When I think about my wine firsts, I can generally credit Vittorio Sattui Winery from the Napa Valley. Dad started getting sampler cases from this winery every year when I was around twelve, and by the age of fourteen (circa 1990), when I got serious about cooking and curious about wine, I started getting a chance to try some of those wines. As a teenager, my favorites were the Johannesburg Riesling and the Gamay Rouge (the latter perhaps sparking an early love with rosé). I got to cook with some of the Chardonnay, and started to appreciate the subtle flavors in Cabernet Sauvignon beyond the big tannins and bold presence.
Note: V. Sattui wines are only available at the winery or via mail order, so don't go asking for them at your local wine shop.
Dad hasn't been receiving these wines every year since then, but once in a while he gets a case. And thus it comes to pass that I was given a bottle of the 2003 V. Sattui Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, along with the admonition to eat it with a decent piece of meat. Fear not, Dad.
I fixed a simple yet delicious supper: grilled ribeye with a simple salad. The ribeye was about an inch thick, boneless, dark red, and heavily marbled. Cooked medium rare over hot coals after seasoning with good salt and pepper. For the salad, I used some spring mix, some of my microgreens, a dash of homegrown cherry tomatoes, some shredded Parmesan cheese, and a freshly made balsamic vinaigrette (with just a dash of honey).
And as for the wine? Delicious. Deep cassis aroma with just a hint of fig. The flavors amplify those aromas, with a little black cherry added. It's quite smooth with a hearty meal, though on its own the tannins will dry your mouth a bit. Very deep color with good structure and balance. While amazing now, I'd love to see how this tastes in a few years.