Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hess Collection Mount Veeder 19 Block Cuvée 2007

I wanted a Tempranillo at Cafe 322, the one on the wine list.  We had made our way to Sierra Madre, practically on the other end of the earth on a Friday night, after all.  I thought I should have a right to expect that the one wine on the rather extensive list that I wanted could be mine.  It could not.

We had come, Denise and I and Rob and Tricia, to see and hear the wonderful Jack Sheldon and his quartet.  The drive was easier than expected from Mid-Wilshire but still a bit of a pain for anyone who has had the glow rubbed off of driving in Southern California.  Our arrival at the Cafe had come not a moment too soon, and when I plopped myself down in a ringside seat immediately next to the stage, I went right for the wine list and my eyes went right for a Tempranillo.

The waitress explained that it was no longer available.  She did, however, offer a substitute.  It must have been a wine they were trying to move a lot of, because I thought it was rather strange for her to offer me a Napa Valley blend of Bordeaux and Rhone grapes in place of the Tempranillo.

At any rate, not wishing to interrupt Sheldon's performance any more than I already had, I accepted a glass of Hess Collection Mount Veeder 19 Block Cuvée.

It cost a mere $10 per glass, and offered up the expected aromas of rich black cherry, cedar and vanilla.  The effect of the wood was obvious in both the nose and the palate.  A great taste full of spice and cherry cola, with notes of tobacco and tar and something almost sweet, was more than adequate for my enjoyment.

The blend is 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Malbec, 4% Syrah, 4% Merlot, and 1% Petit Verdot.  Alcohol content is a hefty 14.6% abv.  This wine spent 16 months in French Oak, half of which was new.  The Hess Veeder Summit Vineyard, from which these grapes came, has altitudes ranging from 1,300 to 2,000 feet above sea level.

By the way, Sheldon's quartet kicked ass.  He alternated blowing that trumpet and taking it easy while his band took solos.  Great solos.