90's Cali Cab and the Kitchen Sink

Ursino in Union, NJ
Tasted Saturday, January 17, 2015 by MC2 Wines with 526 views


Many thanks to Cliff for insisting it was time for another Central Jersey offline and to Chris for picking up the mantle, finding a place, and getting us all organized. Also to the staff and chef at Ursino for letting us have the private room for the evening and setting up a menu for us. Great wine and company throughout the night. We started with a 90's Cali cab theme, but ended up trying a number of different wines which worked well given the meal.

Flight 1 (9 Notes)

Wines ended up being a mix of bubbles, white, pinot corvina (amarone), cabs, and stickie. Nice mix to pair with what ended up being a five course meal. As I'm not a chard drinker, I'm afraid I missed the notes on that ones.


Courses (option to pick one of the two)

1st Course:

Seafood Tasting: Shrimp Tempura with Smoke Parika Aioli, Black Bass Crudo with Blood Orange, Oyster on the Half Shell with Apple Celery Granita


Ricotta Cavatelli: Short Rib, Pumpkin Seeds, Butternut Squash

Paired with the Champagne, a white burgundy (no note from me) and Pinots

2nd Course:

Crispy Twelve Hour Pork Belly: Sofrito Brooth, Red Onion Lime Marmalade


Chicken Stir Fry: Pineapple, Red Onion, Toasted Sesame, Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Smoked Cashews

Paired with the Pinots and Amarone

3rd Course:

Seared Yellow Fin Tuna: Caramelized Shiitake Mushrrom, Picked Asian Pear, Pomegranate Reduction, Watercress


Local Black Bass: Crispy Yuca, Chorizo Broth, Frisee, Bloody Mary Emulsion

Paired with the cabs

4th Course:

Long Island Crescent Duck: Aromatic Quince, Merlot Braised Cabbage, Puffed Barley


Braised Short Rib: Broccoli Rabe, Celery Root Puree, Merlot Reduction

Paired with the cabs

Ended with a selection of desserts including a Rocky Road molten chocolate cake, apple crumble, butterscotch semifreddo, and sorbet/gelato.

Paired with the D'Yquem

  • 1995 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon

    France, Champagne

    Bright bubbles, very toasty, bready, yeasty, popcorn. It's a very flavorful champagne that suddenly just stops and leaves you ready for the next sip. Very refreshing. Enjoyed.

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  • 1995 Pascal Doquet Champagne Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Le Mesnil-sur-Oger

    France, Champagne, Champagne Grand Cru

    Drank next to a '95 DP. Bubbles are much less evident here - only get them towards the end of the palatte. Lots of green apple, a bit of a softer wine, longer finish. Just a hint of sweetness which I think comes from the fruit. Also enjoyed.

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  • 2003 Sea Smoke Pinot Noir Southing

    USA, California, Central Coast, Sta. Rita Hills

    This was just in a perfect place. Decanted prob for 30-45 minutes before pouring. Great cheery flavor, a bit of woodland spice. Very nice and soft. With some time got a bit more of the mineral flavor and cinnamon. It's a bigger pinot - stood up against some of the 90's cabs we were also serving with dinner in terms of body and mouthful.

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  • 2004 Sonoma Coast Vineyards Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

    USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast

    Much more mineraly at the outset than the '03 Sea Smoke we had alongside. This was decanted for prob 45 minutes before serving. Got more of the sour red fruit - cranberry - here. Still some live left, but it seems to be drinking very well right now. With some time (another hour or two) there's more cherry flavor and less of the sour. Very pretty wine.

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  • 1995 Bolla Amarone della Valpolicella Classico

    Italy, Veneto, Valpolicella, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico

    This wine just keeps going and going. At the outset I get some molasses, turning into current and maybe a ginger flavor towards the end of the palette. Very deep wine. With more time it's more plum and spice and over time it started to settle (although was also drinking alongside cabs instead of Pinots). With even more time I started to get the more characteristic raisin, fig profile with some maple syrup and even a bit of coffee flavor. Interesting wine. Enjoyed.

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  • 1997 Jarvis (California) Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    In retrospect prob should have decanted this earlier since a bit of time with this wine in the glass and esp the second bottle which did go through the decanter really showed well. In the beginning I was mostly tasting the age (a flavor that I happen to really like). Nice and deep and just a bit of the stewed fruit flavors. After some time the spice started to poke through and then there was just a hint of black fruits but these were mostly overshadowed by some earth and the aforementioned spice. Really evolved through the night and prob could have kept going.

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  • 1995 Joseph Phelps Insignia

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    The first taste of this was probably my wine of the night. It was decanted for maybe 30 minutes before pouring. Suspect the decant was a good idea, but would be careful on timing as the wine did slow down through the night. Initially just beautiful - great blackberry fruit, amazing spice characteristics, a bit of licorice. Just fantastic. Exactly what I love in older Napa cabs. With some time that shifted more to current and then more to stewed fruit and just held together a bit less well. Drink up.

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  • 1994 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain Flawed

    USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain

    Pretty sure there was something off with this bottle. At the beginning it was mushroomy on the nose. Something not quite right. Like mint mouthwash maybe. With some time the mustiness blew off a bit, but then it was very one dimensional. Just kindof a bland fruit flavor. No real depth. Very out of character for a Dunn. We have another of these and will be interested to see how it shows.

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  • 1994 Château d'Yquem

    France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes

    Loved this. Just such a great dessert wine and somehow it always seems like D'Yquems are in a league of their own. It's not the best vintage by any stretch, but it is lovely. I think I put redemption in a glass after how poorly the Dunn showed earlier in the night. Caramel, butterscotch, decent acidity (this is where I think it lacks from some of the better vintages, but still well ahead of the other competitors). Beautiful wine. Paired particularly well with a Butterscotch semifreddo.

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All the wines (except the Dunn which I think was having issues) showed really well. Seemed like we hit the optimal drinking window across the board. WOTN was between my first sip of the Joseph Phelps which was just magical or the D'Yquem. Biggest surprise was how great the Sea Smokes come together with some time. Really loved the '03. Should prob have been more proactive in the Jarvis decanting - that wine has a lot of life left. Very enjoyable evening and looking forward to the next one!