Tag: Napa

May The Fourth and Cinco de Mayo

May The Fourth and Cinco de Mayo

When we got married on May 4th twenty years ago we had no idea that our anniversary date would be hijacked by Stars Wars, “May The Fourth Be With You”. Likewise, May 5th was just an ordinary day; not the Cinco de Mayo holiday that’s so popular today. As much as I love tequila and Mexican food, Cinco de Mayo will have to wait until after our two-day anniversary celebration.

A local steakhouse, Rails, serves uniquely delicious appetizers, premium steaks cooked to perfection, wonderful sides, and sinful desserts. Quality food, nice atmosphere, and professional service come with a fairly hefty price tag so we save our visits to Rails for special occasions like our anniversary. From my longtime practice in the art of the Boozy Lifestyle, I’ve become pretty familiar with retail wine pricing. This knowledge makes it difficult to order wine with a 400% markup so we put the wine list aside in favor of their creative craft cocktail list. The bourbon-based drinks we order are refreshingly full of fresh herbs and muddled fruits.

Here’s a sampling of Rails’ wine list. The Library Reserve Selections has some of the giants of Napa; Caymus, Silver Oak, and Far Niente. If you’re willing to spend big, the Nickel & Nickel Tench Vineyard is about the best deal on the wine list since it sells in local liquor stores for about $100.

Rails Wine List

With day one of our anniversary celebration complete, day two is set for uncorking Baldacci’s Four Sons Fraternity 2012 to pair with our steak doggy bags. Fraternity is a red blend from Stag’s Leap District in Napa Valley, California. I couldn’t locate documentation of the varietals in the 2012 blend, but my guess is Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah.

I open the wine for an hour of decanting and notice that the freshly popped cork is full of sediment. We purchased this bottle about eight months ago and it has been stored on its side ever since. It’s a good idea to stand a bottle upright the day before opening it, and maybe I’ll remember next time. I pour the wine into the decanter through a small strainer to remove the remaining grit.

The nose is full of ripe cherry fruit, oak, and vanilla with floral and tobacco notes. The fruit is dominant but not overpowering. I don’t detect much in the way of earthy or vegetal aromas. Acidity and alcohol seem a little harsh on the back of the throat at first sip, but disappear over time. The palate is full of juicy plum, cherry, and blackberry. Dark chocolate and coffee flavors add a trace of bitterness, along with subtle notes of graphite that become more noticeable after swallowing.  The finish is long and leathery. Overall, Baldacci Fraternity offers a balanced structure from start to finish.

Mexican food and margaritas may just as easily be enjoyed on Seis and Siete de Mayo.

Premium Margarita

  • 1 oz. Don Julio Anejo
  • 1 oz. Patron Citronge
  • ¾ oz. fresh lime juice and simple syrup (half and half)

Shake over ice, strain into a margarita glass, and say Salud!

Panini Style Black Bean and Chicken Burrito


  • 1 red pepper, minced
  • 1 15 oz. can of black beans, rinsed
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic
  • ¼ Teaspoon cumin
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 oz. chicken breast (1 large or 2 small), cut into small cubes
  • 1 Tablespoon taco seasoning
  • ½ cup of grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • Pinch of pepper or crushed red pepper for more heat
  • 2 large flour tortillas


  1. Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a pot and cook the garlic and cumin for 1 minute. Add the minced red pepper and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. (If I don’t have a red pepper, I use a small onion or a stalk of celery.) Add the rinsed black beans. Heat on low, stirring occasionally, while you prepare the chicken.
  2. Place the chicken pieces in a plastic bag. Add taco seasoning and pepper to the bag and shake until chicken is coated. Brown the chicken in a pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add ¼ cup of water and continue cooking until chicken reaches internal temperature of 165 degrees.
  3. Pre-heat the Griddler (panini press) to Grill/Panini between High and Sear.
  4. Brush olive oil on the outside of the wraps. Flip them over and fill with cheese, chicken, and the bean mixture. Fold them up and cook in the Griddler for a few minutes until the outside shows some nice grill marks.

Top with sour cream, taco sauce, and cheese.


Two California Cabs: Valley of the Moon and Beaulieu Vineyard Napa

Beaulieu V ValleyoftheMoonCab

At our last trip to the wine superstore, we picked up two California Cabs, one from Sonoma and one from Napa. Since we can’t decide which one to open, we’ll taste them both for a side by side comparison.

The $18 Valley of the Moon 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon is from a Sonoma winery estate dating back to the mid-19th century and currently run by the Stewart family. Director of Winemaking, David Marchesi, has acquired a wide range of experience beginning in nearby Napa Valley, spanning across the world to McLaren Vale, Australia, and encompassing several prestigious California wineries.

The $22 Beaulieu Vineyard Napa Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 is from the Rutherford winery founded by Georges de Latour in 1900. De Latour, along with famed viticulturist and enologist André Tchelistcheff, instituted innovations in fermentation, aging, and marketing, as well as importing Phylloxera-resistant rootstock from Europe. By establishing a strong relationship with the Catholic Church, BV was the only Napa Valley winery able to remain in business throughout prohibition.

Valley of the Moon opens up right away with a generous nose of ripe fruit and earthy notes. On the palate are juicy plum, currants, and herbs with a hint of graphite. The long finish is where vanilla and pepper appear. This Cab is well-balanced with mellow tannins and oak giving it some complexity.

By comparison, the nose of the BV is less fruit forward, introducing the aroma of vanilla front and center. The fruit aromas that start out light on the nose change to big and juicy on the palate where cherry and blackberry emerge. The finish is shorter than Valley of the Moon, but still decent. Our tasting impression is solid overall, but lacking a “wow” factor. “Rutherford Dust” wasn’t apparent at this level; maybe it’s saved for the Private Reserve.

Sorry to BV, but we enjoyed Valley of the Moon a bit more. I followed up with some price checking online and noticed that BV sometimes sells in the big box stores in the $10-$15 range. It would be a steal at that price.