2013 Robert Mondavi Winery Private Selection Meritage

Okay, this one is much less about the 2013 Robert Mondavi Winery Private Selection Meritage. It pours blackish-purple into your glass (or your cup, as the case may be this evening) and smells of plum and black cherry. Normally I’d pair up this red blend with grilled steak and wax on about the pepper undertone of the Mondavi with the meat…but tonight I’m in a different sort of venue.

2013 Robert Mondavi Winery Private Selection Meritage

2013 Robert Mondavi Winery Private Selection Meritage, Central Coast, California, USA.

Instead, I’ve paired up the 2013 Robert Mondavi Winery Private Selection Meritage with a deck of cards; it’s my nourishment while playing for the first time in a Texas Hold ‘Em tournament with some good friends. Our entry fees are going to the local little league team, raising funds for their annual trip to Cooperstown. With Lady Luck largely avoiding my #3 position at Table #3, I have ample time to sip my Meritage and fold low off-suit cards. Face cards and pairs are avoiding me like the plague, and “6s” are burning hot on the table.

That being said, I’ll tell you the 2013 overpowers a handful of pretzels and slices of turkey party sub. It’s dark fruit goodness, and pouring as fast as my chips disappear. Loving the experience of both…

2012 Vintner’s Collection Meritage, Sterling Vineyards; 2009 Amantis Montecucco Sangiovese

Christmas Day and plenty of great vino to be enjoyed. First on the docket? The 2012 Sterling Meritage, a big red from the Central Coast of California. Earlier this year I had my first Sterling, and both receive favorable marks for their depth and taste.

2012 Vintner's Collection Meritage, Sterling Vineyards, Central Coast

2012 Vintner’s Collection Meritage, Sterling Vineyards, Central Coast, California, USA.

This Meritage is your kitchen sink of reds–it packs in Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot, and you end up with several layers in tasting. Just check out the adjacent photo. You have the fruits (black cherry for sure), a hint of vanilla, and also some of the spice that I think comes through in the Verdot. This bottle we sampled, collectively, with hors d’oeuvres that included an amazing, thick pepperoni, olives, various crackers, and olive tapanade. Maybe some salted almonds too? Special thanks to my cousin and his bride, if you’re reading along, for this fun treat.

The main event of our dinner? A roast to die for. It had a fantastic bark to it (I know this isn’t a food blog but the beef was photo-worthy in and of itself) and the seasonings (salt, dill seed, coriander, garlic, etc.) were perfect. Yes, we had all the usual fixings with the entre, but the beef was cooked just right and carried a tremendous amount of flavor–upon request the butcher had removed the rib bones but then retied them to the meat so as to infuse them into the process. I may err in a detail or two here; again this is more about the wine but just wanted to share details on the accompanying food.

There was a hearty Bordeaux breathing in a decanter all evening, and we opened a 2009 Amantis Montecucco Sangiovese as well. This Italian red originates from the region between Montalcino and coast of Tuscany–one my reference says “succeeds at a hybrid of Brunell and Supertuscan that demonstrates a natural appropriation of the latter two regions’ superlative characters.” Some five-dollar words to say it’s a great, hearty wine with some depth to it.

2009 Amantis Montecucco Sangiovese, Italy.

2009 Amantis Montecucco Sangiovese, Italy.

I taste black cherry here too in the Sangiovese, and rich spices that went just great with the pepper-encrusted beef. Juicy, and delicious. This 2009 could have been tart and tannic, but it wasn’t. The wine was much softer than I’d pictured, and that’s a good thing. We had this first bottle of the 2009 Amantis Montecucco Sangiovese, and a second one immediately on its heels. A third bottle, had one been along for the festivities, would have followed as well.

I’m interested in sampling again on a day where my palate hasn’t been exposed too to Bordeaux or a California red just in case I’m mixing characteristics among the reds. A fun day, though, and one embellished by good wine.

2012 Sterling Vintner’s Collection Cabernet Sauvignon

House guests always mean good things for a wine blog, as there’s nothing like splitting a fun bottle with friends and family. So here we are, warm May evening, sharing the 2012 Sterling Vintner’s Collection and some great conversation—my wife, my oldest friend in the world (we’ve been childhood friends, high school classmates and teammates, and college roommates) for more than three decades, and me.

2012 Sterling Vintner's Collection Cabernet Sauvignon, Central Coast, California, USA.

2012 Sterling Vintner’s Collection Cabernet Sauvignon, Central Coast, California, USA.

I’ve never had the Sterling before, but when we finished a couple Sam Adams (and yes a Miller Lite too, those of you who know) and were turning our thoughts to dinner, it seemed like a great pick to go alongside some killer pork chops. The meat had been marinating in the fridge all afternoon in a spicy mustard sauce that worked its way into the pork while it sizzled up on the grill. A salad of mixed greens, fresh mushrooms, and crushed pepper, seasoned with a light vinaigrette, provided an enjoyable cool to the hot main course. On another such occasion I might have gone with a Zinfandel for this meal but was pleased overall by the Cabernet.

It has deep flavors, blackberry and cherry in particular, that gives sustenance and substance to this wine. Really liked those flavors, and am pleased to share with you too that the Sterling works in some quiet vanilla and some enjoyable spice scents. Great value. This 2012 has a lot of the characteristics that you’ll see me remark about in other good Cabs, and I’d be more than willing to bring it back to our table again soon.

We’ll be looking forward to another visit soon, one where we can enjoy time laughing, drinking delicious adult beverages, and LIG moments together. Thanks to the Sterling for being a good part of this one.