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.
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’s annual composition is almost always at least a quarter Merlot.
Of all of the places in the world I’ve visited, one of my favorite places is still Napa Valley, California. Unlike most of their French counterparts in say Bordeaux for example, most wineries here in California Wine Country welcome non-collectors, non-critics and those with simply curious palettes.
But there is always a downside…And here it’s that tasting rooms can often be somewhat commercial and often very busy, leading to a somewhat hurried and less than satisfying experience.
I have to admit that I am a sucker for a good mystery, especially when it relates to wine and where the fruit is sourced. It’s always exciting to find a wine that is relatively inexpensive yet made with fruit from well pedigreed growers or producers that charge considerably more for their wines. Take the Pine Ridge Encantado Red Blend I recently reviewed for example.
I feel like these opportunities are few and far between in the wine world. As a consumer we usually have a good idea where the fruit used to make the wine was sourced (particularly when estate grown), or we have little to no idea (the winery sources their fruit from various growers). But with the Waterstone Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, it is rumored that the fruit was sourced from declassified Harlan Estate lots!
Today I am excited for two reasons: This is my first post and I am drinking a 1997 Napa Cabernet. I thought to myself,”How better to inaugurate this blog than to open a Cabernet Sauvingon from one of Napa’s best vintages?”
Considered legendary by most, and overrated by some, Napa Valley’s 1997 vintage is certainly a memorable one. Many Napa cult Cabernet’s command significant premiums for the 1997 vintage versus other vintages. According to Napa Valley Vintner’s, which publishes a vintage recap on the growing conditions and the success of the harvest, “A temperate summer with moderate, steady temperatures allowed the fruit to reach optimum maturity with good hang time for the full development of character and flavors.”