Sip on a red wine and taste voluptuous, jammy fruits, a delicate acidity and just a backbone of tannin, and you may think at least three different varietals and I bet none of them would be a Napa Cabernet. Indeed, I had my partner in wine crime taste this blind and his brain went from Zinfandel, to Shiraz, and then settled on a rusty “Pinot Noir,” before saying that whatever it is, it’s definitely not a Cab. Oh how wrong you’d be and how wrong he was. I’m loving the innovation of the new generation of Napa winemakers—even those who have been in the business for years are evolving into this notion of “fresh fruit ripeness,” picking slightly earlier, using minimal intervention winemaking techniques, and ultimately crafting Napa Cabernet that can age elegantly for decades…but are completely gluggable now.
I was so glad when a friend gifted me this wine. Mostly because I’ve previously reviewed this little-known winemaker and think he’s one of northern California wine country’s best kept secrets. Managing his own 8.5 acre vineyard site in Marin County, winemaker Stewart Johnson can now proudly claim the Petaluma Gap AVA on his bottles, since it became California’s newest AVA about 6 months ago. All of that put together, I was eager to “catch up” with Stew via his wine…
There are so many expressions of Chardonnay. And while I’ve known that in theory for quite some time, it seems to me that lately—within the last two years even—winemakers are taking advantage of what that really means. Any where from round and doughy to crisp to fruit forward, and the whole spectrum that spreads between. Get a good Chardonnay from a reputable winemaker, and he or she will only use the techniques that will showcase the vineyard and vintage. That is the direction Chardonnay is going: while its tastes and textures are still nearly 100% reliant on the winemaker, winemakers seem to be working with the grape, instead of just completely…working the grape.
Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc is a classic, am I right? And when you’re craving it, there’s just nothing else like it. Distinct in both flavor profile and texture due to the use of both the blanc and musqué clones, the winemaking team also utilizes just a small percentage of oak in their aging program to help lift the flavor and mouthfeel.
Now here’s a red wine you can sink your teeth into—without staining them red or purple. If in the mood for something with some grit and texture, something with an “I don’t give and eff” attitude, then this is the wine for you. It’s bold, bodacious, with serious backbone, yet absolutely 100% casual. Call the blend a “kitchen sink” blend if you will, but know that it’s crafted with finesse and not a drop of it will go down the gutter. Bonus points for the low price point and the fact that you can pair it with your finest steak just as well as you could a sandwich.