Attended a fabulous wine tasting of Napa Valley’s Crocker & Starr followed by lunch at the AOC Wine Bar and Restaurant in Beverly Hills last week. We got to meet and interview the winemaker and winery manager, Pam Starr, while sipping on their soon to-be-released Sauvignon Blanc, several Cabernet Francs and flagship Cabernet Sauvignon.
“It’s been my passion to collect wines” Starr began, “(and to) translate grapes to wine.” We got the “collect” part as we were lucky to sample a 2004 Cabernet Franc that would become a favorite in the tasting.
The “vineyard experience” is an important part of the process for Starr and her winery guests. She asks visitors to “touch the vines and taste the wines.” Even the tasting table in the winery is made from a tree that fell in the vineyard – which also highlights one of Starr’s concerns about future winemaking: the long drought.
Though this year will be Crocker & Starr’s 20th harvest in St. Helena, the wines were new to me. And there wasn’t a wine in the bunch that scored less than 90 Eve pts.
Tasting – Aromas and Flavors separate by ;
2015 Sauvignon Blanc (9/15/16 release date)
100% Sauvignon Blanc
Crisp apple, lemon essential oil, fresh pear, pebbles drawn from a creek; lime, vanilla, viscous mouthfeel, bright and fresh with a long finish. 90 Eve pts.
2004 Cabernet Franc
95% Estate Cabernet Franc, 5% old vine Merlot
Blueberry, blackberry, some welcome game, green peppercorn, velvety and deep; big, bold dark fruit, velvety tannins through to the finish. My favorite wine in the tasting, and a sign of how well these wines will age. 94 Eve pts.
2011 Cabernet Franc
97.5% Cabernet Franc, 2.5% Malbec
Lots of black fruit, a little bit vegetal – but welcoming, very smooth; crushed blackberry, robust, tobacco, and a lingering finish. 91 Eve pts.
2013 Cabernet Franc
100% Cabernet Franc
Chocolate covered black cherry, bacon bits, very layered, elegant; ripe and lush blue to black fruit, cigar, black pepper, B I G. 93 Eve pts.
2013 “The Casali” Malbec blend, 6th edition
69% Malbec, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc
Black licorice, wet bark, hint of anise, dusty, dark berry fruit; lush, juicy, dusty, dried fruit, big tannins but well balanced for such a big wine. Would love to try the past 5 editions of this annual release. 92 Eve pts.
2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
100% Crocker Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
Plump raisins, black pepper, some mint, incense, bowl of black fruit; rich, peppery yet elegant, deep dark fruit. 90 Eve pts.
We all agreed having lunch after evaluating the wines was a great idea. And, as A.O.C. is another famous Chef Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne collaboration, it turned out to be a very good idea indeed. Every dish was remarkable, and though you didn’t hear it from me, could stand alone without wine.
You can see the complete menu with descriptions of each dish amongst my photos of the event here. I particularly enjoyed the bacon-wrapped dates with all of the red wines, the roasted vegetables in the “Farmer’s Plate”, the boneless Spanish fried chicken and dipping sauce, the albacore salad with the Sauvignon Blanc, and they killed me with the dessert platter: honeycomb dipped in dark chocolate and s’mores…among many other tantalizing treats!
More photos: https://www.facebook.com/eve.bushman/posts/10208620487737055?pnref=story
About Crocker & Starr
The Crocker & Starr name reflects the unique partnership between Charlie Crocker (of San Francisco’s historic founding Crocker family) and Pam Starr (whose winemaking talents put Spottswoode on the map), and the key components that each one brings to the table to achieve great wine: great grapes and great talent. In 1997, Charlie Crocker and Pam Starr established Crocker & Starr with a common goal of resurrecting the historic Crocker Vineyard Estate and creating world-class wines from its extraordinary terroir.
Approaching their 20th harvest together, Charlie (the grapes) and Pam (the talent) are equal partners and co-owners of Crocker & Starr. The winery has been blessed with a strong heritage of credibility that represents a winemaking history of excellence from vine to bottle.
About AOC Wine Bar
Chef Suzanne Goin and her business partner Caroline Styne set the bar for showcasing both the seasonal market in a small plate format and their stunning wine-by- the glass program – all set in a convivial ambiance that nurtures the Los Angeles social and cultural scene.
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com