If you haven’t been able to tell by now, I’m a big fan of Grgich Hills wine. I’m particularly partial to their Cabernets, which I find put the intimidating “Napa Cab” stereotypes to rest. But their Zinfandels come in at a close second. Last year’s vintage had me taken aback, as the Zinfandel’s disparate flavors and textures seemed to, in the end, create a seamless journey. This year, those flavors and textures seem to come together creating a rounder, fuller-figured wine, a more cyclical story — and quite an enjoyable drinking experience.
With so many celebrities creating their own wine labels today, it’s hard to tell who’s making real wine and who’s just slapping their name on a bottle. Well ever since I tasted Yao Ming’s 2014 Cabernet, I’ve been dying to taste more. Lucky me, Yao Ming Family Wines came out with a sparkling wine just in time for the holiday season and — lucky me again — it was just as good as I wanted it to be…
I’ve come to love anything Grgich Hills produces: from their bodacious Zinfandel to their textural Chardonnay; their light and lively Fumé Blanc, and even their seemingly ‘crazy’ rosé. But nothing says “Napa love” like a glass of their Cabernet Sauvignon. I was first introduced to this wine almost one year ago, and was taken aback by how simultaneously rugged and voluptuous their 2013 vintage was — all the while maintaining a certain lightness from start to finish. While the 2014 seems to kick it up a notch, Grgich Hills reputation for friendly Cabernet, expressive of its Napa estate fruit, is absolutely in tact.
John Komes, co-owner of Flora Springs, may have a self-proclaimed love affair with Chardonnay, but his son Nate, general manager at the winery, is a fan-boy for Sauvignon Blanc. The Komes family have been farming the white grape for over three decades, utilizing the the two vineyards sourced for this bottle for the past two decades. Apparently there has been some talk about, and temptation to, graft these vines over to Cabernet Sauvignon (Flora Springs is well known for their big bold reds.) But with Nat’s encouragement, the family’s held back. And, personally, I’m glad they have. Well structured Sauvignon Blancs are hard to find — but with the clonal mix along with the combination of different aging techniques, that’s exactly what Flora Springs have produced with this 2016 vintage.
John and Carrie Komes and Julie and Pat Garvey established Flora Springs in 1977, though the vineyard has history dating back to the early 1800s, when Napa was just forming its roots as a California wine region. So the families already had a jump start on success by purchasing fertile land perfect for crafting what they’d soon be known for — Bordeaux blends. But John Komes admittedly has had a “long love affair” with Chardonnay and it was, in fact, the first Flora Springs varietal he produced 40 years ago. And though he’s seen Chardonnay styles go in and out of fashion — from the classic Cali butter-bomb to the sometimes scandalous 100% stainless steel — current winemaker Paul Steinauer maintains the winemaking methods that expresses Chardonnay in the same way that enraptured John from the very beginning.