When I was invited in mid-June to have lunch with the CEO of the renowned California winery, Silver Oak, I was all for it. He was in town for the Silver Oak Tower Tour and would be celebrating the winery’s 40th Anniversary with some customer events. The opportunity to taste David Duncan’s cult-status Cabernets along with some steaks from Morton’s is the stuff that red wine fans—and meat eaters—dream of. But, when the temperatures in D.C. began to rise and the appointed day’s temperature hit the high 90s, my resolve to tuck into steak and wine over lunch started to waiver.

When I arrived at the restaurant and was shown to the table, I was immediately confused by the series of glasses at each of our place settings. I quickly assumed that David and I were going to be doing a vertical tasting of his cabs. Vertical tastings are when several vintages of the same wine are tasted in succession. But I soon learned, and happily so, that we would not be just tasting cabs. David explained that we would be tasting wines from Silver Oaks’ California sister winery, Twomey Cellars. Twomey is named after his father’s family and produces wines other than California cabs at separate vineyards and wineries.

We order a Caesar salad to split, tuna tartar and shrimp cocktail. Having both succumbed to the heat outside, we opted out of having heavy steaks.

The first wine we started with was the Sauvignon Blanc. I loved hearing the story behind the only white wine in Twomey’s portfolio. Apparently, all the women in the family told the men who made the wine that they were tired of always drinking red wine and the next new wine introduced better be a white. Well, apparently the men behind Twomey are smart and quickly came up with this offering.

I was so surprised by this wine. I expected it to be mundane coming from a Cabernet maker, but it was full of citrus fruit flavors that burst in the mouth. It was vibrant yet comforting. The comfort comes from “typicality” like Karen McNeil talks about in The Wine Bible. This wine has the typicality of a California Sauvignon Blanc and that is comforting. It also has the complexity that I know is there when I taste a wine because it makes me say “Hmm…” It compelled me to take another sip, and another and another. It went beautifully with my shrimp cocktail.

We then moved on to the 2007 Twomey Merlot. First off, I noticed the dark berry color of this wine. It looked like a jewel in the glass. It was very food friendly and it went perfectly with tuna tartar. Expressing classic dark berry and cooked dark berry flavors, it did not disappoint as a Napa merlot. It showed complexity but not too much tannin.

Next on the tasting list was the 2010 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. This wine was austere with definite floral notes. If you enjoy classic French style pinot noir, this is your wine. The wine is aged in French barrels, which helps this pinot achieve most of its character. Of all the wines, it seemed out of place in Twomey’s line up though. All the other wines were fruit forward and this was not.

After the pinot noir we moved on to the Big Boys— Silver Oak cabernets!

The 2007 Silver Oak Anderson Valley Cabernet Sauvignon was poured. Upon tasting this wine one understands the reason for its cult following. It is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged in barrel and then bottle for a total of 15 to 16 months. It is amazingly food-friendly and luscious. It reminded me of berry cobbler.

Last on our tasting tour was the 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. This vintage is 90% Cabernet
Sauvignon, 6% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, and 1% Cabernet Franc. The Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot round out the cabernet sauvignon and give the wine suppleness and finesse. Luscious black fruits and chocolates flavors characterize this wine. The 2007 Napa Valley Silver Oak Cabernet is a California Cab lover’s Cab.

If you are one of the many fans of Silver Oak that have enjoyed the wines over its forty year legacy, you will be pleased to know that the beautiful quality and lush flavors continue as the winery’s hallmarks with the 2007s. And you will be happy to know that the 2008 will be released early next month. If it is too hot to drink cabs, try some of their sister winery Twomey’s offerings. There is something for everyone and who knows, you might get in on the ground floor of another cult following.

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