Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Splendor of Autumn Colors and Wine at Gargiulo Vineyards – Oakville, California

While visiting Paraduxx Wines, I was discussing with the host the beauty of the vineyards and asked her if she had any recommendations as to where I should go next to taste not only some great wines, but take some fabulous shots of the Fall colors. I had already been to Silverado Vineyards with its mountain top peak view of the valley so what I was looking for now was more a broad sweeping view.

She then recommended that I visit Gargiulo (pronounced “Gar-JOO-lo”) Vineyards.

I had been to almost every winery on the Silverado trail and yet had never heard of this one. They are a really small “by appointment only” winery and when I gave them a call they said that they had a cancelation and so a 2 o’clock appointment had just opened up. So, I headed up further north to Oakville along the Silverado trail and turned left on to Oakville Crossroad… only to drive right passed it. There is no sign on the road pointing to the winery and the entrance looks like a driveway to someone’s home. So, it turns out I had driven by it countless times over the years and never knew this winery even existed.

In the early 1980s, Jeff and Valerie Gargiulo first traveled to the Napa Valley. It was then that Jeff and Valerie dreamed of one day owning a vineyard and growing the very best fruit to produce the finest wine. Jeff Gargiulo had been in agriculture his entire life and was confident that his knowledge and passion could make this dream a reality. Twelve years after their first visit to Napa Valley, Jeff and Valerie purchased their first vineyard in Oakville, Napa Valley; Money Road Ranch. Seven years later they purchased their second Oakville property, the 575 OVX Vineyard.

The Oakville AVA is an officially demarcated two-mile-wide swath of Napa Valley that extends to 600 feet in elevation up the base of the Vaca Mountains to the east and the Mayacamas Mountains to the west. Once a steam train stop in the late 1800s, Oakville owes its name to the dense groves of native oak which once blanketed the area.

One hundred years later, the Oakville name is synonymous with excellence in winemaking. Within this small district you will find the greatest concentration of Napa Valley's preeminent producers of Cabernet Sauvignon - Screaming Eagle, Harlan and Opus One to name just a few of Gargiulo Vineyards’ neighbors.

Oakville’s diverse, well-drained soils, sun-drenched summers and cool, dry falls make it a superior place to grow Cabernet Sauvignon. The wines from Gargiulo’s two Oakville vineyards are unique, but they both embody the essential Oakville qualities of depth and complexity with the structural integrity to age for decades.

The Money Road Ranch Vineyard is located in the heart of Oakville. The soil is deep but very stratified with layers of sandy loam clay and gravelly allivium which is well drained and porous. This soil composition closely resembles Bordeaux’s Pomerol. The typical daily temperature range is thirty degrees, with average night time lows in the mid 50's and daytime highs in the mid 80's. This daily oscillation in temperature is the largest in the valley and creates an ideal balance of fruit acids and sugar ripeness in our grapes which translates into a balanced and well structured wine. Bright, succulent cherry and blackberry flavors are signatures of Money Road Ranch wines. The aromatics develop into rich plum, cassis and even dark cocoa notes.

The 575 OVX Vineyard is situated in eastern Oakville’s hallmark, red and rocky hills. It is planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot. It is one of the only south-facing hillsides in Oakville. It is just a few minutes from Money Road, but the change in elevation and soil type creates a different essence in the wines. The mineral rich andesite rock is fractured just enough for iron enriched clay loam to have silted into the cracks. The south western facing slope opens 575 OVX up to a cool afternoon bay breeze. A minerality and earthiness found in the wines speaks to the complex nature of the soil and ideal growing conditions. The classic aromatics from 575 OVX are rose petal, lavender and blueberry.

From these vineyards Gargiulo produces the three fabulous wines that I tasted:

The first was the 2008 Aprile Oakville Red, a Super Tuscan blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. This is an elegant wine that is bright and lively with cherries on the front end and cola on the back. It is medium bodied with mouth watering acidity and a lingering cherry finish. A really classy wine that sells for $45 a bottle and I brought one home.

My second tasting was the 2008 Money Road Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon. A seductive wine with enticing aromas of plums, dried cherries, and Panettone bread. On the palate this wine is vibrant and racy with sweet tannins giving it some grip, with a background of black currants, and vanilla. Medium-length finish with mouth drying tannins and acidity. This is a wine that needs a steak to do it justice. For those who can afford it, it is a great wine at $85 a bottle.

The final pour is an absolutely epic wine, the 2008 OVX G Major Study Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is a Bordeaux blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon; 12 % Cabernet Franc, 2% Petite Verdot, and 1% Merlot. What immediately crossed my mind on the first sip is that this wine is a bit too young to be drinking now. On the nose I picked graphite, cassis, anise, and charcoal. On the palate this wine is absolutely remarkable, a sexy voluptuous wine with all the body you want to deliver a mouth full of black currants, black plums, a hint of tobacco, a touch of spice and a slight nuttiness on the return. A great wine to add to your cellar’s collection to age for a few years for those who can afford it at $125 a bottle.

To see more pictures, check out Erik Wait’s Wine Country Photography at:

For more information or to visit:

Gargiulo Vineyards

575 Oakville Crossroad

Napa, CA 94558

Phone: 1-707-944-2770; 1-707-944-2780

No comments: