Tag: napa valley

Flora Springs 2015 Merlot

Here’s the thing about Flora Springs — they are utterly reliable. Whether you’re looking for something big and bold (say hello to the Trilogy blend) or something light and crips (you must taste their Sauvignon Blanc) or something right in the middle (I’ve got a Chardonnay that’s right up that alley — review to come) — they’ve got something suited to every flavor profile and they do it well. I’d have to say that having tasted much of their portfolio, producing bold reds that are approachable now but can also age for decades is kind of their “thing.” Case and point, this 100% Merlot harvested from their very own estate vineyards along Napa’s valley floor.

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Flora Springs 2017 Sauvignon Blanc

I love where Sauvignon Blanc is going. I love that winemakers are now working with various clones, implementing various aging techniques, and finding ways to finesse the Sauvignon Blanc expression while simultaneously maintaining the integrity of the fruit.

I have a theory that everything Flora Springs produces is absolutely reliable. In fact, when I pulled this from the cellar last Friday night my partner, who’s more of a Sauv Blanc skeptic than I said, “Ok, but as long as it’s not too Sauv Blanc-y.” And all I had to say in reassurance: “Don’t worry, it’s Flora Springs.” True story. Here’s the rest of it…

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Clos du Val 2015 Hirondelle Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Clos du Val built their foundation like many Napa wineries did in the 1970s, with the great, noble Cabernet Sauvignon grape. According to the winery, the “crown jewel” of their estate program is the Hirondelle Vineyard located in the Stags Leap District. The vineyard spans 100 acres and is planted to nine different Cabernet Sauvignon Clones.

Stag’s Leap’s place along the valley floor gets love from the sun and cooling breezes from the San Pablo Bay, which means grapes plush tannins but also a vibrant acidity. This is probably why — as you’ll see in my notes — Clos du Val is able to craft an age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignon that is also completely approachable now.

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Stony Hill Vineyard 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

I was so excited to try this Cabernet Sauvignon from Stony Hill. Even more so than the Chardonnay — but don’t ask me why. I guess there’s some pretense when you see the words “Napa” and “Cabernet” on the bottle. It can turn some people off because it may automatically connote “big, bold, chewy” -type vocabulary. But not so here, and this predominantly has to do with seasoned winemaker’s, Mike Chelini’s, winemaking techniques. According to the winery, Chelini is constantly monitoring the vineyards throughout the season, harvesting by chemical balance rather than by flavor alone. Testing the grapes for the perfect amount of pH versus acidity, means grapes with just enough acid to encourage ageability in the resulting wines. So what Chelini produces are both red and white wines that can age for years to come or be enjoyed straight out of the bottle. And with this Stony Hill Vineyard 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon — you can honestly go either way.

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Stony Hill 2013 Napa Valley Chardonnay

Oh Stony Hill — another winery to cross off my bucket list! The original Stony Hill Vineyard, located in Napa’s Spring Mountain AVA, was purchased by Fred and Eleanor McCrea back in the early 1940s. The first vines were planted in 1948 and by 1954 the couple already had a reputation for crafting fine Napa wines. When Fred passed in the late 1970s, assistant winemaker Mike Chelini took the winemaking reigns, and he’s held on tight to those ropes for over 40 years now. The bulk of the business remains in the family, with Fred and Eleanor’s son and daughter-in-law, Peter and Willinda, running the day-to-day operations and with their daughter, Sarah, taking over as president as of 2011.

According to the winery, Fred and Eleanor loved the white wines of Burgundy and would have loved to have planted their entire vineyard to Chardonnay. Well, they didn’t plant the whole vineyard to Chardonnay. But I can say that Fred and Eleanor would be proud that their family does great honor to the fruit that founding couple held in such high esteem.

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