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Summer 2011 Host's Guide: Barbecue Bonanza: Wine

Brett Anderson

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Spring Mountain Vineyard 2009 Sauvignon Blanc
The 845-acre estate on Napa Valley’s Spring Mountain is home to three historic 19th-century wineries: La Perla, established by Charles Lemme in 1873; Chateau Chevalier, founded by Fortune Chevalier, a Frenchman who had come to California during the Gold Rush; and Miravalle, the home of Tiburcio Parrott, a friend of the Beringer brothers. In 1974, this last property became Spring Mountain Vineyard, whose present owner combined all three estates in the early 1990s. The 2009 Sauvignon Blanc shows aromas of citrus blossom, jasmine, and fresh bay leaf, while flavors of grapefruit, peach, and apricot lead to a long, crisp mineral finish that marries beautifully with the pickled shrimp ceviche and pimento cheese croquette appetizers. ($40)

Sequoia Grove 2007 Cambium
The farm that former owner Jim Allen transformed into Sequoia Grove Vineyards has stood for well over a century at the center of Napa Valley’s now-famous Rutherford Bench. The winery’s Rutherford Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon has long been a favorite among lovers of class Napa Valley red wine, but this year Michael Trujillo, president and director of winemaking, introduces what he describes as his "first work of art." Cambium is a small-production, Bordeaux-style blend made from the best blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot in Sequoia Grove’s finest vineyards. This massive yet elegant red offers aromas of violets, peonies, cherry, vanilla bean, and mocha, as well as flavors of cherry, red currant, white pepper, and cinnamon. Pair this with the chile-coffee-cured beef short ribs. ($100)

Robert Mondavi 2009 To Kalon Fumé Blanc Reserve
One of Robert Mondavi’s innumerable contributions to winemaking in Napa Valley was the introduction of Fumé Blanc, a white wine made from Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon fermented in oak barrels. This special version of that signature wine is produced from grapes grown in the winery’s flagship To Kalon Vineyard, where some vines are 50 years old. The 2009 vintage displays heady scents of hibiscus and lemon-thyme, followed by intense flavors of citrus, white peach, and gingerbread. The wine’s spicy acidity makes a savory accompaniment to the grilled snapper. ($40)

Hundred Acre 2007 Ancient Way Summer’s Block Barossa Valley Shiraz
With the assistance of vineyard manager Jim Barbour and winemaking consultant Philippe Melka, investment banker Jayson Woodbridge introduced his first wine in 2000, a Cabernet Sauvignon under the Hundred Acre label in Napa Valley. A lover of Australian Shiraz, he later decided to produce his own version. The 2007 Ancient Way is robust yet elegant with flavors of wild berry and licorice. Try this intense red with the smoked-duck tamales. ($250)

Dolce 2006
In 1979, when the late Gil Nickel began refurbishing an 1885 ghost winery in Oakville, Calif., he uncovered the property’s original motto, "Dolce far niente," Italian for "It’s sweet to do nothing." He called his new concern Far Niente and turned it into an esteemed producer of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Later, when naming his first dessert wine—inspired by the great wines of Sauternes—Nickel went back to the motto. Dolce is a magnificently rich, densely textured celebration of late-harvest Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. Its nectarlike apricot and citrus-zest flavors make it a perfect match for the mescal and Key lime meringue pie. ($85)