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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cape Cod Wine Lovers Gather

Charlie’s Weekly Wine-ings

If you have been reading my blogs, you know I am always looking for the perfect wine to share with guests at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast. My need to assist my guests leads me to many a wine tasting to fulfill my duty, or so I often say. This weeks tasting at the Belfry was special and I was pleased that Jan had the opportunity to share it with me. We sat with our friends Ev and Anne and shared great wine and great food.

As the summer turned to fall and now winter, and as the tastings moved from the large outdoor patio into the more intimate Bistro, the number of attendees has lessened. From the peak July numbers of often over seventy, now the numbers are fewer. Although lower in volume, all these diehards are very serious about their wine and food experience. Chris, the owner, partnering with my friends at Cellar 55 Wine Merchants, has responded by rewarding the attendees with even higher quality wines and unique food pairings.

A smile is crossing my face as I am recalling this wonderful evening. Gary from Winebow introduced us to the wines, as restaurant manager Jafar presented the food parings. We started with two Peter Michael Chardonnays. Those of us who follow Wine Spectator Magazine and recently read its Top 100, The Most exciting Wines of 2010, recognize Peter Michael from the top of the list. His 2008 Sonoma County Ma Belle-Fille was the number three wine of the year and rated 97 points on Wine Spectator’s 100 point scale. The winery's website says:

‘In 1982 Sir Peter Michael established the Peter Michael winery on a square mile of rocky volcanic ridges that form the western face of Mount St. Helena in Sonoma County. From the beginning, the wine growing philosophy was modeled on the French tradition infused with a few modern influences: One, the vineyard terroir would be the single most important feature. Two, the wines would be elegant rather than overstated. Three, there would be a hundred-year commitment to the development of a great estate. Given this commitment to the product, only a limited quantity will ever be made.’

Although we did not sample the No. 3 wine, we had the unique pleasure of tasting two 90+ point wines from adjacent single vineyards from the same vintage. First we had the 2008 La Carrière Chardonnay pared with sashimi tuna, and then the 2008 Belle Côte Chardonnay pared with a salmon dish. The two Chardonnays were very different, reflecting the varying types of soil in which the grapes were grown. The La Carrière has a high mineral profile similar to French Burgundy and the Belle Côte has a broader fruit profile more like the best of California’s ‘big’ Chardonnays. The wine dramatically enhanced both fish parings. All of Peter Michaels wines are of very limited production and it was a rare treat to try two in one night.

As we moved on to the reds, we started with the 2006 Whetstone Bella Vigna Pinot Noir from Whetstone Wine Cellars in Napa Valley. The grapes from the Bella Vigna Vineyard in Sonoma produced a ruby red wine with heavy berry aromas that was well pared with a beautiful serving of duck. I had the pleasure of meeting Jamey Whetstone last year at Cellar 55 and tasted some of his younger wines from the Russian River Valley. This 2006 shows that Whetstone’s wines will age well and are something to look forward to. 
The last scheduled wine was a wonderful 2006 Cakebread Merlot from Cakebread Cellars in Rutherford, CA. Jack Cakebread was one the early vintners that help put Napa Valley on the world wine map by consistently producing excellent wines. Early in my wine journey, I favored Napa Merlots and this wine reminded me of how good it can be. This big wine was pared with an unbelievable cheese pie. Although there was a ‘bonus’ wine served to finish the tasting, I do not remember it since I was still lost in the great Merlot and cheese pie combination.  

What a night of great wines. All of these wines, except the little remembered bonus bottle, were rated 90+ points and some retail for almost $80.00 per bottle. Guests at our  Sandwich Bed and Breakfast may not be seeing these wines out for general consumption every night, but I had a great time testing them just in case I win the lottery. 

Happy wine-ing!

Charlie Preus, the Innkeeper’s Assistant and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

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