Tag Archives: Cliff Lede

Premiere Napa Valley 2013

Premiere Napa Valley is a trade only wine auction scheduled in February each year. Local producers pour special auction lots of their unique blends and best barrels. It is a great opportunity to taste an early preview of the upcoming Napa Valley vintage. In this case, 2011. Several of the events we attended follow.

For Santa Rosa Fine Wine, the tastings are invaluable and give us a very strong sense what we will purchase in the coming years and advise to our customers. As with other tastings of this nature, pours are small and we are tasting a lot of wine, identifying top wines should be put into the proper context. That said, all wines listed below are the top 5 tasted at each event. They left the strongest positive impression, listed best to very good. We tasted a lot of great wine not listed!

First Taste of Yountville – Held at the Historic Barrel Room in Yountville, and put on by the Yountville Appellation Association, it was the first event we attended. One of the appellations we regularly track, top wines are listed. A special note should be made concerning Casa Piena. It is the third year we tasted their wine, and considered them outstanding! This is a producer we regard and give high praise for properly hitting an excellent balance of fruit, structure, complexity and age worthiness.

2009 Casa Piena Cabernet
2008 Grgich Hills Yountville Selection Cabernet
2010 Dominus
2009 Charles Krug X Clone
2009 Gemstone Estate Cabernet

St Helena Appellation Tasting – Hosted at Charles Krug Winery, another tasting we attend nearly every year. It was a pleasure to run into Ted Edwards of Freemark Abbey, a long time wine maker we respect for consistency and quality at all levels. His talents are evident in one of their newer labels, Josephine!

2009 Freemark Abbey Josephine
2009 Revana Cabernet
2010 Ehlers Estate 1886 Cabernet
2009 Vineyard 29
2009 Trinchero Central Park West Cabernet

Open that Bottle Night – Hosted by Cliff Lede Winery, it is a BYOB Party where the generous host sets a high bar! This year, they opened Magnums of First Growth Bordeaux. The night is centered around attendees bringing a nice bottle from their cellar to share with others. The event is catered by Rosso in Santa Rosa, outstanding Pizza! Our palate is decidedly French, so not a surprise to see an all French Top 5.

1993 Rousseau Chambertin
1991 Ponsot Latricieres Chambertin
1988 Chateau Latour
2001 Chateau Latour
2001 Chateau Mouton

Rudd Center Retrospective Tasting – First time attending this event, it was a multi-vintage tasting of the same wine from 2008, 2009 and 2010 blind in Cabernet and 2009, 2010 and 2011 in Chardonnay. We rated all the wines and at the end, were given a key to analyse. In terms of Cabernet, our palate overall leaned toward enjoying 2009 best, followed by 2010 and 2008. In terms of Chardonnay, it went 2009, 2010 and 2011. Chardonnays were poured on the cold side, a little more challenging to evaluate.

Hudson Vineyard Chardonnay
Pine Ridge Vineyard Chardonnay
Stanton Vineyard Cabernet
Titus Family Estate Reserve Cabernet
Truchard Vineyard Chardonnay

Atelier Melka Portfolio Tasting – The second year for us attending this tasting, was impressed with the overall high quality of wine. Similar to the Casa Piena, think the wines by Kristine Ashe Vineyards (Entre Nous) were outstanding, significant standout wines. It is a producer relatively new to us, but strongly think they are worth keeping an eye on based on the last two years, highly recommended!

2010 Entre Nous Cabernet
2009 Cliff Lede Poetry
2009 Metisse Jumping Goat Cabernet
2009 Brand Cabernet
2010 Gandona Estate Cabernet

House of Cab Stags Leap District – The final event of the pre auction tastings, Pine Ridge Vineyards hosts a fun event. In a lounge type environment, you enjoyed good food, wine, music and conversation! It was a pleasure to meet with winery principles including the delightful winemaker of Clos du Val, Kristy Melton. A relatively new talent to the Clos du Val team, look forward to her future releases!

2010 Silverado Cellars SOLO Cabernet
2009 Cliff Lede Poetry
2005 Chimney Rock Cabernet
2001 Stags Leap Winery Cabernet
1993 Clos du Val Cabernet

We went away from the event still of the view, the more structured 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet was showing better than the more fruit forward 2008. Furthermore, that 2010 in general showed better than 2011. And for a few new friends, 1997 better than 1998!

Congratulations to the organizers of PNV 2013, a fantastic well put together event!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
www.santarosafinewine.com

Premiere Napa Valley 2012

For the past several years, we have attended numerous winery tastings, some of the best ones are around Premiere Napa Valley. The all trade Auction was held this past week, the vast majority of winery tastings on Thursday and Friday. This years auction centered around the 2010 vintage. It is one of the best early opportunities to taste some of the finest examples of Napa Valley wines from the upcoming vintage.

Hundreds of wines were tasted this weekend. Pour sizes were minimal, and there was a limited opportunity to revisit each wine. No attempt is make to take serious detailed notes. To do so would be an injustice to the producer and reader. That said, as a taster, you do go away with impressions and educated guesses that are note worthy, a reference point to revisit in the future. What follows are the events we attended and some brief observations of wines that have potential for future enjoyment.

Yountville First Taste – An impressive tasting overall, the wines listed left the strongest impression. The top two wines at this tasting interesting enough both came from Grgich Hills, the 2011 Grgich Hills Paris Chardonnay and 2007 Grgich Hills Yountville Selection Cabernet Sauvignon! Both were special wines. Blankiet, Dominus, Gemstone and Charles Krug all showed well across the board. Have tasted Casa Piena the last few years. It shows a consistent style, balanced, age worthy, and simply delightful. Several other producers were tasted, they did not show the balance, nuance or complexity expected.

2009 Blankiet Estate Rive Droite
2009 Blankiet Estate Proprietary Red
2009 Blankiet Estate Prince of Hearts Red
2008 Casa Piena Cabernet Sauvignon
2009 Casa Piena Cabernet Sauvignon
2008 Charles Krug X Clones Cabernet Sauvignon
2008 Dominus
2009 Gemstone Estate Red Wine
2007 Grgich Hills Yountville Selection Cabernet Sauvignon
2011 Grgich Hills Paris Chardonnay

Cliff Lede Open that Bottle Night – One of our favorite events associated with Premiere Napa Valley, it is basically a wide open, bring a special bottle from your cellar event. Lots of nice wine was opened, and no notes were taken. The host, Cliff Lede opened their current releases, all excellent, and offered a generous 5 liter bottle of 1990 Chateau d’Yquem. Sadly, tasted a very disappointing wines. One of them was a 2006 Shafer Hillside Select 1.5L, just not developing well in the bottle. Then there was a 1983 Burgess Cabernet Sauvignon and 1983 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, both in 3 liter format, past maturity. Some very nice wines tasted follow.

1973 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
1990 Chateau d’Yquem
1990 Laurel Glen Cabernet Sauvignon
1994 Dominus
1995 Peter Michael Les Pavot
2005 Pride Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
2005 Gaja Sori San Lorenzo
2008 Ridge Monte Bello Chardonnay

Atelier Melka Portfolio Tasting – First time attending this particular event, was highly impressed with nearly all wines poured. Most of the 2010’s were auction lots, while the 2009’s were in bottle. In general, find barrel samples a hard taste, challenging to predict where they will go in the future. The diversity of style among the various wines was more apparent at this tasting than others. Appreciated the style of the wines as a whole, striking balance and structure. Lot of powerful fruit driven wines, higher alcohol levels, but many showed an element of age worthiness that left a positive impression. Met Philippe Melka for the first time, and thought he was a thoughtful, talented, and intelligent person who will hopefully continue to contribute to the success of Napa Valley wines for many years to come.

2009 Brand Cabernet Sauvignon
2010 Cliff Lede Dream Hill
2010 Dana Estates Cabernet Sauvignon
2010 Gemstone Yountville Appelation Cabernet Sauvignon
2009 Entre Nous Cabernet Sauvignon
2009 Metisse
2010 Seavey Cabernet Sauvignon
2010 Vineyard 29 St Helena Special

St Helena Appellation Tasting – We spent a very short period of time at the St Helena Appellation tasting, and only tasted a handful of the wines at the event. Both Revana wines were the most memorable of the tasting, power without weight, at the same time floral and feminine. The host winery, Charles Krug did a wonderful job hosting the event, though sadly, they displayed an empty bottle of 1966 Charles Krug Cabernet, opened the night before, not sharing it with their good friends at Santa Rosa Fine Wine!

2009 Flora Springs Rennie Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
2009 Revana Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
2010 Revana Family Vineyard Premiere Cuvee Cabernet
2010 Raymond Vineyards Evolution Cabernet Sauvignon
2009 Trinchero Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Shafer Tasting – Shafer is arguably one of the better wineries in Napa Valley, they have a consistent track record of age worthy Cabernet over the span of several decades. It is always a pleasure to visit them at Premiere Napa Valley to see how older vintages are holding up. The 2001 was the best wine in the lineup, medium bodied, good structure, will easily last another decade plus. Both the 2005 and 2002 Shafer Hillside Select were riper, not as age worthy as the 2001. The 2005 was full bodied, however not heavy, and the 2002, a similar taste profile, but far more concentrated. Like 2001, the 2003 continues to age very well. Find 2003 Napa Valley Cabernet generally disappointing, however Shafer did a great job that year. Like the 2006 Shafer Hillside Select, unfortunately thought the 2008 Shafer Hillside Select was not to expectations. Did not find the wine particularly appealing, age worthy or characteristic of the Shafer Hillside Select style. Hopefully the wine will improve with more time in the bottle, right now, it did not show well.

2001 Shafer Hillside Select
2005 Shafer Hillside Select
2002 Shafer Hillside Select
2003 Shafer Hillside Select
2008 Shafer Hillside Select

Stags Leap District  Winegrowers Tasting – The last event we attended on Friday, tasted wines focused around the Stags Leap District. No notes were taken, but thought the following note worthy. The 2010 Shafer Sunspot Block Cabernet Sauvignon was the top wine, and a pleasure to revisit the 1997 SLV, which I fondly remember tasting on release. Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars still makes wine in a more age worthy structured style that will hopefully continue long into the future.

2010 Shafer Sunspot Block Cabernet Sauvignon
2008 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars SLV Cabernet Sauvignon
1997 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars SLV Cabernet Sauvignon
2009 Silverado Vineyards SOLO Cabernet Sauvignon

It is of tremendous value to the trade to get an early preview of the upcoming Napa Valley Vintage. Cheers to Premiere Napa Valley for putting on another fantastic event!

Nick Wittman
Santa Rosa Fine Wine
http://www.santarosafinewine.com/