We often reflect on the course of a year, weather that is personal or business, but often giving the year a rating or a finite review. In wine this is no different; 2007 has been touted as the vintage of the decade in Northern California, leading many consumers and professionals alike seeking this particular vintage for many years to come. The issue; many vintners released these wines and sold through them years ago, leaving the quantity way less than the demand. In my daily activities as a salesperson in the wine wholesale market, I see this first hand. I have a supplier that recently released their 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and I was fortunate enough to be showing the wine during a sales trip last week. While visiting with many restaurant sommeliers they all shared a common thought, “We have a lack of 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon on our wine list, as many of our patrons will pass over other vintages to drink this sought after vintage." Restaurants that have ample storage and purchased a large supply of this vintage have even sold through the majority of these wines based on demands. The Vintage has received rave reviews from the likes of Robert Parker of Wine Advocate (96 Points), Steve Heimoff of Wine Enthusiast (95 Points), & James Laube of Wine Spectator (97 Points). The vintage was also a winemaker’s dream; not only outstanding quality, but also a decent yield. The year started with an early bud break with no spring rains or frost, which leads to a longer maturation period due to consistent temperatures with no heat spikes. This left the grapes with small clusters of dense concentrated fruit. I have mentioned in previous posts, "great winemakers make great wines in bad vintages", but in 2007 the year started with great fruit which is the basis for making great wine. If you did not make terrific wine in 2007 then you may have seriously considered firing your vineyard crew or cellar staff. Seriously, it was that difficult to make a subpar wine in ’07. Given all these attributes and demand it is tough to pass on any 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, as they are drinking well now, but could also be cellared for another 5 – 7 years to reach full potential. This is a wine that I suggest stocking up on as gifts, special occasions, cellaring, and to drink now. The 2007 is ideal for all occasions. While most wineries that have any 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon (mostly are library releases) are raising prices significantly on this vintage, (I have seen most raised 100% from the original release prices) Vinformant.com is offering this 2007 RustRidge Cabernet Sauvignon at a significant 30% discount. This will only be available for a limited time, so stock up now! RustRidge Winemaker, Kent Rosenblum (Yes, that Kent Rosenblum), “The King of Zinfandel” is making terrific wines from the wonderful estate vineyards in Chiles Valley. Needless to say, Kent is a world renowned winemaker and a living icon in the wine industry. His 2007 vintage wines have been rated among the best in the world. The 2007 RustRidge Cabernet Sauvignon is no different; the wine shows wonderful restraint and is a great representation of Chiles Valley which is a Northeastern Sub-appellation of the Napa Valley. This is an ideal location to grow Cabernet Sauvignon given the high elevation of the Vaca Mountain range that engulfs the region; this elevation yields to limited top soils and a phenomenally drained mineral laden volcanic base giving the grapes the right amount of stress to produce top notch fruit. The proximity of Lake Hennessy to Chiles Valley also serves to the micro climate; insultating the vineyards during spring time frosts and cooling the vineyards during the peak heat of summer. With the pedigree of this wine from vintage, to winemaker, to appellation this will be a wine not to miss! Continue »
Do you ever have a wine varietal which you just can’t seem to find much within the bottle that you enjoy? Tasting with other wine professionals and novices alike I think everyone has at least one. I feel that it is important to see a wine for what it is and what the winery or winemaker is trying to achieve with each individual style, but that doesn’t mean that I will like it. However, for me, the one varietal that I can't seem to pallet has been Zinfandel. The alcohols can seem intrusive up in to the 16% level. The wines have so much juicy extraction with flavors of prunes, and sweet baked fruit. For this reason when I was given my Zinfandel assignment I held off for as long as possible. On the upside I did see that the bottle was from Maroon Winery and I have always appreciated the classic nature of their Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. I thought to myself, would this Reserve Old Vine Zin be one that I can truly enjoy and welcome with open arms? To my pleasant surprise the alcohol was in check at a modest 14.5%, the color was gleaming and translucent, and the nose had a pleasant balance of toasty oak and dark briery fruit. After all the time I have spent knocking Zinfandel, maybe I have not given this wine enough promise as of late. This wine was impressive in balance that boasts nice acidity and a more refined complex flavors then the other versions I tried in the past. The wine had great finesse and led to an evening of rack of lamb, which I believed would be the perfect pairing. Wow! Not kidding, when you order this wine venture down to the local butcher and grab a rack… of Lamb. I make a relatively simple lamb especially when the butcher French cuts the lamb. Just rub it with salt and pepper, pan sear it browning each side, then rub it with minced garlic and Dijon mustard, put it in the oven for about 12 – 15 minutes at 450 degrees and then eat delicious medium rare lamb. Serve with a little caramelized onion chutney and a glass (or bottle) of Maroon Reserve Old Vine Zinfandel for full enjoyment. I had given up on Zin and this was my own fault, as I gave up too soon. I probably have tried less than ten Zinfandel over the past 7 years and this mainly coming from my naive youth in the wine industry. I was trying what could be seen as the wrong zins as many were from those main stream brands and not these lesser known, small production, and handcrafted wineries. Not only will I give Zinfandel another chance, but maybe I will try to get over my paranoia of Viogner as well. So thank you Maroon for opening my eyes. Continue »
Silver Oak and Baseball In talking with my co-worker yesterday, we were discussing the memories that wine can create. Which wines you drank during special occasions and the great moments that are associated with such wines. She told stories of her father’s favorite winery, Silver Oak, and the treasured memories the wine created for her family. Growing up my parents were enthusiastic, but amateurish when it came to wine they consumed, it wasn’t till a trip to Napa later in life that changed their outlook on high-end wines. To put it into perspective I had to compare her treasured moments to my family’s love of baseball and all the memories that I shared with my father growing up. I have been a diehard NY Mets fan far as long as I can remember, and watching the Mets beat the Giants in a 16 inning drag out fight last night was amazing (Sorry Giants fans). The connections we can make between all passions in life are amazing. As I began thinking about Silver Oak and this blog last night while at the game, I thought of some of the great storied franchises in Major League baseball and the storied Silver Oak winery being a staple in Napa Valley for producing epic Cabernet Sauvignon for ages. It brought memories of the NY Yankees in the 1930s, & NY Giants in the 1920s. These dynasties can be considered exactly what Silver Oak has achieved in the wine industry; remarkable consistency for winning over a significant time period. The only thing that is not consistent is that sometimes these baseball franchises go dormant for a few years, ala my NY Mets for the past 10+ years, but with Silver Oak they make outstanding wines year in and year out. With Napa we have consistently seen good to great vintages, with poor vintages happening once in a 20 year span. However, even in these substandard vintages, Silver Oak Winemaker, Daniel Baron, has been able to turn out great wines. There is a phrase for this, “Great Winemakers make great wines in bad vintages.” This phase stands up for all of Silver Oak’s years in the business. The 2008 Vintage was phenomenal at Silver Oak and that was despite a small crop that was caused by a drought followed by frost, then a heat spike as harvest began. Most winemakers that I have spoken to regarding the vintage mentioned that the additional stress did create wines of exceptional quality and that the only effects of the climatic challenges were the disappointment of low tonnage. As a matter of fact, Wine & Spirits awarded the Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 94 points, and I must agree that the vintage was the best that I have tasted from Silver Oak and one of my top Cabernets from the 2008 vintages. To tie this all together, the 2008 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is my version of the 1986 NY Mets; a gritty, over performing team that showed promise through adversity, and won the World Series despite the challenges that were laid before them. I highly suggest getting your hands on this vintage while supplies last as it is the end of the vintage and it will not be around long. With its additional bottle aging this wine is drinkable now, but could be cellared for around 15 additional years to really enjoy the intricacies of this spectacular wine. Continue »
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