By Rick Riozza

Without a lot of fanfare and planning, last week we decided to enjoy a romantic dinner in, namely grilled NY steak, baked potato, asparagus, and of course some wine.  It was the perfect time to open some bottles that have been patient and quietly awaiting their time to shine.  Indeed that was the case.

St. Valentines as the theme of the evening, I decided to go all out with two newsworthy rosé wines, the world class bubbly, Moet & Chandon Brut Impèrial Rosè and a world famous still wine, Rosé d’Anjou by Bougrier.  And the lucky red wine to grace our dinner table would be a delicious Bordeaux Red Blend from Napa Valley, California: Miner Family Wines, The Oracle 2011

If you recall, I just wrote for Valentine’s Day, the latest Moët releases, the two limited-edition bottlings of the House’s iconic Rosé Imperial, a spontaneous, radiant pink bubbly that seduce the senses: the Moët & Chandon Rosé Imperial Emoji Bottle ($49.99) and the Moët & Chandon Rosé Imperial Emoji Gift Box ($49.99).

The Brut Impèrial Rosè is a blend of the three wine varieties, with an emphasis on Pinot Noir, embodying a fruity and daring character. A rosè with shades of copper and good intensity. This Champagne displayed lively, expressive, aromas dominated by the scent of wild strawberries. It was full-bodied, with zestful, assertive fruitiness.

Of course, as we expect, this brut rosé Champagne sparkler wonderfully works and succeeds as the apero, as an accompaniment to dinner itself, and as a nice dessert wine. 

For you long time wine enthusiasts who’ve yet to experience the Rose D’Anjou from the Loire Valley, we’ll keep that between us. Yes, this is the historic rosé wine that Thomas Jefferson himself sought out on his travels to France.  Back then, this was the ultimate rosé. 

What makes this wine so notable is that instead of using Cab Franc, Cab Sauv, or Pinot Noir—the predominant red grape varieties in the Loire Valley, Rosé D’Anjou is produced with the Gamay grape!; your favorite grape that produces Beaujolais down nearby the Burgundy region.  Dare we say a Rosé D’Anjou can be considered a type of “Beaujolais Rosé ?”

It’s fresh, zesty with strawberries, dry but with just a touch of sweetness.  It worked great as a cleanser between dishes and meals.

And now, the The OracleThe winery writes: “The Oracle is an exceptionally balanced, full-bodied red blend made from grapes grown at Stagecoach Vineyard in the eastern hills of Napa Valley. In Greek mythology, the oracle was a source of inspiration and revelation. We hope that you will find the answers to life’s most compelling questions while enjoying The Oracle with friends and family.”

I also read, “The Oracle is always a unique, never repeated blend of Bordeaux varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Malbec), meticulously constructed by Miner head winemaker Stacy Vogel and her small group of blenders and tasters. It’s this annual air of mystery, among other things, that places Miner Family Winery on Napa Valley ‘must lists.’”

I was in touch with Stacy Vogel for a bit a few months ago to do a write-up on her for our Women in Wine series.  She was very kind and invited me up to the winery.  I did get up to Northern California but it was raining big time and couldn’t get there.  Please stay tuned in the up-coming months for my anticipated interview with her—assuming I don’t get lost again.

More notes from the winery: “The 2011 vintage was Merlot-driven, with Cabernet Sauvignon in close second, this Bordeaux-style blend was silky, reserved and supremely balanced.”  As to the wine’s description, “Lush aromatics of raspberry and dark cherry with a hint of eucalyptus, it was decadent, but with finesse. Earthiness and layers of dried flowers and cocoa integrate harmoniously into a finely balanced marriage between tannin and acid, providing fantastic structure.”  Ditto that! I couldn’t have said it better.

By the way, the term “structure” in the context of wine, describes the components that form the foundation, or backbone, of a wine. Acidity, tannins, alcohol content and residual sugars are the main elements that contribute to a wine’s structure. Structure itself doesn’t describe the flavor, but it’ll give you some clue as to how the flavors of a wine will age: wines with good structure are more likely to age well.

This wine is one of the best Napa Bordeaux blends I’ve ever tasted. I had a feeling to decant and aerate the wine for a couple of hours, and by doing so, the wine absolutely bloomed.  It was such a joy to savor; it brought our meal to world class dining.  The pairing with the steak was magnificent.

We’re told that 2011 vintage, due to coldness and rain, was a real “winemaker’s vintage/year”. Special care, attention and winemaking techniques were required to make a wine consistent with the Miner standards.  But nothing new here; the Miner brand and their wines continue to set the bar as to excellence.

Check out their great wines and winery operations: Cheers!

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