Big Vine Wines: 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Review

Big Vine Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 Front Label

Big Vine Wines is cooperative of industry professionals based in the Oxbow District of Napa Valley. With two state of the art production facilities (One in Napa and one in Dry Creek) they leverage their extensive relationships within the wine industry to bring appellation-specific wines of incredible quality and value.

Though the business model of Big Vine includes purchasing already crafted wine lots, the Big Vine Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 was handcrafted from scratch by none other than Scott McCloed of Rubicon. One of my absolute favorite wines is still Napa Cabernet and I welcome any iteration that has the character and style that I’ve come to expect without the high price tag all wine lovers have come to expect!

Big Vine Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 Cork (2)

Appearance: Deep and dark turning crimson at the rim

Nose: Sweet and rich with dark cherries, chocolate and blackberry liquor notes

On the palate: This is deep, and richly satisfying with blackberry, bell pepper, clove, cassis, incense and chocolate covered cherries. The fruit and good Cabernet character is supported by the refined dusty tannins characteristic of Cabernet from the Rutherford bench. This needs a little time to open up with with time in the glass it really fills out quite nicely.

Varietal Composition: Cabernet Sauvignon

Origin: Napa Valley: 50% Rutherford, 30% Atlas Peak and 20% Coombsville

Value Rating: 5 / 5

Price: $14 ($28 Retail)

Score:  92

Should you buy? At the price paid: as much as you can afford. Although at retail there is still good value here.

Big Vine Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 Full Bottle

I purchased the Big Vine Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 from online wine wholesaler Last Bottle for a pretty great price of $14 per bottle with free shipping. I would definitely stock up on this Napa Cabernet bargain if they, or another retailer, were to offer this again for a similar price. This is one of the better bargains I have come across from Napa Valley. It has all of the richness, structure and refined Napa character you could ask for. If you’re a Cabernet drinker then you owe it to yourself to give the Big Vine Cabernet 2010 a shot! At these prices, how could you go wrong?

Big Vine Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 Rear Label

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Waterstone Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Label

 

 

 

 

Seavey Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Napa Valley – This Cabernet was called one of the most underrated Cab’s in Napa by Robert Parker himself!

Seavey Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2009 Front Label

 

 

 

 

Anderson’s Conn Valley Right Bank 2011 Napa Valley – A most unique and compelling value emulating the great Chateau Cheval Blanc in the heart of the Napa Valley.

Anderson's Conn Valley Right Bank 2011 Front label

 

 

 

 

 

Novellum Chardonnay 2013

Novellum Chardonnay 2013 Front Label

With summer right around the corner it’s time to break out the white wine! There’s something about this time of year that has wanting Rosé, sparking wine, Sauvignon Blanc, Vinho Verde, Albarino and of course, Chardonnay! Whether it be an aperitif, paired with an alfresco meal or simply to sip on the patio with friends, summer calls for something crisp and refreshing. Does the Novellum Chardonnay 2013, a custom cuvee from the veritable power-importer Eric Solomon, get the job done at a decent price? Let’s find out…

Novellum Chardonnay 2013 Cork

Appearance: Pale straw yellow

Nose: Bright and pure with honeysuckle and high toned citrus and tropical fruit.

On the palate: Crisp and clean with a touch of vanilla. This is not your buttery, creamy Chardonnay from Napa. This is complex and layered with notes of lemon curd, glycerin, banana, papaya and guava. Despite the perception of sweetness from the fruit this finishes pretty dry with exuberant acidity.

Varietal Composition: 100% Chardonnay from 2 separate vineyards. 

Origin: IGP Côtes Catalanes, Roussilon, France.

Value Rating: 4.75 / 5     

Price: $9.98 ($12-$14 Retail)

Score:  91

Should you buy? Yes, by the case!

Novellum Chardonnay 2013 Full Bottle

Value Proposition

The Novellum Chardonnay 2013 is another value driven white from talented and highly-sought after winemaker Jean-Marc Lafage of Domaine Lafage and importer Eric Solomon of European Cellars. Solomon has garnered a lot of attention for his ability to source top fruit at unbeatable pricing and it shows in this quaffable wine.

Novellum Chardonnay has become a go to by the glass selection in many restaurants and I can certainly see why. Produced from 30 year old vines in Southern France the Novellum Chardonnay 2013 is aged on Viognier lees for 3 months (surely lending to it’s complexity and wonderful aromatics) in both stainless steel and burgundy barrels. It marries richness with complexity without being overbearing and competing with more subtle foods.

This is not your butterball, creamy Chardonnay that you may have come to love from Napa Valley. If you haven’t tried a Chardonnay where the oak and creamy style (as a result of malolactic fermentation) don’t take center stage yet then the Novellum Chardonnay should be at the top of your list.

Like myself, you might even find the use of little to no oak in Chardonnay’s to be a welcome departure from the norm. Made in this fashion, the pureness of the fruit really shines. And at under $10, how can you go possibly go wrong?

Novellum Chardonnay 2013 Rear Label

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Clos Pegase Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Clos Pegase Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Front Label

Today we highlight a value I’ve discovered in Napa Valley courtesy of Wines Til Sold Out and Clos Pegase Winery. Located in the northern section of Napa Valley, just outside of Calistoga, the owners of Clos Pegase sought to create a world-class destination where wine would be celebrated as one of many forms of art.

The winery itself is it’s own piece of artwork. 96 architects entered into a competition to design the winery, with Michael Graves winning the hard fought competition. The winery has become a destination for those who appreciate fine artwork and first-class hospitality. But I’m getting distracted… Can you tell I want to visit? Let’s get back on track and pop the cork on the Clos Pegase Cabernet Sauvignon 2009!

Clos Pegase Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Cork

Appearance: A deep crimson at the core turning ruby at the rim. It has nice legs and good clarity.

Nose: Powerful with black cherry, cocoa and toasty oak. There’s quite a bit of oak on the nose and a bit of heat coming through.

On the palate: There are flavors of dried cherries, cedar, vanilla, spice, licorice, roasted meat and scorched earth. It’s masculine and rich yet smooth with refined tannins.

Varietal Composition: 96% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petite Verdot

Origin: Napa Valley, CA

 

Value Rating: 4.5/5     

Price: $20 ($50 Retail)

Score:   91

Should you buy? By the case, at $20.

Clos Pegase Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Full Bottle

Value Proposition

At full retail the Clos Pegase Cabernet 2009 would make a perfectly fine contender if you were shopping in the $40-60 price range for Napa Cabernet. However at only $20 this is a terrific wine for the money: It’s smooth and rich with moderate to good complexity. It’s new world, ripe and fruit-forward richness remind me of Caymus’ Cabernet Sauvignon, which you probably can’t find for $20. Give the Clos Pegase Cabernet a shot, especially if it pops up again on Wines Til Sold Out.  It’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

Clos Pegase Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Rear Label

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Waterstone Napa Valley Cabernet Label

 

 

 

 

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Anderson's Conn Valley Right Bank 2011 Front label

 

 

 

 

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Balbas Reserva 2001

Balbas Reserva 2001 Front Label

The Balbas Winery was founded in 1777 in the Ribera del Duero wine-growing region of Spain. The estate vineyards consist of 222 acres of hand picked Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes. Balbas Winery believes that yields from their estate vineyards should be kept low while utilizing various techniques such as green pruning to yield a better crop. Their style of wine-making is one that exercises restraint and honors the local wine-making traditions of the Ribera del Duero region. Let’s pop the cork and give the Balbas Reserva 2001 a try!

Balbas Reserva 2001 Cork

Appearance: Medium ruby with slowly developing legs. There are almost no signs of “bricking”, or browning at the rim despite the age of 13 years.

Nose: Fragrant to the core with ripe red fruit: cranberries, raspberries and kirsch liquor. There are subtle notes of leather and truffles piercing through the high toned fruit.

On the palate: Surprisingly vibrant and youthful despite it’s age. The palate follows through with bright, spicy red fruit and more subtle notes of cedar and tobacco. With air the wine develops more richness along with notes of smoke and incense. It’s medium bodied displaying good acid, impeccable balance and an elegant finish.

Varietal Composition: 90% Tempranillo, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon

Origin: Ribera del Duero, Spain

 

Value Rating: 4.75/5     

Price: $20 ($45 Retail)

Score: 93

Should you buy? By the case, at $20.

Balbas Reserva 2001 Full Bottle

Value Proposition

Is this really a 13 year old wine? If I had tasted the Balbas Reserva 2001 blind I would have bet that it wasn’t. It’s vibrancy and freshness is stunning considering it’s age, but perhaps this is a testament to the wine-making skills and terroir of Balbas Winery.

I would love to try this in a few more years to see how it further develops.  I believe the 93 point score and “Cellar Selection” designation from Wine Spectator are spot on. I picked this gem up from online discount retailer Wines Til Sold Out for $19.99 and it was well worth the price.

I have purchased the Balbas Reserva 2001 several times from Wines Til Sold Out and it has been a consistent overachiever considering the price point. It seems to come up on their website every so often (12,500 cases of this were made). If you haven’t signed up for their e-mail alerts it might not be a bad idea to do so should you care to join me in tracking the further development of this delicious Spanish bargain!

Balbas Reserva 2001 Rear Label

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Meerlust Estate: Rubicon 2007 Review

Meerlust Rubicon 2007 Label

Since 1756 and under the stewardship of eight generations of the Myburgh family the Meerlust Estate has been producing world-class wine in Stellenbosch, South Africa. It’s predominantly clay soils engender vines that are cooled by evening ocean air in the summertime, allowing for optimal growing conditions and slowly ripening fruit.

The idea to craft ‘Rubicon” on the estate, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, was inspired by Nico Myburgh’s time in Bordeaux. He identified that the terroir of the Eerste River Valley in South Africa was similar to that of Bordeaux’s Gironde River, being composed of clay and granite soils cooled by sea breezes. He sought to create his own Bordeaux Blend instead of the single-varietal wines that were typical of the region at the time. The result was the Meerlust Estate Rubicon, and today we are tasting the Meerlust Rubicon 2007.

Meerlust Rubicon 2007 Cork

Appearance: Dense dark ruby with slowly evolving legs

Nose: Subtle aromas of damp earth, spice, cedar and black fruit

On the palate: Dense and rich without being overpowering with some residual tannin gripping the finish. The wine is deliciously earthy and rustic in style with expressive notes of forest floor, black tea, vanilla, spice, eucalyptus and black fruit. It is surprisingly balanced considering it’s depth and structure.

Varietal Composition: 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc

Origin: Stellenbosch, South Africa

Value Rating: 4.25/5       Price: $27-30

Score:   92

Meerlust Rubicon 2007 Full Bottle

Value Proposition

From the first taste you can tell that this wine is incredibly well-made and it’s old-world style is refreshingly different than what you might drink on a daily basis. It’s interesting origins in Stellenbosch, South Africa further add to the appeal. From the vanguard Nico Myburgh who sought to create a Bordeaux style wine to the vines of his families storied estate all lead me to expect a slightly higher price of entry. I think to be able to purchase a wine like this under $30 is more than a fair exchange. Luckily, however I picked this bottle up on a flash sale from Wine Shopper for the obscenely inexpensive price of only $15 and you can rest assured that I will be tweeting away should I see another deal like this in the future!

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Tin Roof Cellars Merlot

Tin Roof Cellars Merlot 2009 Label

Sometimes you need a no-nonsense, wallet friendly wine that doesn’t require too much thought but still tastes good. Whether it be your weeknight wine or a great bargain red to pair with pizza, it can be challenging to find quality reds in the $10 and under category. Enter the Tin Roof Cellars Merlot 2009!

Tin Roof Cellars Merlot 2009 Cork

Appearance: Medium brownish red with some moderate to light leg formation

Nose: There’s a decent bouquet of burnt cherry, rose petal, lavender and leather

On the palate: Lush and medium bodied with plum, molasses and dried red fruit. There is subtle cedar and vanilla on the mid palate and it finishes softly and pleasantly with a mild finish

Varietal Composition: Merlot blended with small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah

Origin: North and Central Coast, California

 

Value Rating: 4.5/5       Price: $7-10

Score:   87

Tin Roof Cellars Merlot 2009 Full Bottle

Value Proposition

When I look back at what I paid for this wine from Wine Shopper (a mere $5.00) several months ago I am shocked at the quality-price-ratio. This wine actually tastes like a half-decent Merlot and it costs $5? Needless to say I’m glad I bought a few cases of this offering. Recently, I’ve seen this for sale on Wine Shopper at a slightly higher price of $6.99 and a few retailers like Total Wine have it offered for the same price. At $6.99 this is still a terrific bargain. The Tin Roof Cellars Merlot 2009 is luscious, smooth, easy to drink and well worth the tariff!

Tin Roof Cellars Merlot 2009 Rear Label

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Anderson's Conn Valley Right Bank 2011 Front label

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Swanson Vineyards Napa Valley: 2008 Oakville Merlot Review

Swanson-Oakville-Merlot-2008-Full-Label-3

Do you drink Merlot?

Probably not if you’ve seen the movie Sideways.  Let’s assume that most wine drinkers have both seen the blockbuster movie Sideways starring Paul Giamiatti and Virginia Madsen and that they have had a glass of Merlot at least one time in their life. Those who saw Sideways might recall that the movie was not at all kind to this specific varietal. At one point during the movie, Paul Giamatti’s character Miles exclaims, “I am not drinking f****** Merlot!” Why don’t you tell us how you really feel, Miles! The statement was all the more impactful and persuasive because Miles’ character is a bit of a wine snob. The following three months after the movie was released sales of Merlot dropped 2% and a stigma surrounded those who ordered Merlot as being casual, uneducated wine drinkers.

Unfortunately for Merlot, it’s most redeeming qualities of being silky, luscious and approachable when young without the “bite” of Cabernet’s tannin are what eventually led to its overproduction. As more and more casual wine drinkers sought out Merlot because of its drink-ability and new-found popularity in the late 1980s and 1990s the market met this new demand for the fashionable beverage of choice with lots of cheap, lousy Merlot. Growers felt pressured to grow it, and winemakers felt pressured to have a Merlot in their portfolio.

The irony here is that not only can Merlot be quite good, but that the bottle of wine Miles covets in the movie is a Chateau Cheval Blanc, a pricey blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc. In fact, some of the most acclaimed and sought after wines in the world contain Merlot. Over on the Right Bank of Bordeaux in St. Emilion and Pomerol, Merlot is not just a blending component but actually the foundation for these esteemed wines. Petrus, one of the most expensive wines in the world, is almost entirely Merlot.

Swanson Oakville Merlot 2008

Since I am not prepared to part with $1,000 plus for one of the aforementioned Right Bank Merlot based superstars, I thought I would open something in a more reasonable price range that the winemaker himself describes as “reminiscent more of the Right Bank of Bordeaux than Napa Valley.” Let’s pop the cork on the Swanson Vineyard Napa Valley 2008 Oakville Merlot!

Swanson-Oakville-Merlot-2008-Full-Size-3

Color: Elegant dark ruby, the wine almost appears to have a somewhat deceivingly light body.

Nose: Strawberry and chocolate aromas dominate.

Taste: A thick, rich and concentrated Merlot. A ripe, well textured core of black cherry cola leads to strawberry and chocolate followed by a spicy, lingering finish.

Region: Oakville, Napa Valley, California

Winemaker: Chris Phelps, formerly of Dominus and Caymus

Varietal Composition: Merlot

 

Value Rating: 4/5        Retail Price: ~$38

Score: 92             

Swanson-Oakville-Merlot-2008-Rear-Label-3

Value Proposition

I couldn’t agree more with the winemaker. The style of this wine is very much like a Right Bank Bordeaux without the hefty price tag. The Swanson Oakville Merlot retails for $38 but I paid $27.99 at Total Wine. While not inexpensive I believe this is a great price for a wine of this caliber. The Oakville region of Napa has long produced distinctive, expressive red wines of great character and this one is no different.  This is a great opportunity to sample a wine by a great winemaker whose other offerings have been considerably more expensive in the past (Dominus and Caymus).

This Merlot is very well distributed so you should be able to get your hands on some in most wine shops. If you’re looking for a wine that’s elegant and smooth enough to be a crowd pleaser but with the complexity and unique style to impress your wine loving friends, I strongly recommend this wine. Miles might have even enjoyed this one given the opportunity. It’s also a great conversation wine as they will probably never guess its Merlot!

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Anderson's Conn Valley Right Bank 2011 Front label

 

 

 

 

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Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards Napa Valley: Right Bank 2011 Review

Anderson's Conn Valley Right Bank 2011 Front label

Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards’ former winemaker, Mac Sawyer, sadly passed away recently. Working together with founding winemaker Todd Anderson (Mac was brought on when Todd created the ultra-exclusive Ghost Horse Label) the estate produced world class wines which earned high scores and were widely recognized for their exceptional quality. His legacy lives on in the wines being produced today. It was he who had interned at Chateau Cheval Blanc, one of the most famous wine producing estates in the world. Remember the wine Miles’ character coveted in the movie Sideways? It was a bottle of 1961 Cheval Blanc. The irony here is that despite his profound distaste for Merlot, Cheval Blanc contains predominantly Merlot with about a quarter of Cabernet Franc rounding out its annual composition.

Inspired by their love for the wines of Saint-Émilion and at Cheval Blanc, Todd Anderson sought to capitalize on Mac’s experience and create a wine similar to Cheval Blanc right at home in the Napa Valley. Initially however, with the first vintage of 2001, the wine intended to be produced only for those fortunate enough to be attending Premier Napa. But on his annual visit to Anderson’s Conn Valley, Todd Anderson agreed to let Robert Parker taste the Right Bank 2001 only if he agreed not to publish any tasting notes. Parker was somewhat taken with the wine and unintentionally published his tasting notes in the Wine Advocate. The ensuing demand for the Right Bank to be commercially produced and distributed was so great that Todd agreed to make it part of Anderson’s Conn Valley’s annual portfolio. I tasted the 2009 Right Bank and fell in love with it while visiting the estate in October of 2013. Now let’s pop the cork on the newest vintage: Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards’ Right Bank 2011.

Anderson's Conn Valley Right Bank 2011 Cork

Appearance: Medium ruby and slightly translucent with fine, slowly evolving legs.

Nose: The Cabernet Franc really shines on the nose lending itself to a wonderfully aromatic wine. Along with a gorgeous bouquet of roses and violets there are also notes of sweet stone fruits, truffles and earth.

On the palate: The first sip makes me forget I’m drinking a red from Napa Valley. The wine is medium bodied and more old world in style offering wonderful balance, acidity and length. The fruit is very much present but more understated and the alcohol is relatively low at 13.8%. There are notes of dried cherry, plum, strawberry, violets, earth and bramble. With air and time in the glass, the wine becomes richer revealing notes of licorice and espresso.  The tannins are finely grained and the finish lingers for 20+ seconds.

Varietal Composition: 78% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc

Origin: Napa Valley, CA

 

Value Rating: 4.5/5       Price: $60

Score:   94

Anderson's Conn Valley Right Bank 2011 Foil

Value Proposition

Anderson’s Conn Valley’s Right Bank is obviously not the same wine as the Chateau Cheval Blanc, and it isn’t intended to be so. Rather it’s an interpretation of a wine styled after one of the great gems of Saint-Émilion. And unlike a bottle of Cheval Blanc, you and I are far more likely to be able to pop the cork on this Napa Valley gem.

I’m sure the Cheval Blanc is delicious, but I bet it’s not anywhere near 23 times more delicious than the Anderson’s Conn Valley Right Bank with its retail price of ~$1400 for the 2010 vintage. My recommendation is to stick with this world class producer from Napa Valley and to try their Right Bank 2011 Bordeaux Blend: This classy, elegant and unique offering might just be the best bargain in the Napa Valley!

Anderson's Conn Valley Right Bank 2011 Rear Label

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Seavey Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Napa Valley – This Cabernet was called one of the most underrated Cab’s in Napa by Robert Parker himself!

Seavey Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2009 Front Label

 

 

 

 

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Alta-Pavina-Pinot-Noir-2009-Front-Label-870x1024 (2)

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: Wine was submitted for purposes of review.

Seavey Vineyard Napa Valley: 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Review

Seavey Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2009 Front Label

On our recent trip to Napa Valley during harvest we made it a point to visit Seavey Vineyard. I’ve long been a fan of their under the radar age-worthy Cabernet’s and wanted to see their operation and taste their current releases, especially their flagship wine: The Seavey Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2009.

I left Seavey with delicious estate Cabernet and Merlot to take home and enjoy. But that wasn’t all we took home. We had an intimate one on one experience with Dorie Seavey, the daughter of William Seavey who founded Seavey Vineyard. It isn’t everyday you get to visit and learn all about a winery you love at the hands of the daughter of the original proprietor. While this does happen elsewhere (Kristine Dunn of Dunn Vineyards comes to mind) it doesn’t occur often as consolidations and buyouts make for a slightly more sterile corporate experience in Napa Valley.

Seavey Vineyards Entrance Sign

After purchasing the winery from Dorie Seavey’s geometry teacher in 1979, William and Mary Seavey consulted Roy Raymond of Raymond Vineyards with replanting the vineyards that were originally planted by Swiss immigrant Charles Volper in the early 1870s. Instead of employing high-technology modern winemaking techniques upon revitalizing the estate, William and Mary Seavey set out to honor old winemaking traditions and to produce world class wines at Seavey Vineyard.

Seavey Vineyards Winery and Tasting Room

Essentially an old dairy farm, Seavey’s winery is located in a beautiful dairy barn which was originally constructed in 1881. The dairy barn was renovated and restored by the Seavey’s in 1989 to be their winery and tasting room and a second winery adjacent to the stone dairy barn was constructed in 2000 after the success of the first vintages under their own label.

Dorie gave us a tour of the winery and the grounds nearby, explaining some interesting facts about Seavey Vineyard while we enjoyed a glass of Seavey’s 2010 Merlot:

  • As much as 70% of Seavey’s wines are sold directly to Wine Club members
  • Seavey is one of only a handful of wineries in Napa who uses the whole grape fermentation method and never presses their grapes. Winemaker Jim Duane later explains that Seavey’s wines have enough tannin and structure and that pressing the grapes is not required.
  • The estate is approximately 200 acres with 40 of those acres planted to vine.
  • Wines are aged in 100% French oak, 50% of which being new.
  • Annual production is approximately 2000 cases.
Seavey's hillside vineyards can be seen in the background

Seavey’s hillside vineyards can be seen in the background

Hoping to see freshly harvested grapes being sorted and processed we quickly made our way to the winery when we saw a truck hauling grapes heading in it’s direction.

Seavey Winemaker Jim Duane explains the even ripening of the 2013 vintage

Seavey Winemaker Jim Duane explains the even ripening of the 2013 vintage

Grapes being prepared for sorting

Grapes being prepared for sorting

Dorie Seavey and Winemaker Jim Duane

Dorie Seavey and Winemaker Jim Duane

After seeing the small but very efficient winery in action, we made our way to this table located just outside of the main tasting room to take in both the wines and the gorgeous weather we were having that day.

DSC_0749

During our visit, we tasted the Merlot, the flagship Cabernet Sauvignon and their delicious and more approachable “Caravina” Cabernet, which is like a second wine for the estate. Since I was only taking mental notes of how much I was enjoying the wines, I decided to revisit the Seavey Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2009 at home where I could better evaluate it:

Seavey Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2009 Cork

Appearance: Wonderfully dark and rich without becoming entirely opaque. The thick long legs meet a dark crimson at the rim. 

Nose: Sweet and expressive with lavender, kirsch, cherry liquor and molasses.

Taste: Expansive and rich without being over-ripe, it coats the palate with smokey vanilla, dark red fruit, cassis and chocolate covered strawberries at the core. It then finishes with cedar, molasses, violets and essence of lavender. The wine is impeccably balanced with excellent acidity, minerality and finely grained tannins. Each sip reveals another exciting nuance from this well crafted Cabernet Sauvignon.

Region: Napa Valley, CA

Varietal Composition: 95.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4.5% Petite Verdot

 

Value Rating: 4.5/5          Price: $95

Score: 96             

Seavey Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2009 Full Bottle

Wow! I had high expectations for this wine considering my admiration for the producer and my experience with their well crafted iterations from previous vintages. Despite those expectations, this wine far exceeded them and was even better that I remembered at the winery. Doesn’t the opposite usually happen?

The Seavey Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2009 is entirely estate grown and resulted in a mere 630 cases of production. This is top flight Cabernet Sauvignon that is built to last and I recommend picking some up here before they run out. The price has increased slightly to $105 as it is now considered a library wine and will likely only increase in price with time.

A quick search on Wine-Searcher reveals a few retailers still priced in the low $90′s. While this is still a lot of money for a bottle of wine, it is all relative. There are far more expensive cult Napa Cabernet’s who remain shrouded in a veil of mystery. Interested in visiting? Good luck. Interested in tasting? Unless you’re a wealthy collector or a wine journalist: good luck. Interested in buying? You probably need to be on the mailing list, and good luck getting on it.

The Seavey Cabernet is world-class under the radar wine from a family owned boutique winery where you can taste their current releases with a Seavey. It’s off the beaten path and away from the crowds of Highway 29. Robert Parker himself has even described Seavey as potentially being the most underrated producer of Cabernet in Napa Valley!

Dare I posit that instead of celebrating over-hyped and over-priced cult Cabernet’s that we instead celebrate estates like Seavey that spend money on improving wine-making rather than marketing budgets, while they still exist? In my opinion, the Seavey Cabernet Sauvingon Napa Valley 2009 is worth every penny.

Seavey Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2009 Rear Label

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Waterstone Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Label

 

 

 

 

Bodegas Alta Pavina ‘Citius’ Pinot Noir 2009 – Spain’s first 100% Pinot Noir produced with assistance from Claude Bourguignon!

Alta-Pavina-Pinot-Noir-2009-Front-Label-870x1024 (2)

Bodegas Alta Pavina Citius Pinot Noir 2009

Alta-Pavina-Pinot-Noir-2009-Front-Label-870x1024 (2)

What do you get when you grow the revered and fickle Pinot Noir varietal in the now overachieving wine growing region of Spain under the auspices of legendary wine consultant Claude Bourguignon? I present to you the Bodegas Alta Pavina Citius Pinot Noir 2009.

Spain is a wine producing region that was once known more for the volume of wine it produced rather that the quality of the wine it produced. Fortunately for us wine consumers, that has significantly changed and Spain has been a consistent source of high quality values for years.

Alta Pavina Pinot Noir 2009 Neck

That being said it is not known as a region where Pinot Noir thrives. It’s most popular varietal, Tempranillo, is a sturdy grape that thrives in a hot climate much like Cabernet. That’s what makes this bottling so interesting. It doesn’t just contain Pinot, it’s 100% Pinot Noir and the only 100% Pinot Noir of it’s kind produced in Spain.

Located near the Duero River, the 29 acre vineyard in the district of La Parilla is located at ~2,950 feet above sea level. The high altitude provides the cooler climate Pinot Noir needs to survive. Let’s pop the cork and see how this tastes!

Alta Pavina Pinot Noir 2009 Cork

Appearance: Medium garnet and somewhat translucent in the glass.

Nose: The wine is very aromatic. There are bright cherries, cloves, mushrooms and a nice floral earthiness.

Taste: Quite burgundian in style with a subdued yet still present fruit profile. There are nice cherries and truffle notes to be found. Considering it’s light body I am impressed with the elegant mouthfeel and structure of the wine. It finishes with a blistering acidity and a lovely earthiness. The wine begs you for another sip and would be a great wine with dinner.

Region: Castilla y Leon, Spain

Varietal Composition: 100% Pinot Noir

 

Value Rating: 4.25/5        Price: ~$26-35

Score: 93             

Should you buy? If you can find it, absolutely.

Alta Pavina Pinot Noir 2009 Full Bottle

Value Proposition

Claude Bourguignon is also the technical adviser to the vaunted and perhaps most famous wine producer in the world: Romanée-Conti. The wines of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti can easily set one back thousands of dollars per bottle. I think when you get to taste a wine that he has had a hand in producing and you consider that this wine is produced with the most care of any of their wines at Bodegas Alta Pavina (meticulous grape selection, vine care and aging in French Oak for 18-24 months), the retail price is a very reasonable tariff for the experience.

The Bodegas Alta Pavina Citius Pinot Noir 2009 is yet another excellent example how Spain is pushing the envelope and expanding their reach in the wine world. In my opinion Bodegas Alta Pavina is truly a vanguard for it’s role here, and I sincerely hope that their wines bring even more credibility to Spain as a wine producer, not only of fine Cava and Tempranillo, but of Pinot Noir as well.

Alta Pavina Pinot Noir 2009 Rear Label

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Disclaimer: Wine was submitted for purposes of review.