On Saturday night, I was invited to a dinner party here in Napa. All I was asked to bring was some wine.
We'd be grilling meat, I was told, so I took a couple of huge, rich, massive, inky dark, ultraripe Cabernets in hefty supersized, barbell-weight bottles.
They were a smashing hit.
Funny how those wines that some people call "unbalanced, hot, raisiny and undrinkable" seem to vanish first when poured at parties. The thick, heavy bottles fool you, too. You always think there’s more wine in the bottle when you lift it.
My friends Richard and Susan love wine and were excited about the reds as Richard seared the thick-boned leg of lamb perfectly on the grill.
It was a case of hulk meets hunk.
We tasted the wines before sitting down to dinner. The 2004 Schrader Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley To-Kalon ($90), which is just being released, is a dense, opulent yet graceful teeth-stainer, a real crowd-pleaser. Its companion was a similarly muscular 2004 Bacio Divino Napa Valley ($80), which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Petite Sirah and Merlot. Year in and year out, this wine, made by Claus Janzen, demonstrates the art of the blend. It allows each of the grapes in the cuvée to share the spotlight, whether it’s the firm tannins from the Petite or the textural nuances of Sangiovese.
Richard, who’s a doctor, joked that the “paralytic agent” in the red wine gave him a buzz.
For dessert, Susan served a wine none of us knew anything about—a half-bottle of Hectorovick Prosek that she purchased years ago in Croatia and carried home in her luggage. It reminded me of a dry sherry, rich and nutty up front, but very dry and elegant on the finish, as a sherry should be.
John Wilen — Texas — February 13, 2007 3:15pm ET
Steve Calbi — South Barringnton, IL — February 14, 2007 12:22am ET
Arthur Lazarus — Chadds Ford, PA — February 14, 2007 8:44am ET
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