun!

Jill signed up myself and a few other bloggers to their Wine Society Wine Club and invited us to a few upcoming events including this particular one, about which I was very fired up.  The Georges de Latour Private Reserve is one of the most famous wines in the (domestically) long history of Napa Valley wine.  First released with the 1936 vintage as the Reserve, it was renamed the following vintage for the founder of Beautiful View Mr. Latour, by his (sadly) new widow.  The name has remained ever since as the flagship wine of one of the oldest wineries in Napa.  With this 70th Anniversary Release of the 2006, BV also unveiled their brand new Georges de Latour Private Reserve Winery within their winery, where all future GdL wines will be vinted.

Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2006The Lady and I pulled up right on time, after flipping the proverbial squealing Napa biznitch after I realized that despite living in Napa for so many years, I still have very little sense of direction.  Once arrived, we headed past the beautiful vintage car and into the winery where we were greeted with glasses of BV 2001 Carneros Brut Sparkling Reserve bubbly, a very tasty start.  It featured a nice balance of characteristics between a crisp fruity sparkler and a toasty, yeasty one.  Holding our glasses, we greeted Russ Beebe (Twitter) of Winehiker Witiculture and California Wine Hikes along with Lady Winehiker.  We enjoyed the standup bass in the swing/jazz band and viewed the sparkling winery.

We quickly dived into the wines and pairings, however, as I was itching to try some of these famous Napa Cabs.  True to form, this was a back vintage vertical of the 2006, 1996 and 1986 Georges de Latour, replete with nomnom pairings.  We started with the ’06 and the Beef Brisket with Cabernet Herb Sauce Sliders.  The sliders were incredibly tasty and stood up well to the more sturdy, young 2006.  It was almost inky in color and much more open on the nose that I expected, with cassis, good anise and just a hint right now of that famous dust.  The palate was closed in this young stage with very black fruit and no red.  The acid was great for aging and the tannins were prominent but also silky, a delicious combo.

Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1996Following the 2006 and the sliders, we then tasted the ’96, just now really coming into its prime.  A very good effort as well, this was my favorite of the day.  Showing a garnet core with slight burnt sienna colored edges, this was very open in the nose and on the palate with aromas if big Bing cherry, and dusty earthy black tea and cassis.  The palate was wonderful, with all kinds of cherry, more anise and forest floor in the cherry finish.  Great.  This was paired with Grilled Lamp Lollipops with Rustic Porcini Sauce…very yummy as well, but a rather interesting name.

Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1986 Lastly, we checked out the 1986, a full 23 years old at this point in its life.  I had the opportunity to talk about the new winery and winegrowing changes that have occurred over the years with previously longtime BV Bordeaux Varietal winemaker, but just recently named Head Winemaker, Jeffrey Stambor.  Jeffrey has been at BV for almost two decades and was patient throughout my many questions, answering all of them in a very friendly, dynamic and extremely informative manner.  The ’86 was, of course, the 50th Anniversary wine of the series and was now medium-full at this more elder age.  Orange edges rimmed the medium garnet core and the nose was black olive, tea, Bing cherry and wet forest floor.  The palate was still quite good,with good acid and earthy dusty red fruit that dove into the drier realm.  Very impressive and again paired with the Fire Roasted Beef Tenderloin on Garlic Crouton, my favorite dish of the day.

All of the BV wines were showing well that day and exhibited a common theme of powerful yet silky tannins and most importantly, great balance between the fruit and structure of acid and tannins.  The wines varied in power, of course, depending on their age, but could all be described as elegantly strong, another running theme with these three wines.  We learned even more about the wines after taking a tour led by Jill through the more historic parts of the winery, some of which contain massive 2.5 story redwood casks that are over 100 years old and still used to age wine!

The Wine Society (WineLog) club wines have also been interesting, exhibiting the limited production labels of the BV lineup of wines.  The 2007 Marsanne was particularly interesting, with smooth orange peel flavors alongside pineapple and abundant florals.  This is a very good representation of this Rhone varietal.  The ’06 Ensemble Red showed some strongly savory black pepper notes that I always love to find in certain reds.

Jump in and check out my full reviews below of the three elegant wines that we tried that afternoon at BV, as well as the two wines that I’ve tried so far from their BV Wine Society wine club. If you would like to list these in your own WineLog, the GdL wines are tagged with “BV2006GdL” and the wine club wines are tagged with “BVWineSociety“. A very big thank you goes out to Jill and everyone else at BV.  Enjoy!

2006 GdL Release:

Beaulieu Vineyard Carneros Brut Sparkling Reserve 2001

Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1996

Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1986

BV Wine Society:

Beaulieu Vineyard Carneros Maestro Collection Marsanne 2007

Beaulieu Vineyard California Ensemble Red 2006

Rubissow Blogger Day on Mount Veeder

Rubissow Wines EstateAny vinopanion of mine can tell you that I love wines made from mountain fruit.  Give me those highly structured, dark and angry-fruited wines any day of the week!  They also might be able to tell you that I grew up in Napa Valley and so I have tasted quite a few wines from its many appellations.  What they may not be able to tell you is that I grew up at the base of one of my top two favorite wine regions of the world…Mount Veeder.  One morning in late August, I had the lucky opportunity to take part in an intimate escape to one of the few Mt. Veeder wineries that I had yet to visit, the craftsman Estate of Rubissow Wines (Facebook).

Rubissow Wines EstateOur blogger takeover of Rubissow’s peak of Mount Veeder came courtesy of Leslie Bramwell-Smith and the inimitable Thea Dwelle (Twitter).  I trekked up there with Liza (Twitter) and Xandria (Twitter) from the Brix Chicks and we arrived just on time, after passing the blue trashcans and making a left at the stars, etc…hey, it’s the backroads of Napa, ok?!  We started off with a very warm introduction to 2nd generation vintner Peter Rubissow and Autumn Berry, Estate everyperson who lives on the mountain and is also a very accomplished chef, which was happily proven later in the day!

Rubissow Wines EstateAfter the arrival of everyone else and the beginnings of a huge heat spike (it topped 104 on the mountain that day), we grabbed a very nomnom taste of the first wine of the day, the Rubissow Mount Veeder Estate Trompettes 2005.  This is a blended wine, made in the style of St. Emilion in Bordeaux, following their lead of a Cab Franc-based blend.  This has always been a favorite wine of their father, Co-Founder George Rubissow, as well as a recommendation by their friend and consultant early on, the famed winemaker André Tchelistcheff.  Following that, we headed off up the mountain for a vineyard hike to the top, just as their calmly energetic winemaker Timothy Milos (WineLog) zoomed up, in his A3.

Rubissow Wines EstatePeter RubissowOnce at the top, we were treated to quite a view.  Rubissow’s portion of Mt. V is actually more similar in soil and climate to the south-bordering Carneros appellation.  The soils are more of an ancient marine sediment origin and the climate is also a bit cooler (usually, heh) in the afternoons than much of the rest of Mt. V.  As we looked out over much of the Bay Area, you could see my home neighborhood in Browns Valley and Mt. Diablo off in the in the distance, below which I now live with the Lady.  Further west, you can just see a hint of SF and more prominently, Mt. Tam…amazing!

Peter trekking down the mountain.Wine by Rubissow.  Food by Autumn.The group split off on the way down the mountain, and some of us opted to take the road less vinted, with a trek through the ancient redwoods, filled with California Bay Leaf.  Dodging angry rare woodpeckers, we did make it down safely, in time to dig into the wonderful meal prepared for us by Autumn.  We also now had the opporunity to try the rest of the current wine offerings from Rubissow.  I went into the Rubissow Mount Veeder Estate Merlot 2005 first, after tasting the ’09 offerings in the vineyards on the way back.  It was a tremendous effort by Tim, possibly one of the best Merlots I’ve ever tasted.  Deep black fruit in the nose was complemented by bay leaf, dust , rosemary and just a welcome hint of oak.  The palate was very balanced and food-centric, elements I came to associate with all Rubissow wines that day.  It was a true accomplishment of winegrowing and winemaking, and proof that a sense of place can be found in domestic wines.

Timothy Milos - RubissowWe continued to taste through the rest of the Rubissow offerings and chatting about wine with Peter and Tim leading the discussion.  A light breeze had picked up by then and was blessed by all in attendance.  All of the wines showed well, including two unreleased and still slumbering wines that we had the chance to try towards the end of our stay: an everyday red wine blend and an Estate Syrah, that was very exciting with good black pepper, meatiness and a hoppy, floral finish.  The wine’s bouquet was completely unruffled by the stolen sips wine by the estate dogs, even!

Blogger vs. Vintner!Vintner vs. Blogger!One last task remained before we headed down the mountain…a blogger/vintner showdown in the basement!  Mano y mano, we battled again and again, but the seasoned veteran vintner was triumphant and I was beaten 22-20 in  a rousing game of ping-pong, replete with cheering Brix Chicks.

We had a phenomenal time that day and a very big thanks goes out to Leslie, Thea, Peter, Tim and Autumn! Please peruse my reviews below of all of the terroir-driven wines that we tasted from Rubissow that day.  If you would like to list them in your own WineLog, they have all been tagged with “Rubissow2009Blogger“.  All of my photos from that day can be found on my Flickr. Enjoy!

Rubissow Mount Veeder Estate Trompettes 2005

Rubissow Mount Veeder Estate Merlot 2005

Rubissow Mount Veeder Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Rubissow-Sargent Mount Veeder Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Rubissow Mount Veeder Estate Red Wine 2006

Rubissow Lola Kay Napa Valley Red Wine 2006