Robert Foley is well known for his critically acclaimed Claret, a Bordeaux style red wine. Robert Foley’s Claret has received 94+ points every year since 2001 from both The Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator. At $110 a bottle most people will find this too steep a price to pay for perfection. Luckily Robert Foley does make other varietals, which are equally perfect and less than half the price.
The 2007 Petite Sirah from Napa Valley is one such wine. At roughly $60 retail this wine can be enjoyed by a slightly bigger group of “wine enthusiasts”.
I say “wine enthusiasts” because this is a serious wine. By serious I mean powerful, full bodied, rich, opulent and dark. This wine is a tannic monster with a minimum of 20 years aging potential. Don’t let the word tannic fool you though, it’s not an overly acidic wine, in fact it is exceptionally smooth and supple.
The thing that blows me away the most about this wine is the 16.5% alcohol content! I didn’t check the % before drinking the wine, I rarely do. Near the end of the bottle on the 2nd night I check and was amazed. There is no heat whatsoever and just a hint of ripeness. An overly ripe almost raisin like flavor is the hallmark of overly alcoholic poorly made fruit bombs. The ripeness in this wine is so faint as to be barely noticeable and is perfectly balanced by the tannins.
Robert Foley vineyards produce relatively small quantities of wine (less than 100 cases of their Howell Mountain Cabernet are produced every year) there is still some 2007 Petite Sirah available, my advice is:
If you are a wine nerd/enthusiast like me, you will want to have this wine in your collection.
Seasons 52 at Biltmore Fashion Park in Phoenix, Arizona is set to open on October 25th, 2010. The Weekly Wine Journal was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of the menu and wine list at a VIP event this past Saturday. Seasons 52 features an all star cast including Master Sommelier and CWE George Miliotes. Upon arriving guests were greeted with a fantastic glass of Champagne- Chartogne-Taillet Cuvee Sainte Anne, Champagne NV! A little background on this wine: Chartogne-Taillet has had vines in Champagne since 1683. They are a fairly small producer, producing only 16,000 cases of wine each year and about 7,000 cases of this particular wine. This was a nice dry champagne with fine bubbles. So right away I knew I was dealing with something out of the ordinary in Seasons 52.
The Chef's Table
I quickly joined onto a tour of the restaurant and during this tour I noticed the Mesquite grill in the kitchen. Another sign of good things to come as I have really enjoyed the Mesquite grill at FnB in Scottsdale. The rest of the tour took us through the dining area and to one of three private dining areas. The first one has full video capabilities with a screen that drops down out of the ceiling.
Private Dining Room #1
The other two private dining rooms can be joined together to make a nice big room that looks onto the Biltmore courtyard. After the tour guests congregated in the bar area while listening to pianist vocalist Rebecca De La Torre. I chatted with Master Sommelier and director of beverage and hospitality for Seasons 52, George Miliotes for a few minutes before we all were invited back to the big private dining room.
We were treated to a fantastic 5 course meal as well as in depth back ground information on the preparation, ingredients and the wine pairings.
Lump crab haas avocado
To start we had a simple Amuse-bouche of lump crab and Haas avocado paired with Aveleda Vinho Verde 2009 from Portugal. The wine was light and crisp and fermented in stainless steel.
Next up was Wild King salmon and lemongrass sea scallop roasted on a cedar plank. This was paired
Shrimp and scallop on cedar plank
with Mer Soleil 2008 Chardonnay from California’s Central Coast. I was ecstatic to see wild salmon on the menu. One thing I can’t stand ( it makes me crazy like Frank Booth in Blue Velvet ) is farmed salmon. Add salmon snob to my list of short comings or strengths, depending on how you look at it. The cedar plank was a really nice touch, it gives the food an extra level of flavor which is uncommon. George Miliotes informed us that The Mer Soleil Chardonnay was fermented in the very best oak and also aged in oak. This wine had an incredibly supple mouth-feel.
Salad in a cylinder
Next was a salad featuring Earthbound farm organic greens with oak-grilled mushrooms, toasted pistachios and truffle dressing. The salad came on a plate inside of a clear cylinder. Suddenly the servers lifted up the cylinders and the salad came out of the bottom and was spread around the plate, a very interesting touch. Everyone went “ooooo”. The salad was paired with Sinkskey Pinot Noir 2007 from Los Carneros. A very nice Pinot Noir which also happens to be organic.
Sonoma goat cheese ravioli
Continuing right along, the next dish consisted of one big ravioli. Sonoma goat cheese ravioli with roasted garlic, basil and a light tomato broth. This was amazing. Soft and creamy and the tomatoes added the perfect hint of sweetness. This was paired with Retromarcia Chianti Classico. This wine is a little “rough around the edges” as George put it, to be drunk by itself, but it is the perfect accompaniment to rich foods.
Mesquite grilled rack lamb and quail breast
The main course followed. Mesquite grilled lamb rack and Manchester farms quail breast, mashed sweet potatoes and grilled Brussell sprouts in a bourbon chili glaze. Once again, fantastic! This dish was paired with two big red wines in very different styles. First we had Markham Petite Sirah 2004 from Napa Valley. This wine has matured in the bottle quite nicely from the last time I tried it back in 2008.
It’s rich and ripe and juicy. The second wine was De Toren Fusion V from Stellenbosch South Africa. George Miliotes is a big fan of South African wines and actually helped develop Indaba Chardonnay which Robert Parker ended up calling one of the best values in French style Chardonnay out there. De Toren Fusion V is one of the best wines out of South Africa. It is an amazing Bordeaux style blend consisting of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot. This is another small production producer, only 3,600 cases of the 750ml bottles were produced for 2007.
Last but not least were the “Mini Indulgences” see this quick 10 second video for a quick rundown because it’s much better than anything I could write!
The desserts were paired with Selbach-Oster Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Auslese, Mosel 2006. Say that 10 times really fast! According to George and most people in the know the 2006 vintage for Germany’s dessert wines is one of the best of the last 50 years. This wine was no exception, it was the perfect pairing for the indulgences.
After lunch I managed to get a one on one interview George Miliotes in the Chateau, the place where they keep the wines. See that video on the Weekly Wine Journal’s Youtube Channel HERE.
For more photos of the event, check out the Weekly Wine Journal’s Facebook page HERE
“Our dark, inky Petite Sirah has lush aromas and flavors of blackberry, licorice, caramel and fruit compote. It’s broad mouth-feel along with generous bramble and barrel spice notes balance the fruit creating a rich complex, approachable Petite Sirah…lingering dark chocolate finish…”
Once again, I did not refer to the notes before tasting. Trusty note book says “more aromatics, more tannic, chewy”
For me, I liked this quite a bit more than the Zinfandel. I liked the big chewy tannis that reminded of not quite ripe blackberry fruit. The finish was definately longer, and chocolaty. 541 cases produced, retail $36.