Last night my dad Jim took me out for a giant treat- Friday Night Uncorked at Quattro Restaurant in the Four Seasons Silicon Valley. He pulled out a bottle of 1985 Chateau Montelena "Estate" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon to share with me. Every Friday night at Quattro, they invite diners to bring their own wine to dinner without a corkage fee, and also offer great discounts on bottles on their extensive list. My dad and I walked over, as it is only a few blocks from my house.
We started the evening off with a “Terroir and Tonic”- a gin and tonic made with the incomparable St. George Terroir Mt. Tam Gin ($30.99 per bottle at K&L) which has exotic, sage like flavors to go with a nice bright hit of juniper. For an amuse bouche they were kind enough to send some “duck bacon” on toast with blue cheese, which my dad commented would have been excellent with a Meunier based Champagne. The gin seemed to work just fine with it!
Our pasta course was their fantastic Creste Di Gallo All'amatriciana, a spicy tomato and meat sauce on pasta shaped like roosters crowns. This worked surprisingly well with the Cabernet, and was a great choice by Emily, one of their top servers. It seemed to bring out the freshness in this 29 year old, and even made it taste a little Italian!
For the main course, I was predictable and took the 16oz. bone in Piedmontese rib-eye steak. This was cooked to a perfect medium rare, and I was proud to get a little bit more than half of it down. The bottle got better and better with air, and by the time the main courses arrived it was singing. This 1985 still has strong, high toned black currant fruit and a very full body. It developed some very nice dark chocolate flavors and had surprisingly vibrant, powerful acidity. Both my dad and I were shocked that a vintage with such a reputation for opulence would have such great acidic backbone- but this was a different era! Back in the good old days, a wine could be rich, but also dry- and they all had a job to do; work with food!
This was a great pairing, and a great meal. Old vintages of Montelena Estate are well worth seeking out! Maybe I will see you down at Quattro on a Friday drinking a great bottle of your own!