Sunday, November 27, 2011

Overlooking a Rainbow of Color at Silverado Vineyards– Stags Leap, California

With another glorious sunny day in the forecast, after visiting Clos Pegase, Duckhorn and James Cole I decided to return to the Napa Valley to enjoy the spectacular rainbow of colors in the vineyards and superb wines along the Silverado Trail to visit three more wineries. 
In the heart of Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District sits a rocky peak with a spectacular Mediterranean-style stone winery perched on top. That winery is the iconic Silverado Vineyards, named after the abandoned mining town at the north end of the Napa Valley. And that is where I made my first stop...
The vineyards were purchased by Ron and Diane Disney Miller (the eldest daughter of Walt Disney) in 1976. Initially they sold their grapes to local wineries and the vineyards proved to produce quality grapes for making premium wines. By 1981 the Miller family was ready to start their own wine production making spectacular wines in their own winery that was designed by architect Dick Keith, who modeled the estate after the old California mission style structure.
Thirty years later, three generations of Miller Family continue to source grapes entirely from their family-owned estate Napa vineyards. From the vineyard to the bottle, each step of the wine making process is dedicated to expressing the character of grapes grown on each of the wineries six historic vineyards. Expressing richness and age-worthiness, Silverado wines are unique, one-of-a-kind blends of superlative vineyard location and elegant winemaking style.

Silverado Vineyards is best known for its Cabernet Sauvignon, but Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and small batches of Zinfandel and Sangiovese are also grown on their six estate vineyards.
Outside of the tasting room, visitors can enjoy samples of their wines on the terraces that provide an intimate setting to enjoy a glass of wine and the spectacular views of the vineyards below. 
It was rather cool the day of my visit, so I tasted the following wines from within the tasting room:  
My first pour was the 2009 Miller Ranch Sauvignon Blanc. This wine displays a classic Sauv Blanc profile, Light straw color with aromas of grapefruit, lemon zest, juniper bush followed by just a hint of grass and herbal notes. On the palate it has a great display of minerality and acidity followed by a prolonged citrus finish. A really nice wine for $22, so I brought one home.    
My second wine was the 2010 Vineburg Vineyard Chardonnay from Carneros. The wine was fermented in 48% stainless steel and 52% in French oak (16% new) which provides an excellent balance between the super crisp stainless style and the oaky-buttery style Chardonnays.  The wine displays subtle floral aromas followed by green apples, apricots, and stone fruits and on the palate it has a slight creaminess and yet also maintains very clean, crisp acidity.  A really nice wine at a competitive price of $30 per bottle.    
The third pour and first red was the 2001 Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon. This is an absolutely superb wine and an excellent example of how California Cabs can age well.  On the nose I picked up dried plums, new leather, damp earth, sweet tobacco and followed by latent fruity notes of cassis, Bing cherries, anise with just a hint of black tea on the return. The fruit on this wine is fresh, it has great mouth watering acidity and fabulous structure. However, I wouldn’t hold on to this 10 year old wine for too much longer so it is definitely a “drink now wine.” For those who can afford it, a really fine wine at $110 a bottle.    
My next wine was the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon which is actually a Bordeaux blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, and 2% Cabernet Franc. After tasting the 2001 SLD Cab this wine seems comparatively tame. It is a lot more subtle and soft on the nose and palate displaying roses, red and black currants, mocha hints of white chocolate and hint of oak. On the palate it is medium to full-bodied, with very supple tannins. I’m not sure if this wine will do as well as the SLD ten years from now, so I’d drink it within 3-5 years. A nice wine, but there are many like it for $10- $15 less than its $46 sticker price.
My final wine was the 2008 SOLO Cabernet Sauvignon. An unmistakable Cabernet profile of black currants, cherries, blackberries, with an under layer of herbs, and vanilla. It has a full mouth feel and a little bit of grip with the tannins, with a great velvety mid-palate transition as the profile develops. A really young wine that seems like it needs more time in the bottle yet it is also really delicious now. But at $90 a pop, I’d save it for a special occasion.
To see more pictures of Silverado Vineyards and Winery, check out Erik Wait’s Wine Country Photography at:

For more information or to visit:
Silverado Vineyards
121 Silverado Trail
Napa, CA 94558
Phone: 1-707-257-1770

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