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

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Golden Fall Day at Paraduxx Wines – St. Helena, California

After visiting Silverado Vineyards I headed a little north to Paraduxx Wine, a winery that is south on the Silverado Trail from Duckhorn Vineyards - their parent winery. Duckhorn Wine Company originally created Paraduxx to allow its winemakers the freedom to explore other styles of wine making without detracting from Duckhorn Vineyards’ focus on Bordeaux varietals. 

In 1994, Duckhorn sourced 4 tons of Zinfandel from the 100-year-old vines of Napa’s Korte Vineyard. This Zinfandel was blended with Duckhorn Vineyards’ own estate Cabernet Sauvignon, along with smaller amounts of Merlot and Petite Sirah to create the first Paraduxx vintage which was sold at the Duckhorn tasting room before the creation of the Paraduxx winery. 

Duckhorn then created a separate Paraduxx winery and tasting room with its own unique character and yet with the same sit-down tasting platform with a comfortable “at home” feel as Duckhorn Vineyards’ tasting room.

The fruit in Paraduxx wines is cultivated from the four Napa Valley Estate Vineyards. Each site produces grapes with distinct attributes that reflect the variations in soil, terrain, microclimate, and exposure. While Duckhorn Vineyards has a focus on Bordeaux, Paraduxx creates a unique line-up of Zinfandel based wines that are truly remarkable and distinct from all other wineries in the Napa Valley.

The Paraduxx tasting room serves all of the samples of their wines side-by-side in separate Riedel “O” stemless wine glasses with a small dish of complimentary cheeses and crackers, along with decorative tasting note cards displaying a picture of the duck featured on wine’s label which can also be found on the surrounding pictures displayed around the room. But, I first tasted all of the following wines without the cheese to examine them on their own and then sampled them again with the cheese.

My first wine was the 2010 Paraduxx V Blend White Wine. This wine is a blend of 60% Viognier and 40% Chardonnay. I have had two other Viognier/Chardonnay blends before (most recently at Picchetti Winery) and I didn’t care for them as the Chard tended to take away the beauty of the Viognier and the Viognier tended to overshadow the Chardonnay. Well, Paraduxx has definitely pulled it off with this one, this is an absolutely gorgeous wine that displays both elegance and finesse in delivering the strengths and qualities of both wines in a harmonious fashion. On the nose this wine has a beautiful floral nose of honey suckle and orange blossoms followed by melon, apricots, fresh apple and a hint of orange peel. On the palate it is very lively, with great acidity and a lingering lime and citrus finish. I loved this wine so much, I bought two of them at $26 a bottle.

My red wine was the 2009 Paraduxx M Blend, a blend of 69% Zinfandel and 31% Merlot. This wine had the most expressive fruitful nose of all the wines with fresh raspberries, blackberry jam, and fresh ground spices with a soft silky mouth-feel on palate. Although this was the least expensive in the line-up, it was actually my favorite and I brought two of them home at $35 a bottle.

My second red was the 2006 Paraduxx “Cinnamon Teal,” unique a blend of 64% Zinfandel, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, and 2% Cabernet Franc. Surprisingly the nose on this wine was not as vibrant in comparison to the previous wine. Much more Bordeaux-like yet the zin still says “Hi, I’m here!” and it reminded me of the 2009 Lynton Zinfandel I had recently tasted at Ridge Vineyards. A really nice wine, but a bit steep at $60 a bottle.

The third red was 2007 Paraduxx “Hooded Merganser” (72% Zinfandel, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc) A slightly darker and earthier wine than the previous and yet it still has the Zinfandel “zing” that rings through it. On the nose I picked up Cherry cola, raspberries, damp earth, pipe tobacco, anise, black pepper, and a slight cherry candy on the end. On the nose is confirmed along with good tannin structure that transitions well through the mid-palate with a hint of vanilla and a little unexpected heat. The tannins are supple and well integrated. A nice wine, but a bit steep at $53 a bottle.

My fourth red was 2008 Paraduxx “Blue Wing Teal” (68% Zinfandel, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc) The blend is only slightly different in percentages than the “Hooded Merganser” and yet the aroma and flavor profile is quite different. It is quite fragrant and fresh with blackberry jam, brown sugar, black currant and black licorice on the tail end. On the palate, I also picked up some black plum notes and a hint of sweet oak, with well integrated tannins and a hint of spice. I preferred this wine to the previous, yet it is $5 buck cheaper at $48 a bottle.

My final wine was the 2008 Reflection (56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Zinfandel). This wine reminds me of the original Paraduxx blend that I first tasted at Duckhorn Vineyards before the separate Paraduxx winery was created. Layers of currants, cola, dark chocolate, damp earth and a hint of herbs on the finish. The biggest wine in the line-up with tannins that definitely have a grip. A really nice wine, but a bit steep at $96 a bottle.

Overall, the Paraduxx wines were absolutely spectacular and the service was just splendid. Duckhorn Vineyards and Paraduxx are definitely in my top-ten list of “must visit” wineries in the Napa Valley.

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

For more information or to visit:

Paraduxx Winery

7257 Silverado Trail

Napa Valley, CA 94558

Phone: 1-866-367-9943; 1-707-945-0890

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

Saturday, November 26, 2011

James Cole Estate Winery – Napa, California

If you are driving north on the Silverado Trail in the Napa Valley it is really easy to drive right past James Cole Estate Winery without noticing it. In fact, that is exactly what I’ve done for many years. I have been up and down this road more times than I can remember and yet for some odd reason I never noticed Judds Hill Winery (which I recently visited) or James Cole. So, after visiting Clos Pegase and Duckhorn Vineyards further north, I stopped in to visit this almost hidden winery. It is located just south of the Stags Leap District and north of Signorello Vineyards but if you blink you’ll drive right by it.

The James Cole Estate Winery is a really small production family-run winery that consists of a fermentation tank room, barrel room, tasting room, and a tiny kitchen / laboratory on the ground floor. The building design is simple and utilitarian - a reinforced concrete structure with a veneer stone face, an intimate trellis covered outdoor terrace at the entrance and a small second floor office loft that overlooks the tasting room with views both through the winery as well as out the large window facing the front vineyards and Silverado Trail.  

The winery is named after the couple that owns it, James and his wife Colleen “Cole” Harder who also own Jaden Icewine located in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, Canada.

James was born and raised in a rural farming community just outside of Edmonton, Alberta (Canada). In 1992, he graduated with a degree in Economics from Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia and started in the wine business (with Vincor International), the day after his college graduation. James’ passion for wine and future career as a wine producer in Canada developed during occasional business trips to the San Francisco Bay Area where he met his future wife, Colleen Cramsie, through a mutual friend.  

James then moved to San Francisco to be with Colleen just one year from the day they met and they married exactly a year later in 2000. That same the year James and Colleen purchased their 11-acre property on Silverado Trail where they planted a new home and a new vineyard. If that wasn’t enough, that same year James then started his own company (Nine North Wines) along with Jim Regusci and Jim Gill, producing several wines from various parts of the Napa Valley. 

James Cole Estate Winery specializes in single French varietal wines such as Chardonnay Cabernet, Malbec and Petit Verdot as well as Bordeaux and Rhone blends.

The winery has two flights, the first consists of 5 wines for $20 and for an additional $10 you can also taste the James Cole Reserve Collection which consists of three additional wines. Initially I wanted to do the Reserve flight as well but I had already been to two other wineries so even though I was spitting and had taken a lunch break I was feeling “wined out” from palate fatigue – when all wines begin to taste the same. So, hopefully in the near future I’ll return to taste the final three wines.

My first wine was the 2009 James Cole Chardonnay, Napa Valley.  A splendid wine, well balanced, great acidity and plenty of fresh stone fruits, apples, apricots, pears, and a hint of vanilla. The only problem is there are many wines like this on the market and readily available for $10-$15 less than their asking price of $38 a bottle.

My second wine was the 2008 James Cole Il Mostro Proprietary Red Wine, Napa Valley. A blend of 87% Petite Sirah and 13% 120 year Old Vine Zinfandel, this is a huge intense deep dark and earthy. Blackberries, chocolate, anise and black pepper dominate this wine that firmly grips your teeth and gums. A really nice wine with great acidity and fine tannins, but a bit steep at $65 a bottle.

My next sample was the 2008 James Cole Petit Verdot, Napa Valley. Bottles of 100% of this varietal are hard to find as PV is usually used as a blending grape. They also tend to be VERY expensive as well. This is an inky dark and massive wine with a full mouth feel of espresso, dark chocolate and pomegranate. Most PV’s I have liked in the past tend to have at least 10% Cabernet Sauvignon in them and I think this is what it needs. It has a firm grip on the teeth and gums, it is somewhat hollow on the back end and has a short finish. A little Cabernet would fill it out and add to the finish. A bit steep at $75 a bottle, but a “must try” if you haven’t trained your brain to recognize this wine.

My fourth wine was the 2008 James Cole Malbec, Napa Valley. This is not your Argentinan style of Malbec, a little more subtle like a French wine. Kind of funky on the nose (in a good way), really earthy with fresh leather, spice, black fruits, a touch of chocolate and a nutty-herbal finish. A really intriguing wine but I couldn’t get past the $75 price tag.

My final wine was the 2008 James Cole Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. An extremely young wine that I’d like to taste again in a few years that delivers a classic Napa Valley profile of black currants, vanilla, anise and a touch of pepper. But there are many more that I’d buy before this one at $75 a bottle.

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

Overall, James Cole has really nice wines but they not competitive in their pricing.

For more information or to visit:

James Cole Estate Winery

5014 Silverado Trail  

Napa, CA 94558-9749

Phone: 1-707-251-9905

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Duckhorn Vineyards – St. Helena, California

After visiting Clos Pegase the bright morning sun departed behind a sheet of clouds that came over the Mayacama Mountains. I then headed south on the Silverado Trail to St. Helena to revisit Duckhorn Vineyards, one of my Top Ten favorite wineries out of the 109 wineries in the Napa Valley I have visited since the Spring of 2000.

Duckhorn Vineyards’ was co-founded by Dan and Margaret Duckhorn in 1976. Dan Duckhorn, a native of Santa Rosa and graduate of U.C. Berkeley, toured the Pomerol and Saint-Émilion in the Bordeaux region of France in the mid-1970s with Richard Forman, who as winemaker of Sterling Vineyards is credited with introducing vintage-dated Merlot and (along with Dick Graff) barrel fermentation of white wines to California and later went on to help found Newton Vineyards.

Subsequently Dan Duckhorn returned to California with Margaret to promote a new market and develop a tradition with a focus on the production of Merlot. Though many Napa Valley wineries were using Merlot as a blending grape in the late 1970’s, few were exploring the potential of this varietal as a stand-alone wine.

Duckhorn Vineyards’ production eventually grew from 1,600 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in 1978 to more than 20,000 cases in 2006. Beginning in 1988, Duckhorn Vineyards purchased seven estate vineyards on Howell Mountain and the valley floor, for a total of 168 acres in the Napa Valley, and four vineyards totaling 153 acres in the Anderson Valley in Mendocino County.

All of Duckhorn Vineyards’s Wines are barrel-aged separately by vineyard lot, utilizing an extensive barrel program that sources 25 different types of oak from 13 separate cooperages. The resulting wines combine accents from a comprehensive barrel program with grapes from diverse smaller appellations within the broader Napa Valley, including Howell Mountain, Carneros, Yountville, Rutherford and St. Helena. For nearly three decades, the commitment to crafting wines of distinction has remained at the heart of the Duckhorn Vineyards philosophy. As its Napa Valley estate properties continue to mature the winery will continue creating world-class wines from exceptional vineyards.

So, for over thirty years Duckhorn Vineyards has been producing some of the finest wines in the valley, particularly Merlot and Bordeaux blends. From its modest inaugural vintage of 800 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon and 800 cases of Merlot in 1978, to its addition of Sauvignon Blanc in 1982, Duckhorn Vineyards has crafted a tradition of quality and excellence that continues today.

In July 2007, GI Partners, a private equity firm, purchased a controlling interest in Duckhorn Wine Company and with it Duckhorn’s various brands.


One of my favorite things about Duckhorn is not only the consistent superb quality of the wines, but they have a “sit down” tasting room where you can comfortably lounge in the garden, on the porch or inside the house and the polite and service-oriented staff brings you each sample in a different glass. This (as opposed to standing at a wine bar) is how I prefer to sample wines!

After exploring the vineyards, I ventured into the entrance where I was greeted by the friendly host who then escorted me to a window seat in the tasting room. For $20 I then sampled the following wines:

The first pour was the 2010 Duckhorn Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc (75% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Semillon). This is an absolutely superb white wine with a gorgeous bouquet of tropic fruits, fresh pineapple, melon, and a crisp lemon zest that then lingers on the palate for days along with grapefruit, canned pears and great acidity and yet it also has a full creamy mouth feel. This wine sells for $27, which is about $5 more than I typically spend for a bottle of this varietal but I just had to take one home.

My next wine was from a sister winery, the 2008 Goldeneye Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley. The aromas of this wine reminds me of a cross between a scented burning Christmas Candle and smoky bacon on the frying pan. It has plenty of fruit  with cranberry sauce, chocolate covered cherries, and sweet oak and a touch of licorice. A really nice wine BUT a bit steep at $55 a bottle.

My next two wines were served side-by-side, the 2008 Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot and the 2008 Stout Vineyard Merlot which is 100% Merlot. The Napa Valley on the other hand is a blend of 86% Merlot, 9.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3.5% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc. Both of these wines are absolutely superb! The Napa Valley sells for $52 and the Stout is $85, yet I actually preferred the Napa Valley. Neither is your typical Merlot, both are big, opulent, rich wines but I found the Napa Valley had more complexity and a more interesting evolution through the front and mid palate and more intriguing finish.

I then tasted side-by-side three different Cabernets – the 2008 Duckhorn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, the Monitor Ledge Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, and Rector Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

The 2008 Duckhorn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is really a Bordeaux/Meritage blend of 80% Cabernet, 13% Merlot, 5% Cabernet franc, 2% Petit Verdot. This is an absolutely gorgeous wine with layers of blackberries, black currants, raspberries and plums on the nose. On palate the wine has a firm grip but still delivers silky tannins followed by some damp earth and creamy vanilla with just a hint of sweet oak and spice on the finish. A really great wine but at $65 a bottle there is a lot of stiff competition with comparable wines in the $45 - $60 range.

The next wine was the 2008 Monitor Ledge Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (96.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3.5% Petit Verdot). Monitor Ledge Vineyard  is a 43-acre parcel planted to Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Franc. Located on the alluvial fan of Selby Creek, the site is composed of cobblestones and a gravelly sandy loam and is located in one of the warmer growing regions of the valley. This is a slightly bigger and more aggressive wine than the previous wine and could probably use some more time in the bottle before it really shows its full potential. Think of this wine as a more exotic big brother of the Napa Valley Cab with more focus and intensity but slightly less complexity and variation in profile. The ’08 Napa Valley Cab is a “drink now” wine and the Monitor Ledge is a “save for your wedding anniversary ten years from now. A great wine, with a big price tag at $95 a bottle. But I suspect in a few short years you’ll have to pay 3 times as much for this vintage.

My final wine in this trio was the Rector Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (100% Cabernet Sauvignon). The vineyard is located north of Yountville along the Silverado Trail adjacent to the Paraduxx winery (also owned by Duckhorn). This is a big and intense wine and like the Monitor Ledge could use a couple more years in bottle before it can be truly appreciated. On the nose and palate I picked up big black licorice followed by flowers and spice and a nutty finish. A great wine with a big price tag to match at $95 a bottle.

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

For more information or to visit:

Duckhorn Vineyards
1000 Lodi Lane
St. Helena, California 94574
Phone: 1-888-354-8885
Open daily from 10:00am to 4:00pm