An Iconic Wine Looks at 30

The year was 1984: the first Apple Macintosh computer was on sale and Ronald Reagan was in office. “Terminator,” “The Karate Kid,” and “Ghostbusters” were in the theaters and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” ruled the radio. The “MTV Video Music Awards” came into existence, and the Soviets boycotted the Los Angeles Summer Olympics, as payback for the Western boycott of the Moscow games. While all of this was going on, a young winery nestled in the heart of Napa Valley gave birth to what would become an icon among American Bordeaux blends. Flora Springs was in its sixth year of operations when they decided to create something spectacular; a hand-selected, signature red blend from the best lots of their estate vineyards that they would call Trilogy. The inaugural 1984 blend (the same vintage as a certain wine blogger) was composed of a third each of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc, giving rise to a big, bold wine with plenty of structure to age gracefully (just like yours truly)…

1984 Flora Springs Trilogy

But perhaps the best test of time, at least in the wine world, is a vertical tasting pitting an “aged” wine against a younger, newer version of itself. For this meeting of the vintages, I compared the 1984 Trilogy with the 2008 Trilogy, pairing them both with the archetypal big red wine meal: a juicy steak, roasted Brussels sprouts, creamy mashed potatoes, and a bright, beautiful salad. Let me tell you, it was magic.

1984 and 2008 Flora Springs Trilogy wines

The 2008 Trilogy is a blend of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon and 16% Merlot, with a smattering of Petit Verdot and Malbec for good measure. Aged for 22 months in 100% new French oak, this wine has plenty of character. Perfectly balanced tannins intermingled with the right touch of oak and black fruit flavors to yield a delicious wine, with and without food accompaniment. Thirty years into its development, the 1984 Trilogy displayed the brick red hue one might expect, and offered a candied, dried fruit bouquet. These flavors carried through to the palate, offering notes of dried plum and baking spice. While some might say this wine was “past its prime” I liken it to the Audrey Hepburn of wines; an icon, displaying classic beauty throughout its time.  The mature character of the 1984 vintage allowed it to do what we all strive to accomplish: leave a lasting legacy in the mind, and the palate wanting more.

Corks: 1984 and 2008 Flora Springs Trilogy

Cheers!

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Foodie Friday: The Magic of Meritage

Happy Friday! Today’s Foodie Friday post focuses on the true magic that can take shape when powerhouse varietals are blended together in order to highlight the best characteristics of each one. Bordeaux is perhaps the classic example of how grape varietals can be used to bring out the best in each other; combined in a way that contributes the best characteristics of each grape in order to elevate the final wine’s entire profile. At least, that’s the goal.

In 1988, a collective of American winemakers formed the Meritage Association (which is now the Meritage Alliance), taking their name from the amalgamation of the words “merit” and “heritage” (which, by the way, is how Meritage is pronounced – it rhymes with heritage).  Believing that blending grape varieties to make a better, more expressive wine is one of the highest arts in winemaking, the Alliance was formed to identify high quality wines that cannot be varietally labeled because they do not consist of at least 75% of a single grape variety. The initial mission of the Alliance was to standardize and increase visibility for the American version of these Bordeaux blends.

Meritage

The Meritage Alliance Website

Today, Meritage is still made using the “noble” grape varieties. These include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc for red blends, and Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle du Bordelais for white wines.

Like Bordeaux blends, Meritage can fetch impressive prices, but that doesn’t mean that high quality versions aren’t available at a more palatable price point. Case and point: Genesis Meritage by Hogue Cellars. This wine from Columbia Valley, Washington is available at $12 a bottle, and packs a beautiful nose of blackberry and fig, with more dark fruit, delicious vanilla, and warm spice coming through on the palate. With its soft tannins and full body, this wine makes the perfect dessert pairing.

Hogue Cellars Genesis Meritage

Hogue Cellars Genesis Meritage

For this Foodie Friday pairing, I’m keeping it super simple (it being the Friday before a holiday weekend – I know you have BBQs and celebrations to plan): pair this wine with Ghirardelli assorted dark chocolate squares. Since these are bite size and come in a great variety, this pairing really lends itself to a backyard party (and won’t overwhelm those who may have already, ahem, overeaten).

Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend, and please don’t forget to take a moment and raise a glass to all our Servicemen and Women who make incredible sacrifices for all of us! Cheers!