"True wine enthusiasts don’t collect wines.
They collect memories of wines shared with friends and family."

-Dario Zucconi

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Rutherford Hill Cabernet: A Surprising and Enjoyable Start to the New Year

Sometimes, when I go to the grocery store or to a wine shop, I just walk up and down the wine isle, browse the wine selections, and see what looks interesting to me.  Every once in while, I find a bottle of wine with a label that looks very inviting.  Then, when I read the Winemaker's description, I think to myself: "I should try this wine."  Well, that's what happened this past week.  I was doing some grocery shopping at Safeway.  I decided to browse the wine section, not looking at any wine in particular.  Then, I came across a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon by Rutherford Hill (Napa, CA 2002).  What is interesting about this discovery, besides the fact that it is a 2002 vintage, is that the bottle of wine was in the Zinfandel section (totally out of place).  The label was really eye-catching. Then, I read the description, which I found very humorous and just fun.  So, I decided to try it out.  I tried to find the price label for the wine, but could not find it.  A manager helped me look, but could not find it either.  He rang it up at the Register, and it came up $26.  I told him that, although I want to try the wine, I did not wanted to pay $26 for the bottle.  Besides, I told him, we could not find the price label.  So, how did I know that it was not on sale.  I reminded him that Safeway has this advertisement that states most of their wines priced at $20 or more are automatically 30% off.  After thinking about my "reasoning" for a while, he said he would give me 30% off.  Then, I told him "this is your last bottle, as far as we can tell.  What if I don't like it?"  He said: "okay, I'll take $2 more off, plus I can get the 10% off for buying 6 bottles of wine/spirits (mix and match)."  So, I ended up getting the wine for about $16.  Plus, the manager challenged me a bit. He said, if I did not like it, I could return it for a full refund.

When I got home, I looked up the wine online, and found out that the retail price is about $36.  Patrick and I tried it on New Year's.  It was amazing.  This Cabernet is a full-bodied Cabernet, with beautiful garnet red color.  It explodes with aromas of fresh ripened berries and black cherries.  When you taste the wine, it resonates flavors of juicy fruits (such as juicy ripe blackberries), vanilla, fresh roasted espresso, chocolate, nutmeg and cinnamon.  It has smooth and silky tannins, with a lingering finish on the palate.  This Cabernet was a great way to ring in the New Year! 

The Winemaker's Tasting Notes read:

Rutherford Hill produces a rich and well-balanced example of what Napa Valley Cabernet can be at its best.  Ripe, sleek and elegant with intense aromas of berry, cedar, ripe black cherry and cassis flavors.  Ample acid and soft broad tannins provide both fullness of mouth and longevity. 
One wine merchant describes this Cabernet this way:
This superb wine is the full expression of Napa's finest vineyards. This is achieved by allowing the grapes to reach even and full ripeness. This added "hang time" enabled this wine to become a classic Napa Valley Cabernet. This wine has a bright concentrated blackberry and cassis fruit core enveloped in aromas and flavors of dark chocolate, vanilla, French roast coffee, and cedar that fills the palate with both flavor and texture. The fruit flavors linger after you swallow and slowly melts into the elegant layers of flavor provided by the finest French Oak barrels. The abundant mature tannins are rich, making this wine enjoyable now, and balanced with the fruit insuring this wine will drink well for over a decade. Enjoy. 
[http://www.worldsgreatestwines.com/index.cfm?method=storeproducts.showDrilldown&productid=59e857a2-1b78-7bfc-760f-51cf0d93058b&ProductCategoryID=82b5e78e-f0aa-c8a2-e44b-485b43d5a7c7&OrderBy=PXPC.DisplayOrder+Asc,+P.Price1&B=10017818&C=97811408&A=f0304fb984f743558bb77844482942485c78&CFID=10017818&CFTOKEN=97811408&jsessionid=f030f7f03253e5649ef41d1a22163a78652d ]

We had this wine with a simple Pesto Tortelloni dish that I made with mild Italian sausage and a vodka sauce.  The Tortelloni is from Trader Joe's (you can find it in the fresh pasta/cheese section).  So is the vodka sauce (which you can find in the dry pasta/sauce section).  After a hectic schedule leading up to Christmas, and traveling to Disneyland with the kids after Christmas, by the time New Year's came around, we just wanted to make dinner easy and simple, but delicious.  The pesto filling in the Tortelloni is superb - full of flavor.  And, paired with the vodka sauce and the Italian sausage, that was a very hearty and comforting meal. 

Cooking Instructions
To make the sauce, I browned 1 package of sausage (about 4) in a sautee pan, with about 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil (I seasoned it in the pan with 1/2 teaspoon of salt, some fresh ground black pepper, and about 1 teaspoon of Italian Seasoning).  Then, I drained it on a paper towel, and discarded the grease from the sausage.  Then, I sauteed 1/2 red onions and 1 clove of garlic with about 1 Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil (I also seasoned it with some salt and pepper).  Then, I added the vodka sauce, stirred it while it heats through.  Then, I added the sausage back into the pan, and simmered the sauce for about 5 minutes.

In the meantime, I cooked the Tortelloni according to the package instruction (it takes about 5 minutes once your water is boiled).  When the sauce was heated through, and the seasoning was right, I stirred in the Tortelloni directly into the sautee pan.  I grated some Parmasan cheese in the pan.  Then, I served it with a side green salad. 

Here are pictures of the sauce and the Tortelloni (in case you want to try them):

I hope you had a wonderful New Year's celebration with your family.  And, I hope the weeks ahead are calmer and life gets back to normal for you after the holidays, which can be hectic at times.  Next time you are at the grocery store, just take a few minutes to (leisurely) browse the wines.  Who knows? You may discover something amazing.  Remember: To know wine is to discover what tastes good to you.  So, don't be afraid to try new wines.

Until next time . . . Cheers!


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