J. Lohr Hilltop Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Oaxacan Black Molé with Chicken

Assistant Winemaker Karl Antink isn’t shy about his love for heat, and has modified this exciting recipe, originally found in Gourmet Magazine. The many delicious spices and ingredients mean this is a meal to wow your next large dinner party.  If you have difficulty sourcing chiles, you can pare down with a larger number chipotle chiles—just don’t include jalapeños!  While the Valdiguié cools the spice with fresh, ripe berry and cherry flavors, the Hilltop Cabernet’s supple richness complements the chocolate in the molé. Enjoy!

This recipe calls for different components that work beautifully together to offer an aromatic yet nuanced flavor profile. Ingredients and directions are separated for ease of preparation.


Chile Purée:

  • 10 dried Pasilla chiles
  • 5 dried Arbol chiles
  • 5 dried Ancho Negro chiles
  • 2 dried Chipotle chiles
  • 2 dried Cascabel chiles
  • 2 quarts boiling water

Remove seeds and stems from all dried chiles and save the seeds. Toast chiles in a dry skillet set to med-high heat until they start to blacken but not burn. When the chiles are toasted place them in a bowl and cover chiles with boiling water. Let soak for 30 minutes. While the chiles are soaking toast chile seeds in the same skillet until they begin to blacken then add to soaking chiles. After 30 minutes transfer chiles to blender, add enough of the soaking water to facilitate blending and create a smooth puree. Strain chile purée into another bowl to remove pieces of skins and seeds. Set chile purée aside.

Seasoning mixture:

  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 T whole almonds
  • 2 T whole raw peanuts, shelled
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3-5 black pepper corns
  • 3 cloves
  • 1-2 allspice berries
  • 1 slice bread, torn into large pieces
  • 1 ripe plantain
  • ½ cup sesame seeds
  • 2 T pecans
  • 2 T pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 2 T raisins
  • 2 T prunes
  • Vegetable oil

Cook onion and garlic in a dry skillet on med-high heat, stirring occasionally until charred in spots and remove to a large bowl. Toast almonds, peanuts, cinnamon stick, black peppercorns, cloves, allspice berries, pecans and pepitas, stirring occasionally until browned in spots then add to the seasoning mixture bowl with onions and garlic. Heat 2-3 T of oil in skillet until smoking, add raisins and prunes and cook until raisins plump up and change color. Remove raisins and prunes and add to the seasoning mixture. Place bread in same skillet with more oil if needed and cook until browned, add to seasoning mixture. In same skillet with more oil if needed, fry diced plantain until brown and add to seasoning mixture. Fry sesame seeds in the same skillet at low heat, with constant stirring until lightly browned. Grind sesame seeds to paste in a bowl and add to the seasoning mixture. Purée seasoning mixture with 2 cups of chicken stock until smooth. Strain mixture into a bowl.

Tomato mixture:

  • ½ lb tomatoes
  • ¼ lb tomatillos, husks removed
  • ½ t dried thyme
  • ½ t dried Mexican oregano
  • ½ t dried epazote

Char tomatoes and tomatillos over a grill or in a dry skillet set to med-high until skins are blackened in spots. Dice tomatoes and tomatillos and purée in a blender with the thyme, oregano, epazote and ½ cup chicken stock. Strain purée and set aside.


  • 6-8 lbs of cooked chicken. The chicken can be roasted, grilled or stewed
  • 4 oz Mexican chocolate
  • 1 dried avocado leaf
  • 2 quart chicken stock

Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in 5-6 quart heavy pot until shimmering; add all chile purée (watch for splattering). Cook until purée is reduced by one third or so while stirring. Stir in tomato purée and cook for 8-10 minutes stirring until slightly reduced and thick. Stir in seasoning mixture and cook for 10 minutes while stirring. Stir in 1 cup of chicken stock and cook for 15-20 minutes with stirring. Add Mexican chocolate and stir until melted. Toast an avocado leaf briefly over flame or in a skillet and add to pot. Add 4 cups of chicken stock and simmer with stirring until molé reaches desired thickness (Molé should be at least thick enough to cover the back of a spoon). Season to taste with salt.

To Serve:
Spoon molé over chicken, serve with rice and J. Lohr Estates Wildflower Valdiguié.or J. Lohr Hilltop Cabernet Sauvignon. Molé can be prepared a day in advance and refrigerated.

Serves 10-12

2006 J. Lohr Hilltop Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2006 vintage for Hilltop is one of the most exciting in recent years! Although we saw a return to below average rainfall--and with, it smaller clusters and berries--the weather was ideal, with no significant heat events after veraison, with very mild temperatures throughout the entire harvest.  This allowed sugar, flavor and tannin ripeness to occur simultaneously, producing Cabernet Sauvignon with excellent color, generous black cherry and currant fruit flavors and supple structure. We taste the Cabernet fruit every couple of days in Hilltop, waiting for a doughy, berry pie flavor to develop with easily extractable color from the Cabernet skins.  Harvest commenced rather late, with hand picking of Block 55 and 56 starting on October 11th.



Origin: Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County
Composition 90.0% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4.6% Petit Verdot, 2.8% Merlot, 2.3% Cabernet Franc, 0.3% Malbec
Harvest Dates: October  11th through 20th, 2006
Process: Hand-harvested, hand-sorted, destemmed and crushed to small, open top, stainless steel fermenters
Harvest Chemistries: 25.7° Brix average, pH=3.83, Total acidity 0.34 g/100 ml
Vinification: Yeast: Lalvin D80 and Lalvin D21
Fermentation: Stainless steel fermented
Temperature:To 90°F
Extended Maceration: 14 days
Malo-Lactic: Inoculation and completion in stainless steel
Maturation: 20 months in 80% new French oak barrels
Barrel Type: 80% new French oak Bordeaux Château Ferré-style barrels (60.9 gallons), 20% second fill French oak barrels
Forest: Center of France
Coopers: Tonnellerie Sylvain, Libourne, Tonnellerie Vicard, Bordeaux Demptos, St. Caprais de Bordeaux, Tonnellerie  Bel Air, Bordeaux
Post-Maturation: Rack from barrels, fine and filter to bottle
Bottling Numbers: pH: 3.71
Total Acidity: 0.68g/100ml
Alcohol: 14.2% by volume
Residual Sugar: Dry

Very dark, red-purple in color with youthful hues, the 2006 J. Lohr  Hilltop Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon has bright enticing aromas of cherries and berries with a bouquet of anise, vanilla and toasted oak. The 2006 Hilltop is a complex wine with a supple, yet ample texture and balance, reminiscent of Bordeaux’s finest Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines with the structure to age for 10 to 15 years.

Jeff Meier, winemaker


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