As we sat down to dinner Sunday night to celebrate our oldest son’s birthday, we needed a special wine. We missed his 21st birthday, because he had moved out at 18 after some growing pains and parental clashes that sent him back to Ohio to stay with his mother, then south to Florida at 21 to live for a while with a cousin. This year he turned 24.
1991, the same year Alex, Joe’s oldest, was born, was a pivotal vintage for Jayson Pahlmeyer. It was his sold out 1991 Napa Valley Chardonnay that figured front and center in the plot of “Disclosure,” a Hollywood movie about sexual harassment starring Michael Douglas, as the harassed and Demi Moore as his harasser. It was from this movie that I, and many learned, that sexual harassment is not about sex. “Sexual harrassment is about power,” says Michael Douglas’ character Tom Sanders. “When did I have the power?”
The case against her turned on how Ms. Moore’s character Meredith Johnson came to acquire such a hard-to-find bottle of wine. The story goes that the producers for Disclosure tasted Pahlmeyer’s 1991 Chardonnay at Spago Beverly Hills and fell in love with the wine, but given only 40 cases of that vintage were made, Pahlmeyer was not too keen on relinquishing two cases for a film. In the end, Jayson agreed, and the rest, as they say, is history.
But Sunday was all about Alex. He moved back to Texas last year, and for this birthday Joe was preparing his favorite steak with twice-baked potatoes. The wine would need to stand up to a bone-in rib-eye with a Merlot-reduction sauce, so we chose the Pahlmeyer 2012 Napa Valley Merlot. Dark and luscious indigo at its core with a garnet rim, aromas of deep dark cherries, lavender and violets, a touch of espresso and a hint of vanilla combine with ripe fig and red plum for a sensuous nose. Layers of dark blue fruit, raspberry, dark chocolate dust and espresso flavors reward your taste buds and follow with a complex, earthy but velvety finish.
The cuvee is 91% Merlot, 7% Petite Verdot and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Pahlmeyer Waters Ranch, Las Amigas and Stagecoach Vineyards in Napa Valley. The Waters Ranch hillside vineyard sits in the clouds, perched 2,100 feet above Napa Valley in the eastern ridges of Atlas Peak.
When we choose a steak wine, we often look for a Cabernet Sauvignon. But don’t llimit yourself! This month we’re celebrating the resurgence of finesse and elegance that is Merlot. The second-leading grape variety planted in California, there are over 600,000 acres of Merlot planted worldwide. One of the primary grapes used in Bordeaux blends from that region in France, the Pahlmeyer Merlot Napa Valley is aged in 75% new, super fine-grained, medium-plus and heavy toasted French oak Bordeaux export barrels for 18 months. The wine was bottled unfined and minimally filtered.
Alcohol by volume is 15.2% Winemaker notes from Kale Anderson suggest the wine will be best from 2017 through 2025, approaching a plateau in 2030. We think he’s being modest: it could continue to evolve for years after with proper cellaring. By all means you can also enjoy it now by letting it breathe an hour or so before tasting — less if you simply have no patience at all. We rarely do. Suggested Retail Price: $85
For more information, or to purchase this or other Pahlmeyer wines, visit their website at www.pahlmeyer.com
This month we will be celebrating Merlot. Continue to check back for other great Merlot suggestions, or look for our recommendations on twitter (@AnotherWineBlog or @WineWonkette), Facebook (@AnotherWineBlog) and instagram (@WineWonkette) with the hashtag #MerlotMe.