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C alvert’s held another memorable wine dinner this week, and this time it featured wines priced at $20 or less. Many of the wines tasted they could have sold for $40-50, and as always, the food was incredible.
The wines were from Sean Minor Family of Wines, a winery without a vineyard, which helps keep costs down. Larry Soble, Eastern Sales Manager for the winery, presented the wines to an appreciative sold-out crowd. He said Minor buys grapes from 30 different growers who they trust.
Clint and Trish Bryant
Clint and Trish Bryant

Joe and Cissy Bowden
Joe and Cissy Bowden

The winery produces about 100,000 cases a year. Soble said they tend to focus on restaurants, so you are more likely to see their wine in a restaurant instead of a wine shop.
The winery’s first label was 4 Bears, named for Sean and Nicole’s four children: Nick, Elle, Jack and Charlie. They also produce wine under the Sean Minor label and they produce Oregon Pinot Noir under the Point North label. The newest label, producing Zinfandel is H. Mynors, named for Sean’s 9th great grandfather who encouraged the family to move to America in the 1600s,
Calvert’s diners were able to sample wine from all four labels.
The evening started with hors d’oeuvres paired with Duc De Valmer, a sparkling brut from France. It was the only wine not made by Minor. Priced at $8.99, it had great body and balance. It was a great way to start the fun.
The second appetizer wine was Sean Minor Four Bears Sauvignon Blanc ($11.99). It was dry, crisp and clean. The wine also was smooth and easy-drinking. It’s a nice alternative to New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. You could tell the wine did not spend any time in oak.
Crab bisque with Chardonnay.
Crab bisque with Chardonnay.

First Course
Sean Minor Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2014 ($19.99)
Creamy Crab Bisque
Russian River and Carneros, two cool-climate regions, each provided half of the fruit for this wine. It was restrained, approachable and elegant, a perfect match for the rich, creamy soup. During fermentation 80% was in oak while 20% was in stainless steel. Then the two batches were combined and spent 10 months in French oak. Because 2015 was such a difficult harvest there will be no Sean Minor Chardonnay for that year. We’ll have to wait for the 2016 vintage to be released.
Duck with Pinot Noir.
Duck with Pinot Noir.

Second Course
Point North Pinot Noir 2013, Oregon ($19.99)
Smoked duck with cherries, spinach, duck confit and chocolate
The Pinot Noir had great color and aroma, but seemed a bit thin until it was paired with the duck. The wonderful food seemed to bring out the best in the wine, which was smooth and elegant with the duck.
Lamb with Nicole Marie Red Blend.
Lamb with Nicole Marie Red Blend.

Third Course
Sean Minor Red Blend Nicole Marie 2013, Napa Valley ($19.99)
Apricot herb stuffed lamb with spinach-apple salad
The Bordeaux-style blend is 51% Merlot, 29% Zinfandel, 15% Petite Verdot, 5% Petite Sirah, all from Napa Valley. The blend will change from vintage to vintage, depending on the availability of grapes. Each varietal is vinified separately, spending 16 months in French and American oak, 20% new. After the right blend is found, the wine spends another three months in the bottle before release. This is the way Merlot ought to taste, rich and spicy with dark cherry and plum flavors. It has good backbone and is perfectly balanced. The wine perfectly matched the elegant lamb.
Steak with Napa Valley Cab.
Steak with Napa Valley Cab.

Fourth Course
Sean Minor Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Napa Valley ($19.99)
Sirloin steak with choron sauce and roasted red potatoes with truffle oil
This was a deep and powerful wine for a hearty dish, another great pairing. It has a typical Napa Valley Cab taste profile, full of blackberries and cassis backed by soft tannins and sweet oak. You almost never see a Napa Cab this good anywhere near this price. The grapes come from several Napa sites, including Rutherford, which is famed for “Rutherford dust” that you can taste in elegant Napa wines. Soble described the wine as “dusty, approachable and affordable.”
Fifth Course
H. Mynors Old Vines Cuvee 2013, California ($17,99)
Profiteroles with vanilla cream
Sean Minor doesn’t make any dessert wines so they tried this wonderful old vine Zinfandel. I loved the dessert (I’ve never had a bad dessert at Calvert’s.), and I loved the wine, but I didn’t really care for them together. Sometimes red wine and sweets work together and sometimes they don’t. But the wine was everything you could hope for in an old vine Zin: rich, spicy, full of red fruit and a hint of black pepper. This was the first vintage for this wine, and I’d say it was an unqualified winner.
(Click on a photo to see a larger image.)

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