With the first days of Fall setting in, we had a wonderful al fresco dinner with friends. The air slightly more crisp than the week before. It was as if Mother Nature was signaling that it was time to pack up the Rosé and open a few Big Reds . . . which is exactly what we did!
Starting in Chile, we opened a 2015 Le Petit Clos. A Bordeaux blend of 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Carmenère, and 4% Petit Verdot. Clos Apalta continues to make its mark on fine wines with organic and biodynamically-certified grapes, including some of the oldest pre-phylloxera Carmenère and Cabernet Sauvignon vines around. Rich and intense. A lively palate delivering spicy black fruit flavors and toasty herbal notes with a fresh acidity and medium-grained tannins. Flavors of black coffee and dark chocolate grace the finish.
From Chile we moved across the Atlantic to Italy. Sticking with the 2015 vintage, we opened a 2015 Caterina Zardini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva. Amarone della Valpolicella is a rich, dry Italian red from the Veneto region. It is produced primarily from the Corvina grape and is characterized by ripe, bold flavors. Through a process called “appassimento”, the grapes are allowed to dry and shrivel into raisins before pressing. This concentrates the sugar and flavors in the grapes, producing a distinctive and full-bodied wine well-suited to aging. But 6 years was as long as we could wait to open this beauty. Notes of dried plum, cherry, and pressed flower spices. Rich, complex, and warm. Just the way I like my Amarones.
We finished the evening back in California with a 2018 Stags’ Leap 125th Anniversary Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. One of California’s earliest wine estates, Stags Leap is a place of natural beauty, storied buildings and gardens, a lively history, and a reputation for elegant wines showing finesse and intensity. The 2018 Stag’s Leap Cab leaped out with big notes of blackberry, cherry, espresso, leather, and anise. Balanced acidity and the perfect amount of tannins. The finish was smooth and the legs went on for days.
2015 Le Petit Clos. “Blackberry, fresh herb, wet earth and tar aromas follow through to a full body, with powerful tannins and density yet an agile and polished, textured finish. Much better than 2014. The second wine of Clos Apalta. Try it in 2021.” James Suckling 95 Points
2015 Caterina Zardini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva. “Here’s a really elegant Amarone that displays nuances of red flowers, violets, citrus, orange peel and boysenberries with spice and cedar undertones. Medium to full body and a plush and ornate texture that’s bolstered by tangy acidity and loads of fresh-herb character. Lovely balance, but concentration, too. Drink now or hold for a long time.” James Suckling 95 Points
2018 Stags’ Leap 125th Anniversary Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. “A very pretty cabernet with very fine tannins that are polished and fresh. Beautiful currant, chocolate and walnut character. Medium to full body and a long, caressing finish. Builds beautifully at the end. So delicious now, but will develop nicely in bottle. Real 2018 character. Top vintage. Try after 2024.” James Suckling 95 Points
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