Breaking into the cellar for a special occasion brings rewards

April 29, 2019

In addition to celebrating Easter, the clans McCandless and McDonald assembled from far and wide to participate the wedding of son John Connor and his terrific bride Paige McCandless, and all the attendant festivities. Quite frankly, I’m exhausted. Fortunately, we served several selections of wine, and in addition I raided the cellar, so I had enough ammo for this week’s recommendations. The wedding was held at the Lakeside Pavilion at Pot-Nets. I would like to recommend the venue to anyone wishing to hold a large catered function. Well-run, with gorgeous grounds and flowerbeds, plus a very cooperative staff and management. I particularly enjoyed the layout. It shows lovely lake views with well-kept wooden walkways and gardens from large windows inside the venue. Centered in the lake and attached to the ballroom by a broad walkway is a covered gazebo that appeared capable of sheltering more than 100 attendees. The hall appears capable of handling more than 300 seated. There are many great venues in our area. This is one definitely worth considering. I also want to give big props to Big Fish Grill which catered our rehearsal dinner. Notwithstanding a packed house, they took care of our party of 37 without a hitch. Thanks to Susan the coordinator and a great support staff, the affair was flawless. As usual, the food was delicious. Thanks to all for a grand performance.

I served a select group of family winos a 1985 Herxheimer Honigsack Eiswein, a Ridge Lytton Springs Zin 1996, and a Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1989, all of which had been languishing in my temp-controlled storage from their release date. Good fortune smiled. The corks were damp and slid with just a bit of pressure from their snug lodging. Poured a little and after a swirl, snort and sip determined each was still in fine fettle. Fortunately, I didn’t need to share with some teetotalers, several who are satisfied with any Pinot Grigio, Chard or Cab, and the barbarian horde (those under 30 who think Hard Claw Sparkling Seltzer and lite beer are to die for), so there were sufficient amounts to serve all a decent tasting. These are the times when one appreciates the rewards of cellaring. For those starting on a cellar, keep in mind there is always the risk that one or all three could have failed.

Since two of the three are no longer available and the Mouton is findable, I will only describe the Mouton. I bought a case in 1991 and it cost $780. It was rated RP 95 points, JR 18.5, McD 94 and showed me great promise. Today’s low price is $725-$1,100 per bottle. This wine is still vibrant and will cellar about 10 more years. Still dark ruby with a nearly black center, it has not started to brick yet. Potent cassis nose, ripe fruit, proper acidity, and the tannins have just begun to incorporate. The finish is still fresh. It is very long with no blurring of flavors and a delightful spicy ending. Noted wine writer (she is far too fair to be named a critic) Jancis Robinson, on sampling this lovely in 2014, declared it a “classic Claret.” Amen to that.

We served Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Cab 2016. My friends, this is one of the best entry-level Cabs out there. Consistently rated above 88 points since 2008 and holding its price below $17. I’m guessing the low price is reflected in its rating. Most critics just can’t spell more than 90 points for Cabernet under $30, and the label is too long and complicated for their word count. And it’s from Washington state. It’s a darn shame. This is great QPR, McD 91. Primarily Cab, it also employs a little Merlot, Malbec and Syrah. Cab provides plum and blueberry, the merlot adds jammy notes, Malbec for color and tannin, and the Syrah provides spice. Those who wish to go upscale can try their Ethos Reserve Cab 2015 around $44. Although it is quite nice, I don’t think it’s worth the higher price. Chateau Ste. Michelle Impetus Red Wine, both the 2014 and ‘15, are solid 92-point blends that will run you about $100. They are worth every penny.