Gems in My Glass . . . April 2013

Gems in MY Glass . . ., Napa

Appellation St Helena wines continue to impress!

The second annual bASH Wine and Food Pairing Competition was a big success again this year with impressive wine producers from the St. Helena appellation pairing their wines with palate pleasing dishes prepared by both professional chefs from local restaurants and student chefs at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena.

Among my favorites were:

Taplin Cellars 2008 terra 9 Cabernet Sauvignon:  An intense, full bodied, brilliantly hued Cabernet Sauvignon with layers of cassis, dark berry and hints of tobacco spice wrapped around firm tannins.  Paired with this bold Cabernet was Fiscalini Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese with accents of bacon and parmesan.  The rich creamy dish nicely rounded out the tannins of the firmly structured wine; a match fit for a king!

Vineyard 29 2010 Aida Estate Zinfandel: An enticingly aromatic Zin chock full of vibrant black and red berry fruit, savory pepper and nutmeg spice.  It was paired deliciously with a Duck Confit Brioche with Roquefort Cheese and Arugula Salad.  The juicy fruit is lifted and bright acidity cuts right through the rich duck. The Zin’s lingering aftertaste caps off the tasty package.

Charles Krug 2012 Sauvignon Blanc:   Bright and fresh with aromas of lemon verbena, sun ripened casaba melon and mouthwatering white grapefruit that persist through the palate.  Zippy acidity keeps this oh-so refreshing quaff impressively balanced.  Terrific pairing with smoked sturgeon which really brought out the minerality in the wine.

2008 Varozza Vineyards 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon:  This rich, deep and round Cabernet combines black currant, plum and dark berry fruit with a generous sprinkling of anise spice, a hint of violets and nicely integrated oak notes throughout.  The Steak Sliders with Blue Cheese married heavenly with this beautifully balanced Cabernet.

V Madrone Cellars 2011 Old Vines Zinfandel: This lip smacking Old Vines Zin entices the senses with spice laden berry compote aromas.  Filling the mouth are densely concentrated wild berry and blackberry flavors with savory black pepper accents, all weaving together in harmony.  The spicy puréed sweet potato and bone marrow served in a flaky spiced cone was a magical pairing.

Ehlers 2012 Estate Sauvignon Blanc:  Bright and crisp with pleasing floral and citrus aromas followed by lively flavors of grapefruit, lemon drops, fresh pears, citrus peel and a kick of herbs on the zesty finish.  Splendidly paired with a crisp crostini topped with tasty Fava Bean Purée adorned with Pecorino Cheese.

J. Lohr 2010 Carol’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon:  Enticing forest floor and wild berry aromas interlace with crème de cassis and Bing cherry flavors saturating the palate.  Striking purity and intensity hold through the long finish. This Cab paired divinely with a Savory Mushroom Risotto which was made with a bit of Cab pulling the dish and the wine together perfectly.

Freemark Abby 2009 Josephine Cabernet Sauvignon:  Stunning aromatic with scents of fresh blackberries and a hint of eucalyptus entrancing the nose.  Richly textured with layers of black cherry, blackberry and black raspberry sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg spice coating the mouth fully.  Well-structured with integrated tannins and a touch of spicy oak on the lingering finish.  The pairing with savory lamb sausage delighted the taste buds.

Pellet Estate 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon: This complex Cab (blended with a touch of Merlot and Petit Verdot) opens with gorgeous aromas of cassis, fresh blackberries and floral notes.  Expanding on the palate are flavors of blueberries and plums, a thread of graphite and skillfully integrated oak.  This Cab is full bodied with a backbone of firm tannins and a velvety smooth texture. Scrumptiously paired with a delectable bite-sized Beef Wellington.

Anomaly Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon:  Inviting anise spiked dark fruit aromas captivate the senses and remain focused on the palate.   Rich and impeccably balanced with black plums, cassis and licorice flavors at the core offset by striking acidity. The smooth texture and integrated tannins persist through the memorable finish.  Tri-tip Sliders with Blue Cheese paired perfectly with this well-crafted Cab.

Trinchero 2009 Mario’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon:   Aromas of red currants and a bouquet of spring flowers rise from the glass.  The rich entry introduces layers of raspberries, Lambert cherries, a touch of oak and hints of tobacco spice bursting forward on the palate.  A nice backbone of tannins supports the depth of this powerfully crafted Cabernet.   A delicious pairing with the savory braised short rib croquettes.

This second annual bASH Food and Wine Pairing Competition was thoroughly delightful and delicious; I encourage you to get tickets well in advance for next year’s event.  Watch this space in early 2014 for further details:, you would not want to miss it!