What To Drink Now: Wines for Dad

There is no one quite like Dad. He is your buddy, your pal. He is your biggest supporter and your shoulder to cry on when things don’t go your way. He is your guide, your teacher, your disciplinarian, your mentor. He believes in you for all the right reasons, always wanting you to succeed. When you come across a great one, proudly sharing his unconditional love, it is something to be admired and celebrated. Let’s raise our glass to dad with a Father’s Day toast.

My mother was a daddy’s girl, and to this day, even though my grandfather passed away many years ago, she still refers to him as daddy, with a kind tenderness in her voice I value for her. Another dynamic woman, and daddy’s girl, is Robin Lail of Lail Vineyards. Honoring and celebrating her father, Lail created her J. Daniel Cuvee ($250), named after her pioneering dad, who changed the face of wine in Napa Valley. Made with the style her father loved and displayed in his Inglenook wines, J. Daniel Cuvee showcases a softer side of Napa Valley, allowing the terroir to shine without heavy winemaking influences. The wine highlights earthy, tobacco, and truffle note, melding with ripe raspberry, red cherry, and chocolate, with focus and wonderful elegance.

Tom Gamble grew up in the heart of Napa Valley as the son of farmers. His family has been farming the region for over 100 years, starting with his grandfather beginning raising cattle and farming produce in 1916. With an agricultural attitude, following the path of those set before him, he takes a holistic approach with his Gamble Family Vineyards. His wines are made in the vineyard, allowing the land to speak through his distinct Napa Valley wines. Gamble Family Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($60) opens with a savory note of wild herb and eucalyptus, followed by ripe cherry, blackberry, roasted coffee, and chocolate. Gamble Family Wines Paramount red ($90) blends 30% each Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot, with a good bit of Petit Verdot for a textured, well-rounded wine with complexity, and character. Compelling and harmonious, the wine melds dried plum and fig with black cherry, woody herb, and hints of tobacco.

Following in their father and grandfather’s footsteps, Peter Mondavi, Jr. and his brother Marc Mondavi, passionately lead Napa Valley’s oldest winery, Charles Krug, into the future for the next generation. Established in 1861, with the Mondavi family acquiring the property in 1943, the iconic St. Helena estate celebrates their family legacy with Charles Krug Generations ($70). From Yountville estate Cabernet Sauvignon, with a bit of Merlot and Petit Verdot, and aged 20 months in new oak, the full-bodied wine reveals black and blue fruit, espresso, leather, and toffee.

Beginning in 1983 Dough Shafer joined his father, John, in running their prestigious Stags Leap District Shafer Vineyards, creating Shafer “One Point Five” Cabernet Sauvignon ($95) to toast their partnership and relationship. Dense, lengthy, and rich, the wine melds red plum and cherry, with Asian spice, black tea, pencil lead, and licorice.This is a great steak on the grill wine.

Yoda’s dad, a.k.a. my Gary, loves a delicious glass of Chardonnay and, as an Oregon boy, a Willamette Valley selection is often his (and my) ideal. From fruit grown in their Eola-Amity Hills estate, Argyle Nuthouse Chardonnay ($45) layers ripe stone fruit and citrus with a touch of spicy ginger and fresh honeysuckle. Aged 16 months in French oak, there is subtle complexity and roundness to the lengthy, lush palate.

The other thing he loves is a great Bordeaux, with both of us appreciating the character of Cabernet Franc and Merlot-based Right Bank. St. Emilion Grand Cru Chateau Lassegue, Les Cadrans de Lassegue ($30) blends 90% Merlot with 10% Cabernet Franc for a velvety, plush wine showcasing ripe plum and cherry, with beautiful floral aromas of violets, melding with toasted spice and crushed stone.

With a Right Bank profile, but produced in Central California’s Paso Robles, J Lohr Cuvee St. E ($60) highlights a savory, satisfying take on Bordeaux blends. Produced from classic Bordeaux varieties, primarily Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, the handcrafted, almost four-year-aged wine (including two years in bottle before release) showcases notes of dark chocolate, roasted espresso, and balsamic, with texture and bold yet balanced structure. A great wine to pair with braised lamb or game meat.

My father is a Pinot Noir fan when I can convince him to go for wine instead of Bourbon. Like my dad, with Los Angeles roots, Donn Chappellet saw the potential of growing great wine in Northern California over fifty years ago. Best known for their gorgeous Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa’s Pritchard Hill, Chappellet also crafts expressive Pinot Noir from some of the most respected growers in Northern California. Chappellet Grower Collection Dutton Ranch Pinot Noir ($49) from Russian River Valley showcases some of the finest, premium Pinot Noir fruit in Sonoma. Plush, polished, and pretty, the fruit-forward wine melds ripe strawberry and cherry with soft herb and a touch of forest floor earthiness.

With a sense of adventure, and a desire to create something unique, unknown, and delicious, Winemaker Joe Benziger, began Imagery Estate in Sonoma in the 1980s. Today, capturing his thirst for experimentation and the spirited passion her father passed down, Jamie Benziger showcases how traditional and modern can work hand in hand with the Imagery Estate Collection. Adding robust Petite Sirah into Cabernet Sauvignon creates a peppery, spicey, toasted nuttiness in the Imagery Cabernet Sauvignon ($20), revealing a rugged, yet harmonious wine.

Happy Father’s Day!

Gary with his beautiful daughters, Carly and Corinne