Beaulieu Vineyard “Beaurouge” Napa Valley 2010

Beaulieu Vineyard "Beaurouge" Napa Valley 2010

Beaulieu Vineyard “Beaurouge” Napa Valley 2010

Lately there’s been a whole lot of Napa wine in my life. After several weeks of negotiation and rushing samples here and there with the help of my team, I successfully outfitted a fancy New York Wedding with 14 cases of a nice 2009 Napa blend. I have also tasted a good number of other Napa wines lately for more customer recommendations. And so it only seemed appropriate at the time to go in on this half-price special on Last Bottle Wines with my co-worker. I think I paid a ridiculous $15 a bottle after the sale.

Native Frenchman Georges de Latour (edit: NOT related to Bordeaux’s Chateau Latour, despite the name or history of quality winemaking – forgive the confusion) fell in love with Napa on first sight and supposedly exclaimed “beau lieu!” or “beautiful land,” giving birth to the winery and vineyard name. One of the oldest in the region, It helped pioneer the development of Cabernet in the region and has had no shortage of 90+ wines to brag about since.

The nose has aromas of currant, plum and cocoa leaping from the glass, with the oak actually put in its place by all that’s going on in this blend. Normally I find a Napa red to be an oak bomb, but here the grapes do the talking, and for this reason, this is a Napa red I can really appreciate. Nothing at all against the successful formula employed for generations around the world, but to me oak should compliment and round out the wine, not personify it. The winemaker is Jeffrey Stambor, who studied here under Latour’s original winemaker André Tchelistcheff, and has been making wine here since 1989.

Today I’m very happy to not be paying $100+ a bottle for one of their wines. And what an interesting wine it is. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Syrah, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Touriga Naçional, Tempranillo and Charbono, it’s incredibly dark, rich and complex. It also carries a 14.5% abv. But what did I really think? The drink-by date was 2017 but both bottles are gone by the time of this writing.

Cheers!

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International Cabernet Day: Sueño Profundo 2012 Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon

I Love Cabernet

I Love Cabernet

Happy International Cabernet Day!

This is one of my more frequently enjoyed varieties, and I’m always happy to enjoy it with friends and family, or even alone, if I must. I saved a doozy for the occasion. My sister and I are both enjoying the wine very much, but given the pedigree of its terroir I can’t say I’m surprised. And without a doubt, 2012 was a stellar vintage in the region. They’re saying it might be the best vintage here since 1976. While we’ve all opened something before that had a better reputation than presentation, this one does not. I got it through a special at wineaccess.com.

Sueño Profundo 2012 Stag's Leap Cabernet Sauvignon

Sueño Profundo 2012 Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon

Napa is very much about the family wineries. The first commercial winery to make its roots in the area was that of Charles Krug (now owned by the Mondavi family) and more than a century later — and a short unfortunate stint known as prohibition — the region is still dominated by family-run wineries with decades or more of wine-making under their belts. Inglenook (now owned by Francis Ford Coppola), Beaulieu vineyards (France’s Latour family) and Beringer are just a few others of the families you might recognize who make wine in the region. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the region many years ago, riding on the Napa Valley wine train and a dinner and tasting at Markham in St Helena. I hope to get back there soon on business.

Stag’s Leap is one of the notable appellations (or AVAs), consisting of 19 wineries and vineyards, their own growers’ association and a reputation for exceptional Cabernet. There is no better example of that than Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars taking best Cabernet at the 1976 Judgement of Paris, that put California wine on the map for good. While this wine is not from that vineyard nor does it snag the prices of some of the wines from the region, it is an elegant, expressive, and delicious Cabernet that did not disappoint nor did it break the bank. A perfect pick, if you ask me.

The wine pours a deep purple in the glass, with notes of tobacco, blackberry, cassis and subtle well-integrated oak on the nose. On the palate, bright notes of succulent blackberries continue to dominate, with good acidity and balanced tannin and a lingering finish. Everything in the right place, and it should only continue to age well. However it is worth noting that I had only one bottle, so it won’t get the opportunity! Rest assured, I will be buying more, if there’s any left. This wine clearly demonstrates the success of the 2012 vintage, and Napa (and Stag Leap’s) best.

There are around 500 wineries in Napa now, all working to further the fine reputation of the area and its grapes as well as supporting its own local community through charity fundraisers and programs. After seeing much of the damage in the area from the recent earthquake last weekend, I hope the 2014 vintage pulls through alright. With such a tight community, I feel confident they will. Go pick up a nice bottle and help your favorite Napa producers at the same time.

 

Big Names in California Wine, Part 3: Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

First off, Happy National Wine Day to all my readers in the USA! This is definitely something I can and will celebrate on this dreary rainy day.

In part three of this series, I enjoyed Beringer’s 2010 Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Beringer is one of the renowned Napa, California wineries, established in Victorian times by German winemaker Jacob Beringer. He and his brother purchased the first property in 1875 after a short time in New York where the climate was not what they were looking for. The warm climate and rocky, well-draining soil in Napa County was more like their homeland in the Rhine Valley and hence they settled and started their American dream here. Workers who had just helped build the trans-continental railroad, dug the tunnels where they still store and age their wine. They then built a mansion house that was a reconstruction of their home in Germany, called the “Rhine house.”  Today, they have vineyards up and down the valley from Howell Mountain to Carneros. They are the longest continually-running vineyard in the valley, surviving the dark days of prohibition. Currently under the helm of Winemaker Laurie Hook and Winemaker Emeritus Ed Sbragia, they are doing delicious things.

This particular wine comes from their Knights Valley vineyard which is located 17 miles north of the winery just over the border in Sonoma County. They grow and vinify several Bordeaux varieties here and have named a few wines after the alluvial soils the vines grow in. This vineyard has been active for three decades and makes excellent Bordeaux-style wines.

This is a very nice example of Napa Cabernet. It is deep ruby in color and on the nose are blackberry, anise, cinnamon and pepper as well as subtle toasty oak aromas. The fruit is very ripe, and with the nicely balanced tannins and acidity, this is a fine wine indeed that I suspect would age well long after the roughly 3 years this one lasted!  It has a medium plus body and finish, and is very elegant. Definitely in the class of equally-priced Bordeaux. I am so glad I have given some of these larger California wineries another chance to impress me. There is some really fine wine being made here, even if they’re not cult/boutique (read: very expensive) wines. Plus, I’ve learned a lot about their history which has brought me new-found respect for them. At $33 it is a premium wine, but not unreasonable for a quality wine from this region. Perhaps I should have shared this one with my friends, but at least I shared it with you, my readers…

Next week, I will conclude this series with a Chalone!