It really does not matter if you live and work here in the San Francisco bay area, Hong Kong or Bordeaux; life in today’s world is beyond busy. It’s a competitive world where everything from communication to expectations is now instantaneous and you had better come ready to play every day if you want to be successful.
But even the world’s greatest horses, athletes, CEO’s, Moms and Dads need break to rest their bodies and mind while recharging their internal batteries once in a while. My life and job completely revolves around wine and here at America’s greatest independently wine shop it never seems to slow down any longer and combined with my two trips to Bordeaux and Hong-Kong/Taiwan each year I stay very busy.
It has been a few years for me but I just finally had the opportunity to step off the fast track for a few weeks when I took a 10 day cruse to Alaska with my family. We sailed underneath the Golden Gate Bridge on the Grand Princess on our way to the ports of Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Victoria and Glacier National Park. The scenery was stunning and it was great to relax on board with some of my favorite wines while taking in all the sites. This included numerous bottles of my favorite cocktail wine, the refreshing 2016 Kokomo Sauvignon from the Timber Crest Vineyard that we enjoyed before dinner most evenings. The Crown Grill Steakhouse with its endless combinations of “Surf and Turf” selections was the perfect place to enjoy some special wines from my collection.
On Father’s day I thought it would be fun to try two great wines from the vintage of 1998. From California I chose 1998 Dunn Vineyards “Howell Mountain” Cabernet Sauvignon which is of course is also the home to PrimeCellar’s top selling Cabernet Sauvignon; Lamborn Vineyards. Randy Dunn started making wine on Howell Mountain in 1979 and soon became the beacon of light that first shined the spotlight on high quality wine coming from Howell Mountain. Randy has been a good neighbor of the Lamborns for over 30 years and the quality of his Cabernet is exactly what led us to the Lamborn wine for PrimeCellar. The wine was so fresh and young aromatically as well as on the palate; loaded with lots of bright and spicy raspberry fruit with lovely hints of earth. It does not happen often but the Dunn wine was actually fresher than the delicious 1998 Ch. Smith Haut Lafitte, which was really the first outstanding wine, made by the Cathiard family and really started their meteoric rise to stardom in Bordeaux. Both were glorious with the perfect filet.
As the week moved on we enjoyed 2012 Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc and Du Mol Chardonnay with our crab legs, prawns, halibut and lobster dishes.
A 2005 Rosenblum Zinfandel from the “Lyons Vineyard was a perfect match with a wild Boar ragout. I truly savored every sip of one of my favorite wines in my career; my last bottle of 2001 Ch. Cos d’Estournel! Eternal proof, that if you only drink wines from “great and highly pointed vintages” you will surely miss the boat, as well as some great wines and experiences.
On the last night I went a little older and to my favorite wine in all of Bordeaux when you take into consideration price to quality ratio; that would be Ch. Cantemerle and the vintage was 1988. The 1988 vintage was my first vintage to evaluate in Bordeaux and it has always been considered a good vintage but a bit tightly wound and quite frankly many wines are just now showing their best now at almost 30 years of age. The 1988 Cantemerle was just amazing, seemingly frozen in time, perfectly fresh and effusive. Ripe, round fruit with herbal hints, leather and earth all interacting beautifully together at almost 30.
This relaxing vacation reminded me exactly why we collect fine wine and go to great lengths to keep them cool and in pristine condition. Sharing fine wine with friends and family it what it is all about!
Cheers to you! Ralph Sands