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Special occasions, special wine

Shafer Red Shoulder Ranch vineyard, named for the red-shouldered hawks that control the rodent population

Many of us with connections to the United States will be planning a fine Thanksgiving dinner to celebrate that 1621 harvest feast, between 53 pilgrims and 90 Native Americans. This holiday was finally and officially designated the fourth Thursday in November not long after the day and year that I made the decision to leave the warmth and security of my mother’s womb. So, in our home, two fine dinners and some fine wines are guaranteed.

If you want a beautiful Chardonnay that will sing with your roast turkey, you could not go wrong with Shafer Chardonnay. We have a bottle of the 2019 sitting and waiting happily at 55F and this scored 96/100 with critics Natalie MacLean and Jeb Dunnock. There are probably a few bottles of the 2021 in our stores that garnered 95/100 from the Wine Enthusiast, but a shipment of the 2022 Shafer “Red Shoulder Ranch” Chardonnay has recently been put into stock and this has just made the Wine Enthusiast Top 100 list for this year with a score of 97/100.

The winemaker at Shafer, in the heart of the Stags Leap AVA of Napa Valley has this to say: “The 2022 Red Shoulder Ranch is a refreshing, vibrant Chardonnay characterised by its lush, glass-filling aromas of white flowers, lemon zest, and exotic fruit. On the palate it offers a graceful balance of energy and richness, with flavours of white melon, apricot, ripe pineapple, flint, honey, and Crème Brûlée. With its pure, Chablis-like acidity this vintage offers effortless structure and elegant balance with a long, delightful finish”. $78.00. Stock #6340.

While at Shafer, for such a birthday I may open our last bottle of 2008 Shafer Relentless, and this vintage took overall honours in 2012 when the Wine Spectator placed it first overall on their annual list of our world’s top 100 wines. It should be wonderful at this age. The current stocks available are the 2017 Shafer “Relentless” and 2018.

“Tasting Panel” scored the 2017 98/100 and opined: “We taste this proprietary blend of Syrah (86%) and Petite Sirah (14%) almost every vintage, and this time we admired the elevated elegance of its structure, with silkier tannins than we recall in former bottlings. Grown on a small ridgetop just south of the Stags Leap District, the grapes experienced a lengthy hang time, and the result is stunning: chocolate, black plum, slate, black olive, and leather reveal themselves in the opaque, carmine black–hued liquid, which aged 30 months in 100 per cent new French oak”. $120.00. Stock #6820.

At 97/100 from James Suckling, the 2018 Relentless is certainly consistent and he shares this: “A young wine with superb depth and polish that shows great depth and brightness. Full and focused with blue fruit and long, fine tannins that are compact and energetic. Slate. Graphite. Sophisticated and curated. So beautiful to try now but be patient”. It would not offend me if this was served with very flavourful roast turkey, but I suspect it will be beef. $120.00. Stock #6820.

While at Shafer, I think that I will walk down their driveway and up the one of their next-door neighbours so I can tell you about their 2018 Stags’ Leap Winery “Investor” that could certainly be on anyone’s list if they are considering beef for dinner. I have just seen that the 2020 vintage of this wine scores 97 points and makes the Wine Enthusiast Top 100 this month.

Natalie MacLean and James Suckling both gave our 2018 95/100 and she wrote, in 2021: “The Investor 2018 is a full-bodied and lush red blend of Merlot, Petit Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. Rich with black cherry, plum, bay leaf, sweet, dried tobacco, cedar brush spice, cocoa, vanilla balanced with food-friendly acidity. Tannins are structured and pleasantly chewy. Good now, better in 2022. Drink or hold. Food pairings: prime rib roast, veal tenderloin, roast chicken”. $69.00. Stock #6344.

If you are of a mind to only serve wines from the United States on Thanksgiving then let’s stay right here and discuss 2021 Stags’ Leap Winery Napa Valley Chardonnay that is bright and lively with fresh notes of lemon verbena, orange blossom, Golden Delicious apple, and Asian pear, with Tarte Tatin and brioche toast. Mouthwatering and crisp, the palate is focused with a lean backbone of acidity balanced by layers of honeysuckle, hazelnut, and white peach, all supported by a round, creamy mouthfeel. The long, persistent finish offers a slight flintiness that is inviting and intriguing, encouraging sip after sip. Elegant and graceful, it’s an exemplary Chardonnay sure to please many a discriminating palate. $49.95. Stock #6340.

A wine that I have been curious to try is the 2018 Penfolds Bin 704 “Wines of the World” Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. I see that Wines & Spirits rates it 95/100 and writes: “Having worked for decades with fruit from their Camatta Hills estate vineyard in Creston, east of Paso Robles, the Penfolds team more recently began to tap into the Napa Valley vineyard assets of Treasury Wine Estates, their parent company. Working with small blocks of fruit from some of Treasury’s top sites, adding some purchased from growers, Andrew Baldwin made this cabernet using the Penfolds winemaking protocols. It’s clean and friendly, the richness of its oak emboldening the red currant brightness of flavour. It may not taste like a Penfolds wine—being that it grows in Napa Valley rather than South Australia—but it feels like a Penfolds wine in its fine textural integration, a cabernet of silken elegance. There’s a hint of orange zest to the acidity, the finish ready to refresh mousse truffée or a wintry braise of duck legs in red wine and prunes”. $94.00. Stock #7333.

This column is a paid-for advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. and Discovery Wines & Spirits written by Michael Robinson.  He can be contacted at mrobinson@bll.bm.  Burrows Lightbourn stores are located in Hamilton (Front Street East. 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). Discovery Wines & Spirits stores are located in Hamilton (Corner of Queen & Reid Street, 232-0090) and Pembroke (Bakery Lane, 296-9463). A selection of its wines, beers and spirits are available online at discoverywines.bm

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Published November 17, 2023 at 7:59 am (Updated November 17, 2023 at 7:22 am)

Special occasions, special wine

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