I met Suzanne Phifer Pavitt for lunch at Manhattan's La Tabla while she was in town for the premiere of Steve Carell and Tina Fey's new movie, Date Night. We chatted over a wonderful lunch that included Saag Paneer Pizza and Irish Oat Risotto. It was delicious. But the highlight no doubt, was a very special bottle of wine that Suzanne brought along with her for me to try. It was called Date Night.
Of the 300 cases of Date Night 2006 that were bottled, only 50 remain. And so I felt privileged to be among those to try this very special cab. Organically grown, perfectly proportioned and remarkable in its exquisite balance, Date Night is aromatically complex. Give it a whirl and you'll catch whiffs of expresso, black cherry, olive and sweet pipe tobacco, with undercurrents of chocolate truffles and ripe plum. Once on the palate, a sensual mix of lush fruit, milk chocolate and spice come through. Elegant fine-grained tannins give way to spicy blackberry, espresso bean, plum and nectarine. All repeated in the long mouth-coating finish.
And while the wine is delicious, I must confess what really caught my attention was the story behind Date Night.
As it turns out, long ago, before Suzanne Phifer Pavitt and her husband Shane even decided to start a winery, they were both in demanding careers that required them to travel pretty much all the time. To make the relationship work, every week they would choose a day and a city to meet in for date night. Over the years, even after they stopped traveling, Suzanne and Shane's weekly date nights continued. "Every big decision we ever made together was on our once a week "Date Night", says Suzanne. "The should-I-take-that-job decision happened on Date Night. The let's-make-babies decision happened on Date Night. And the decision to put an offer on what would become the Phifer Pavitt property happened on Date Night."
And so of course, when Suzanne and Shane decided it was time to pursue their dream and open a winery of their own, the name Date Night seemed obvious.
I spoke to Suzanne once more after her return to Napa. I wanted to know what she thought of the movie that bears the same name as her wine. "Loved the movie!" she said. "If you are married with children, you will definitely relate to this movie. The on screen chemistry between Tina Fey and Steve Carrel was great, and Shane and I found it quite entertaining. The after party was also fabulous. I must admit that I was 'star struck.' It was quite the 'Date Night' for me to be out with my husband in NYC, and in the company of so many movie stars... A night to remember for sure!"
A night to remember, and a wine to remember. Date Night. Try a bottle.
Extended cold-soak maceration period prior to "wild" yeast fermentation. Wine spent 3 weeks on the skins before draining and pressing straight to barrel where it underwent "wild" malolactic fermentation. The wine was racked only once during its 17 months in barrel. In short, our philosophy is one of minimal intervention in pursuit of the most natural and harmonious winemaking style possible.
APPELLATION/GROWING REGION: Napa County - Pope Valley
VINEYARD: Temple Family Vineyards
AGE OF VINES: 14 years old
VARIETAL CONTENT: 98% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Petite Verdot
HARVEST DATE: October 2006
HARVEST PROCEDURE: Picked by hand during the chill of dawn, then de-stemmed, sending the whole, unbroken berries straight to the fermenter for extended cold soak.
FERMENT: temperature controlled stainless steel tanks
TIME IN OAK / TYPE OF OAK: 17 months in 65% new 60-gallon French oak barrels
BOTTLED: Spring 2008
BRIX AT HARVEST: 26.5
CASES PRODUCED: 300
PROPRIETERS: Suzanne Phifer Pavitt & Shane Pavitt
WINEMAKER: Ted Osborne
NATIONAL SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE: $75.00