This is the season of special dinners with the finest wines; here is a selection that will grace any table.
In the wine world, the name Rothschild means elegance, quality and perseverance; it is all found in the Barons de Rothschild Brut Multi-Vintage Champagne.
The three branches of the Rothschild family– chateaux Lafite, Mouton and Clark– united around the Champagne concept. And why not? In Bordeaux, every luncheon and dinner begins—and often ends—with a glass of Champagne.
Blending 60 percent chardonnay with 40 percent pinot noir gives the Barons de Rothschild Champagne its elegant, full body and citrus character; quality is provided by marrying 60 percent wine from the great 2008 vintage, with 40 percent reserve wines between the 2007, 2006 and 2000 vintages, respectively. And the Rothschilds persevered as the Champagne aged for seven years–five times Champagne’s nonvintage aging requirement–to their impeccable standards.
The Barons de Rothschild Brut Multi-Vintage Champagne retails for about $79.
Founded in 1898 by Swiss immigrant Frederick Hess, La Jota Vineyard sits in Howell Mountain’s rocky, volcanic soil above Napa Valley.
Prohibition ended winemaking on Howell Mountain; La Jota remained abandoned until former oilman Bill Smith purchased it in 1974. The vineyard was replanted and the winery revived; in 1982, La Jota Vineyard Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon was reborn.
In 2002, Smith sold La Jota to Markham Vineyards, who, in turn, sold it in 2005 to its current owner, Jackson Family Wines.
The 2011 La Jota Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon‘s assemblage of 82 percent cabernet sauvignon, along with merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot delivers black fruit, vanilla and sage aromas. Its mouth-filling blackberry fruit is carried on plush tannins. An hour of aeration in a decanter is needed to enjoy the fullness of this wine; serve it with rack of lamb, or braised lamb shanks.
The 2011 La Jota Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon is about $75.
The 2013 Ehlers Estate St. Helena Merlot is grown in certified organic vineyards, and averages only 1,264 cases yearly– the size of some chateaux in Bordeaux’s Pomerol appellation, the kingdom of merlot.
Founded in 1885 by Bernard Ehlers, the vineyard and winery existed until Prohibition. Afterwards, owners came and went; then, in 2001, the French couple Jean and Sylviane Leducq purchased the 46-acre property. Wanting a winery that will continue for generations, if not centuries, the Leducqs placed Ehlers Estatein a trust for perpetuity.
Last month, Winemaker Kevin Morrisey poured the 2013 Ehlers Estate St. Helena Merlot at Untitled, the exciting restaurant in the new Whitney Museum. Its soft texture and ripe, black cherry and blueberry flavors are classic California merlot DNA; complexity is added with spicy cinnamon and white pepper aromas, and a line of tannin from the eight percent cabernet franc.
The 2013 Ehlers Estate St. Helena Merlot is ideal with sautéed duck breast, or filet mignon.
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