It’s the beginning of the wine social season if you will — Premiere Napa Valley. This past weekend trade and media descended on the valley to taste special barrel lots created by Napa Valley winemakers that are auctioned off on Saturday afternoon. It’s a chance to meet the winemakers and owners, and to network within the industry. There are winery open houses, dinners, wine and more wine.
This is when you get a good feel for the vintage. Here, the 2008 reds made their debut. There were many issues with that growing season, including frost and fires. Yields were low. Winemakers who’ve been holding their collective breath can breathe a sigh of relief. Almost everyone I talked to is very pleased with the wines. To me, they are restrained but complex, with long finishes.
PNV is also about buying wine. All the auction lots are exclusive to the Premiere Napa Valley “brand.” Retail and restaurant buyers and distributors bid on the lots during the charity auction. By the end of Saturday’s bidding, all 200 lots sold for a total of roughly $2 million, 29% better than last year’s tally. The highest bid was $37,000 for the Shafer Vineyards lot. Is this a sign the economy is turning around and wine sales will recover lost ground? Let’s hope so – I’ll raise a glass to that!
Instead of a “best of” or “top 10 list” I decided to highlight the wineries and wines that should be on your radar. The 2008 reds won’t be released until 2011 at the earliest.
Anomaly Vineyards – these folks changed their wine the Thursday before PNV, a brave move. Went from blend w/ 60% Cab to 100% cab. Kudos for following your instincts.
Arietta – a beautiful 100% Semillon with floral aromatics
Ashe Family Vineyards – a new winery with debut releases. Also had a 100% Sauvignon Blanc, nice and refreshing. Phillipe Melka is the winemaker.
Blackbird Vineyards – incredible Merlot based wines. more to come in another post
Black Coyote Chateau – a first time showing at PNV. Rich layers of flavor – a beautiful wine from Atlas Peak. Well done!
Chimney Rock Winery – a fabulous wine from the fabulous winemaking team of Elizabeth Vianna and Doug Fletcher.
Dyer Vineyard – really loved this wine, a 100% Cabernet Franc. Very very aromatic. From Bill and Dawnine Dyer (look for one of Dawnine’s other wine projects, Meteor Vineyard)
Emblem Wines – Rob Mondavi, Jr. and Michael Mondavi are behind this label. The lush Cab is all Rutherford fruit.
Gemstone Vineyard – I’m a big fan of Paul and Suzie Frank’s Gemstone wine. Elegant and complex.
Hourglass – love the violets in the nose
Juslyn Vineyards – Carolyn and Perry Butler’s second PNV is smooth and elegant. This is also the team behind the Footcandy shoe boutiques.
Tierra Roja – All of Linda Neal’s vineyard management experience is now captured in her own label. A lovely wine.
Tuck Beckstoffer Wines – my first time tasting Tuck’s wines. Track down Mockingbird. More on these wines in a future post.
Venge Vineyards – rich and velvety. Kirk Venge’s family is rooted in Napa Valley.
VinRoc Wine Caves – this winery is located in the up-and-coming Atlas Peak appellation of Napa. It’s a wine worth seeking out and discovering, especially if you like rose´