A few weeks ago, we tasted the latest releases of Napa Cellars, that were sent to me by the winery. Located on Highway 29 in Oakville, Napa Cellars produces several very reasonably priced varietal wines, all from the Napa Valley AVA.
Stretching from Carneros to Calistoga, Napa Valley offers multiple microclimates due to various geographical factors. The open southern part of the valley is close to the northern tip of San Francisco Bay and is cooler during the growing season. Then, north of Yountville, the valley becomes narrower and bends towards the west. The winds don't make the turn so the St. Helena and Calistoga areas tend to be much warmer. Napa Cellars takes advantage of these diverse climates when blending wines to achieve a consistent quality year after year and balance fruit flavors, tannins, and acidity.
Here are the wines that we tasted:
• 2008 Napa Cellars Chardonnay Napa Valley: this is the winery's flagship wine. Most of the fruit is sourced from the southern part of the Napa Valley where summer temperatures can be ten to fifteen degrees cooler than those up north. The wine was aged 7 months in 100% French Oak (34% new). It had a light golden color and a nose that was more mineral than fruity. On the palate, it was medium-bodied, creamy, slightly oaky, with a good acidity and a lingering finish. Try it with a cream-based dish such as Fettucine with Smoked Salmon and Asparagus
• 2007 Napa Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley: sourced from a collection of vineyards located in the St. Helena, Oak Knoll, and Rutherford districts, the wine was aged for 18 months, in predominately French oak (55% new). Showing a dark purple color and a red berry nose with notes of mint, eucalyptus, and vanilla, it was full-bodied with a moderate amount of alcohol (13.8%). It was surprisingly well-balanced in terms of acidity and tannins for a young Cabernet. Try it with grilled steaks such as Rib Eye Steaks with Mixed Mushroom Sauté
• 2007 Napa Cellars Merlot Napa Valley: most of the fruit comes from the cooler regions of Napa Valley, such as Oak Knoll and Carneros. The blend also includes a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon (10%). The wine was aged for 20 months in predominantely French oak (36% new). It had a deep red color and a nose of sweet black plums and blackberries. The palate was rich, full-bodied and showing more alcohol than the Cabernet, leaving notes of cocoa on the finish. Try it with a pork dish cooked with fruit such as Pork Roast with Winter Fruits and Port Sauce
• 2007 Napa Cellars Zinfandel Napa Valley: much of the fruit was sourced from the warmer regions of Napa Valley, including Calistoga, St. Helena and Pope Valley. The blend is 88% Zinfandel and 12% Petit Sirah, aged for 18 months in American and French oak (23% new). Showing a medium red color, the wine had a nose of red berry fruit. The palate was fruity but not too jammy with exotic spices on the finish. Try it with some Asian spiced grilled meat such as Sweet Soy-Grilled Short Ribs
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