Cold winter nights can be conducive for red wines, so our assemblage met to experience some of the best. Our setting was the Chef’s Dining Room at The Phoenix with its welcoming marble fireplace and view of the kitchen staff at work through French doors. Situated in a former gentleman’s club designed by Samuel Hannaford in 1893, The Phoenix has been a critically acclaimed restaurant open to the public for over twelve years.
We gathered to try some of the best that Napa has to offer with rare bottlings of highly sought after cabernet sauvignons. Starting with some Jean Vesselle Oeil de Perdrix NV to adjust our palates and prepare our sensibilities, we sat down for a study of a group of fabulous wines. This was an education for neophyte and oenophile alike with labels unknown to many and not a disappointment in the collection. Dunn and Shafer may be somewhat familiar names but Dalla Valle, Bryant, and Colgin are so allocated as to be unheard of by most wine drinkers.
We were privileged to compare some older and more recent vintages as well as taste some different appellations from Napa. Areas represented included Calistoga, Oakville, Howell Mountain, and Napa Valley. All were amazed and bemused by the wealth of wonderful complex wines set before us and with such a rich selection it proved most difficult to decide on any favorite. If only more nights could provide such a conundrum!
To conclude our evening an elegant buffet was arrayed before us with selections of food to complement our wines. Featured dishes included carpaccio, lamb chops, beef tenderloin, and Italian sausage with wild mushroom risotto. Those of us with a desire for additional wine had to make do with some 1999 La Jota Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, but gourmands must make the occasional sacrifice! With a chocolate ganache to finish and the glow of the fireplace in the background, we all felt warmly satisfied at our evening at The Phoenix and journey with some truly special wines.
J.T. Mayer, Vice Chargé de Presse