Today's recipe comes from the home of amazing wines - Napa Valley, CA. Today's wine pairing comes from the home of award-winning, high end, totally amazing wines, the Rutherford Dust AVA. What inspired me to put them together? Read on to hear about the pinnacle of American wine tastings that yours truly attended. How could I not put these three bad boys together so you could have one memorable evening?
Is it indulgent to taste 18 Rutherford Cabs in one morning? Maybe, but I’d say it’s more of a privilege and an honor, than an indulgence. Anytime I can get to REALLY know an appellation in one sit down tasting, you have my full attention. Luckily, every year The Rutherford Dust Society invites the press and trade to taste a selected year of their best Rutherford Cabs. This year it was time to taste the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignons produced by its member wineries, in the barrel room at Beaulieu Vineyards. My invitation arrived early so I could work it into my schedule. I’ll play in that dust any day of the week.
What makes these particular wines so notable is that the wines produced from it are truly and sustainably identifiable by their taste reminiscent of boysenberry pie sprinkled with “dusty” tannins complemented by a dry cocoa feeling on the back palate.
The Rutherford AVA is really really small. It stretches from Mt. St. John on the west of Hwy 29, two miles across the valley floor to the east by the Vaca Mountains bordering the Silverado trail. The appellation accounts for only 6,650 acres located in the center of Napa Valley. It’s a whole lot of yum coming from a tiny appellation.
I tasted 18 wines in two hours. I was accompanied by some notable wine writers and trade-vendor greats. The synergy in the room was electric. Swirl, sip, taste was our mantra for the morning. In the end, the descriptor I feel best defines the wines as a whole was “elegant." Notes of juicy dark fruit (primarily boysenberry), gourmet cocoa, earthy notes, and fine dry tannins are perfect descriptors for Rutherford wines as a group.
You can drink many of the wines right now and they’ll rock your world. But allow them to rest up and develop a more complex profile and you’ll be seeing what a fine Cab can really be when it reaches its full potential . 2010 was a cooler than average year with a heat spike in August. Harvest was in October so the grapes had plenty of time to hang and develop some fine concentrated flavors with some lovely minerality and depth.
Rutherford wines are not cheap, as they are not in the “sweet” price point of $11-$18. They do however come in a variety of prices that will not have you selling your first born. If you have to pass on a few of the sweet zone wines to purchase one Rutherford Cab, you’ve done yourself and your guests a rewardable favor.
Every one of the wines I tasted was special, but a few get the tag “memorable.” My top 8 favorites at various price points are as follows (no particular order.)
1. Beaulieu Vineyard 2010 George de Latour Private Reserve, $125: Spice and oak on the nose with ripe dark boysenberry fruit. Think spices and toffee with a significant earthiness on the palate. Nicely structured tannins and sassy spices result in a wine with a long finish that can cellar for a long time.
2. Hewitt Vineyard 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford, $85: Lovely nose of black currant, boysenberry, sage, touch of black olive and cocoa. The flavors on the palate echoes the nose. May be enjoyed now or savored after years in your cellar.
3. Provenance Vineyards 2010 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon, $45: Beautiful dusty aromas and subdued flavors of black currants, boysenberry, vanilla and a hint of hazelnut showcasing a medium-bodied with low acidity and medium tannins. I think you’ll like enjoy this fruit-forward Cab, especially for the price. In purely dollar terms, it’s one of the best buys of the day.
4. Rutherford Grove Winery 2010 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford, $45: Aromas of dark cherry with vanilla toasted characteristics. Kind of a delicious adult Kool-Aid. The mature fruit produces a balance that is refined in dusty fruit and integrated oak flavors. A nice example of a distinguished Cabernet from the Rutherford growing region
5. Martin Estate 2010 Collector’s reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, $135: Dark garnet color sets the stage for a plethora of dense aromas of herbs, spices, chocolate, boysenberry, nuts and berries . Despite its fruitiness it is has a dry side to it, a medium-to-full body and a sassy layered finish of cassis, vanilla, and minerals. Pair with prime rib.
6. Pina Napa Valley 2010 Firehouse Vineyard Rutherford, $85: A striking and balanced take on the classic Rutherford style that you will love. Its berry fruit juiciness, lush flavors and feisty attitude will have you back for more than one glass.
7. Soujourn Cellars 2010 Cabernet Beckstoffer Vineyard Georges III, $95: Intense extracted flavors set the stage for layers of complexity, lush textures and a discernible full body . Red and dark fruit aromas lead to flavors of dark cherry, boysenberry, earth and chocolate.
8. Freemark Abbey 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Sycamore Vineyard, $120: A particularly bright nose with an earthy touch, tobacco and fruit. Loved the palate drenched with black raspberry, black cherry and leading to a long and fruit forward finish.
For more information on the Rutherford Dust Society click here http://www.rutherforddust.org/rds/.
Now, on to the recipe that celebrates such a special tasting experience. This simple yet elegant recipe makes an elegant pairing with a Rutherford Cab. Enjoy it at a fall BBQ. The recipe comes from The Feed by Round Pond http://www.feedbyroundpond.com , a collective that embodies the code of the Napa Valley lifestyle whether making wine or artisanal food products to just plain having fun in a heck of a setting.
Filet Mignon with Red Wine Rosemary Reduction
Recipe by Chef Jeffrey Bernys, Napa Valley
from The Feed by Round Pond
Pair with any one of the Rutherford Cabs listed above
4 6-8 oz beef filet, trimmed of fat
2 Tbsp Round Pond Italian Varietal Olive Oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 stalk celery, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 cups red wine (preferably Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon)
2 quarts beef stock (no-salt beef broth can be substituted)
4-5 sprigs rosemary
1 Tbsp cold unsalted butter cut in pieces
Heat olive oil in medium sauce pan over med/high heat. Add onions and sauté a few min. Add carrots, celery and garlic and sauté about 5 min, or till they start to brown. Pour in red wine and reduce till almost dry. Add beef stock and simmer till reduced to 2 cups. Strain and continue reducing to 1 cup. Add rosemary and steep about 1 minute and strain. Whisk in cold butter a little at a time. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm with filet.
If grilling filets, prepare grill so it is hot when needed. Let beef filet rest at room temp 45 min – 1 hour before cooking. When sauce is almost finished brush filet with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Sear on hot grill or hot sauté pan about 3-4 min per side depending on thickness and desired doneness.