I recently joined a panel of wine bloggers for a virtual TasteLive event called “Luscious Hedonism.” Nice ring to it, eh? Summer has come to an end and the cooler temperatures of fall are ideal for hearty foods and more substantial and rich red wines. This tasting offered just that – wine selections that pair well with a hearty meal and a table full of good friends. The tasting featured four small-lot California Cabernet Sauvignon wines from two small boutique producers (Chateau Felice and Krutz Family Cellars) and two larger producers (Rodney Strong Vineyards and Wente Vineyards). Small-lot wine, also referred to as limited quantity or production, is generally a wine that’s handled and made with special care from ground to glass. These small batches of wine may be the producer’s best vineyard block(s) or barrels. To clear up a misconception; a small lot wine can be produced from a small or large winery – not just the former. One thing this particular tasting accomplished was to highlight the diversity of Cabernet Sauvignons across the four distinct regions on California’s north coast. Below you’ll find the wines we tasted, a few words about the producer, and my Twitter tasting notes.
Chateau Felice 2007 La Craie American Celebration
Of the four producers, I was most unfamiliar with Chateau Felice. Their 2007 La Craie American Celebration is sourced from the producer’s private estate in the Chalk Hill AVA of Sonoma County, California. This Bordeaux-style blend is comprised of 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, and 4% Cabernet Franc. One of the tasters who had visited the property commented on how beautiful it was. NOTES: Deep garnet color with black cherries and cassis scents with mineral undertones and a pinch of dried herb. On the palate, this wine boasts a lovely texture, nice acidity, and good balance between delicacy and brawn, ending in a long spice/mineral-driven finish. (75 cases, $50)
Krutz Family Cellars 2007 Stagecoach Vineyard Cab Sauv
Next up was the 2007 Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Malbec) from Krutz Family Cellars. Stagecoach Vineyard is one of the best known and largest vineyards in Napa Valley. Patrick Kurtz, owner and winemaker, hails from Mississippi. A visit to California in 2002 resulted in Patrick working at a wine shop and helping with various wine projects. It didn’t take long for Patrick to forge relations with local growers and launch his own label. He released his first vintage the following year. On the front or rear of every Krutz Family Cellars label, you will find a magnolia – Mississippi’s state flower. I’ve enjoyed both the Krutz Family Cellars Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon on numerous occasions, and I hear they make one heck of a Malbec. NOTES: Dried herb, sweet tobacco leaf, currant, subtle vegetal notes, and blackberry aromas comingle with earthy/cocoa nuances. The aromas extend to the round and supple palate with slightly grainy tannins and a pleasing lingering finish. (390 cases, $75)
Rodney Strong Alexander’s Crown 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon
The Rodney Strong Alexander’s Crown 2008 (100%) Cabernet Sauvignon was next. This single-vineyard wine is sourced from the Alexander’s Crown vineyard in the Alexander Valley AVA in Sonoma County. Rodney Strong was established in 1971 and is recognized as the first vineyard in Sonoma County to produce a single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Rodney Strong is also one of the pioneering producers of Sonoma County’s modern wine industry. Their name is a well-known and their wines are widely available. NOTES: The complex nose is inviting with brambly red and dark fruit, mint, sage, cocoa, and an underlying touch of baking spice. Bold and nicely focused on the entry with an attractive mid-palate, supple, yet firm tannins, and a dusty/juicy finish. This wine gets better (and aromas become more pronounced) as it breathes; especially around the 2-3 hour mark. This is a nice wine to pair with grilled steak. (Approximately 1000 cases, $75)
Wente Vineyards 2008 The Nth Degree Cabernet Sauvignon
Last but not least, was the Wente Vineyards 2008 The Nth Degree Cabernet Sauvignon (95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot). Wente Vineyards was founded in 1883 and is located in California’s Livermore Valley and farms nearly 3,000 acres of estate vine plantings between the Livermore Valley and Monterey. In 1936, Wente produced the first California wine to be labeled Chardonnay. That said, their Chardonnay wines (Eric’s Small-Lot, Riva Ranch, Morning Fog, etc.) are definitely worth seeking out. I’ve enjoyed wines from Wente Vineyards in the past and they consistently manage to offer good quality wines at reasonable prices. The Nth Degree portfolio represents Wente Vineyard’s limited production, hand-crafted premium wines. NOTES: The wine shows a beautiful deep, dark color, with blackberry, ripe plum, toast/smoke, and cassis aromas, with shy eucalyptus scents. The entry is full and round with generous fruit, fine-grain tannins, and a nice mid-palate with hints of smoke and spice on the finish. This is also a nice wine to pair with grilled steak. Allow this wine to breath for a while and you will get the most out of this bottle.(Approximately 500 cases, $50)
In closing, due to their limited production, small-lot wines are typically available exclusively at the producer’s tasting-room, their wine club, via mail order, or special events (dinners, vertical tastings, etc.). Click on the links below to visit the producer’s websites for further information. Cheers!
CLICK HERE to visit Chateau Felice's website.
CLICK HERE to visit Krutz Family Cellar's website.
CLICK HERE to visit Rodney Strong Vineyard's website.
CLICK HERE to visit Wente Vineyard's website.
Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned ...more to come!
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