Napa Valley Cab–such a favorite of mine and even more so when it’s shared with interesting company. In my mind, great grapes are always paired best with great conversation. (Okay, okay…a perfectly grilled NY strip makes a strong argument too, I’ll grant you that…) And with that said, here’s the 2016 Sailor’s Grave Cabernet Sauvignon.
This vintage gets its backbone from Cabernet Sauvignon (76%) but also mixes in the Merlot (20%), Cabernet Franc (2%), and Petite Verdot (2%). I couldn’t recognize the Verdot in the equation, as the fullness of the Cab and Merlot really drive this red. It’s rich, and there are definite blackberry and black cherry flavors in the 2016 Sailor’s Grave. It’s more red, less inky, and less purple overall than the Buena Vista Sheriff that was recently profiled here in Notes. Little whiff of something else too that I can’t quite place…is it spice box? Leather? I am not sure but that’s okay…my mind is on other things even as I sample.
The first vintage of Sailor’s Grave Cabernet Sauvignon was released in 2010, and glad to taste that steady process of evolution and refinement here in the ’16. Really fun to get lost in a world of great ambiance, wine, and company. This time matters.
How do you commemorate writing a @*%* tax check for Uncle Sam? You shake your head and reach for a bottle of good wine to cushion the landing. This guy opted for the 2016 Palermo Cabernet Sauvignon from Orin Swift Cellars. (Yes, I’d have celebrated a better return the same way, those of you asking…)
Palermo has been on my radar for some time, as a gift for friends, from friends, and once on a memorable date that I enjoyed a ton. We didn’t even finish the bottle on that occasion – guess the company was the more intoxicating play. Said another way, this was the first time I was drinking this Bordeaux-style red with thoughts of how I would describe here in Notes. It’s rich purple in your glass (I went with Riedel stemware for this one) and waves blackberry scents to you right from the first pour. The 2016 vintage is very drinkable, dark berry fruits, and has an easy finish that is probably some of the blended fruit rounding off the harsher tannic corners of the Cabernet. Little spice notes that are far more subtle than the blackberry / dark cherry taste.
The Palermo is a mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc grapes that the winemaker sources from across the ripe floors of Napa Valley. Calistoga, St. Helena, Coombsville, and Oak Knoll all contribute to this kitchen sink of a wine as does Pope Valley, Atlas Peak, and both Rutherford and Oakville. To what extent? Only the winery knows for sure, but you can bet their inclusion is for both taste and the overall marketability of the Palermo. They mature the Palermo in French Oak barrels for 10 months.
This evening, the 2016 accompanied a pork loin (just a tad overdone) and just a big ol’ salad of arugula, spinach, green olives, and a sweet onion that I shaved into little slivers of goodness. And yes, fresh ground pepper and bacon, with blue cheese dressing. Hey, if tax day doesn’t bring out your sense of carpe diem and good wine what does?!?
This bottle I’ve been saving for six months (pretty sure it’s actually been longer), looking for the right occasion to break it out. This day is not quite unfolding in reality as it had in my mind’s eye, but the 2012 Beringer Private Reserve is doing good things keeping me grounded. This wine brings together some delicious berry notes and spices in a way that is so refreshing after the last couple of beer days I’ve had.
The Beringer is sharp. And that’s not to say tannic. I mean it’s a nice, headsy beverage. High caliber. Really a nice-drinking vino, with deep purple colors and a boatload of dark berry flavors. This is blackberries from the vine, and a nose full of spices that are more kitchen-based than from the forest floor. This Cabernet Sauvignon is practically screaming to be enjoyed with a nice grilled steak but (surprisingly) accompanies a lovely piece of salmon and asparagus with burnt butter sauce instead. Both wine and fish disappear with astonishing speed…
Here’s what the Winemaker offers on the Beringer Private Reserve: “After aging for 17 months in French oak barrels, the final blend showcases black fruit, mint, and dark chocolate along with a long, luxurious finish.”
That all sounds amazing as I read on the now-empty bottle. I love single vineyard reds–and Napa Valley Cabs in particular–and 2012 is certainly a banner year for both. I know, I know…Notes can seem to alternate between single vineyard Cab and “kitchen sink” reds so who am I to trumpet for either? I’m blessed to say I’ve had more winners than losers in my little lifetime, and the Beringer is a big “W”. Enjoy your weekend everyone.
This is a bottle intended for special occasions. I’ll always remember why I bought it, and then again why I decided to open it this particular evening. Life is a series of adventures and we learn from them all…in time.
It’s an exclusive, just one of 120 bottles (#86 specifically–check the label) produced by Napa Valley’s best-known vintners as they work to promote, protect, and enhance the Napa Valley appellation. I’ve never had wine from Mt. Veeder previously, and I’m curious to know how this stands as a representative sample. Full disclosure: I did NOT let it breathe adequately when I first uncorked it. My first glass had an extra tannin finish that I didn’t really relish, but it opened nicely over the course of the evening.
Here’s a little promo from the bottle: “As few as 60 and never more than 240 bottles of each Premiere Napa Valley wine are made, allowing the vintner to select from their finest sources, break with tradition, and come up with an offering that is truly handcrafted with a personal expression of their style.” You can see how it caught my eye, right?
I had this wine with a very simple meal–beef and potato–and thought about all the inky red goodness swirling about my Cabernet glass. This Mount Veeder Winery Estate Cabernet was not jammy but still filled with cherry and plum flavors. Once the tannins slid to the background you could catch notes of pepper and other spices on the nose too. I’ve heard the term “mountain wine” used on such bottles in the past, and that tip to the terroir I understand in context of this 2014.
And it was good, too. Really enjoyed it. But I had sort of expected better, and I can tell you this didn’t crack my Top 10, for 2018 and certainly not my all-time list. It’s a rare enough bottle that you might not be able to find this same vintage and that’s probably okay–there are plenty of outstanding wines at this threshold if you were feeling so inclined.
2015 Treana Red, Treana Winery, Paso Robles, California, USA.
2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Edwards & Chaffey, Napa Valley, California, USA.
2015 Cambridge Meritage, Napa Valley, California, USA.
2016 Domaine d’Andezon Cotes due Rhone, Red blend. Rhone, France.
2015 Mestizaje, Mustiguillo Vineyards & Winery, Red blend. Spain.
2011 Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz Cabernet, Padthaway, Australia.
2015 Antal’s Selection Zinfandel, Buena Vista Winery, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California, USA.
2012 Acha Red, Mark Herold, Napa Valley, California, USA.
2002 Syrah, Miller Wine Cellars, Napa, California, USA.
2014 Claret, White Rock Vineyards, Napa Valley, California, USA.
2016 Gundlach Bundschu Mountain Cuvee, Sonoma, California, USA.
2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Winemaker’s Reserve, Robert Storey Cellars, Napa Valley, California, USA.
2012 Napa Reserve, White Oak Vineyards & Winery, Napa Valley, California, USA.
2014 Amarone la Giaretta della Valpolicella, Italy.