This past weekend we attended Premiere Napa Valley. It is an all trade wine event where wineries offer special auction lots showcasing some of the best the area has to offer. This year, the 2012 vintage was the focus from barrel. The vast majority of producers showed either their 2010 or 2011 in bottle. Our future purchases are highly influenced by PNV and similar trade tastings. Given small sample sizes and the number of wines tasted, observations have to be put into the right context, a quick impression based on an experienced wine palate. What follows are some of the events we attended and brief observations.
Premiere Napa Valley Barrel Tasting – A great opportunity to talk with winemakers and taste special lots of the 2012 vintage. It is an early preview of the upcoming vintage. For us, the top lot tasted was the exceptional 2012 Inglenook Cabernet. It is a modern wine made in an old school style. Balance, structure and complexity, this will be a great wine when it hits maturity. If this turns out to be the new house style of Inglenook, suspect the producer will rival the best you will find anywhere in the Napa Valley. While so many producers are have long since moved to a riper drink young style of wine, find it highly refreshing that Inglenook may be going back to its roots of age worth, highly complex and exciting wines. Will follow them with great interest. Our second favorite wine was the Volker Eisele. Also an age worthy complex wine, bigger fruit than I am use to with the producer, however, no question, an exceptional wine. While we tasted a lot more wines than those listed, the following is a list of the most memorable sorted in order of personal preference.
2012 Inglenook Cabernet
2012 Volker Eisele Family Estate Cabernet
2012 Favia Red Wine
2012 Freemark Abbey York Creek Cabernet
2012 Shafer Vineyards Sunspot Cabernet
2012 Scarecrow Toto’s Opium Dream
2012 Joseph Phelps Backus Cabernet
2012 Keever Cabernet
2012 Barbour Wines Cabernet
2012 Jones Family Cabernet
2012 Ovid Cabernet
2012 Nickel and Nickel John C. Sullenger Cabernet
2013 Grgich Hills Old Vine Carneros Chardonnay
2012 Robert Mondavi To Kalon Cabernet
2012 Madrigal Family Winery Cabernet
2012 Chappellet Vineyard Red Wine
2012 Duckhorn Three Palms Cabernet
2012 Beringer VIneyards Howell Cabernet
2012 Louis M Martini Cabernet
2012 Foley Johnson Cabernet
2012 Paraduxx Red Wine
2012 Clos du Val Stags Leap Cabernet
Multi-Vintage Perspective and Retrospective Tasting – A fantastic event where numerous 1984, 1994 and 2004 wines were tasted double blind. At the same location was another double blind tasting of the same producer from 2009, 2010, 2011. Before reveal, the 1984 Shafer Hillside Select showed better than any wine in the entire tasting. Thought it was a 1984 Caymus Estate Cabernet, very similar. In a perfect place right now. Second was a 1984 Schramsberg Vineyards Reserve Sparking Wine and third, a 1994 Beringer Private Reserve. Interesting enough, the best 2009, 2010, 2011 flight was the Shafer Hillside Select.
1984 Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet
1984 Schramsberg Vineyards Reserve Sparking Wine
1994 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet
1994 Caymus Special Selection Cabernet
1984 Sterling Reserve Merlot
Atelier Melka Portfolio Tasting – A well put together tasting at Meadowood, found the wines collectively some of the most enjoyable ones of all the tastings. As in previous years, thought the 2011 Entre Nous came out as the top Cabernet. 2011 Melka Metisse was also a great drinking wine, followed by the 2010 Brand. Blended wines generally showed superior to 100% Cabernet, a theme that repeated itself through out other tastings. No disappointments among any of the wines tasted.
2011 Entre Nous Cabernet
2011 Melka Metisse
2010 Brand Cabernet
Stags Leap District House of Cab – Have attended the Stags Leap District tasting the past few years. Unfortunately, it was a shorter than normal stay due to a tight tasting schedule. Did not get a chance to try the majority of wines we had wanted. Notable wines by Stags Leap, Regusci and Cliff Lede.
2010 Stags Leap Fay Cabernet
2005 Stags Leap Cabernet
2011 Cliff Lede Poetry
Cliff Lede Open that Bottle Night – Always a fun event, guests bring special bottles from their cellar to share with attendees. We brought a 1973 Joseph Swan Pinot, 1985 Groth Cabernet and 1985 Duckhorn Merlot, all of which showed very well. Food provided by Rosso, enjoyed along side some enjoyable Pizza! The 1988 Mouton was gorgeous and 1998 Mouton the bigger wine. The 1990 and 1987 both also showed very well.
1977 Joseph Swan Pinot
1990 Rostaing Cote Rotie
1985 Groth Cabernet
1985 Duckhorn Merlot
First Taste Yountville – A smaller trade and attendee turnout than normal, found a few nice wines. Our top tasting wine was the 2009 Grgich Hills Yountville Selection Cabernet. Also memorable was the 2011 Dominus, Napanook and Casa Piena Cabernets.
2009 Grgich Hills Yountville Selection Cabernet
2010 Casa Piena Cabernet
Chateau Boswell Annual Premiere Party – First time attending this tasting, a very nice collection of good drinking wines. Across the board, Bevan Cellars had the more terrific wines, especially the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc. Since tasting their 2007 Bevan Cellars Cabernet, have considered this a producer / winemaker to keep an eye on. True to form, they have consistently produced high quality wine since, and likely will long into the future. The second most memorable wine was the 2011 Hudson Chardonnay, nothing short of stunning.
2012 Bevan Cellars Sauvignon Blanc
2011 Hudson Chardonnay
2011 Barbour Cabernet
2011 Corra Cabernet
Shafer Tasting – Attended this tasting several times over the last few years, and it is a great opportunity to taste past and current release Shafer Hillside Select. One of our favorite California Cabernet Producers, in order of personal preference, enjoyed the 07, 04, 05, 10 and 06. Have tasted these wines many times (with the exception of 2010). All showed consistent. The only wine that continues to show itself in an awkward state is the 2006. Despite 2010 being a challenging year, the 2010 Shafer Hillside Select was exceptional.
2007 Shafer Hillside Select
2004 Shafer Hillside Select
2005 Shafer Hillside Select
2010 Shafer Hillside Select
2006 Shafer Hillside Select
* The 2012 vintage is a big improvement over the more challenging 2011 and 2010 vintage. For Napa Valley California Cabernet, loosely rank vintage preference from best to least favorite: 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2008, 2011, and 2006.
* 2012 appears to show a lot in common with the 2008 vintage. Generally the fruit was on the ripe and fresh side. Think they will generally be drink young wines, flashy in their youth, and have shorter than normal drinking windows.
* Among bottled wines, found blends consistently showing superior to straight 100% Cabernets. Of course, many 100% Cabernets were fine, but given tough growing conditions, the addition of Merlot, Cab Franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot helped round out and balance wines.
* For those who appreciate old school age worthy Cabernet, our conversation and tasting of the Inglenook barrel sampling was an eye opener. One of the most unique and standout wines of the tastings. A producer that appears to be taking serious steps in a new direction to the delight of those that value what California once was. We are thrilled and excited to see how their wines develop over time.
Cheers to the Napa Valley Vintners Association and all the contributing Napa Valley Wineries for putting on a great event!
Santa Rosa Fine Wine