My longtime winepal, Ray McKewon and I have very diverging tastes when it comes to wine. Ray, who produced the RockNapa concerts at Charles Krug Winery in the summer of 2013, and who will stage the music and assemble the musical acts for the upcoming wedding of Pamplemousse Grille's chef and impresario Jeffrey Strauss here in San Diego later this year via his Xceptional Music Company brand loves Napa Valley wines.
While my tastes normally run more Rhone-esque, last night at our version of Cheers, which we simply call, "The Moose" I decided to dig into the cellar and bring along two Napa oldies to match Ray's 2002 Caymus Special Selection. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
For starters we had two whites that while one was not exactly bordering on the rare or the obscure, it does tend to not be exactly common place. This not exactly common place white was the 2012 Entre Nous Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc. Sauv Blanc as you know can take on two or three traits. It can be very rich and ripe, much like what one finds in Bordeaux Blanc, it can be minerally, grassy and herbacious which is often found in wines from the Loire Valley's Sancerre region, or it can have that very delectable and telltale aroma of gooseberry and cat's pea (only in the most lovingly fragrant way) when one thinks of Kiwi Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand from where my current fave is Kennedy Point from Waiheke Island just a short ferry ride from Auckland (note do use Ananda Tours if you go there.)
All in all, the Entre Nous Sauv Blanc was delightfully refreshing, ripe and forward, with just the right amount of crisp acidity I like in a white, while the grassy and mineral notes ticked the tongue in just the right way.
The second white, which surely qualifies and keeps my title of LORO (Lord of the Rare and Obscure) that was once bestowed upon me eons ago on a site far, far away (and long gone too) by Melanie Wong on the bygone days of the Compuserve Wine Forum was the Naomi Grenache Gris that is made in Utah from fruit sourced in Mendocino County's Gibson Ranch. Here was a wine that was perfect with Sushi. For whatever reason the dryness of the Grenache seemed to blend perfectly with the fresh salty flavor of the fish, including the sweet shrimp. It was ripe and round, but not cloying with just the right hints of stone and flint along with dried pears.
As for the reds the 1992 Dalla Valle Napa Cabernet was delightfully French in style and grace. The dominant grape was Cabernet Sauvignon with some Franc and Merlot blended in. The Old World charm the wine exhibited was delightful, and when you consider that this was a 22 year young wine, that only cost $23.00 back in 1994 or so, what an amazing delight. The 1992 Arns though was the showstopper. Most would have written this wine off years ago, as the Wine Advocate thought this was a 5-6 year wine at best upon release. WRONG. The Arns was outperforming the Dalla Valle going neck and neck all the way. It wasn't until the younger, bigger and more "bitch slappin" Caymus came along that either the Arns or Dalla Valle gave any quarter.
Clearly, being ten years younger and from a more southernly part of Napa Valley came through, while the more northern Howell Mountain area fruit in the Arns and Dalla Valle were more dense and less plump, but it was more of winemaking style between the three that showed up. While the Caymus is full throttle Napa, both the Arns and Dalla Valle showed far more complexity, and a lighter hand on the oak. Of course age will soften the tannins and did in both cases, but the fruit that was filling our mouths from both was well in abundance and decadently rich.
Older wines with long time friends who appreciate them are always fun, and to share such well aged gems with a real Napa wine fan was a delight to do.