August 10, 2012

Bordeaux vs. Napa

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After a very enjoyable evening together a few weeks ago, our little group made plans to get together again tonight.  Once again, steak was the order of the night, and we met at Toscana in the Sherwood Hotel.  I haven't dined here for more than a decade, so it was an opportunity for me to see how things have changed.  The organizer had pre-ordered the beef, and I looked forward to having some dry-aged beef.

We started by sharing some tipico risotto di porcini e fungi con anatra foie gras croccante.  This was a reasonably rich dish, with pan-fried duck foie gras on top of the porcini mushroom risotto.  The risotto was OK.  I have pretty low expectations for this dish in Asia.  Yes, it was wet.  Yes, the rice was somewhat hard, not overcooked and soggy.  But it wasn't al dente.  Not the way it is at 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo.  Oh well, at least it tasted good so I shouldn't complain too much.

We also shared some dry-aged wagyu beef bone-in rib eye.  We asked for medium rare, but I think some of the pieces were a little more done than we wanted…  We also shared some asparagus and mixed veggies on the side.

But tonight the focus was firmly on the wines.  There were four of us and four bottles.  It was gonna be a Cab fest, with two classic Bordeaux and two Napa offerings for contrast.

2000 Léoville-Las Cases - aerated for 12 hours in bottle, and decanted just before dinner started.  Minty, cedar, woody, fruity, black pepper.  Fragrant and beautiful.  A little smoky.  So smooth on the palate.

1995 Montrose - opened and decanted at the start of dinner.  A little sharp on the nose at first.  Minty, a little earthy, pencil lead, smoky, and a hint of green peppers later.  Full-bodied.

1998 Harlan The Maiden - aerated for an hour in bottle, then decanted for 2 hours prior to serving.  Lots of vanilla, coconut butter, dried herbs, sweet, coffee grounds, a little smoky and a little earthy.  A little alcoholic.  Drinking pretty much as I expected.  My contribution.

2002 Joseph Phelps Insignia - aerated for 8 hours in bottle and not decanted.  Really ripe and sweet, which is not surprising for this vintage.  Lots of herbs, potpourri, ripe orange, vanilla, pine needle.  Really concentrated.

Not surprisingly, there was a significant gap in style between Bordeaux and Napa.  The Napa wines clearly had much riper fruit, and it really showed with a wine like the Insignia.  Good thing I can appreciate both styles...


Unknown said...

Growing Boy, are there any Napas that are less ripe and more French like that you can recommend?

I don't know much about Napa wines except for the few famous ones. But I keep thinking there's so much Australian wines not exported overseas that are actually less Aussie than people stereotype them.. especially from Victoria. So kind of thinking if I could find the same in California. Just want to experiment with, thanks!


Peech said...

Not surprisingly, Opus One is one wine that isn't as "Californian". You can also try Beringer, Beaulieu Vineyards. I haven't tried their recent vintages but they used to be more "French" due to their founders.


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