The third of the five wines served at One Eleven Chop House’s February 25 Charles Krug wine dinner on Tuesday, February 25 was called Generations.
The story behind Generations is this. Peter Mondavi who bought Charles Krug Winery, the oldest operating winery in Napa Valley, always liked tradition. He preferred single varietal wines. He thought that a Cabernet should be made of 95 percent Cabernet grapes, even though you’re only required to have 75 percent to call it a cab.
Peter’s sons Peter Jr. and Marc spent years convincing him to put Generations, which is made with 85 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, seven percent Malbec, five percent Petit Verdot, and five percent Merlot, on the roster. Eventually the Charles Krug visionary relented and allowed the Bordeaux blend’s release in 1991.
This full-bodied glass with its spice and its blackberry notes signified a turn for dinners as well.
After enjoying a White Buck Goat Cheese nestled in a phyllo cup with house-made grapefruit preserve and a pear-walnut oil garnish and devouring the Ora King Salmon with roasted mushrooms, honey-glazed beets, and a red Zinfandel port balsamic, they served a lemon sorbet with a single raspberry. While the 2014 St. Helena Sauvignon Blanc and the 2013 Carneros Pinot Noir were delicious, the second half of the night took an immediate elevation when Duck Sous Vide and the comfortingly satisfying Generations were served.
The duck, which was paired with sweet potatoes, crispy Brussel sprout leaves, and vanilla purged cherries, didn’t need any accompaniment other than the wine. This piece of meat could stand on its own. The fork and the knife seemed to slow things down a bit too.
The technique known as sous vide—the method of cooking food in airtight plastic bags placed in temperature-controlled water—was the perfect way to avoid overcooking the duck meat. In this process, the duck skin protected the meat resulting in an evenly tender piece.
Generations was a spectacular wine that pulled you away from the street light’s announcement that little white flakes were falling down outside and transported you to St. Helena, one of the most beautiful places in the world.
The two estate wines served with the next course turned the street light into the California countryside sun—at that point we all forgot which coast we were on.
The first of the two wines was the 2012 Howell Mountain Cabernet made with 80 percent Cabernet, 18 percent Petit Verdot, and two percent Merlot. This velvety, rich wine was a favorite at my table, only to be outdone by the next wine: the 2012 Vintage Selection Cabernet Sauvignon.
According to United Liquors Wine Rep Shirlee Stein, who introduced each wine as they were poured, the Vintage Selection rarely leaves the vineyard. The wine comprised of 95 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, three percent Malbec, and two percent Petit Verdot, was first produced in 1944 when the Mondavi family purchased the Charles Krug Vineyard. The full-bodied wine had notes of vanilla and blackberry. While Shirlee and the tasting notes said the wine has blackberry and coffee aromas, to me the nose is more like a portal to Napa.
The Duo of Venison, which was a rotisserie roasted leg and grilled sausage, came out after they poured both the 2012 Howell Mountain Family Reserve Cabernet and the 2012 Vintage Selection Cabernet. Our two venisons came with currant braised red cabbage and potato pancakes.
While the dinner was fantastic, it wasn’t the evening’s star. Each course was well executed without overpowering the palette or overshadowing the wine.
Some wine dinners work to pair dishes with wines. This art is incredibility difficult because people’s preferences range dramatically. I’ve seen tables in Napa summon the sommelier to ask, “What were you thinking with this pairing?!” Many times it’s more enjoyable to pick wines that speak for themselves without focusing too much on evoking the taste explosion of a transcendent pairing.
I thoroughly enjoyed this format. We learned about one winery in St. Helena—Charles Krug—and imbibed beautiful wine. The night finished with coffee and a Dark Chocolate Dipped Cheesecake.
The One Eleven Chop House Spring wine dinner series is sold out but space is available in their Fall series.