Birthday Dinner and Wine!

Birthdays are a very good reason to celebrate with good food and wine. Our friend Dave thoughtfully provided us with such an opportunity this week. The fact that he is also a lover of good wine made the celebration even better.

During our usual dinner with Dave the prior week our conversation came around to Cabernet Franc. I reminisced about my first experience tasting this varietal which is among my very favorites. Dave was responsible for my introduction to Cabernet Franc via the 2002 William Harrison Estate Bottled Cabernet Franc. We reminisced about the very low price back then, in the $20s, the complex fruit and spice flavors with amazing tannins. We drank it often for several vintages. I remember it being an excellent food wine.

So, I digressed just a bit, but the William Harrison theme continues to Dave’s birthday dinner. As is the custom, Dave brings a wine every other time he comes to dinner at our house. Even when we are celebrating his birthday — what a guy! We had a bottle at the ready, but Dave brought a 2003 William Harrison Cabernet Sauvignon recently unearthed from his wine cellar. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to taste this wine.

2003 William Harrison Cabernet Sauvignon ImageThe color of the wine was definitely garnet, but still with a bit of youthful ruby. The nose was complex with black cherry and cocoa. It tasted of mature fruit with flavors of leather and tobacco developing. Well integrated significant chalky tannins were present – characterized as “Rutherford dust” by some. The finish was long with both flavor and tannins. It had all of the flavors I love in older wines.

The 2003 Napa Valley vintage was described by Wine Spectator as austere with uneven ripeness and very tannic. As is often the case though, skilled winemakers produce exceptional wines in difficult years. This wine tastes great now and will be good for a few more.

This Cabernet paired well with our dinner. I prepared Roasted Pork, Paul Prudhomme’s recipe, steamed broccoli and ruby yams whipped with cream and butter. For dessert we had a very chocolaty chocolate mousse.

This pork recipe from Chef Paul Prudhomme is one of my favorites. The combination of seasonings (seven) and diced vegetables produces complex, spicy flavors. I usually decrease the amount of black pepper and cayenne pepper by one-half because the recipe is so spicy. This vegetable mixture can be used for a pork loin roast as in this recipe or for pork tenderloins, which is what I used. When I am short on time, I use the tenderloins and sear them quickly before roasting them. And the leftovers make excellent sandwiches!

The elegant flavors of the William Harrison Cabernet were not overwhelmed a bit by the spiciness of the our meal. It paired very well with the dinner. In fact, we all took our time sipping and savoring the flavors of this very special wine.

So, enjoying this wonderful Cabernet Sauvignon makes me want to plan a trip to William Harrison in the very near future. I want to taste the current release Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Time to add new wine memories!

Thanks Dave and Happy Birthday!

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