Capital Vie!

October 17, 2013 at 4:00 pm

It’s “Portfolio” time in the wine & spirits industry, when distributors across the country host an event for their customers, be they stand alone retail stores or restaurants, selecting a portion of their “book” for tasting & taking orders for the busy upcoming holiday season.

Capital Wine & Spirits, the Pennsylvania division of Charmer-Sunbelt Group recently held their event in downtown Philly at Vie, a spacious but elegant 17,000 sq ft indoor/outdoor facility specializing in large corporate and private functions.

Where there is wine there must be food & Capital spared no expense with an abundance of choices to suit everyone, both at stations & butlered. a nice selection of asian fare including some nice sushi rolls , tasty mini-crab cake or Kobe sliders, interesting pasta dishes for those running a Marathon the next day, vegetarians were happy as well as any cheese hounds, you did not have to go far to grab a bite! To compliment the desserts, Automatic Brewers & Coffee Devices poured some beautiful Crema topped espresso & cappuccino from their Casadio machine.

I tried my best to only sample wines new to me or at least not reviewed before, Capital’s selection committee made that easy with a single vineyard Xinomavro from Greece right next to a table with a lovely Frappato from Sicily. While the many promotional models behind some of the tables were pleasing to the eye, the vast majority were employees of the wineries & distilleries themselves, imparting subtle insights about their products that only years of experience can permit.

The highlight of the night for me was meeting living legend Robin Daniel Lail, grandniece to Inglenook winery founder Gustave Niebaum, daughter to John Daniel Jr., Inglenooks winemaker (1933-64), who made some of the greatest Cabernets ever produced in California! Robin & her sister Marcia co-founded Dominus Estate with Chateau PetrusChristian Moueix & started Merryvale with Bob Harlan. Currently Robin Daniel Lail & her husband Jon are the owners of Lail Vineyards in Rutherford Calif., with Philippe Melka as their winemaker.

Speaking of Inglenook, Francis Ford Coppola has slowly bought all the original vineyards that made up the original Inglenook estate & painstakingly restored the property.with a striking retro label from the post prohibition era. Unfortunately he did not own the rights to use the Inglenook name, till now! The flagship wine Rubicon has been re-branded Inglenook Rubicon

After the wine tasting I moved on to a few choice whisk(e)ys highlighted by a brand new Glenfiddich just being released here in the States & a Herradura Reposado tequila aged in Port casks, & lastly, while not a big fan of cordials a Macadamia nut liqueur from Trader Vic did catch my fancy.

A Broadening of my palate with some different varietals, noshed on excellent cuisine, made some new friends & caught up with old ones, a nice evening in the city of brotherly love.

Inglenook Rubicon 2009 $175 Cohn, Creek, Walnut, Lower Garden, Lower Cask Vineyards Rutherford, Calif. A real stunner, surprisingly approachable with nice plum, pencil & eucalyptus notes, you can drink it now with enjoyment or better yet wait awhile to get all the complexity this wine has to offer.
Silverado Vineyards Mt George Merlot 2008 $30 Mt George vineyard, Napa Valley. Big deep plum & rich fruit flavors, subtle oak allows the true Merlot signature to shine thru, tannins are up front so a few years or some decanting is recommended.
Silverado Solo 2009 $85 From the Stag Leap vineyard surrounding the Silverado estate this pure bred Cabernet is an age worthy wine with deep cherry , puckering acidity & chewy tannins.
Hess 19 Block Cuvee 2009 $35 Summit vineyard, Mt Veeder, Calif. A nice Bordeaux style blend, raspberry, black cherry, anise, cedar, chewy tannins & a long finish.
Lail Blueprint Sauvignon Blanc 2011 $35 St. Helena and Coombsville vineyards, Calif. Nice grass and spice, subtle vanilla, with a smooth & creamy texture balances the acidity to make for an easy drinking Sauvignon Blanc.
Lail Blueprint Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 $70 Napa Valley, Calif. Big cherry, plum, with graphite & bell pepper, smooth tannins, nice acidity, a true Calif. Cab.
Lail J. Daniel Cuvee 2009 $145 Howell Mountain, Oakville & Dutch Henry Canyon vineyards, Calif. Big Dark cherry, complex nose of herbs, cigar box, mouthwatering acidity, chewy tannins & a long finish. A lot going on in the glass, I needed to sit down and spend the next hour drinking this & chatting with owner Robin Daniel Lail.
Cos Frappato IGT 2011 $29 A indigenous Sicilian variety, stinky, with underlying stewed cherry & cranberry. Nice bright fruit on palate, a little spiciness along with mouth watering acidity, modest tannins , nice obscure wine.
Sequana Dutton Ranch Pinot Noir 2010 $44 A Hess Family wine, good different, has California big fruit, but that fruit has a tartness, with a little earthiness to it, more akin to Oregon.
Trinchero Meritage 2009 $50 St Helena, Calif. Deep cherry, flavors with a hint of bell pepper, chocolate, & accompanied by cedary pencil shavings, this wine has nice acidity with a moderately long finish.
J Lohr Arroyo Vista Chardonnay 2011 $21 Arroyo Seco, Calif. The next three are all smaller production single vineyard wines. Little mineral & orange aromas continue with mineral & oak on the palate, really liked this Chardonnay.
J Lohr Hilltop Cabernet 2010 $29 Paso Robles, Calif. Licorice, nice dark cherry & plum, vanilla & Hershey’s cocoa powder round out this very nice Cabernet.
J Lohr Tower Road Petite Sirah 2011 $21 Paso Robles, Calif. I have some major experience with high-end Petite Sirah/Syrah & while this wine is not on the same level , nor should it be at only $21, it opens a window of what a good Petite Sirah should taste like. Leather, deep thick fruit, a hint of smoke, chewy tannins & teeth staining color, really liked this wine.
Isabel Mondavi Carneros Chardonnay 2011 $20 Wonderful, has a burgundy stinky, minerally nose, great juicy fruit and subtle vanilla, nice finish. For $20 a steal!
Pine Ridge Dijon Clones Carneros 2011 $30 Nice apple & creamy yeast notes on the nose, nice bright tart apple flavors with gushy acidity, what a wonderful finish.
Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc/ Viognier 2012 $15 Clarksburg & Lodi, Calif. Apricot, lemon, apple, peach. in your face nice fruit, touch of sweetness, but only a touch, very well made wine.
ForeFront Pinot Noir 2011 $21 Sourced from 3 AVA’s, San Luis Obispo, Monterey & a small portion from Sonoma. Bright with vanilla overtones, there is a little bit of everything here, earth, stone, & of course bright cherry. Nice value.
Bruno Giacosa Roero Arneis 2012 $31 Scary good nose, licorice, floral, citrus, melon, creamy finish, very nice. One of the best Arneis based wines I’ve ever had.
Mt Brave Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 $72 Mt Veeder, Calif. Slight pencil, deep cherry & plum, great cab flavors of currant and blackberry, very approachable. From the old Chateau Potelle property.
Cenyth Red Blend 2009 $64 Sonoma county, Calif. Bordeaux blend with everything, both Cabs., Merlot, Petite Verdot & Malbec. Chocolate, spice, cherry, plum, cedar, nice acidity & finish. New, second label of Verite.
Maggy Hawk Hawkster Pinot Noir 2009 $70 There are four single block Pinot Noirs all from different blocks of the Maggy Hawk vineyard in Andersen Valley, Calif., each wine is named after a different Thoroughbred born from the mare, Maggy Hawk. Surprising purple hue for a Pinot, raspberry, cherry, nutmeg, has a California signature written all over it. Balanced acidity & subtle oak, nice.
Galerie Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2012 $25 Lt Grass & hay nose blends nicely with lemon and citrus flavors. Mouthwatering acidity & a great finish made this a pleasure to try.
Anakota Helena Montana Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 $77 Knights Valley, Calif. Subtle dark cherry, blackberry, currant, pencil shavings, & oak, underlying bell pepper, teeth cleaning tannins do not hide a very nice long finish.
Anakota Helena Dakota Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 $77 Knights Valley,Calif. More pencil then Montana, cherry, blueberry, kind of closed, needs decanting or bottle age to reach its potential.
Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko 2012 $24 Santorini, Greece. Apple jumps out at you, Chardonay. like profile at first but the slight petrol nuance lets you know you are drinking a quite different varietal. A really nice clean finish, highlights what Greek whites can be when quality is the benchmark.
Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko/Athiri 2012 $18 Santorini, Greece More comparable to Sauvignon Blanc than Chardonnay, this has more mineral and earth in addition to the kiwi & citrus notes. Again, a great introduction to quality Greek whites.
Alpha Estate Xinomavro Hedgehog 2009 $21 Amyndeon, Greece. Nice fruit, green pepper, cherry Cabernet like but has a leather and huckleberry character that draws you in a different direction. (Petite Sirah?) Indigenous varieties make the mind try to compare it to something similar so it takes an open mind tto just let the grape speak for itself.
Sanctuary Usibelli Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 $31 Rutherford, Calif.  Deep dark fruit, butterscotch, slight cedar/ graphite nose, really nice Cabernet fruit , approachable tannins, nice acidity to balance the fruit, for around $30 a good buy.
Sanctuary Bien Nacido Vineyard, Pinot Noir 2009 $35 Santa Maria Valley, Calif.  Spicy earth, tart cherry, oak is nicely blended with the fruit , acidity and light tannins.
Siduri Willamette Valley Pinot Noir $20 Oregon I’m a big fan of the Siduri/Novy winery, their wines are just plain outstanding, but what did surprise me was this wine, $20 for a Willamette Pinot of this quality is amazing, Stinky, tart cherry, spice, nice acidity and finish. While not a Arbre Vert I thoroughly enjoyed this wine. Great for a restaurant wine list or to pour at a party, your guests will thank you for pouring this wine.
Charles & Charles Red 2012 $ 11 Cab/Syrah Wahluke slope, Wash. Nice bright cherry fruit up front with darker fruit on palate, a little earthiness peeks out on the finish, pretentious it’s not, and happy that way.
Dr Angove Red Blend 2012 $12 South Australia. Grenache, Shiraz & Petite Verdot. Tart fruit is balanced by sweet vanilla, bubblegum & a little pepper, another nice easy drinking wine.
Valentin Bianchi, New Age White NV $10 Mendoza, Argentina. Mostly Torrontes with a small percentage of Sauvignon Blanc & Frizzante , petrol, licorice, a nice summer quaffer or just an nice easy drinking everyday wine.
Koyle Carmenere Reserve 2011 $15 Alto Colchagua, Chile. Tobacco, leather, blackberry, dark cherry, nice finish. while not a true “reserve”, this is a good value.

Glenfiddich Malt Masters Addition $80 Akin to the same Balvenie Double wood treatment. Bourbon American oak aging then transferred to sherry casks for additional years. Nice oak & sherry nose, so many special editions are higher alcohol “cask strength”, while many prefer the higher proof, I find them too volatile, having the distillery dilute the raw spirit onsite to an optimum balance is my preference. Bursting with flavor but smooth a silk, this was such a pleasure to drink.
Monkey Shoulder $36 Reminds me of a 1960’s era bottle of Haig & Haig Pinch I have, slight peaty profile but also a richness that really makes for an easy drinking blend.
Jose Cuervo Reserva de Familla $150 Mellow agave nose oak is present but not overpowering, some caramel notes as well, an Extra Anejo that’s very smooth.
Templeton Rye $40 A blast of orange hits the nose and the spicy rye flavors pervade, very nice whisky.
Herradura Port Cask $90 Wow what a neat new Reposado Tequila! Bright rose & agave nose, with the winey port flavors coming thru on the long finish.
Trader Vic’s Macadamia Nut Liqueur $19 A viscous decadent concoction, nutty all the way thru plus some hints of Werthers butterscotch, very smooth. 53 proof.

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