About UsWine ReviewsArchivesAdvertiseContact Us
Kenwood Vineyards, Sonoma Coast (California) Pinot Noir "The Barn" 2016 ($80)
 Kenwood’s The Barn Pinot Noir from 2016 is a stunner, exhibiting impressive layers of sweet red fruits, a whiff of wood spice and an intriguing savory note that begs to be paired with duck confit or beef bourguignon.  Showing impeccable balance and supple tannins, this is an age-worthy Pinot that you can also enjoy in the near term.   A Platinum Award winner at the 2019 Critics Challenge International Wine & Spirits Competition.  
97 Robert Whitley


Posted by Michael Franz on June 4, 2019 at 1:10 PM

Don’t Forget BV…

It is a sad fact of human nature that we tend to overlook that which is familiar--even when the familiar is an “old favorite.”  In our era of rapid change, some shiny new object competing for our attention, and in the world of wine, we’re actually talking about newcomers by the hundreds each year, from all points of the compass.

I’m as guilty of this as anyone else, and when I was invited to taste some new releases from Beaulieu Vineyard with winemaker Trevor Durling earlier this year in Washington, DC, I reflexively did what I always do when unable to make a meeting due to a schedule conflict:  Reply with, “Sorry, but I’d be glad to try the wines.”

Well, I just tried the wines, and I’m even sorrier now than I was when sending that email, as I wish I’d been able to meet Trevor and learn more about what’s happening at BV these days.  Hopefully I’ll have another opportunity before long, but for now, let me report that what’s happening is quite impressive and pretty damned delicious, judging from the performance of the three wines I tasted.

BV’s flagship is among the most historic wines in the United States.  At $145 per bottle, you might need a special occasion to try Beaulieu Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon “Georges De Latour Private Reserve” 2015.  Still, the wine is so good you should contrive an occasion.  How about Father’s Day?  Buy it for your father and present it…with the cork already pulled.  Or buy it for yourself if you’re a father.  Even if you’re an orphan, you still had a father, so there’s an angle to be played.  And play it you should, as the 2015 was masterfully crafted from obviously terrific fruit, and is already wonderful--though it will still become significantly more complex over the next decade.  Dark and deeply flavored, with lots of interesting little aromatic nuances leading the way, it offers admirably layered flavors of blackberries, black cherries, spices, toast and cocoa powder that are exceptionally well integrated.  Worthy of particular credit is the fact that the oak-derived notes are already beautifully interwoven with the fruit, the richness of which has already counterbalanced any overt wood tannin (90% of the oak was new) plus almost all of the grape tannin.  96 Points.

Beaulieu Vineyard Napa Valley “Tapestry Reserve” 2015 won’t require quite as much inventiveness to justify a purchase at $65, though that’s still a price at which one can reasonably expect to get a serious, deeply satisfying wine.  Which this is.  It is a softer, more broadly-textured wine, but still with very good structure and very promising aging potential.  However, there’s no need to age it, as the fruit is very open and expressive.  Complex too, as one would expect from a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 7% Malbec, 4% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot.  The percentage of new oak ticks down to 60%, which is still quite considerable, but again, the integration of wood and fruit is superb, so this has plenty of spine for paring with a grilled steak, but enough versatility to sing with a veal chop.  93 Points.

Finally, the standard-issue Napa Cab does not taste like a standard issue Napa Cab, as I’m delighted to report.  Beaulieu Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 seriously over-performs at $33 in relation to its Napa counterparts, with notably more intricacy than is the norm.  I tasted this without having seen the tech sheet detailing its components, and was very impressed by the multiplicity of aromatic and flavor notes, which include both red and black fruit tones plus lots of interesting little nuances.  That description makes sense when one learns that the core of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon is augmented with 7% Syrah, 6% Petite Sirah, 4% Touriga Nacional, 3% Malbec and 2% “other complementary varietals.”  Considering that blend, one could argue that this wine is more of a tapestry than the Tapestry, but no matter:  It is delicious, and just as interesting as it is delicious, which isn’t often the case from Napa at $33.  91 Points.

In sum, all I can say is:  Good on ‘ya Trevor…hope to meet you on the next round!

Dr. Michael
This Issue's Reviews
Champagne Laurent-Perrier's New Look
Ed McCarthy

Last month, I met with Michelle DeFeo, U.S. President of Laurent-Perrier Champagne. I tasted several new Champagnes, and learned of recent changes, especially with respect to Laurent-Perrier's Prestige Cuvée, Grand Siècle. Laurent-Perrier is the fifth-largest Champagne in sales (after Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, the relatively new co-operative, Nicolas Feuilatte, and G.H. Mumm). Also included in the Laurent-Perrier ownership is Salon (one of the world's greatest Blanc de Blancs Champagnes), Delamotte, and De Castellane. Laurent-Perrier utilizes over 1,200 grape growers for its Champagnes, and exports the wines to more than 120 countries.
Wine Cool
Michael Franz

Temperature is a crucial factor in wine appreciation, yet it is a factor that is insufficiently appreciated by many consumers. Wine critics and competition judges know that any wine will taste dramatically different when tasted at different temperatures. Similarly, sommeliers and connoisseurs know that the season or even the ambient temperature in a room will affect the appeal of almost any wine--whether advantageously or adversely. Being thoroughly informed about the importance of temperature is one of the most helpful ways to pick better wines and get the most out of them, usually without spending a dime.
Wine With
WINE WITH…Chicken a la Flamande

For many cooks 'à la Flamande' signals that the dish is Flemish in origin, and that beer is involved, usually dark beer. The best-known dish in this category is Carbonade Flamande, beef stew simmered in beer (check out our Wine With Carbonade Flamande feature from November 15, 2016). Because this current recipe is based on chicken rather than beef, it is lighter than the classic Carbonade and therefore makes a perfect springtime or summer meal. Like all stews, this tasty beer-braised chicken is even better if made a day or two ahead of time. We usually use a brown Belgian abbey beer when we make this, but any nice, dark beer or ale will be good. We love it served with mashed potatoes, but rice or noodles are also good accompaniments.
On My Table
Cabernet Franc, the Underdog
Mary Ewing-Mulligan

Are you someone who likes to root for the underdog? If so, you might want to focus your sights on Cabernet Franc. In 2015 -- the growing season of this particular, fine Cabernet Franc wine --only 0.5 percent of all the red grapes grown in California were Cabernet Franc, while Cabernet Sauvignon accounted for 22 percent of California's red grape tonnage. In Napa Valley specifically, Cabernet Sauvignon owned 59 percent of the red grape action, compared to Cabernet Franc at only 3 percent. That's underdog status. The quality of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is acclaimed worldwide. But increasingly, Cabernet Franc is also impressive in its quality. This Robert Mondavi Oakville Cabernet Franc 2015 serves as an example. This wine hails entirely from Mondavi's legendary To Kalon Vineyard in Oakville.