With the highly-anticipated release of the 2013 Rombauer Chardonnay, I got to thinking about how this varietal became what it is to the US wine drinking public. Like Cabernet Sauvignon, domestic Chardonnay kicked into high gear in the 1970s and really it has never looked back. When I started my competitive wine judging career in the late 1980s, judges felt rewarded when a competition gave them Chardonnays. It was the most coveted category in those days because it was the hot new superstar. Now, decades later, Chardonnay is the best-selling wine varietal in the United States because it is so consistently good.
At all price points, from under $10 to the-sky-is-the-limit, Chardonnay performs well. And not just those from California, but from all over the world, this wine clearly attracts the whole range of consumers.
Since 1982, Rombauer Vineyards in the Napa Valley has produced one of the state’s most sought-after Chardonnays. In all channels, from retail to restaurants, Rombauer is a leading performer. Because of its crowd-pleasing style and inviting flavor profile, it’s the perfect wine to sip on a sunny deck or serve to wine-loving guests.
I serve Chardonnay often because my family, friends and neighbors enjoy it, and Rombauer is one my top choices. The new release 2013 Rombauer Chardonnay, made from the winery’s estate-grown grapes in the cool climate Carneros District is another winner. It shows ripe tropical fruit and high quality oak in admirable balance. The 2013 vintage was nearly ideal in northern California and without question, this Chardonnay benchmark shows it. Let’s celebrate the release of the 2013!
Let’s go back in time to really understand how far Silver Oak Cellars has come. In the early 1970’s, Justin Meyer and Ray Duncan decided to launch a winery dedicated exclusively to making Cabernet Sauvignon, a bold move. At this time, varietal wines had not yet become a reality in the United States. Most American wines were generic (Chablis, Burgundy and Vin Rose) or fortified wines (port, white port, tokay, muscatel). Serious table wines from California were not yet a reality. The French owned the market (Bordeaux, Burgundy, Beaujolais, etc.) So who are these renegades to create a winery dedicated exclusively to Cabernet Sauvignon? They were pioneers!
What came first? The label or the water tower?
Consumers recognize the iconic water tower on the Silver Oak label – and possibly from visiting the winery, as one sits above both tasting rooms in Alexander Valley and Napa. But alas, the label was not inspired by the water tower, in fact, it was inspired by original co-founder Bonny Meyer, who photographed upwards of 30 Napa Valley water towers. Meyer finally commissioned John Farrell, a young local artist, to create the Silver Oak label with the water tower image. The physical tower was built afterwards.
Today, the marketplace can’t get enough of Silver Oak. Huge crowds descend each year on the little town of Oakville on the winery’s well-orchestrated release day. Under the direction of winemaker Daniel Baron, Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon continues to improve remains one of Napa Valley’s most sought-after wines.
The 2010 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet serves up plenty of ripe fruit flavors, with an accent of savory herbs and a shading of sweet oak. Delicious now, especially with a highly marbled grilled rib eye of beef, this wine will enjoy development in the cellar for another 10-15 years. The winery’s chef Dominic Orsini recommends flank steak and salsa verde. Doesn’t that sound good? I am sure glad we have progressed since the 1970’s – Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon is a time-tested treat!
Good morning from beautiful downtown San Francisco, this is Chief Storyteller of Wine.com speaking to you from the heart of the city’s financial district on the eve of one of California wine’s greatest moments. Today we announce the release of the 2012 Caymus Vineyards 40 Anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon.
Looking back over 40 years of incredible history, Caymus produced its first vintage in 1972, a rain-soaked year in which so many Napa Valley Cabernets went to the wayside. Yet the Wagner family succeeded in bringing to market a wine of great depth and richness that became a benchmark for California Cabernet. Now fast forward to the present and we find the wonderfully rich and opulent 2012 available for our collections.
From my notes, the 40th Anniversary Cabernet once again stands tall as wine that will ultimately represent one of the vintage’s best efforts. In a staff tasting, we found the wine opulent and long lasting. Dancing on edge of overt black fruit, the wine stays close to home with its unmistakable dustiness.
I first met Chuck Wagner around 1975, when I tasted the legendary 1973 Caymus Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. I have had the pleasure of tasting nearly every one of the winery’s 40 vintages and was so happy to experience the 2012. Happy 40th to the Wagner Family and all that you have done for the California wine industry.
They are here. And almost gone. I speak of the Downton Abbey wines, a white and a red from Bordeaux of which even Carson would approve.
We tasted these wines yesterday and were quite impressed. Though some wines that latch on to a celebrity name or brand are not stellar quality, others look for good wine at the right price to associate with a well-respected image. For Downton Abbey, the situation is the latter.
The Downton Abbey Blanc hails from the Entre-Deux-Mers area of Bordeaux, a region that excels in white wine production from the Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grapes. It shows bright citrus and stone fruits on the nose and the palate is ripe apple – we may even call it fruity – with vibrant acidity and a soft texture. Nice balance and a wine I think would be ideal for a seafood dish or even a pasta with a rich sauce. If you like California Sauvignon Blanc, you’ll enjoy this wine.
As for the Claret, it’s a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec and definitely calls out for some protein. It is balanced overall with dark berries and black currant, touch of spice, touch of floral notes and great acidity and good structure. But I do highly recommend with food!
So stock up to sip on these two wines for the January premiere! We’ve heard fans will need a strong drink!
When it comes to wine, gimmicks abound. Funny labels and tag lines can help sell a wine, but sometimes what’s inside doesn’t deliver. But sometimes it does. Wines that Rock represents that time when a great theme delivers both cleverness AND good wine. Described as “great tasting wines inspired by music,” Wines that Rock takes inspiration from legendary artists like Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones and Grateful Dead. It’s a great concept, and only more so since what’s in the bottle lives up to the name and labels.
What does Wines that Rock say?
“By crafting these great tasting wines with classic music as our muse, utilizing the tapestries from the rock vaults as our cover, and truly creating something that tastes great, Wines That Rock is out to change the boring perceptions of your typical wine. Wines That Rock is meant to be fun, a conversation starter, an eye popping party gift that makes you do a double take once you actually pop the cork and taste what’s inside. It’s also the perfect complement to your meal or just what you need when you want to kick back, relax and enjoy.”
Options include labels from Pink Floyd, The Police, Woodstock, Rolling Stones and the newest label, the Grateful Dead.
Some labels showcase the artist, while others call out a specific song by a band. Either way, these are great wines for classic Rock N’ Roll lovers.
As the back of the bottles say: “Pop the Cork, Turn up the Tunes and enjoy the taste of Wines That Rock.”