Five Napa Valley Wine Reviews
Every so often, we enjoy what I call a “Weekend of Tasting” with the goal of sharing a series of Napa Valley wine reviews. This usually involves gathering with a few others who equally appreciate the beauty each bottle brings and are open to reaching into the far corners of their cellars to share their favorite picks with the group. This past weekend, we spent time with family in Michigan and opened some pretty wonderful wines. Five of my top Napa picks are well worth recommending:
- Laird 2009 Cold Creek Chardonnay – Those who enjoy true, oaky, buttery Chardonnays (like me, on occasion) will like this Carneros-sourced wine. Added flavors of honeysuckle and lavender elevated its sweetness. Rating: 4.25 points.
- Buccella 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon – We started off the reds with a bang; pulling this “special occasion” bottle from our rack. (We really lucked out finding this wine at an end-of-bin sale at a significantly reduced price.) It’s comprised of 95% Cabernet, 2% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec and 1% Petit Verdot. If you’ve seen a Buccella, you know it appears big, heavy and outspoken – This is the same experience I prepared for when pouring a first taste. Instead, I found a pretty well-balanced wine with integrated tannins and waves of flavor with layers of dark fruit (blackberry, boysenberry) and cedar. The finish was lengthy but with a touch of heat. Though still young, minimal age already seems to have done this Cabernet well. What’s interesting about this wine is that it draws grapes from several AVA’s: St. Helena, Rutherford, Oakville, Yountville, Coombsville and Oak Knoll – each contributing its strongest elements. We rated this 4.5 due to a somewhat high percentage of alcohol (15.1%). I’m told the Buccella Merlot is amazing and would love an opportunity to try that at some point.
- Switchback Ridge 2010 Merlot – I’ve mentioned before that I’m a huge fan of Merlot; this was one of two we tried. As a whole, Switchback Ridge consistently produces high-quality wines. The 2010 is medium-to-full bodied with smooth tannins. It displayed flavors of vanilla and sweet, almost candylike, cherry, hinting at its youth. This wine was terrific at this early stage and I would love to taste it again after it has even more time to settle. For this reason, I rated it 4.0 but will update over time once we re-taste the next bottle. I do suggest getting your hands on anything from this winery.
- Freemark Abbey 2007 Howell Mountain Merlot – What could beat a mountain Merlot? This was one of the most dramatic I’ve tasted. It also offered a strong bouquet of black licorice, eucalyptus and cherry. Age helped to smooth it out. I rated this 4.75.
- Rubicon at Inglenook 2009 Edizione Pennino Zinfandel – I have not tasted many wines from Rubicon/Inglenook (gasp!) but truly enjoyed this spicy find. Exhibiting deep color, the Pennino delivered on the quintessential characteristics of a great Zinfandel: bright fruit with flavors of vanilla, berry, and pie spice. I gave it 4.75.
If only weekends like this came around more often.