In the December 2014 issue of Wine & Spirits Magazine, the 2010 is included in “Year’s Best Cabernet Sauvignon” section:
92 points, Best Buy: A traditional style of Napa Valley Cabernet, this harks back to an age before hangtime was a buzzword, when green herb flavors and firm tannins were in fashion. It’s restrained, linear, astringent in both oak and fruit tannins, earthy at its core. There’s a delicacy to the lasting red currant fruit. Taut and demanding as a young wine, this is built for patient cellaring.
Andrea Robinson roots for Riesling from Napa for Thanksgiving in a blog post on November 13:
It’s Thanksgiving wine time, but…where’s Napa? Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday so I’m excited. But I’m also kinda peeved. The happy part is that the Thanksgiving holiday entwines three of life’s greatest rewards: family, home, and sharing food and wine. I feel especially thankful because for me, all of that coalesces around the Napa Valley, my home for the last ten years, and America’s grand cru on the global wine stage. Which brings me to my beef: In light of Napa’s red, white and true-ness, when it comes to wines for Thanksgiving dinner Americans—not just us locals–think Napa, right?
My quick perusal of the digital dialog on this topic turned up a resounding “Heck, no,” for an answer. The reality is that across the spectrum of tweets, hashtags, pins and posts, you’ll find a slew of American wine voices opining on great wines to invite to Thanksgiving dinner, but very few of them giving Napa the nod….. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why Napa Valley wines hit the sweet spot for pairing with Thanksgiving fare: it’s the fruit. Quite simply, while most of Napa’s anchor whites and reds are not sweet, they do have a lush fruit ripeness that mimics sweetness on the palate, which allows them to play much nicer with many of the starchy-sweet, caramelized, and even sugary dishes and sauces we love to eat at Thanksgiving. So here’s my list of the best Napa versions of the go-to pro picks for Thanksgiving, all of which will match the traditional turkey and trimmings lineup to perfection….
Riesling – This grape’s food versatility is frankly uncanny. Case in point: one of the most extraordinary dinners I have ever attended featured a Riesling-only menu that ranged from crab salad to wild boar and every match was a jaw-dropper. Given the huge array of flavors on the typical Thanksgiving table, there’s no better time to put Riesling to the test. In terms of quality, my favorites from Napa easily stand with the world’s best classic Rieslings from Germany, Austria and Alsace: Smith-Madrone….
The Sacramento Bee recommends our Riesling with your turkey:
For Thanksgiving, pour what you, your guests will like
BY MIKE DUNNE, November 18, 2014
Summer wasn’t even over before the most popular wine question of fall popped up: What wine do you serve at the Thanksgiving feast?….my usual answer: Set the table with whatever wine you like and whatever you expect your guests will like….One complication of the Thanksgiving table is that no one varietal or style of wine will fit either the range of dishes or the diversity of the guest list. However … my Thanksgiving table won’t likely be set without a bottle of pinot noir, a bottle of riesling and a bottle of zinfandel. The first two are the most adaptable and appropriate varietals for just about any meal.
Smith-Madrone 2012 Spring Mountain District Riesling: …a producer that can be relied upon year after year to turn out riesling of character and balance. …it carries its .41 percent residual sugar with aplomb, coming off tasting dry thanks to its bracing acidity. Its flavors of tropical fruits, peaches and apples will be right at home with the rich range of the Thanksgiving meal.
Blake Gray reports on Wine & Spirits Magazine’s Sommelier Scavenger Hunt on his blog on November 4:
A dirty secret of the U.S. wine industry is that among themselves, many sommeliers disparage Napa Valley wines. They don’t want to rip Napa publicly because that would insult the taste of many of their wealthiest customers. But I overhear all the time, “Napa Cabernets don’t show any terroir.” Wine & Spirits Magazine staged an interesting competition last month in San Francisco. The magazine asked five teams of sommeliers to investigate a type of wine in a region and then present 6 wines that would represent that region’s terroir. In other words, the winners would find not just the best wines, but wines that said something about the place. It didn’t bode well for Napa that its sommelier team was New York-based and its head, Bar Boulud sommelier Michael Madrigale, is an official ambassador for the Bordeaux Wine Council (CIVB). But Napa kicked ass, took no prisoners, and left even those of us in the room who know how good its wines can be astonished at how well they can show terroir. Here are the 6 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons Madrigale and teammates chose:
Smith-Madrone, Spring Mountain District 2011
Robert Sinskey SLD Estate, Stags Leap District 2009
Robert Mondavi To Kalon Reserve, Oakville 2011
Corison Kronos Vineyard 2010
Mayacamas Vineyards, Mt. Veeder 2008
Diamond Creek Volcanic Hill, Diamond Mountain District, 2008
The Smith Madrone was one of the most impressive wines of the day, with garrigue-like notes of the native California flora on the rugged forests on Spring Mountain. The 2011 vintage in Napa will never score well with Parker et al, but I believe great Napa wines from 2011 will be the best wines in those wineries’ cellars two decades from now, and this is a terrific example. What won the day for Napa, though, wasn’t just that all six were excellent wines. It was their statement of terroir. They share a generosity of fruit you expect from Napa Valley, but they differed substantially based on where in Napa they came from. Nobody would have expected Napa Valley to crush Anderson Valley in a taste-of-terroir contest judged by sommeliers. But then, nobody expected the Giants. Again.
93 points, Best Buy
A big Napa Valley chardonnay, this has enough power in its fruit to hold the toasty, leesy oak influence in check. There’s a broad feel of alcohol, with mineral freshness to keep it clean, focused on a range of fruit flavors, from yellow apple and nectarine to chamomile, marzipan and orange marmalade. Air brings out a refreshing character in the wine, as juicy as a Bartlett pear or a white peach. Decant this for meaty fish, like a seared albacore steak.
92 points, Best Buy
A traditional style of Napa Valley Cabernet, this harks back to an age before hangtime was a buzzword, when green herb flavors and firm tannins were in fashion. It’s restrained, linear, astringent in both oak and fruit tannins, earthy at its core. There’s a delicacy to the lasting red currant fruit. Taut and demanding as a young wine, this is built for patient cellaring.
Congratulations to the winners of Wine & Spirits Magazine’s 2014 Sommelier Scavenger Hunt: Josiah Baldivino, Michael Madrigale and Michelle Biscieglia, who focused on Napa Valley Cabernet and included our 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon.
Josh Greene reports on the winning presentation: http://blogs.wineandspiritsmagazine.com/blog/entry/winners-sommelier-scavenger-hunt