For some God-forsaken reason, a good chunk of the World’s population (oh, OK, let’s face it, I’m probably basing this on Twitter’s population more than the world’s) is wet with excitement that today is 11/11/11. I care about this phenomenon about as much as I cared last year on October 10th and I promise to care as little next year on December 12th. My kid is in the playoffs right now…first-string running back…so all 11/11/11 means to me is 2 hours of football practice tonight, a load of laundry to make sure the uniform is ready for Sunday, and 30 minutes of meditation to remind myself that I will not behave like a lunatic in the stands. But it just so happens that the Napa Valley Film Festival just got underway, and because I couldn’t be part of their Twitter Taste Live feed today (fucking day job is seriously cramping my style) I promised to review the wines they’ll be tasting. Unfortunately for them…and me…and you…I only got 2 of the 3 wines, but as Meatloaf has repeatedly tried to tell us, two out of three ain’t bad.
Bubbles are a touchy subject in my home because they hold a special place in my heart—a place that demands bubbles on a weekly basis and rages hard against the machine that is big, bland, boring, conglomerate Champagne. And that place in my heart does not discriminate against country of origin. Cavas from Spain, Cremants from the Loire and sparklers from California all make their way into my glass on an equal-opportunity basis. So my palate did a little happy dance when it knew one of the wines would be a Brut Rosé Reserve from Mumm Napa, a winery started in 1986 by Champagne’s famous G.H. Mumm. What I love most about this rosé is that it really walks the tightrope of balance between fruit and yeast…between body and acidity…between ripeness and dryness. The dark berry notes and roundness usually found in pinot-heavy sparklers make for an amazing nose and a certain chewiness, but the yeasty characters from the chardonnay lend a certain austerity to it…well, that and a long-ass finish. SRP $36. Of all the California sparklers, I’d still say that J puts out my favorites year after year, but Mumm Napa certainly does a good job of keeping it on its toes.
Come to think of it, this post is full of touchy subjects because Napa cabernet is certainly no quiet topic in my home (or on this blog), either. Slowly but surely I’ve been unearthing more and more Napa cab that I not only like but actually adore thanks in great part to Twitter Taste Live, but they’ve been a long time coming. I’ve thankfully been tasting a lot of great cabs coming out of California that are incredibly balanced and nuanced, but there are still rivers of high-octane jam streaming forth from there as far as I’m concerned. Merryvale’s 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon is not, in any way, shape or form, one of those rivers. Given the proper chance to decant and blow off some steam, this wine was elegant and graceful without being an enological eunuch. You read things like “extended maceration, 19 months in French oak (70% new) and 14.5% ABV” and you start bracing yourself for a mammoth, but it all manages to work itself out amazingly, with bold berry flavors, notes of tobacco, leather and violets, and a fantastic backbone of acidity that will keep this puppy going for 10 years+. Only question I have is, 1% cabernet franc? Really? Just 1%? Head scratcher. Unfined and unfiltered, it retails for $65.
Two for two on these, but now I’m kinda bummed that the third one didn’t show. I don’t give a crap what Meatloaf says, everyone I know likes to hedge their odds.