TN: French Laundry - '06 DP, '08 Pegau Laurence, '13 Realm Dr. Crane, '95 Suduiraut, etc

Part one of two from Napa… a big blow out dinner at French Laundry.

FRENCH LAUNDRY - '06 DP, '08 PEGAU LAURENCE, '13 REALM DR. CRANE, '95 SUDUIRAUT, ETC - The French Laundry (2/27/2017)

Closing celebration at the French Laundry following our big sale at work. Amazing food, amazing wine, impeccable service. The wine service stood out as the most well-thought out pairings i’ve had with any restaurant tasting menu - and this is consistent with my (one) prior experience at TFL.

  • 2006 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon - France, Champagne
    Gorgeous. Young, but developing some complexity already. Grapefruit pith, slate, bay leaf. Focused. Fine bubbles. Finish lasts and lasts. Feels a bit like baby killing at the moment. 93+ (93 pts.)
  • 2014 Lail Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Georgia - USA, California, Napa Valley, Yountville
    Gently oaked, elegant, fragrant, soft, feminne, sophisticated. Quince, pear, lemon, lemon peel. Somm says winemaker had Graves in mind – that comes through well. Brilliant pairing with Oysters and Pearls – better than the DP. 91 (91 pts.)
  • 2013 Egon Müller Scharzhofberger Riesling Kabinett - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
    Very well balanced, but seems a bit reticent & not super expressive at the moment. Young and tightly coiled. (90 pts.)
  • 2014 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Clavoillon - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru
    Very finely balanced. Not rounded, but with angles and contours that provoke contemplation. Everything in its right place. My god this is good with the Cobia, even better with the lobster. 93 (93 pts.)
  • 2008 Domaine du Pégaü Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Laurence - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Dark, brooding ruby. Garrigue and some barnyard on the nose. Plums, fresh and roasted, and other dark fruit, with some leaf matter and savory herbs. Acid is just adequate and tannins are fine-grained. Seems like one that should be drunk soon. Excellently paired with the squab. 91 (91 pts.)
  • 2013 Realm Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyard - USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
    Wow. This is stunningly good from start to finish. Clearly CA cab, but in the best way possible. Very accessible now but I’m sure will get even better. Everything is impeccably balanced. It’s polished, but doesn’t feel artificial or manipulated. Powerful but quick on its feet. So many contradictions in a glass. 97 (97 pts.)
  • 1995 Château Suduiraut - France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
    Starting to darken to a medium amber, but on the palate it’s still very youthful. Saffron leads the way – stands out. Melange of apricots, tropical fruits and flowers, a bit of toffee. On the sweeter side, but with enough acid to hold in check. 93 (93 pts.)

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Part 2/2 of the Napa weekend celebratory excursion from work. Beautiful day to be in Napa with gorgeous blue skies, after weeks of rain.

Hall Rutherford
Beautiful showroom and luxe++ cellar. spectacular views of Rutherford. Ridiculous chandelier in the tasting room with a replica of a 350yo cab franc vine, loaded with over a thousand swarovski crystals. Tried one of their two “RP100” wines. Everything else supposedly a 96+.

  • 2013 Hall Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District - USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District
    Full throttle and backwards, imposing tannins, highly plush mouth-feel. 80% aged in new French oak. Smells dark and pretty. Black fruit, blueberries, some menthol, licorice - similar profile to what I think of as Stag’s Leap. There’s elegance lurking below the surface. May be good in 8-10 years but hard-drinking now. (88 pts.)
  • 2013 Hall Cabernet Sauvignon Mt. Veeder - USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder
    More accessible than the Stag’s Leap and the Exzellenz. Softer tannins, more balanced, and better integrated alcohol. High quality, elegant fruit shines through (Mt Veeder terroir, I’m told). Oak seems more neutral and not toasted. I’d like to see where this lands in another 10 years. (92 pts.)
  • 2013 Hall Cabernet Sauvignon Exzellenz - USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford
    Smells of stewed fruit (figs, prunes). Very extracted fruit bomb, with Sweet (toasted?) oak tannins. Very hot (15.8%) and with the viscosity of port - kind of like a cab-flavored cough syrup. Sure, lots of minerals and wood and complex flavors… but I just can’t get into it. At all. And amongst the 6 or 7 (non-wineheads) people I asked in our group, this was everyone’s least favorite wine. I left this “RP100” wine unfinished. (79 pts.)

Staglin Family Vineyards
Lovely winery - more rustic and Tuscan influenced. What I think of as “old California” small vineyard.

  • 2014 Staglin Family Chardonnay Salus - USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford
    Drinkable, but nothing crazy going on here. Good fruit, but feels flabby from malo and high alcohol. Lacks precision and balance. I’m guessing fans of buttery chard would like this more. (85 pts.)
  • 2014 Staglin Family Chardonnay Estate - USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford
    54% new oak, no malo. good fruit and acid - pear, lemon curd. oak is noticeable and could use time to integrate. Decent wine but I would never buy it even at a third of the retail price. Give me a $20 St. Veran or village Chablis any day. (87 pts.)
  • 2014 Staglin Family Sangiovese Stagliano - USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford
    Fruit forward, but more towards black fruit than red fruit. Not enough dusty earth and dirt road to make me think Sangiovese. Supposedly from Brunello cuttings, but drinks more like a modern-oriented rosso, rather than a Brunello. Very young, and time may pull this together into a good place. (89 pts.)
  • 2013 Staglin Family Cabernet Sauvignon Estate - USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford
    Young, super concentrated fruit-bomb, sweet sticky tannins. Too much of everything, though not as much of a hot mess as the “100 point” Hall Exzellenz we had earlier in the day. $250 price point - pass. (83 pts.)

Silver Oak
Much more commercial than the first two. Tour was least exciting of the three.

  • 2012 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley - USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley
    Sample at the winery. Smells a bit hot, Violets. Palate is more elegant, some red fruits, leather, a bit of depth Still a bit of heat. Needs time, although not totally inaccessible. It’s not bad, but nothing special at the moment. 85 for now (85 pts.)
  • 2006 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley - USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley
    Sample at the winery. Drinking in a good place. Aromas of violets. Elegant and supple on the palate, with black fruit, cedar, tobacco. some secondary mushroom and soy. Tannins are softening. (90 pts.)

After having the amazing Realm Beckstoffer Dr. Crane yesterday, I thought maybe I was missing out on Napa Cabs. Well, let’s just say that this day’s tasting of many ultra-high end Napa cabs showed that not to be the case…
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sounds like a great time. Congrats on the big sale!

Boy do all of those Napa Cabs come in the same as our wine group totals but you are even a bit more generous. We never got above 87 points for any of them. The Hall Exzellenz was declared undrinkable by all but 2 out of 20 people.

There was a rush in Napa wine making in the late 70’s and 80’s of overripe, low acid fruit bombs that fell apart. Seeing more and more of that in the last 5-10 years. At the current prices I stay far, far away.

Very interesting notes. Thanks for visiting our Valley! Kind of hard to get a good grasp on your palate, or the wines, from these notes.

I do know from painful personal experience that 2013 Napa Cabs are a “do not touch” right now. I believe in them, and I stand behind my wines, but I am finding my 2013 to be disjointed: alcohol here, oak there, fruit there. No coming together. Hopefully the Hall is temporarily in that camp.

I hate their metallic rabbit at their entrance…not what we small growers/producers want to portray as “Napa.”

Agreed, Merrill. That rabbit is an eyesore!!

After visiting Hall Rutherford and seeing the cave and tasting room, I told my wife that this is what you can do with unlimited resources.

Merrill, are you speaking of my dinner pairing notes, or the winery tasting notes? Apologies if they’re a bit muddled - the former were scribbled in a food/wine-coma state after dinner, and the latter typed in the uber ride home after having had my palate blasted by so many giant cabs.

As for 2013 Napa Cabs… I freely admit to not having much experience with either this vintage, or Napa cabs in general (relative to other wines). However, the '13 Realm Beckstoffer Dr Crane is my WOT past 12 months, and the best cab-based wine I’ve ever had. It was served decanted, and I didn’t have a chance to ask how long it had been open for before service. Of the 2013 bottles I’ve opened myself (only Clos du Val and Montelena come to mind), they were better on day 2/3. I find the same with the young cru Bourgeois Bordeaux, which I’ve drank a lot more of than Napa.

As I said in my notes, I saw potential for the Hall Mt. Veeder and Stag’s Leap to become very nice wines in the future. The “Exzellenz” however… it was just so sweet and heavy I found it practically undrinkable.

Yeah… it is pretty OTT. Their great pride in the environmental aspect of using salvaged brick they used to line the cave… was just a bit incongruous with their great pride in having shipped those same bricks from a demolished Austrian castle with the Hapsburg imprint on each brick. ??