WINE OF THE WEEK-CLOS DU VAL 2016 ESTATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON-$52
By Dwight Casimere
Clos Du Val 2016 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($52) is a virtual showcase for Cabernet from Napa Valley’s famed Stag’s Leap District. At well under a hundred dollars a bottle, it is a steal by Napa Cabernet standards.
Located on the Napa’s storied Silverado Trail, the winery is nestled in one of the district’s most picturesque sites. Its Hirondelle House, named for the winery’s historic estate vineyard is much more than the focal point, it is what the owners consider its ‘home.’ It is designed to intentionally connect visitors to the estate vineyards in a very immediate way. As they sip the winery’s legendary wines, they also imbibe its history through the lush scenery.
Founded in 1972, by owner Olav Goelet, Clos Du Val is overseen by its President Jon-Mark Chappellet (another famous Napa Valley name), and its outstanding wines are shepherded by winemaker Ted Henry. All of the wines come from Clos Du Val’s own vineyards, Hirondelle-Stags Leap District AVA, State Lane Vineyard, and Riverbend Vineyard, both in Napa Valley’s Yountville AVA.
Clos Du Val and its legendary Cabernet burst onto the international stage in grand fashion at the famed Judgment of Paris in 1976. The rest, as they say, is history.
But, enough of the history lesson, let’s get into the wine. Clos Du Val 2016 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is a BIG wine that delivers far beyond its modest (by Napa Valley Cab standards) price tag. Only a wine expert can differentiate it from a wine costing three times its price.
Inviting aromas of nutmeg from aging in small French oak casks and succulent vanilla bean and clove accents give way to a mouth-filling array of ripe black berries, black cherries, plums and blueberries. There’s just a hint of caramelly Affy Taffle that sends your taste buds into a tailspin. Nicely rounded off with a touch of mocha, there’s a velvety finish as its glides down your throat with a final afterglow of smoky cedar ash.
Great with game meats, like pheasant, venison or herb-infused quail, its also terrific with a prime aged steak. I grilled a grass-fed New York Strip marinated overnight in a blend of Rainbow peppercorns, smoked Hungarian Paprika and, SURPRISE, rich Jamaican coffee. That’s right, coffee. You’d be amazed how the nutty, rustic flavors of a good coffee brings out the mineral qualities in a steak and adds greatly to the enjoyment of an earthy, complex wine like this luscious Cab.
Fresh quail, which I found at the local Korean market, also benefits greatly from an intimate association with this wine. Stuffed with fresh Sage, Lemon Sage and Oregano from the garden, then dusted with Sea Salt, a hint of Cajun pepper spice (I use either Gumbo Shop Five-Pepper blend (see their website for direct shipping), or any of Emeril’s spice blends. Sprinkle some olive oil over the skin for a crispy finish and gently pour a half-cup of the wine in the baking dish and tent it with aluminum foil. Bake for about 45 minutes at 425 and, voila, dinner is served. I like to add a side of steamed baby potatoes topped with sea salt and soft Danish or Irish butter to complete the culinary picture. Some sliced heirloom or multi-colored cherry tomatoes add a sweet/salty flavor contrast.
Try it with your own favorite red wine and food pairings. Clos Du Val 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon is sure to delight in almost any food setting. Be sure to save a glass for savoring after the meal by the backyard fire pit as you watch the sunset on these beautiful late summer evenings. For more information, visit closduval.com.