587 St. Helena
St. Helena, CA
1985 Philipponnat Clos des Goisses
1993 Soldera Brunello di Montalcino
1977 Joseph Phelps Cabernet
1978 Joseph Phelps Cabernet
1971 Giuseppe Mascarello &
Radish Cocktail; Cucumber Crema, Avocado
Maine Lobster & Crab Cake; Remoulade, Rudd Farm Greens
Berkshire Pork Chop
I can't think of a better place than Press to explore the
bounties of Napa Valley’s historic wines of the 1970s, two of which were the
centerpiece of this fabulous dinner. Over the years, I have enjoyed many
delicious meals at Press many times, but often the group is large and the wines
are many. This small dinner was a great opportunity to follow the evolution of
five gorgeous wines over several hours.
Philipponnat’s 1985 Clos
des Goisses is a great way to start the night. Now close to fully mature,
the 1985 is soft, open and expressive. It’s hard to see the 1985 getting better
from here, but as is often the case, longevity has a lot to do with storage.
Soldera’s 1993 Brunello di Montalcino
Riserva is a revelation. Served blind, it comes across as an old-school
Barbaresco in its mid-weight structure and sinewy tannins. But no, it is
Sangiovese, and totally gorgeous.
Two Joseph Phelps Cabernets from 1970s, both from impeccably
stored half bottles are the main event. The 1977 Cabernet Sauvignon is fabulous. How can a nearly 50 year-old
wine from half bottle be this fresh and gorgeous? What a revelation. The 1978 Cabernet Sauvignon is quite good
as well, but a bit rough around the edges with slightly rustic tannin and a
hint of brett. It, too, though has aged remarkably well.
Giuseppe Mascarello’s 1971
Barolo is a real treat. By this time, Mascarello was making both a
Monprivato and a blended Barolo. Personally, I prefer wines with a little more
freshness, but the 1971 is quite pretty, especially right after opening. At
this stage, though, any remaining bottles need to be finished.
Press has a new Chef, Trevor Kunk, who was previously at Blue
Hill in New York. There are a few new twists to the menu, but it’s hard to
forego the classics. The Maine lobster and crab cake is divine. For my taste,
the pork chop is a little overbrined and too seasoned, especially for these
decidedly delicate, older wines. In retrospect, a more neutral meat would have
been a better choice. Sides of kale and Hen of the Woods mushrooms are both
Readers visiting Napa Valley will not want to miss Press and its
historic wine cellar, which is essentially a library of the very best wines
that have been made in the valley going back many decades.
-- Antonio Galloni