Sometimes you open a bottle of wine and say, WOW! If you are like me, you hope it happens often, especially when it is a special bottle you have read a lot about, it has been well reviewed, and it cost you an arm and a leg. Over the past few months I have enjoyed some simply stunning wine that should be considered if you are in the market for something simply remarkable. Many may only be available via the winery website, but it will be worth it.
A few selections were sent for editorial consideration.
While out in Napa a few months ago I had a chance to visit Merus, Foley Family Wines high end label. I am a big fan of Foley and the wineries under their umbrella. This one took it to a whole new level. 100% of the grapes for this truly remarkable red, blending Cabernet Sauvignon with just a touch of Malbec and Petit Verdot, come from Coombsville vineyards at the base of Napa Valley. Though not yet its own AVA, this area produces some of the best silky, ripe, and rich Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in the valley. And their dynamic winemaker Camille Benitah and consulting winemarker Paul Hobbs, know to not tamper much with the hand selected, hand picked grapes letting the vineyards shine through their wine. Consistently receiving scores in the mid to high 90’s the wine is quite delicate, filled with black cherry, black plum, spice and licorice, just what you would want from a delicious Napa Valley Cabernet, with a velvety mouthfeel.
Also while in Napa I took the advice of one of our readers and visited Bremer Family Wine just at the base of Howell Mountain. I caught owner John Bremer at the end of his day, ready for a drink. Over the course of the next two hours I had a chance to not only try his incredible wine, but also hear his moving story about what passion and determination will do when wine is involved. The nursery owner from LA and his wife had visited Napa for years, and had far fetched dreams of one day owning their own winery. 10 years ago they made their dream a reality buying what was then a ghost winery, rebuilding it and establishing their brand at the base of Howell Mountain, a region they loved for the quality of the grapes grown in the area with great tannin structure and concentration. Of everything we tasted through the evening, including several stellar Merlot and Cabernet wines, the 2005 Seek Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2005 Cimarossa Cabernet Sauvignon were the favorites. The Seek was soft, balanced and supple with well-rounded mouthfeel and full body opening up the layers of cherry, berry and intense spice. Only 80 cases made, really highlighting the fact that John and his wife make much of their wine for their enjoyment first and foremost. The Cimarossa was well structured with fruit tannin and flavors of red cherry, rhubarb, molasses and a bit of vanilla. Both beautiful and quite a fun find.
In 1998 the Antinori family added on to their Napa Valley estate vineyards with the purchase of Townsend Vineyard from their long time neighbor, June Townsend. 20 acres of the 40 acre piece of land was planted with Cabernet Sauvignon vines which have become the elite Antica Townsend Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine represents the knowledge and experience the highly respected Italian family has earned through their years of making wine in Tuscany and now in Napa.
The 2008 vintage is elegant and refined with depth and distinction, a wine to be enjoyed for many years with the key attributes of a great Cab shining through – cherry, earth, leather, espresso, spice and luxurious flavor.
The other evening my sweetie said we needed to celebrate, because any day is a good day to celebrate, and opened a special bottle he had purchased some months ago called Den Hoed. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Wallula Vineyard just off the shores of the Columbia River in Washington where the state comes together with Oregon. WOW…..without question, one of the best Cabs either one of us have had in quite some time. The small production winery was created by brothers Bill and Andy Den Hoed with established Washington winemaker Allen Shoup with the goal to make interesting blends of great red varietals, and a stand out Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2007 Andreas, named after Bill and Andy’s father, proves how great Cabernet from Washington can be. A powerful wine with firm tannins, but not overpowering with earthy, leathery, mineral notes from the rich soils of the region, followed by cherry and blackberry, with a lingering finish that makes you want more.
While at dinner at The Grape the other night we had a bottle of 2008 Nickel and Nickel Suscol Ranch Vineyard Merlot. Though best known for their award winning Cabernet Sauvignon, this was a Merlot to write home about. Bold and juicy with layers of dark plum, blackberry and wild flowers with just a hint of spice finishing smooth and elegant. The only problem, it seemed to disappear entirely too fast.
Hestan Vineyards, a limited production winery in Napa Valley focused on high quality Bordeaux varietal red blends from 52 low-yielding acres of land. The 2007 Stephanie Napa Valley Red Wine, named after Proprietors Helen and Stanley Cheng’s daughter, blends 67% Cabernet Sauvignon with 21% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, and 3% each of Malbec and Cabernet Franc, which is then aged for 28 months in 100% new French oak.
Dense and expressive with hearty flavors of cherry and chocolate with espresso, caramel and spice.
Most think of the land of the Santa Lucia Highlands region as being the ideally suited for growing Pinot Noir, and it is, but it is also able to produce delicious, smoky and spicy Syrah. The Novy Santa Lucia Highlands Syrah is a favorite go to wine on any night with these spice and smoke notes rising out of the deep garnet colored wine, followed by flavors of black cherry, berry, baking spice and roasted pepper.
Tinamu Red from magical Mendoza, Argentina transports the palate to this dreamy region filled with hearty beef and incredible wine. The high end wine of Las Perdices Winery blending 60% Malbec with Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and just a touch of Tannat to round out the flavors and add a layer of tannin structure. Morello cherry, blackberry and violets with coffee and chocolate notes. A bold, concentrated wine yet smooth, silky and wonderfully drinkable.