There are several interesting nuances that I’m going to share with you on the White Oak Napa Reserve Blend—a wine that some consider a slight bump up from the winery’s highly rated Alexander Valley Reserve offering. First, it is somewhat of a rarity, as White Oak only produces this wine about three times each decade. The grapes are pulled from a side of Wooden Valley that “collects heat from the Palisades” and they only go to bat for this wine when conditions are ideal. Sounds like a labor but one of love for the growers.
2012 White Oak Vineyards & Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Reserve, Napa Valley, California, USA.
White Oak has about 750 acres around Alexander Valley and they focus on small-quantity releases. This one is a Bordeaux Blend, with a foundation in Cabernet Sauvignon (47%) and Merlot (15%) for sure, but also with a big Petit Verdot (23%) and Malbec (15%) presence as well. At your first sip the Malbec has the biggest bite and announces itself loud and clear; once the wine breathes a bit it takes more of a back seat to the Cab/Merlot blend. This mix is dark, deep purple in the glass and has the Malbec greet your nose. The 2012, crafted by winemaker Bill Parker, is aged 18 months in French Oak.
This is a Vivino purchase and they describe as a “very dark, structured, and aromatic wine that has the shoulders of Howell Mountain but the midsection of Stag’s Leap.”
The 2012 White Oak Vineyards & Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Reserve is a bold red that comes at you in waves. I have one more bottle of this same blend and may decant the next one so that it properly breathes; this one I rushed just a bit. The 2012 White Oak Napa Reserve accompanied chicken and pasta on one evening, and a flatbread pepperoni pizza on the next. The bottle was enjoyable with both, and with better care by me next time I have even higher expectations. Hope this helps you with the same.
Winemaker Dave Phinney is in his #5 vintage of this California Locations wine, and this is the first of two CA5 bottles I picked up prior to the holidays. California always offers a wide variety of grapes, tastes, and AVAs for consumers, and it feels incredibly ambitious to bring together all of these tastes into one single bottling that captures the essence of the region. Phinney has a long track record of doing this successfully, however, particularly in his Prisoner series and other related blends, so if anyone deserves the benefit of the doubt it’s him.
CA5, Locations Wine, Napa, California, USA.
I’m still mulling over some of the subtleties at play in the CA5. Let me mention this wine includes fruit from Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, and the Sierra foothills. I’m not sure how Locations networked with growers for the international Locations fruit, but it stands to reason he knew who to call in California for good grapes. In the CA5, there is an obvious cherry and blackberry foundation. The wine is smooth and fruit-forward–not as direct as a Michael David wine–and easy on the palate. The Locations people tell you it’s a blend of Petite Sirah, Barbera, Tempranillo, Syrah, and Grenache, and the grapes are nicely combined. A big red feel that is very much in keeping with the Bordeaux-style California Cabernet Sauvignons.
CA5, Locations Wine, Napa, California, USA.
This to me is less Syrah, less peppery, but stacks of red and black berries. A hint of smoky spice too. The CA5 is barrel aged for 10 months in French oak, and it has a 15.5% alcohol content that sneaks up on you. I had it tonight with a pork and broccoli dinner, and the wine was a nice contrast to the roasted flavors in my meal. I’m considering pulling the cork on the second CA5 next weekend while this taste is fresh on my palate–if you have tasted this vintage perhaps you would share your thoughts here too for Notes readers?
Thanks for your consideration and your readership, and best in 2018.
It’s The Prisoner who started off our evening, a 2015 purchased along with a few other Phinney red blends that will be opened during this Christmas season. The Prisoner made a Thanksgiving appearance, too, enjoyed by long-time friends and family gathered for delicious bird and festivities.
2015 The Prisoner, The Prisoner Wine Company, Napa County, California, USA.
While I opted for a comparable Buena Vista red on that occasion, this evening I went with the Prisoner Wine Company offering. The delicious, rich taste of the red overcame a rookie mistake: the bottle had sat in cold, December temperatures for several hours and I didn’t allow it to warm up enough when first serving. Once the wine had warmed in the glass, its true character–big cherry and chocolate notes–were much more apparent on the nose and to the taste.
It accompanied hors de oeuvres (essentially cheese and crackers), and our three glasses quickly dented and polished off this 2015. The taste? The Prisoner you may already know, but if not suffice it to say it is vintage red blend, a mix of Bing cherry, chocolate, black raspberry, and warm spices. Not earthy notes but more baking-type accents. Its finish is very smooth and leaves that cherry as a sign-off. Always a great treat!
It was the Dave Phinney name that put this “F” Location squarely on the map for me. Notes has covered his wines on several occasions this year, or those he helped launch, and knowing my favorite Winestore had a holiday special on Locations got me up and moving early this weekend.
Orin Swift Locations F4, Napa, California, USA.
This is my first Location, based on the recommendation of the store clerk, and I have the Orin Swift “I”, “CA”, and “E” as options in 2018 too. I pulled the cork this evening and poured amply, with no decanting on this tasting. Grapes for the fourth release of “F” come from growers in Rhone, Roussilon, and Bordeux, and if you haven’t heard of Locations previously, it’s a twist on the kitchen sink conceit. Phinney is less concerned about the specific varietals and more about capturing the essence of wine from a given region, blending with all kinds of freedom.
The “F” I had with steaks, slathered with a chili spice / butter sauce, roasted Yukon potatoes, and steamed broccoli. (Fun food fact—broccoli was first introduced to the US in the 1920s.) And the wine was really fun. It is kind and fruity, with some red raspberry and a little tang of cherry mixed in. The “F” has subtle earthy notes, but they’re so gentle that they don’t really come through in the tasting. This fourth release of “F” is less tannic than a Cab or a Syrah, and has more body to it than does a Pinot Noir. It is a very easy drinking wine overall that will go with just about any occasion.
A blend of Grenache, Syrah, and assorted Bordeaux varietals make up the fourth Orin Swift“F” Location, which is barrel aged for 10 months prior to release. The dinner was good; the Phinney wine was better.