In this profession, I meet many suppliers as they travel around the country, and it is particularly nice to see them again (provided I found them scintillating on the first go round). I saw one of my favorite people again a few weeks ago--Mia Klein of Selene Wines. Her wines could be lame and I would still look forward to seeing her, because she is candid in her assessment of wine (her own wines included), generous with her time, and a very thoughtful force in California winemaking (she is the wisely-chosen consulting winemaker at many estates in Napa). As it is, her wines are exceptionally beautiful, individualistic, and user-friendly.
Mia was in town for a winemaker dinner at one of Ohio's coolest (and best) restaurants, The Winds Cafe (thirty years ago, this restaurant was twenty years ahead of its time, so far in the vanguard of the locavore movement that not only was "local" not yet trendy, it was alternative, which--at the dawn of the Reagan Era--was not a compliment; they've been making extraordinary food since the late Seventies, and if you haven't been you should go). I didn't make it to the dinner, tragically, but I did have the wines.
And On to The Wines
Mia presented four current releases, made of varieties one expects from Napa Valley, and here is how I found them, for what it's worth:
Selene 2008 Sauvignon Blanc Hyde Vineyard
Broad and elegant aroma, more perfumed than SB normally is--musqué clone? (I neglected to ask this...)--fluid and fresh with excellent fruit and wonderful body. Not straight-up mouth-searing, but plenty of acid, mitigated by its corpulence, as though it was aged on lees, which I don't doubt that it was. I'd love to have some shellfish right now!
Selene 2007 Merlot Frediani Vineyard
A beefy, serious Merlot. Great flesh and bit of youthful tannin--it has a broad, fairly bright, sweet fruit that is quickly subsumed by the structural elements, only to reemerge as the perception of the acids fade. This wine is in a very cool state presently, and while it could use some time, it is really marvelous. This is a pretty flexible wine food-wise, too...anything with strong proteins--beef, blue cheeses in particular.
Selene 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
This one is five years in, a beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon, but not "complete" in the stereotypical way of California...thank goodness! It has all the components you'd expect from fine wine, along with a good lance of tannin...like a tent post, but it's so full of fruit that it screams California. With five minutes of non-stop swirling, the tannin yields some, fruit is even bolder--stash this one away for another five years, or have it with dinner--it'd be excellent with leg of lamb. CS from Stagecoach Vineyard is 90% of the blend, and CF from Frediani Vineyard is the balance.
Selene 2004 Chesler Napa Valley
Beautiful--aromatic and long, a great sense of allure. Aroma of lilacs, but it's like you're on the other side of a hill from them. This is so graceful--soft and curvy, feminine and suggestive--hard to beat good Cabernet Franc for that, I guess, but this character seems more amplified than I recall from the '03. The Franc and Merlot were co-fermented (they rarely ripen at the same time, so this is usually impossible), and MK thinks this is what made it so wonderously smooth. Still, it's got plenty of tannin. I think she said 60% Franc, and roughly equal parts of Sauvignon and Merlot (I forgot to write what and which, but it doesn't really matter). It'd be nice to have a roast duck with this one.
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