Another blind wine tasting dinner with the Monday night gang: 3 whites and 5 Napa Cabs including Dunn, Hourglass and Spottswoode

Our Monday night dinner group enjoyed another stellar dinner at Ca Dario Montecito with a red wine theme of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon from 2010 or older.

As usual, all wines were tasted blind while humble pie was being served as we all learn more during the process.

Trying to identify the white wine varietals has always been a challenge and this time was no exception. Two of our 5 Cabs were flawed so we got to experience a corked wine and one that was inundated with brettanomyces. Here’s some details:

Three white wines tasted blind:

2007 AUBERT REULING VINEYARD SONOMA COAST CHARDONNAY- this comes from Mark Aubert who has crafted some fine Sonoma Coast Chardonnay and Pinot Noir over the years and this bottle was superlative; it had a cloudy, light yellow color and aromatics of golden delicious apple that continued on to be joined by mild accents of licorice and menthol that, along with the oak influence, eventually blended into the wine; it had bright acidity, was soft and easy on the palate and seemed to crescendo with time, eventually finishing with everything coming together impressively. This was my fav of the flight and pretty easy to call New World Chardonnay and probably Napa/ Sonoma knowing the one who brought it.

2020 FORADORI FONTANASANTA MAZONE BIANCO VIGNETI delle DOLOMITI- this is made from a hybrid of Riesling and Pinot Bianco; it had a clear, gold color and the nose had tropical fruit especially kiwi plus grapefruit, tangerine and honey dew melon which continued on to the back end with a streak of minerals running through it; it was very pleasant and graced the palate gently although it finished with a touch of alcohol and tartness. I called it a Rhone white varietal, thinking Marsanne/ Roussanne with all of the tangerine/ mineral notes.

2013 BRUNO COLIN BOURGOGNE CHARDONNAY- following its medium yellow color came aromas of flint and mineral laced peach and pear that also made up most of the taste profile; it was super nice and easy, being soft, smooth and lush; once revealed, it was apparent this is a really fine QPR that drinks more like a fine Chablis.

Five Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa tasted blind:

1999 DUNN VINEYARDS HOWELL MOUNTAIN NAPA CABERNET SAUVIGNON- the nose was redolent of brettanomyces yeast, the 4-ethylphenol type that gives off a band-aid/ mousy/ barnyard character. Nice bring; bad bottle.

2005 HOURGLASS NAPA CABERNET SAUVIGNON- decanted 4+ hours out; even though I had this as my #1 wine in the flight, I did not recognize it, I bought a lot of this label after meeting the owner in the early 2000s and at the same time tasting some of their remarkable wines that were across the board good; this bottle gave generously and often throughout with first a nose of cedar accented black cherry that was joined by milk chocolate laden black currant on the palate; it had a marvelous mouthfeel being silky and velvety; although it was nicely balanced, the fruit profile was wondrously savory; this is in a great place now and has all of the structure to continue to age and mature gracefully for another 20+ years.

2006 TAMBER BAY DEUX CHEVAUX VINEYARD YOUNTVILLE NAPA CABERNET SAUVIGNON- this producer is new to me; the 60-acre vineyard is located north-east of Yountville and is bordered by 2 waterways; Conn Creek runs the length of the eastern border and the Napa River runs along the western corner; I had it as my #3 fav of the flight; this bottle bordered on being super big and bold and yet had enough finesse and charm to easy up the intensity; it was fully loaded with dark fruit, black cherry being most prevalent; a touch of sweetness coated the fruit profile and the smooth texture added to its allure.


2002 RAMEY JERICHO CANYON VINEYARD NAPA BORDEAUX BLEND- this comes from a steeply terraced 40-acre vineyard at the base of Mt. St. Helena, northeast of Calistoga; it is typically a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc with blend percentages in this order with minimal Cab Franc; this was my #2 fav of the flight and it was close to #1; the nose was so inviting with aromas of milk chocolate accented black currant, both of which continued on to be joined by sweet black cherry and blackberry; as with the Amber Bay, it was big and bold and yet had enough finesse to balance it out and make for a fine experience; as with the other 2 viable wines in this flight, both seemed to expand and grow in the glass, each sip being better than the last.

It was another great night with the gang. The learning experience and the pairing of fine wines with so many delicious dishes from this restaurant is such a treat. And, we are righteously served and catered by the staff and when present, the chef/ owner.

Our table set up is expanded to allow for more wine glasses {we all take our own}, dump buckets and all of the brown bagged bottles. As a result, we kind of stick out and many who pass by, stop to comment on our abundance of glasses and wines and often we offer tastes.

We had an interesting observation at the end of this dinner in that we recognized tasting white wines blind on any night is even more challenging and humbling that the reds partly made possible in that we have more info as to the reds being a specific varietal, but not the whites.



2 off bottles, thanks for the notes.

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I opened my lone bottle of this about two weeks ago. I was disappointed - did not get the band-aid notes of brett but certainly the cheesy and leather aroma.
Tasted a bit like the smell of a library of old books and leather chairs. A disappointing bottle.
Sorry you had a bad bottle as well.

Hard to know what’s storage vs. other issues but I’ve also had a lot of variability with this wine. Have had 2 bottles with clear issues that didn’t seem like heat damage, more really off flavors as described above. Had another very good bottle.

Dunn had big brett issues in 1998 so perhaps there were also some issues in the cellar in 1999 that impacted some bottles.