Be a winery that is around for long enough and you will see the same effect as the Rolling Stones. Just as every one of their tours is guaranteed to attract a base number of diehard fans at concerts so every vintage of the winery is guaranteed a base number of bottle purchases. There are few Napa Valley wineries with a more fervent following that Silver Oak Cellars. Since its founding in 1972 it has established itself as one of the paradigmatic Napa Cabernet Sauvignon producers adored by consumers who love its style of soft tannins combined with complex flavors that mature early (by Cabernet standards) in about 6 years. A lot of Silver Oak Cabernet is drunk with steak in the classic “Steak and Cabernet” combination. Little wonder that Dallas is a major market given the popularity of steak and little wonder that it would be hard to find a tier-one steak house that did not have a vintage in its cellar.
It was fitting that Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House was the scene last week of a tasting of current and older vintages of the wines over executive chef David Holben’s meaty menu. Given Silver Oak’s philosophical commitment to make only Cabernet Sauvignon, supporting wines came from the parent company’s Twomey Cellars label and business partners from outside.
We started with food you stand up to eat called “Little Bites” (the phrase hors d’oeuvres having been found to contain salmonella).
Seared Foie Gras and Texas Peaches
Smoked Salmon Roulade with Mascarpone
Dried Apricots and Toasted Pistachios
Tuna Tartar with Lime Oil and Chili
Crowd pleasers for sure. Matched with them was 2008 Twomey Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley. This is only the third vintage of this wine. It is an unmistakably New World/warm climate interpretation of the malleable Sauvignon Blanc grape.
The next course was Mustard Scented Wild Caught Salmon, with Rhubarb-Strawberry Chutney and Sweet Corn Shoots. Paired with this was 2008 Twomey Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. Pairing Salmon with Pinot Noir is controversial. There are still plenty of skeptics (count me among them). But this one worked as the Pinot Noir was not too fruity.
Next was Crispy Duck Confit with Parma Ham, English Pea Risotto, Tomato-Caramelized Garlic Broth. It was accompanied by the 2000 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley. This was the first of the ‘Big Dogs’. It was absolutely ready to drink. All the components of this wine were fully resolved and while this meant a soft, silky Cabernet with lots of dark fruit (especially blackcurrants) it retained a tannic backbone that gave it sufficient structure to stand up to the strong flavors in David Holben’s dish.
The pièce de résistance on both the food and wine levels came with the Antelope Wellington with Wild Mushrooms, Dark Chocolate-Sour Cherry Demi accompanied by the 2005 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley and the 2005 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. The latter is the winery’s flagship wine. The Napa tasted of coffee, chocolate and dark fruit. The tannins were present but soft, and the finish seemed to last forever. Certainly the best finish of the evening. The Alexander Valley was more loosely structured and even felt like a wine that was drying out. A less exotic wine than the Napa. I have made Beef Wellington so I have a sense of how much work went into the Antelope Wellington. It was ethereal. The wild mushrooms (chicken of the wood and morels) added an additional flavor component to the dish. With the work involved, I don’t know if this dish is on the regular menu but ask for it and maybe they will put it on.
Savory dishes and Silver oak wines finished, we turned to dessert. Poached Pear Boracho Tartlet, with Sea-Salt-Caramel Nougat Ice Cream served with Meyer Family California Port. Not a bad way to end the evening at all!