In fact, get me four Cabs - two from France and two from Napa Valley.
Our Boys Night out For Burgers started earlier yesterday when I read winewriter Richard Jenning’s column on 2001 Napa Valley Cabs.
Richard is my favorite, new, go-to voice for judicious juice commentary, This guy knows his wines and has a great palate. He lives in the Bay-area and we were fortunate to have dinner together a month ago.
Go here to see Richard’s thorough overview of the 2001 vintage of Napa Valley Cabs:
Richard’s observations are that some big-name 2001 Napa Valley Cabs have lost their balance, fruit, and charm, and many are just quirky and flawed.
This made me run to my cellar to pull out some 2001 Napa Valley Cabs for dinner to see if my wines were experiencing this bottle breakdown.
A good Rutherford winemaker friend pulled out some 2000 French Bordeaux for comparison and we headed to Market, in St. Helena, for what is possibly the valley’s best burger.
Yes, I know, it’s hard, if not impossible, to judge Bordeaux and Napa Valley Cabs at the same time; California wines, with their higher alcohol, and elevated fruit extraction, usually clobber the bejesus out of French wines at such pairings. Not because the Napa Valley Cabs are better, but because they’re just more in-your-face bombastic.
Surprisingly, the four wines we chose from our respective cellars were flawless, delicious and one Bordeaux, the 2000 Chateau Pape Clement, was so filled with fruit and ripe blackcurrant flavors, that it was my “wine of the night.”
The two Napa Valley Cabs, thankfully, showed well.
2000 Chateau Brane-Cantenac (Margaux)
Perfectly mature at 12 years, showing soft, rose petal scents and tasting more of ripe red fruit than anything dark or plum-like. Medium-weight. 91 points.
2000 Chateau Pape Clement (Pessac-Leognan)
A remarkable beverage, reminding me of dark purple, blackcurrant pastilles. Wine of the night. 94 points.
2001 Turnbull, Weitz Vineyard, Oakville
Of the two Napa Valley Cabs, this one was the more puissant, the more fruit-forward. Perhaps a bit of residual sugar here, or is the perceived sweetness simply from an abundance of fruit? A delicious wine showing balance and remarkable grace, given its forward fruit. 93 points.
2001 Beringer Private Reserve
Upon release, I thought that this might become one of Beringer’s best-ever wines. I have followed its evolution since the day it was bottled (I was there) and must remark that no single bottle I have tasted since (and I bought a case) has yet to deliver what I expected from this wine.
Tonight’s bottle is the best I’ve yet tasted, so perhaps the wine is just now coming into a stage of maturity?
Lots of licorice, anise and salt on the palate; an hour into the bottle, the wine was starting to show angular features and tasting a bit hot. 91 points.
2012 Hamburger, Market Restaurant, St. Helena
To paraphrase Elizabeth Barrett Browning:
Oh how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thy fresh, juicy, warm center, of delicious Niman Ranch beef;
I love thy egg-y bun, almost sweet, never spongy, a superb carrier;
I love thy toppings, rich Fiscalini Cheddar, and sweet grilled onions;
I love thy bountiful fries, perfectly cooked and salted.
Market Restaurant is at 1347 Main St., St. Helena. Tel: 707-963-3799.