2 great value white Bordeaux wines

Usually when I hear “great value”  I think “That’s what nice people say about crappy wine”   But I’ve found myself being pleasantly surprised more often than not these days.  Although the economy seems to have improved since the low point several years back, the wine market seems to have taken a longer time to recover.  From various articles and stories I’ve read recently it appears that people are still in a very strong value centric frame of mind.

With that in mind I present to you, dear reader.  Two white Bordeaux’s that will please your palate as well as your wallet!

white bordeaux bottleChateau Timberlay, 2012 Bordeaux

I had no idea at the time I was tasting this what the history of Chateau Timberlay was.  I posted a pic on Instagram saying that this must be Justin Timberlake’s favorite wine.  But it turns out that this is one of the oldest Chateaus in Bordeaux and dates back to 1366!  Currently the wine falls under the Robert Giraud family of wines. The Giraud family still lives in the Chateau in the middle of the 300+ acre vineyard.  The 2012 vintage is a blend of 60% Sauvignon blanc and 40% Semillon.  The wine was fermented in stainless steel and weighs in at 13% alcohol.

Yellow straw in color, with hints of white peach and lemon.  Medium acidity and a lingering finish.  If you’re a fan of New Zealand style sauv blanc, but want a toned down version this is the wine for you.  Same complexity, just less loud.  The wine retails for about $20.  Weekly Wine Journal Rating 88 points

 

Chateau-de-chantegriveChateau de Chantegrive, 2011 Graves.

Graves is a sub region of Bordeaux and is well known for red wine production.  Personally, I’ve been really impressed with the whites from this region.  The name Graves comes from “Gravelly” which is what the soil is.  Left over glacial gravel from the last ice age.  Chateau de Chantegrive was founded by the Leveque family in 1966 and today the estate has grown to about 230 acres with about 45 acres dedicated to the production of this wine.

The Blend:  50% Sauvignon Blanc, 50% Semillon

This wine is crisp.  Really crisp.  Sharp.  In a good way.  Think Grapefruit with loads of cool mineral notes.  There is a hint of ripeness of the peach variety that plays into it later on, but it’s barely noticeable.  This wine also retails for about $20.  If you’re like me and like your white wines to be on the bigger bolder more tart and crisp side this is the wine for you.

Weekly Wine Journal rating 91 points

* disclaimer.  I received both of these wines as review samples.

 

 

 

A taste of Bouchaine

A taste of Bouchaine

Bouchaine-wines

It’s always an interesting thing for me to meet a wine maker or wine personality for the first time.  You never know what to expect, the personalities are as varied as wine itself.

Recently, I had the pleasure of dining and talking with Greg Gauthier of Bouchaine Vineyards.  I walked into the dimly lit steakhouse and in the back at a table by himself sat a man with a table of wine bottles and a few boxes of wine by his side.  He greeted me warmly and said they were still getting the private room ready, and would I like to grab a beer while we wait.  So we went over to the bar which allowed us to begin our conversation.

We sat and drank water instead of beer.  It was at least 110F outside in the Phoenix summer heat.  I asked him how he was enjoying the weather.  He smiled and chuckled.  The private room became ready a few minutes later and we continued our 3 hour conversation there.

Greg brought some of the current line up of Bouchaine Vineyards wines out including several Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs.  As we began sipping he asked me to hold off for a minute, he summoned the wait staff and ask them to bring an olive, a piece of lemon skin, some salt and a few other morsels.  He carried out a little sensory experiment for me that was quite fascinating.  Try the unoaked chardonnay, then drop a piece of lemon skin the size of a small nail head in the glass.  After only having been in the glass for a few seconds, the wine was completely changed and overpowered by lemon citrus, yet it still tasted quite nice.  It tasted just like a New Zealand style sauvignon blanc.

These taste experiments lead into a discussion about the current marketing strategy of Bouchaine.   It’s not really a strategy like one hatched up by Don Draper, more like an approach to explaining the wines.   It’s Greg’s job to travel the country with his wines and talk with chef’s and restauranteurs and try to get them to see these wines as companions to food.  Not just companions but soul mates.  Just as the lemon skin changed the Chardonnay, I could now imagine that wine pairing very nicely with a salmon ( Pacific, NOT farmed) with lemon juice dressing.  Or something along those lines.

When the waitress came back we inquired about the salmon on the menu.  Is it Pacific or Atlantic salmon?  This is a question that you should really ask any time Salmon is on the menu and a huge pet peeve of mine.  But that’s a topic for another article.  After the waitress explained that it was special organic Atlantic salmon, Greg and I both said almost in unison “I think I’ll have a steak”

We tasted through the wines while Greg gave me a brief history of the Bouchaine operation.  Bouchaine is the oldest continuously operating winery in the Carneros District.   The Carneros District is one of only a few American Viticultural Areas (A.V.A’s) located in two counties.  The Carneros district is located in both Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley at the edge of San Pablo bay.  The area is prone to fog and cool ocean breezes and is really ideal for Chardonnay and Pinot noir.

The wines

Bouchaine, 2011 “Chene d’Agent” Chardonnay, Carneros Napa Valley

Bouchaine-Chardonnay-bottle

This is a crisply acidic and refreshing wine, loads of citrus some nice mineral notes.  Fermented in stainless steel and weighing at 13% alc, this is really a very refreshing take on the typical massive alcoholic butterbombs that are all too common in California wine these days.  Only 246 cases produced.

Bouchaine, 2011 Estate Vineyard Chardonnay, Carneros Napa Valley

Bouchaine-estate-chardonnay-bottleThis wine is a completely different style than the last, and equally interesting.  The wine was aged in 15% new French, American and Hungarian oak, with 50% undergoing malolactic fermentation.  With a production run of just over 6,000 cases this wine should be readily available in most fine wine stores and dining establishments.  “You probably won’t find it on your local grocery shelf though”  Greg said.    The wine has a much softer mouth feel than the previous wine, a nice hint of butterscotch.

Bouchaine, 2012 Estate Vineyard Pinot Meunier.  Carneros, Napa Valley

Bouchaine-pinot-meunier-jpgThis wine saw 11 months in 33% new French oak barrels and weighs in at 13.85% alcohol.  A little over 400 cases were made. First, a little about Pinot Meunier…  one of 3 noble grapes used in the production of Champagne,  very rarely used in the production of dry red wine.  Closely related to Pinot Noir.

This wine really reminded me of South African Pinotage.  A really robust backbone of tannins, black plums, pine forest, smokey oak, cinnamon.  Very complex. This was definitely my favorite of the night

Bouchaine, 2010 Pinot Noir, Carneros.

Bouchaine-pinot-noir

I forgot to ask Greg why the labeling was different on this bottle, no mention of Napa there.  This wine also saw 11 months in 33% new French oak with alcohol almost identical to the Pinot Meunier at 13.8% With production at a little under 10,000 cases this wine should be available at most wine shops and restaurants.  This is a good solid cool climate Pinot Noir that Carneros is so well known for.  Flavors of strawberry, red cherry with a little spice and earth.  Robust acidity and tannins.

The rest of the night was spent just talking about a wide range of subjects, a lot to do with wine, but also a lot to do with life.  Greg’s humor really started to come out a little later on.  He has a very understated sense of humor.  We had talked about the weather with the manager briefly and she mentioned that our waitress had a mild case of heat stroke a few days before whilst riding her bike in the midday Phoenix summer heat (115F).   When the waitress returned Greg very casually mentioned: “I hear you enjoy riding your bike…”

“Not in this heat”  she said.

On my next trip to Napa I will definitely be taking a side trip to Carneros and Bouchaine vineyards. It’s really very close, literally about 15 minutes from downtown Napa.  Hopefully Greg will be there to show me around!

http://www.bouchaine.com/Home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Playtime in Lake County!

It’s Playtime in Lake County!

The Playtime label is part of the Shannon Ridge family of wines, based out of Lake County.  The label produces only two wines, a red blend and a Chardonnay.  The fun labels are a tribute to pin-up stars from the World War II era, and each bottle features either red hair for the red wine or blonde hair for the Chardonnay.  I’m not normally sold on wines that rely on nifty labels, so I was a little skeptical but once I tasted the wines I was pleasantly surprised.

2012 Playtime, Red Wine, Lake County

playtime-redBlend: 61% Zinfandel, 20% Grenache, 11% Petite Verdot, 8% Barbera

Alcohol: 14.2%

Production: 1,250 cases

Retail price: $15.99

This is pretty interesting blend, and it works quite well together.  The nose is predominantly cherries with a hint of vanilla oak.  On the palate there’s decent ripe fruit, but enough tannins to stop this wine from being a flabby jammy run of the mill wine.  The mouth feel is silky and there’s a hint of peppery spice on the back end.

This would make a decent wine to serve with summer bbq fare, especially ribs or pizza or even a good meaty tomato based pasta dish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

playtime-blonde2012 Playtime Blonde, Chardonnay, Lake County

Blend: 100% Chardonnay

Alcohol: 13.9%

Production: 2,500 cases

Retail price: $13

Playtime Blonde is a straight forward easy drinking Chardonnay.  A citrus based aroma and palate with toasty vanilla oak and a little minerality make it more complex than I was expecting for a $13 Chardonnay.  Pleasantly surprised.

*disclaimer this wine was received as a sample review

Shannon Ridge Wines

Playtimewine.com

 

 

napa valley view

A Visit to Keever Vineyards

A Visit to Keever Vineyards

I was first introduced to Keever Vineyards by a gentleman named Chilli Davis at a wine tasting in Scottsdale, Arizona and was immediately hooked, the wine was incredible.  This past June while visiting Napa for the Taste of Howell Mountain Christine Piccin with Mackenzie Agency (PR) was kind enough to set me up with a private tasting (actually all the Keever tastings are private) on VERY short notice.  Because of intermittent cell service I missed the confirmation of my appointment but Olga Keever was nice enough to leave me a phone message.  I called back and a guy named Bill answered. He said he would wait for me.

Keever Vineyards, adding the personal touch

Keever Vineyards, adding the personal touch

I arrived an hour and a half past the original appointment time and was greeted by Bill.  Bill Keever, owner.  When I walked in the tasting room, which is actually a massive two story architectural marvel I noticed some wines set on the counter.  Then I noticed a big card which read “Welcome Tim!”

Bill took me on an extended tour of the building, the production facilities, the cave, the vineyard and back to the tasting room for more wine.  All along the tour I was able to ask questions and Bill answered freely.

Keever-vineyards-19One of the things I learned is that Bill graduated from Napa Valley high school and ended up becoming the CEO of Vodafone Asia region.  His base of operations for most of his time overseas was Germany and the Netherlands and it was during this time that his exposure to wine occurred in a big way.  They moved back to Napa in 1999 and Bill finally retired in 2003.  Eventually they came across some property right next to the Veterans Hospital right near Yountville.  If you’ve ever driven north on Highway 29 from Napa to St Helena, on the left hand side of the road just as you’re getting into Yountville there’s a big white building on the west side of the road, nestled up against the foothills of the Mayacamas range.  The property was actually a horse training facility complete with a small outdoor arena.  Bill said this was really convenient because all of the surrounding area has massive rocks in and on the ground that need to be removed prior to planting a vineyard.  Luckily this had already been completed and also the land had been leveled out nicely as well.

stunning view from the tasting room

stunning view from the tasting room

The next step in pursuing the dream was to find a wine maker.  Bill enlisted the help of a friend and well known Napa Valley consultant to find a top notch wine maker and eventually Celia Welch agreed to be their wine maker.  For those of you not familiar with Celia Welch she was named Food & Wine Magazine’s winemaker of the year for 2008.  She has been a consulting wine maker rock star for over 25 years.  She stated with Staglin and currently works with Kelly Flemming, Scarecrow, Barbour, Hollywood & Vine and others.   Celia has her own label, Corra wines as well.  Celia helped the Keevers with more than just the wine making, she was instrumental in the layout and design of the facilities as well.  In effect Celia manages them, not the other way around.

Inside the tasting room/house

Inside the tasting room/house

Bill poured me a glass of the Keever Sauvignon Blanc and we took a tour of the production facilities, which is one of the most pristine, clean and organized facilities I’ve ever seen.  It’s as if there has never been any wine made there, spotless.  This, in large part is Celia’s influence.  She is a stickler for sanitary wine making conditions.  This interesting interview from Wines and Vines goes into more depth on that subject: ( winesandvines.com )  The wine production area is gravity fed an interesting and unique feature.  All of the open top stainless steel fermentation tanks are not bolted to the floor.  They are movable.  The fruit comes in on a mezzanine level above the tank room and goes thru the de-stemmer and is sorted and all the good fruit is then dropped through a hole into a waiting tank beneath.  The tanks are switched out by forklift.  Rather than bring the fruit to the tank, they do it the other way around, by bringing the tank to the fruit.

production facilities

production facilities

Room for 100 of your closest friends

Room for 100 of your closest friends

Next, we headed into the wine cave.  Although not the biggest by any means, it extremely clean, and the tunnel itself is actually pretty wide.  In the middle it opens up into a big room where there is enough room for a table and 100 of your closest friends.  There’s even a wine vault at the end, with a little table for two behind the glass wall.

After the cave we walked back around the front of the property and took a look at progress of the grapes.  Bill laughed that his granddaughter loves to eat the little grapes, especially as they become ripe.

The vault

The vault

We ended up back in the tasting house and I sampled through the Keever Vineyards current offerings ( I’ll be posting these reviews in future updates).

If you’re into high quality Napa wines and cabernets in particular you should definitely look into Keever.  If you’re in Napa and want to visit be sure to make arrangements ahead of time as the vineyard is protected by a large gate, so you can’t just show up, all tastings are by appointment only.

Keever Vineyards Website

 

 

Mike Dunn on Petite Sirah

Mike Dunn on Petite Sirah

On my recent trip to Napa Valley for the 19th annual Taste of Howell Mountain I had a chance to visit Dunn Vineyards and Retro Cellars up on Howell Mountain.  After a tour of the vineyard and cave led by Kara Dunn I got to sit down and try out some wine and chat.  While sipping Retro Cellars Napa Valley and Howell Mountain Petite Sirah Mike offered up some insight into the grape and other varieties that do well in the Howell Mountain micro climates.

Ladera-wine-4

A visit to Ladera on Howell Mountain

A visit to Ladera Vineyards on Howell Mountain

 

Ladera, Howell Mountain.

Ladera, Howell Mountain.

My annual pilgrimage to Napa Valley this year (2014) included a visit to Ladera Vineyards on Howell Mountain.  Howell Mountain is a sub AVA (American Viticultural Area) of the larger Napa Valley AVA and is located in the northern end of Napa Valley near Saint Helena.  I had planned to visit Ladera in 2013 but I missed my flight out of Phoenix and arrived too late to meet anyone.  This year I made arrangements to arrive a full day ahead of any winery visits!

I wanted to visit Ladera because for the last several years now I have been a huge fan of their Howell Mountain Cabernet.  I was first introduced to Ladera by Wine Library and Gary Vaynerchuk.  I ordered 6 bottles of the ’04 Howell Mountain cab and have enjoyed them immensely over the last several years, and unfortunately they are all gone now.  I’ve enjoyed other vintages at fine steak houses across the country including Smith & Wollensky in Las Vegas.

On this visit I was lucky enough to have a personal tour with Ladera’s proprietor, Pat Stotesbery.  We toured the restored winery building, which was originally built in 1886.  Pat showed me the multi level building which actually works as a gravity fed winery.  The grapes are brought in at the top level, and sorted and sent down to the next level for crushing and finally at the lower level comes the fermentation and bottling and entrance to the cave system.

Ladera's Caves

Ladera’s Caves

The cave system is interesting.  It’s actually in a circle with off shoots here and there, and a really cool area for special tasting parties.  The cave system covers about 18,000 square feet.  Pat pointed out a very interesting architectural feature: The tunnel for the cave is lined up directly with the entrance to the building.  This is difficult to do because the tunnel for the cave was dug the other way…meaning they tunneled from underground towards the underground walls of the building and tried to line it up so that the tunnel would be directly lined up with the large entrance doors on the opposite side of the fermentation tank room.

Private tasting room in the cave system

Private tasting room in the cave system

Pat also pointed out another architectural feature on the outside of the building.  On some of the walls, the massive stone bricks are flush and on others they stick out like misaligned legos.  This was done because back in the 1880’s there were plans to make this building larger on the one side and so they left the bricks like that so they could fit the addition in where the original structure left off.

I sat outside on the patio and tasted through the current Ladera offerings with Pat while I quizzed him on his former life.

“I’ve actually re-invented myself a couple of times”  he said.  Originally he studied accounting, and then he started a cattle ranch in Montana.  This ranch was actually used as the location for the Robert Redford movie “A River Runs Through It”  and yes that great fly fishing river ran right through his property.  The Stotesbery’s acquired Ladera in the late 1999 and undertook the massive renovation of the vineyard and original winery structure.

The Wines

Ladera 2010 High Plateau Cabernet Sauvignon

 

Ladera High Plateau Cabernet

Ladera High Plateau Cabernet

This wine is 98% Cabernet and 2% Petit Verdot blended from Laderas Howell mountain and Diamond Mountain estate vineyards.  Each of the 5 lots that make up this wine were fermented separately in open top fermenters and then aged in 60% new French Oak for 22 months.

This wine very similar to Ladera’s flagship “Howell Mountain” cabernet.  Except that it retails for $65 instead of $85.  This wine has a lot of nice fruit and tannin to it.  Black fruit with a hint of spice.

Ladera 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain Stile Blocks

Ladera Howell Mountain Stile Blocks

Ladera Howell Mountain Stile Blocks

This is Ladera’s newest offering and is positioned between their Napa Valley Cabernet and the Howell Mountain Cabernet. It’s also 98% Cabernet 2% Petit Verdot, and all Howell Mountain fruit and retails for $50 a bottle.

Ladera 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain

Ladera Rerserve Howell Mountain Cabernet

Ladera reserve Howell Mountain Cabernet

This year Ladera added the word “Reserve” to the name of their previously named “Howell Mountain” wine.  Pat explained that everyone always asked him if he had a “reserve” wine and everyone else seems to have a “reserve” wine so he figured that the Howell Mountain cab really is the reserve wine and added reserve to the label. There, now its reserve.  This wine is 100% Cab and 100% Howell Mountain estate fruit.  The wine was aged in it’s separate blocks for 21 months in 100% new French oak and bottled without fining or filtration.  Only 2000 cases were made, retail price $85.

Ladera’s Howell Mountain cab has been one of my steakhouse favorites.  This wine has been extremely consistent over the years and goes extremely well with prime cuts of red meat.  This is a big bold, “decadent” (described on their website) wine.  One more recent vintages I recommend decanting for a few hours.  I recently drank the last bottle of ’04 Howell Mountain Cab and really wished I had purchased a lot more.  It’s really aged nicely.

Ladera 2010 “S” Howell Mountain Cabernet

Ladera "S"

Ladera “S”

This wine is the only wine that makes reference to the Stotesbery family with the big “S” in the label.  This wine is really only available to wine club members.  Only 97 cases were made.  Its the best fruit from the best lots, it’s simply the best of the best when it comes to Ladera.   Retail price is $175 and there is a limit of 3 bottles per customer.

 

 

 

 

Dunn-vineyards

Interview with Mike Dunn, Part 1 | Dunn Vineyards Retro Cellars

I had a chance to sit down with Mike and Kara Dunn at the Dunn Vineyards Estate on top of Howell Mountain and talk a little bit about wine.  First I tasted Mike and Kara’s new project “Retro Cellars” and then I tasted a selection of Dunn Vineyards Howell Mountain Cabernets.

Randy Dunn started Dunn Vineyards over 30 years ago on some land near high up on Howell Mountain.

An original structure dating back to the 1800's.  The vine in the fore ground is over 100 years old

An original structure dating back to the 1800’s. The vine in the fore ground is over 100 years old

Some of the original structures from the 1800’s are still on the property.  This includes a white two story house that serves as the laboratory and business offices of the winery.  This building was actually a rest house for the pony express back in the 1800’s.

My visit included a tour of the vineyards as well as a walk into the massive cave system that Randy Dunn constructed.  I’ll talk more about these things as well as the actual wine I tasted in upcoming posts…

Here’s part one of the interview with Mike.  In it he discusses how he actually “came back” to wine and how he came to make Petite Sirah.

Brad Pitt on the cover of Wine Spectator

WS063014_CoverUS.indd

On my flight to Napa a couple of weeks ago I had the chance to read the current (June 2014) issue of Wine Spectator.  The featured article is on Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and their vineyard and winery.  The Jolie-Pitts, as they are now known, invested $60 million dollars in their Miraval project located in Provenance, France.  They partnered with the Perrin family for assistance in the vineyard management and wine making.  The first vintage of Miraval was released last year and surprised a lot of people by receiving critical acclaim (90 points WS) as well as fan fare.

The most interesting thing about the whole article is the transformation of Brad Pitt from Hollywood megastar into a rural farmer in France.  According to the article, Brad spend most of his time on the property now basically just farming and fixing things.  He discovered a retention wall on the property which was built in the 1200’s and has spent the last year or so painstakingly repairing it.

I have yet to taste any if Miraval’s releases, but I have noticed them at my local Costco, so I think I’ll give it a try.

A Visit to Howell Mountain and Red Cap Vineyards

Red Cap Vineyards

Red Cap Vineyards on Howell Mountain

Red Cap Vineyards on Howell Mountain, Napa Valley.

I first came across Red Cap Vineyards at the Taste of Howell Mountain in 2013. Owner Tom Altemus was standing by all by himself, humbly pouring a Sauvignon Blanc and a Howell Mountain Cabernet. Over the past year Red Cap Vineyards has exploded in popularity. This is a direct result of a decision Tom took to embrace the new media. In particular he embraced Instagram. He hired popular wine Instagrammer Michael Nguyen and the Red Cap Instagram account began to really come to life not only with constant artistic updates but with actual real live human updates.  If Gary Vaynerchuk is looking for a great example for his next case study of a company doing it right on Instagram he should take a look at Red Cap’s Instagram account.

Red-Cap-Vineyards-17

The official Red Cap trike.

Last month I got to spend some time with the Red Cap family at their Howell Mountain home and estate vineyard.  The vineyard is located on Howell Mountain road right near the Angwin airport at an elevation of about 1,800-2,000 ft.  The private setting opens up to a family home with a guest house on the side.  As I arrived Tom’s wife Desiree came out of the guest house with a fresh baked parmesan flat bread creation drizzled with duck fat and herbs.

There is no tasting room at Red Cap Vineyards.  That’s the first thing that should be noted by anyone wishing to visit the winery or vineyard.  They are not open to the public for tastings.  I was invited as a friend of the Altemus family.

There is a nice big hardwood table with seating for 8 in the dining room where I sat with Tom his wife Desiree and Michael.   Over the next couple of hours I sampled the 2013 Napa Valley Sauvignon blanc and the 2008 and 2010 Howell Mountain Cabernets.  After some discussions about social media marketing and the rigors of taking the wine tastings on the road, we stepped outside for a tour of the property.

You could be enjoying yourself here, at Red Cap Vineyards

You could be enjoying yourself here, at Red Cap Vineyards

There is a fire pit out in the back yard, which Red Cap Vineyards actually auctioned off at the Taste of Howell Mountain.  The winning bidder won an Argentinian style BBQ for 10 people right there in the back yard!  The thing I really love about the property is how it just feels like your best friends house or your uncles house.  There is a familiarity to it that is really nice.  There’s the deck chairs and stumps of wood around the fire pit.  The wooden swing hanging from the oak tree.  The family dog, Roscoe follows along.

Roscoe!

Roscoe!

We walked around the property and Tom showed me some really interesting trees.  Their bark is smooth and a dark reddish black color, pretty much the same color as wine.  Under the bark the tree is a bright green wasabi color.  At this point says “Here! Let me show you!”  and he began vigorously rubbing the bark off of a tree.

“Here we go!”  Says Michael “Tom’s rubbing the bark off the trees again!”

The tree with the bark rubbed off

The tree with the bark rubbed off

We walk down to the lowest property line where the forest begins and then around to the vineyard in the front lot.  The tiny block has several different micro climates all within the same area which is less than 2 acres, if not less than 1 perhaps.  There is an area that gets direct sunlight all day, an area that only gets afternoon light, an area that gets morning light.  An area at the bottom of the property that gets frost from time to time.

After the tour of the property we headed back inside for some more wine.  The conversation was hilarious.  I can’t repeat any of it here, but these guys are honest and funny.  And all of a sudden out came the Grappa!  The Grappa was a gift from wine maker Rebekah Wineburg made from the pomace of her first vintage.  The conversation if it wasn’t lively before, definitely became lively if not confessional after that!

The Wines

The Red Cap lineup
The Red Cap lineup

2013 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc

This is a blend of 92% Sauvignon blanc and 8% Semillon sourced from Rutherford, Napa Valley. Alcohol weighs in at  14.5%.

red cap 2013 sauvignon blanc bottle

The wine is a pale yellow straw color with good clarity.  On the nose there are ripe citrus notes and a hint of minerality.  The palate is a mix of citrus and apricot with solid acidity and an off dry sweetness.  The mouthfeel is actually more towards the medium bodied side which is quite nice, a fairly weighty feel.

This wine is a very nice expression of what Napa sauvignon blanc can be.  If you’re into the New Zealand style, this wine is not for you.  If you’re looking for an elegant yet easily approachable summer sipper for special occasions, pick up a case.  If you can, only 312 cases were made and this wine retails for $27 so it will probably sell out very quickly.

 

 2008 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

red cap 2008 howell mountain bottleThis wine is 100% cab, all Howell Mountain fruit, and all 260 cases are sold out.  But I thought I’d just review the wine for aging reference.  This wine saw 24 months in French oak and weighs in at 14.7% alcohol.  The wine is a deep dark purple color.  On the nose there’s blackberry and a foresty pine or cedar element, that might have just been because that’s where I was when I was tasting it.  The palate is rich, smooth, ripe and juicy.  Black berries and mocha, with a nice long finish.  The retail price on this wine was $65 when it was available.  A very good price point for the highly sought after Howell Mountain AVA.

2010 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

red cap 2010 cabernet bottle

This wine is also 100% Cabernet and all Howell Mountain fruit with 27 months in French Oak, weighs in at 14.87% alcohol. This wine obviously younger than the ’08 but is showing a lot of promise.  The nose is more explosive.  Right away the big black fruits and subtle forest notes jump out while the palate is loaded with that tight tannic yet elegant and polite and structured fruit Howell Mountain is known for.  The palate is loaded with black cherry.  Mouth watering black cherries.  The retail price on this wine is $75 with a production run of 280 cases.

See more pics of the visit here:  Facebook.com/weeklywinejournal

Contact Red Cap Vineyards here: Redcapvineyards.com/contact

taste-of-howell-mountain-2014-61

2014 Taste of Howell Mountain Photos

The 2014 Taste of Howell Mountain was held at the Charles Krug Winery on Saturday, June 14th. Over 35 wineries were on hand pouring wines and guests were treated to some great finger foods. Guests also had a chance to bid on silent and live auction items. The live and silent auctions raised over $150,000 this year for the benefit of Howell Mountain Schools.

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One of the most interesting items ever auctioned at the annual Taste of Howell Mountain was a barrel of Dunn Vineyard sourced wine. The starting bid on the approximately 23 cases of wine was $19,000. The winning bidder paid $22,000 for this one of kind item.

The turnout was a new record as well. Over 400 people attended, paying $125 for a ticket and as much a
s $250 at the door. Next year’s event is sure to be sold out well in advance, so get your tickets well in advance!

Howell Mountain Vintners and Grower’s Association website