I start perusing the wine list while my friends chat it up and I know I can’t give it any real attention so I defer to the waiter and ask for a Sommelier. A couple minutes later a gentleman walks up to the table and says “Hi, I Brad.” My brain does a fist pump and I tell him, “I’ve heard about you Brad.” He gives me this look out of the corner of his eye and says “uh oh.”
So I say, how about we start off with a dry Riesling? His voice perlks up “ooh Alsacian.” Then I asked for a medium bodied red and he asks if I want to stay Old World. I tell him not necessarily, maybe something that represents where I come from in Sonoma County. He says, “How bout a couple Cabs with some age. I have something form one of the early Cab producers in Sonoma. Wanna guess?” I say Arrowood? He says “Close, how about a Zellerbach? And I think I have an Arrowood as well.” Sounds great.
He comes back, “Can’t find the Arrowood, do you like Zinfandel?” I nodded yes and he perked up again and went back to the cellar. He came back with a disappointed look on his face and said, “They must have sold it. I was thinking about an old Joe Swan. But I do have this. Just a single bottle.” And he shows me a ‘94 Simi Cab. We agree and service begins.
- 2011 Zind-Humbrecht Riesling Clos Häuserer - France, Alsace (10/12/2019)
Needed a little time to come around. Started out a bit astringent. Nice aromatics of pineapple, lemon and grapefruit. Steely minerality, nice acid spine. Could have used a couple hours but my table mates were not sippers. Got my attention.
- 1978 Stephen Zellerbach Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley (10/11/2019)
At Bern’s and asked Brad for something from Sonoma County with some age. Wetrock, another 10 years has done this wine well. Cedary, dusty red currants, well inegrated, just shining on this evening.
- 1994 Simi Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley - USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley (10/12/2019)
This one took an hour to begin to unfold. More dark fruit than the Zellerbach that preceeded it, great overall balance, some tobacco notes, still quite tannic. I carried my last glass through the kitchen and cellar tour and up to the dessert room. Would benefit from 10 more years sideways.
Up to the dessert room for Salted Caramel and Madeira.
1933 Madeira Malmsey Justino Henriques Filhos
First pour from a fresh bottle. Nutty caramel and vanilla, big whiff of alcohol. The palate was light, elegant and the wine cut right through the richness of the dessert. This was an amazing wine experience for me.
It was another fun experience delving into wines that I likley never would have had the opportunity to taste. Will likely be back in a couple years for round 3. Can’t wait.