Tag Archives: Cabernet Sauvignon

A memorable pairing with 2012 Kenzo Murasaki #winePW

Kenzo Murasaki

As part of this year’s “Open That Bottle Night 2017” event, we decided to open a bottle of 2012 Kenzo Murasaki and pair it with bacon wrapped Filet Mignon. We imagined it was going to be a good pairing, but it was one of the most memorable pairings we have done, one for the books!

Open That Bottle Night is an annual national event every last Saturday of February, dedicated to making sure that those bottles of fine wine put away for a special occasion, are used and enjoyed. The event was organized in 2000 by “Tastings” columnists Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher. In a way, it is a day declared to make sure that you indeed find that “special occasion.” This year we looked at our cellar and decided that we were going to venture in opening one of our most prized bottles.

 About Kenzo Murasaki


2012 Kenzo Murasaki is a proprietary red blend made by famous Napa Valley winemaker Heidi Barrett. The 2012 vintage of Murasaki is a Merlot prominent Bordeaux blend. This blend has Merlot (75.6%), Cabernet Sauvignon (18.9%), Cabernet Franc (2.4%) and Petit Verdot (3.1%). Murasaki represents nobility and elegance. This wine offers intense well-integrated oak aromas, blackberries, currants, violets, rose petals, leather, tobacco, coffee bean, cinnamon, and dark chocolate with lingering notes of black pepper, tart cranberry and medium tannins on the palate. This is an outstanding wine with great ageability at a suggested retail price of $250.

About the pairing



We paired Murasaki with Filet Mignon wrapped in bacon and topped with caramelized onions. Following a recipe from Ina Garten, we cooked the onions in a bit of brandy. To add insult to the injury, we had it with truffle fries. Magnifique! A meal like this you don’t pair with any wine. Then again, Murasaki deserves no less. The marriage of flavors is a play in your palette. The pleasant tannins from the wine were a perfect compliment to the richness and tenderness of the Filet Mignon, and both food and wine enhanced each other.


About Kenzo Estate Winery


Edgar Solís Photo

Kenzo Estate Winery is located on the slopes of Mt. George, in the southeastern part of Napa Valley. The Estate lies hidden in the upper meandering ways of Highway 121. A scenic pathway through unspoiled preserved areas and Leoma Lake leads the way to breathtaking rolling hills planted with perfectly manicured vines. This beautiful Estate it is worthy of a visit by every wine lover.

Kenzo Estate exquisite wines are the result of the convergence of three major influences: fruit expression, careful vineyard management, and masterful winemaking. In the winery is nestled in a valley at 1,550 feet, the Estate encompasses 3,800 acres, of which only four percent is dedicated to the growing of Bordeaux varietal wine grapes.

Napa Valley wines distinguish themselves from many others around the world. Unique terroir gives this American Viticultural Area the advantage among many others. It is refreshing to see Estate Wineries taking a different approach to grape growing. Wine connoisseurs know that mountain and valley fruit provide different characteristics and nuances to wines; derived from differences in altitude, sun exposure, and geologic soil content. Not only the location of this Estate distinguish the wines, but cultural influences in the approach of treating the grapes, its surroundings and winemaking makes Kenzo Estate Winery unique in beauty and quality.

Estate Experience


The Estate fruit expression is the result of the estate’s elevation, cool climate, and extended growing season. Harvest at Kenzo Estate occurs later than Valley vineyards, where temperatures are often warmer. Mountain vineyards also benefit from a wider diurnal temperature difference. Longer growing period allows evenly ripening while higher diurnal temperatures help with acid preservation.

Carrying the fruit for a few extra weeks allows the Kenzo Estate vines time to complete the complex process toward ideal maturity. Each block is planted to maximize the vine’s varietal characteristics with ideal soil and individual care that reflects the high quality of the wines offered by the Estate.

A visit to Kenzo Estate starts with a warm greeting and a glass of Asatsuyu, a crisp and delicate Sauvignon Blanc. The visit includes a ninety minutes wine tasting and tour of the grounds and wine cave. The beautiful and elegant Tasting Room embraces its surroundings in a balance between nature and architecture, filling you with awe and anticipation. While you taste a glass of Asatsuyu, you get to enjoy a walk among the Estate vines and a visit to state-of-the-art white and red wine production facilities, constructed in the style of traditional California barn.

Your visit continues at the wine cave, where the wine aging magic happens. The cave entrance sits directly behind the winery structures, in balance with the surrounding landscape. Inside, French oak barrels are lined up with precision, lent to a detailed method of inspecting wines during aging. Sitting in peace the Estate wines get to rest and age undisturbed for up to twenty months in new and used French oak barrels.

Back in the Tasting Room, you get to sip through more Estate wines while enjoying you’re the view of the vineyards.

About Kenzo’s Winemaker


Winemaker Heidi Barrett (Edgar Solís Photo)

Kenzo Estate celebrated Winemaker Heidi Barrett, brings her signature wine style honoring the sense of place and respecting vineyard heritage and vintage personality, she draws on her intuitive connection with Kenzo Estate, which began as a youth when honing her equestrian skills on the mountain trails.

Heidi Barrett grew up in the Napa Valley, and is the daughter of California winemaking pioneer Richard Grant Peterson. Heidi even spent much of her childhood riding horses in Wild Horse Valley, today’s Kenzo Estate. After graduating from U.C. Davis in 1980 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fermentation Science, she went to work for Justin Meyer at Franciscan Vineyards and Silver Oak Cellars.

In 1988, Heidi took her talents to the next level as Winemaker for Dalla Valle, by creating wines that achieved “cult” status. Her powerful, yet elegant, Cabernets from Dalla Valle Vineyards, including “Maya”, a proprietary blend, received perfect 100 point scores in two consecutive vintages (’92 and ’93) from Robert Parker. In 1992, she began making wine for Screaming Eagle. The 1992 and 1997 vintages garnered perfect 100 point scores from Parker as well, which, when added to the two perfect scores at Dalla Valle, established her on a level that few winemakers ever achieve.

In 2000, a 6-liter bottle of the 1992 Screaming Eagle set a world record for the highest price ever paid for a single bottle of wine at the Napa Valley Wine Auction, selling for $500,000. Robert Parker proclaimed her the “The First Lady of Wine”, and TIME magazine dubbed her “The Wine Diva of Napa Valley”.

Check out what other special bottles of wines our fellow #WinePW bloggers opened during Open That Bottle Night 2017:

Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm  will post “How #OTBN happens while on vacation in Dominica

Jen from Vino Travels will share “Baked sausage rigatoni with Vignavecchia Chianti Classico Riserva

Sue from A Palatable Pastime is pairing “Pork Carnitas with Saint Cosme Cotes-Du-Rhone

Michelle from Rockin Red Blog is writing about “South of the Border for Open That Bottle Night

Cindy from Grape Experiences is posting “Wine and Dine: Two New Zealand Pinot Noirs and One-Pan Chicken

Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla is pairing “Red Wine Chorizo + 1994 Argyle Reserve Oregon Pinot Noir

Nancy from Pull That Cork will post “Our OTBN Celebration: The Château Léoville-Las Cases Stole the Show

Lori from Dracaena Wines is sharing”Wine is in Boxes. It’s OTBN. Still turned out to be a night not to miss”

Martin from ENOFYLZ Wine Blog will post “Batting A Thousand for OTBN Vol 8- A Celebration With Friends

Jill from L’occasion is opening “A Gigondas from the Cellar

Gwendolyn from Wine Predator is posting “Cheers to Open That Bottle Night 2017 with Champagne from Bollinger

David from Cooking Chat is posting “Shiitake Beef Stew with a Special Wine

Stags Leap District extraordinary Cabernet

House of Cab Stag's Leap District

Stags Leap District winemaking history goes back to mid-1880’s with the establishment of Occidental Winery off Silverado Trail. Today is home to Regusci Winery. The Phylloxera outbreak and Prohibition killed the booming wine industry in the region. By 1961 pioneer Nathan Fey planted the first Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards in the in Stags Leap District. From 70 acres jumped to over 34,000 acres planted to Cabernet Sauvignon in California today. In 1973 the Judgment of Paris exposed Stags Leap wines to stardom. In a blind tasting, nine renown French wine judges choose the 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon over well known French producers as Mouton-Rothschild and Haut Brion.

Vertical Blind Tasting
Stags Leap District Winegrowers  celebrated House of Cab Library Blind Tasting event at Jardinière Restaurant in San Francisco. What a treat to try Cabernet Sauvignon (1991 to 2010) in a blind side by side tasting, from this unique winemaking region. The tasting experience demonstrated the longevity and the sense of place of these exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon. These wines revealed a great balanced between acid, fruit, and tannins. Great fruit character, pleasant spiciness, wood nuances, velvety texture and a long finish.

From the blind library tasting some of my favorites are, 1992 Clos Du Val, 2007 Terlato Family Vineyards, 1995 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, 2005 Isley Vineyards, 2008 Baldacci Black Label and 2008 Quijote SLD.

Pictures by Edgar Solis Photo

Walk Around Tasting
At the walk around tasting, the participating wineries shared a variety of wines including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Petit Syrah.

A unique chance to talk to vintners and winemakers about how they grow and craft their wines. From Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Director of Vineyards Operations, Kirk Grace shared how they achieved green certification on their 142 acres of Estate vineyards by adhering to sustainable practices. “At Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars we put quality vs. quantity. Numbers are significant, but growing quality grapes and making exceptional wines is all about being in tune with the vines and down on the dirt”.

Kirk Grace, Director of Vineyards Operations For Stag's Leap Wine Cellars
Kirk Grace, Director of Vineyards Operations For Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars

Marcus Notaro, Winemaker for Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, shared his thoughts about the 2016 harvest. “Bud break was early in Napa Valley this year and a cold season. We didn’t achieve the normal high temperature in July and August, which allowed for a prolonged hang time of the fruit. Overall, high-quality grapes in our vineyards. The grapes ripened evenly with lower than normal yield, but tasty berries. An interesting fact for this harvest is that the grapes from the cooler areas like Coombsville ripened at the same rate than the warmer areas like St. Helena.”

Marcus Notaro, Winemaker for Stag's Leap Wine Cellars
Marcus Notaro, Winemaker for Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars

Michael Beaulac, Winemaker for Pine Ridge, shared the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon from Stags Leap District, the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, and 2014 Carneros, Napa Chardonnay. All well balanced outstanding wines. Michael has 25 harvests under his belt, he joined Pine Ridge back in 2009, he came aboard with hi expectations of showcasing the 200 acres estate vineyards, 12 properties within five Napa Valley appellations. He enjoys creating wines that are unique to their terroir, as well as combining the various qualities of several vineyards into a harmonious blend.

Michael Beaulac, Winemaker for Pine Ridge Vineyards
Michael Beaulac, Winemaker for Pine Ridge Vineyards

Pictures By Edgar Solis Photo

Overall, The House of Cab Stags Leap District tasting event showed that top quality grapes treated with respect produced formidable wines for every taste. I share my experience with some favorite wines bellow.

  • 1992 Clos Du Val Stag’s Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon: Still going strong, with aromas of ripe red fruit, vanilla, allspice, leather and hints of rose petals. On the palate, feels luscious with an elegant texture and flavors or ripe dark berries, dark cherries, brown spices and touch of sweetness and green tea. Suggested retail price $70.

  • 2015 Stag’s Leap Winery Viognier: Bright acidity with ripe stone fruit, honeysuckle and kiwi. This Viognier finished clean with hints of passion fruit and guava. Suggested retail price $32.

  • 2011 Quixote Petite Syrah: This wine shows Star Anise, ripe plum, dark berries and coffee bean aromas. On the palate, this Petite Syrah feels full body with substantial but smooth tannins. Suggested retail price $80.

With Steven Kent tasting Livermore best

Steven Kent Mirassou is the six generation of winemaking in his family; we shared a pleasant early afternoon tasting wines at Steven Kent Winery, Livermore Valley, CA.

Steven, What is the history of winemaking in your family?
“The Mirassou family history of grape growing and winemaking goes back to 1854. We are America’s oldest winemaking family. We came up to Livermore in 1988; My father sold his share of the family business back to his cousins. He started a new brand Ivan Tamas in association with Ivan Tamas Fuezy, where Steven Kent was a single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon program”.

“In 1996, I joined my father and Steven Kent became our brand. Steven Kent is our first, and middle name, Mirassou as a brand sold to Gallo in 2003. I am the only one in the family still making wine as a brand, 160 years of family wine history fell into my shoulders. I never thought I was going to be involved in the winemaking industry. I went to the East coast where I did a literature major and graduate school, with the goal to go to study law and write the great American novel”.

How did you learn about the winemaking business?
I moved back to California in 1992. I learned about winemaking from my father, and hands on as I went along. For the past ten years, I have been responsible for winemaking with the help of my team”.

How do you describe your winemaking style?
“Beauty, elegance, and complexity. It is not about the intense amount of tannins, is more about the depth of fruit and structure. I try to be faithful to the fruit, Is about the wines I love to drink. We grow about 90% of the fruit for our wines and source about 10% from various growers”.

 What was your plan for the Steven Kent brand when you started this project with your dad?
When we have begun back in 1996, my dad and I, we though in one wine; Cabernet Sauvignon. Our feeling was then, and I feel even more strongly now, that Livermore Valley can compete with any wine region growing up Cabernet Sauvignon and any of the Bordeaux varieties; given the temperature, the diurnal temperature range, the elevation, the variety of soils and the history of the valley. Our Livermore Cabernet Sauvignon is our biggest production, about 1,000 cases. We have about 40 acres planted with Cabernet, four different clones”.

What is your vision for the wine?
“I am seeking to make the most beautiful wine in the world. For me, beauty is about, purity, balance, complexity and elegance. It is not about high tannins or high PH. I am trying to make wines that are emotionally compelling. I want to make you feel something when you drink my wines: that they are alive, have great depth, and you want to keep going back to them”.

We were pleased with the quality of Steven Kent wines. We had the opportunity to take some wines home and tried with home cooked meals. Among some of our favorites are:

2013  Steven Kent “Lola” Sauvignon Blanc. This single vineyard 100% Sauvignon Blanc is showing delightful ripe stone fruit aromas and flavors. This wine shows Citrus zest and hints of lavender and lemongrass in the nose. On the palate, you enjoy pleasant acidity, and refreshing flavors of tangerine, nectarine and a hint of spice. This Sauvignon Blanc does not go through malolactic fermentation, 10% of the wine aged in new Acacia wood barrels, the rest in stainless steel. Lola will be the perfect companion for your favorite seafood pasta dish, any salad with vinaigrette dressing or chicken dish. We enjoyed it with slightly sauté “langoustine” over linguine parsley pasta with a creamy Sauvignon Blanc baby clams sauce on top. Suggested retail price, $24.

2013 "Lola" Sauvignon Blanc "langoustine" over linguine parsley pasta


2011 Steven KentCabernet Franc: 2011 was a cold year with an extended ripening period, you can’t tell by the defined red and dark berry aromas and flavors. Rose petal, fresh lavender and dark cherries aromas. Bright acidity on the palate with ripe blackberries, plum, and savory herbal notes. This well-balanced Cabernet Franc feels rich and round with an elegant fruit finish that lingers. We got a kick out of this wine paired with Pappardelle pasta topped with chorizo raggu and a side of eggplant pure. Suggested retail price, $48.

Steven Kent 2011 Cabernet Franc Pappardelle pasta

2010 Steven Kent Home Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon: An elegant well balanced Cabernet Sauvignon that shows delightful aromas of violets, blackberries, and licorice, with hints of cardamon and smoke. On the palate, you enjoy flavors of ripe blueberries, dark currant, sweet vanilla and notes of mint and black pepper. Pleasant restrained tannins and the long finish, with a hint of dark chocolate and ripe figs. We savored this exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon paired with a bison ribeye steak seasoned with Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, onion, and garlic granules. A tasty side of oven roasted Brussel sprouts and roasted young potatoes with bacon, seasoned with black pepper and salt, sprinkled with freshly chopped parsley. This Cabernet Sauvignon is robust but elegant; will pair well with your favorite lean cut of red meat. Suggested retail price, $65.

2010 Steven Kent Home Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon bison ribeye steak


Grgich Hills Estate Winery Story

Enjoying Wente Vineyards wines

Courtesy of Wente Vineyards
Courtesy of Wente Vineyards

Wente Vineyards has a couple of firsts over its shoulders; the first winery established in Livermore Valley in 1883, by Carl H. Wente and first winery to bottle a varietally-labeled Chardonnay. Mr. James Concannon also founded Concannon Vineyard in Livermore in 1883. Currently, the Wente family keeps its tradition of wine-growing and winemaking celebrating its 5th generation in the wine industry. “Wente Vineyards is the oldest, continuously operated, family-owned winery in America”. The family continues to work hard and maintains its legacy as a leader in the wine industry including its excellence in hospitality wine experiences.

Other than Chardonnay, Wente produces Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Zinfandel, sparkling, rose and Cabernet Sauvignon; among others. Recently we were able to taste several current vintages of various Wente Vineyards wines.
  • 2013 Louis Mel Sauvignon Blanc: This refreshing stainless steel fermented and aged 100% Sauvignon Blanc, shows tropical fruit aromas, passion fruit and guava. On the palate, this wine feels fresh with pleasant acidity and flavors of pineapple and lemon grass. An excellent wine to enjoy with shellfish, white fish, crustaceans, and your favorite salad. Suggested retail price, $15.
  • 2014 Morning Fog Chardonnay: (98% Chardonnay, 2% Gewürztraminer) This Chardonnay was Fermented in 25% new French oak barrels, 25% used American oak barrels and 50% in stainless steel tanks. Complex well structured Chardonnay that offers aromas of apple caramel, fresh baked brioche, pear, vanilla and notes of oak. On the palate, this Chardonnay feels slightly creamy with flavors of ripe apple, caramel, pineapple and hints of baking spices. This Chardonnay will be an amazing companion for chicken on a mushroom sauce, pork loin with roasted vegetables and popcorn. Suggested retail price, $15.
  • 2012 Riva Ranch Single Vineyard Pinot Noir: The fruit for this wine comes from a Wente family vineyard in Arroyo Seco, Monterey. The vines benefit from gravelly-loam soils, abundant in shale and limestone; responsible for the earthy and mineral notes on the wine. This Pinot Noir offers powerful aromas of strawberry, raspberry and bing cherry with a trace of earth and oak. On the palate, this wine gives you pleasant acidity and silky texture from the gentle tannins, with flavors of ripe cherry pomegranate, vanilla, and toast. An excellent wine to have with your favorite pork dish roasted chicken or turkey and fresh pasta with a meat sauce. Suggested retail price, $30.
  • 2013 Charles Wetmore Cabernet Sauvignon: (77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petite Sirah, 7% Merlot and 6% Petit Verdot) This Cabernet blend exhibits aromas of violet, red currants and a touch of leather and cocoa bean. Pleasing palate of ripe plum, figs and ripe cherry and a hint of brown spices. Vigorous tannins up front, finishing smooth and fruit forward. Enjoy a glass of this wine with your favorite cut of red meat, roasted duck or a dark/salty piece of chocolate. Suggested retail price, $30.

Wente Vineyards offers high-quality wines made with the combined experience of five generations of winemaking traditions. An exceptional quality/price ratio on these well-crafted wines.

Don Melchor vertical tasting with Winemaker Enrique Tirado

Enrique Tirado Santelices, Winemaker/Technical Director, Don Melchor (EdgarSolís)

A very intimate tasting adventure, a delight for your senses, at Piperade Restaurant in San Francisco. Enrique Tirado, Winemaker for Don Melchor Cabernet (Concha y Toro Winery) shared four vintages of this well crafted wine from Chile.

The lunch tasting event started with a brief presentation on the history of The Concha y Toro winery by Italo Jofre. Concha y Toro started in 1883 when local politician and businessman Don Melchor Concha y Toro brought vitis vinifera grapevines from the Bordeaux region to plant at Pirque in the Maipo Valley. He also contracted renown French enologist Monsieur Labouchere to craft his wines.

Over 130 years, Concha y Toro had grown to be Chile’s first global wine brand. After acquiring the Puente Alto vineyard in the 1960s, Concha y Toro management lead by chairman Eduardo Guilisasti Tagle realized the great potential of this property to produce extraordinary wines. With the help of French winemaking expert Emile Peynaud and his partner Jacques Boissenot, the new project took shape with the first release of Don Melchor wine in 1987.

Winemaker Enrique Tirado has been the winemaker for the Don Melchor project since 1997, after a successful career with Concha y Toro since 1993. “For me, Don Melchor is an ongoing quest to get the truest possible expression from every plant in the vineyard to attain beauty in the equilibrium from each Puente Alto terroir harvest, It’s my true obsession.” Tirado shared with us.

Piperade offered and amazing three course lunch menu with 3 choices each. It was great to taste all four vintages, 1989, 1993, 2006 and 2009 of Don Melchor wine with the appetizer and entrée selections.

  • Don Melchor 1989: (100% Cabernet Sauvignon) This wine shows ripe red fruit, red currants, toasty oak and sweet vanilla aromas with hints of leather and eucalyptus. On the palate, this wine offers a silky texture, proof of beautiful aging, with dark cherry, plum, toffee and sweet herbs notes finishing with elegant tannins. This beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon was a great companion for the calamari “a la plancha” with fennel, olives, capers and lemon. The nice touch of heat in the sauce of the calamari was a great marriage with the sweet herbal notes and mellow tannins on the wine. The roasted rack of lamb, merguez (sausage), fennel, breadcrumb, pecan, cumin and date relish paired very well with the wine. The flavors on the dish brought the best wine qualities while the aromas and flavors of the wine enhanced the food. Suggested retail price $94.
  • Don Melchor 1993: (100% Cabernet Sauvignon) Beautiful aromas of cherries, ripe plum, baking spices and cocoa powder. On the palate, playful tannins leads to complex flavors of red fruit, dark ripe fruit, mint and dark chocolate notes. This is an elegant Cabernet Sauvignon that shows great balance of fruit, acid and tannins after 20 years of graceful aging. The wine was very enjoyable with the calamari appetizer but lost a bit of its beautiful flavors against the bold lamb roast. Suggested retail price $100.
  • Don Melchor 2006: (96% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Cabernet Franc) Expressive aromas of red berries, cherries, cranberry and dark berries up-front with notes of dry herbs and tobacco. Well crafted Cabernet Sauvignon with complex aroma and flavors, great balance and robust tannins. In the mouth, this wine express flavors of dark berries, plum, tart red fruit with hints of tobacco, coffee beans and eucalyptus. This well structured wine is capable of aging nicely. This particular vintage takes over the flavors of the calamari, but it’s a perfect pairing for the roasted rack of lamb, intensifying its taste. The lamb dish also elevates the complexity of the wine. Suggested retail price $80.
  • Don Melchor 2009: (96% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Cabernet Franc) This vigorous red wine shows ripe dark fruit, baking spices, cocoa powder and dark currants aromas with hints of tobacco, red flowers and oak. This well balanced Cabernet shows clean flavors of blackberry, plum, cinnamon, nutmeg, toasted hazelnuts with hints of fresh mint and dark chocolate. Beautiful fruit forward long finish with soft and persistent tannins. The flavors of the wine clashed with the calamari first, but soon brought out the spiciness of the sauce. This Cabernet emphasized the fennel flavor on the lamb roast dish. Both the wine and the lamb roast complemented each other nicely. Suggested retail price $125.