Posts Tagged ‘Cabernet’

A Rare Exception: Silverado Vineyards Estate Grown Cabernet

In Cabernet, Drinking on December 14, 2013 at 4:04 pm



Silverado is one of those rare exceptions in Napa Valley: a three generation family owned winery crafting only estate grown wines and charging a fair price for them.  I can’t think of anyone else in Napa who can string those three clauses together truthfully.

Planted in the 1970s by Ron and Diane Miller, see the Silverado Vineyard takes its name from the abandoned mining town at the southern end of Napa Valley (the vineyard is also the start of the famous Silverado Trail, look with the same namesake).

In 1978 the Milers were one of the first of three families to plant Cabernet in the Stag’s Leap District of Napa.  By the middle of the next decade that Cabernet was winning international wine competitions, and in the middle of the 90s Silverado Cabernet tops the Wine Spectator top 100 list as well becoming one of three designated “heritage” clones of Cabernet at UC Davis.

That same Cabernet vineyard and that same family creates the Cabernet of today:

The 2009 vintage opens with an effusive and beautiful bouquet of blackberries, baking spices, rich mocha and cedar, followed by graphite and pencil lead.  In addition to its friendly price (see below)Silverado vineyards have held this back in their cellar – it’s the 2009 vintage, and it drinks amazing now: the palate is supple and silky, with its voluptuously smooth tannins fully integrated bringing a black cherry and kirsch flavor to the finish.  I started drinking it as a cocktail, assuming I was going to share it at Thanksgiving dinner.  Instead, I finished the bottle all by myself, in the kitchen – it’s just that good.

In Napa Cabernet, it’s the new that’s news, and a big splash is almost always concomitant with a big price.  But there is no reason for this.  Think about Bordeaux, or Italian Super Tuscans, or anywhere else in the world growing great Cabernet (or California Zinfandel for that matter) – it’s the venerable, old-vine vineyards that are considered great, not the newest juice from the press mill.

Silverado a rare exception: some of the oldest Cabernet vines in Napa, one of the longest and most successful wine-making families in Napa, who, in their words “try and offer our best wine at a fair price.”  Now that’s the holiday spirit.  Cheers!

2009 Silverado Vineyards

Estate Grown Napa Cabernet

Please contact us regarding pricing and availability.


Three Great Cabernets Up to 70% off

In Cabernet, Drinking on September 13, 2013 at 4:26 pm


Making a compellingly authoritative argument that Bordeaux doesn’t have the monopoly on elegant, medicine pure, search and age-worthy wine is Leeuwin’s 2007 Art Series Cabernet.

Drinking like a young Chateau Lascombes of Lynch Bages from the 2005 vintage this stylish cabernet opens with a pure fruit expression centering on the flavors of field-ripened strawberries.  But that isn’t all.  Just like a Bordeaux there is depth in the glass: layers upon layers of minerality, graphite, crushed rocks, cedar, and vanilla enrich and broaden the character.  The palate is supple, vibrant and seamless leaving its fruit character to resolve for minutes on the finish.  At six years old this wine drinkable now but is a serious contender for outliving the Bordeaux’s in your cellar.

Three Great Cabernets Up to 70% off

In Cabernet, Drinking on September 13, 2013 at 4:20 pm



With its backbone being formed from Red Mountain, clinic Sleight of Hand’s “Illusionist” is a stacked and power-packed Cabernet.

It’s nearly over-ripe raspberry fruit character is backed by up by loaded and fully integrated tannins that layer in notes of coca, drugs mocha, link and sweet cherry tobacco.  There is a touch of Lewis vineyard Syrah in the blend, making the sum greater than the parts by adding in notes of blackberries, savory spices, and game.

Planted on its own roots, Washingtonians believe that no Cabernets in the world can match theirs for purity and power.  The Illusionist is a striking example of that hypotheses.

Contact us regarding pricing and availability.



Three Great Cabernets Up to 70%

In Cabernet, Drinking on September 13, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Sineann 2



A bold expression of pure Napa Valley erupts from the glass with aromas of crème de cassis, tadalafil blackberry, decease wood smoke, vanilla bean pod, and crushed rocks.

The broad and expansive mouth feel gives this well-endowed Cabernet its approachable and compelling power, culminating in lingering finish of raspberries, ripe Bing cherries, voluptuous texture and glycerin.  It’s delightfully drinkable now and will age well in your cellar for at least 10 more years.

There were only 150 cases produced – don’t miss yours!

Please contact us regarding pricing availability.

In Cabernet, Drinking on August 6, 2013 at 5:25 pm


There are special spots in this world that make great Cabernet – Paulliac, illness Howell Mountain, for sale the Rutherford Bench.

Another is Sonoma Mountain.

That is where Laurel Glen grows their outstanding Counterpoint Cabernet.  Nowhere else in California – maybe even the world – do you get Laurel Glen’s mixture of old Cabernet vines, unique climatic conditions, and wine making talent focused on Cabernet.

If you love Cabernet, you need to taste this wine.

I am not the first person to notice the greatness of Sonoma Mountain Cabernet.  As far back as 1880 German immigrants planted this mountain with vines.  These old vines are unique, so much so that UC Davis designated them with their own genotype. Compare this to Napa, where Cabernet vines are never old because of production schedules.  Or compare this to Bordeaux, where average vine age for First Growth wine is a mere 25 years.  Only at Laurel Glen do you get the depth of character that old Cabernet vines give.

But that isn’t all.  Rising high above the valley floor, Sonoma Mountain creates a unique micro-climate that is perfect for Cabernet.  It’s warmer than the rest of the valley because of thermal updrafts and being situated above the fog line.  This results in more concentrated Cabernet with a powerful backbone and musculature.  But it’s also planted purely facing east, where only the morning sun strikes the fruit, avoiding the burning afternoon sun.  The result is a cool-berry fruit character, with blue and black fruits showing on the palate.

And now, a new team led by rock-star winemaker David Ramey is showcasing all that Laurel Glen can be with the 2010 vintage of Counterpoint:

It is a sumptuous, richly-textured, fully concentrated Cabernet Sauvignon that hits all the sweet spots on the palate and puts the olfactory senses into overdrive.  Black and blueberries infused with chocolate and espresso; cassis, kirsch, vanilla and dried fig all explode from the glass.  Ramey is famous for bringing a seamless texture to his Cabernets and that is on display here: flawlessly full bodied, with massive yet elegant tannins where nothing is out of balance in this compelling, irresistible Cabernet.

None other than Robert Parker once stated that Laurel Glen “is proven to be one of the finest sources for Cabernet in California.”  This, the 2010 Counterpoint, is a historic effort that showcases the greatness of this vineyard.

Please contact us regarding pricing and availability.

Not Far From Latour: Seven Hills Klipsun Vineyard Cabernet

In Cabernet, Drinking, Special Offers on March 22, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Reading a letter from America, no rx May-Eilane de Lencquesaing glanced out her window at the proud lion statue of Chateau Latour, pills permanently frozen in its sandstone roar guarding what many consider to be one of the world’s greatest vineyards.  Someone was playing a trick on her.  

Sitting at her desk in the second floor study of Chateau Pichon Comtesse de Lalande she considered the 100 meter stretch of vineyard that separated her from Latour’s Tower: its terroir, the combination of Cabernet, gravel soils and long cool autumns.  How many times had this vineyard changed hands over the years but still produced the world’s greatest wine?  It is terroir, non? 

Clutching the letter in her hand she read it for a third time.  In a very presumptuous American way it directly compared her land – the Medoc, Paulliac, Comtesse, right next to Latour for God’s sake! – with an American vineyard in Washington State, in the Red Mountain district, called Klipsun.

Like Latour, Klipsun vineyard has very shallow soils made up of gravel.  These soils are marginal, stressing the fruit of the vine, concentrating its flavors while draining away excessive water.  Like Latour, Klipsun sits in a moderate climate, one that sees the same sunlight hours as Bordeaux (they are at the same latitude) and tends to be cool and crisp at night, especially as summer yields to autumn.  Like Latour, the sunlight at Klipsun ripens grapes phenolically, increasing their aromatic complexity.  And finally, like Latour, the diurnal temperature change creates fully ripe wines without excessive alcohol levels.

Crumpling up the letter May-Eilane said “Il est tous des merdes”, continuing “they are playing a joke on me”; and threw away one of the greatest opportunities in the new world.

But there are some people who didn’t think it was a joke.  And Casey McClellan of Seven Hills winery is one of them.

Casey is a third generation farmer who knows a good vineyard when he sees one.  Making wine from Klipsun vineyard for 20 years has taught him a lesson or two and strengthened his resolve against winemaking fads.  And his Klipsun Cabernet shows this.

At its core, Casey’s Seven Hills Klipsun Vineyard Cabernet drinks like a wine from Bordeaux.  Which makes sense – if the terroir is the same as world famous Chateau Latour, why try and recreate Napa Valley? 

He doesn’t.  Instead, he makes outstanding Klipsun Vineyard Cabernet. 

The smell of this wine is gorgeously pronounced; just opening the bottle will fill the room with aromas of black currants, cassis, bing cherries, and candied orange zest.  Opening a bottle is like spraying Cabernet air-freshener into an antiseptic office cubicle – everyone who wanders by will smile and compliment you, stopping to chat instead of continuing on to the bubbler.  This is the result of the powerful combination of cool nights and sunny days: bold phenolic ripeness. 

The palate is keen like good claret.  The tannins are refreshing and pleasant, neither buried under lashings of oak nor hidden by jammy fruit.  They are palate cleansing and promise of this wine’s ability to age.  The acidity is mature and balanced, refreshing; leaving the mouth excited for the next drink.  The palate is light and lithe with long, lingering flavors resolving into a note of cherry pie. 

Decades ago May-Eilane received a letter inviting her to make wine from the Klipsun vineyard.  And she passed.  Don’t make her mistake.  If you believe in the greatness of terroir, Seven Hills Klipsun Vineyard Cabernet is not that far from Latour.

2006 Seven Hills Klipsun Vineyard Cabernet

Suggested List Price:  $34.99

Special price via this email:  $24.99

We will taste this wine Friday and Saturday.

All orders must be secured with a name, credit card number, and phone number.  All orders will be available at the time of purchase.  Half case (5%) and full case discounts (10%) do apply to this special offer.

When the wine is ordered your credit card will be charged.  The wine will be held in climate controlled conditions until you are ready to pick it up, free of charge.  Offer is good while supplies last. 

Tim Hansen edited this article.

This article uses research from several sources:

Harvey Steiman’s article “Washington: An Open Secret” published in Wine Spectator on December 15, 2010.  This wine received 92 points.

The Washington State Wine Commission, found online at:

“Grape Expectations: Klipsun Vineyards Allows Land to Shape Flavor of Fruit” by Christina Kelly.

Field Blend: Raymond Cabernet

In Cabernet, Drinking, Special Offers on March 8, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Driving up Highway 29 in Napa Valley you pass some of the most famous wineries in the world.  And most of them are just that – wineries, not vineyards.

In Napa there is a trend of buying grapes instead of growing them.  And while there is nothing wrong with this it does hide the people who are doing much of the viticultural work and obscure some of their great wines.  In Napa, these viticultural workers are known as contract farmers.  And for five generations the Raymonds have been one such farming family.     

Most people haven’t heard of the Raymonds, and that is understandable.  Raising great fruit they sell it off, usually under the sticky subject of non-disclosure contracts.  Meaning if the Raymonds charge $15 a bottle and the Sowerberries charge $50 for the same wine, the Raymonds can’t tell you that they grew both.   

And so, when the Raymonds hit a good year, they make “field blends”.  Literally blending the best grapes across many different vineyards.  For most wineries this would be too complex and expensive.  For the Raymonds it’s easy – they’re farming the fruit anyway, why not make good wine too?

The 2009 vintage is their current field blend.  Based on Cabernet it shows the hallmarks of Napa fruit offering up a complex set of aromas with raspberries, black currant and kirsch on the nose.  Full bodied in taste, revealing the Petite Sirah and Merlot as blending partners.  The palate is supple and brimming with tastes of blueberries, espresso and white chocolate lingering on the finish.        

Let’s not be mistaken – these Raymond boys are good old country farmers.  There’s dirt under their nails and stains on their jeans, but that doesn’t mean that the wine isn’t good.  In fact, you probably have already enjoyed what the Raymond’s make – and paid more for it!  Come share in this farming family’s wine! 


2009 Raymond Cabernet Field Blend

Suggested List Price:  $12.99

Special price via this email:  $8.99

Napa By Storm: Felino Cabernet

In Cabernet, Drinking, Special Offers on January 18, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Paul Hobbs is one of the most talented wine makers to emerge from Napa’s unremittingly competitive environment.  And he has the resume to prove it – crafting Cabernets from Opus One, sickness Simi, see Peter Michael and Lewis he developed some of Napa’s first single vineyard, unfined and unfiltered, naturally fermented Cabernets.  Recognized now for creating Cabernets of distinctly Napa extraction yet with old world techniques, he is not one to rest on past achievements– currently his own winery’s single vineyard Napa Cabernets scored no less than 98 points from the illustrious Robert Parker.   

But along the way to his present triumphs he took a risky, and unusual detour to Mendoza, Argentina. 

Before Argentinean Malbec took the wine world by storm, one man had a bold vision for Argentina – Nicholas Catena.   Living in the US in the ‘80s, before being called back to his family’s vineyards on the death of his father, Nicholas had tasted great Napa Cabernet.  Back home, he knew Argentina had the potential for great wine but didn’t have the wine makers to harness that greatness.  Nicholas needed a winemaker and he wanted the best he could get from California.  He wanted Paul Hobbs.

I have no idea how Nicholas convinced Paul to come to Argentina.  The offer must have been grand, because in 1989 Argentinean Cabernet was about as exciting and relevant as Uruguayan Tannat is today.  But however he cajoled, seduced or hoodwinked Paul into coming to Argentina, the benefit is ours – for together, they have made trail blazingly world class Cabernet. 

If you love the taste of Napa Cabernet but are tired of paying for its premium, you need to Paul’s Vina Cobos Felino – it is one not to miss.  We believe outperforms most $50 Napa Cabernets.  And we aren’t the only ones excited by Paul’s Felino; upon its first release in 1999 it scored the highest points for any Argentinean wine, ever. 

Napa or Argentina, you can tell a Paul Hobbs Cabernet as soon as the bottle is opened: densely woven aromas of cassis, mocha and blackberries burst from the bottle.  The palate is full of Cabernet’s classic graphite, black currant and subtle minerality.  It is immense drinking Cabernet – use it to fool your wine snob friends into thinking its $75 Napa Cabernet.  Even at its low price Felino sees new oak, resulting in supple tannins and a full bodied, lengthy finish.  It is exceptional wine. 

Pioneering, talented, exceptional – these are some of the words the world’s wine critics use to describe Paul Hobbs and his wines.  With Felino Cabernet we at Waterford would like to add one more – value. 

2008 Felino Cabernet

Suggested List Price:  $18.99

Special price via this email:  $14.99

We will be tasting this wine on Friday and Saturday.  Stop in and give it a try!

All orders must be secured with a name, credit card number, and phone number.  All orders will be available at the time of purchase.  Half case (5%) and full case discounts (10%) do apply to this special offer.

When the wine is ordered your credit card will be charged.  The wine will be held in climate controlled conditions until you are ready to pick it up, free of charge.  Offer is good while supplies last.

To Kill a Dog: Dunham Three Legged Red

In Cabernet, Drinking, Special Offers on December 14, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Vineyards in Washington State see a great diurnal temperature swing.  The average temperature at 3 am can be as much as 40 degrees cooler than the average temperature at 3 pm.  This affects the character of the wines, pharmacy intensifying the fruit flavor of Cabernet, nurse brightening the depth of Syrah, rx and making Merlot more powerful and rich.

But thinking about diurnal temperature change wasn’t the reason Eric Dunham, of Dunham Cellars, was up at 3 am.  A cacophony of two dogs ululating, snarling and raising Kane outside his window woke him, bringing him to an abrupt and angry consciousness.

Throwing on his robe and boots Eric stomped outside as fast as he could.  But it wasn’t fast enough.  By the time he arrived the fight was over.  The victor may have one the fight for his territory, but lost a leg, a lot of blood, and was clearly dying because of it. 

In a well run small family farm there isn’t the time or money to heal gravely wounded animals.  Nature and commerce dictate a certain utilitarianism and often the best that can be done is to put the animal down.  And so at 3 am, Eric found himself with the task of dispatching a mauled and bloody stray dog. 

Those of you who love one of man’s best friends know the soulful power of a dog looking right into your eyes – droopy eyes begging for a bone; shiny bright eyes of satisfaction at having fetched your socks; the clouded yet dignified, heart-searching eyes of a dog whose time has come.

The dog gazed into Eric’s eyes and seemed to say “I may look defeated now but I have so much more to give.  I am a good dog; loyal, hard working and true.  With your help I can show you how good a dog I can be.” 

And Eric thought “it is either too late in the evening or too early in the morning if this dog is becoming a ventriloquist.”  He looked into the dog’s eyes one more time, swore, and made the decision.  He scooped the dog onto an old blanket and drove off to find a veterinarian.      

True to his words, the dog lived to see another day.  Or, at least, part of him did.  Loosing a lot of blood, some of his tail, one entire leg and a massive amount of Eric’s money he did pull through.  Looking at this newly minted tri-ped of an animal Eric made a couple of decisions.  First, Eric named him Port, because that was the side with his two good legs.  Second, Eric was going to need to make more wine if he was going to pay off the vet bills.

And so it was that Port gained a family and Dunham Cellars makes a wine inspired by him, the Three Legged Red.  Finding inspiration not only in Port (or his medical bills), the Three Legged Red is also based on the classic idea of blending grapes together, here Cabernet, Syrah and Merlot, to make a better wine. 

The Cabernet of Three Legged Red is one of a brambly character that mixes with a sweet cherry pie fruit taste across the palate.  The Syrah adds in a blackberry character, as well as the spice notes of nutmeg, clove and a touch of star anise.  The Merlot draws out the blueberry fruit in the wine while also adding a touch of richness.  Washington State’s diurnal temperature swing means that all of these fruit flavors are bright and supple, making the wine burst with a bright juiciness. 

Dog lover or not, Dunham Cellars expert blending of three grapes from Washington State – Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah – makes Port’s Three Legged Red a delicious table wine.

2008 Dunham Cellars Three Legged Red

Suggested List Price:  $18.99

Sale Price:  $12.99

And, just in case you were wondering, before Port’s Three Legged Red, Dunham Cellars was famous for making hand-crafted, small lots of Cabernet.  Here is the main wine, on special as well: 

2006 Dunham Cellars XII Cabernet

Suggested List Price: $45.99

Sale price: $39.99

Beyond Legal Justifications: Viader Dare Cabernet

In Drinking, Special Offers on November 2, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Napa Valley, purchase as stated on wine labels, cheap does not refer to a Valley, or watershed, or a single grape growing environment. 

Napa Valley, as it is written on a wine label, means Napa County, which is a very large place and not necessarily associated with high quality wine production. 

Yes – to those of you who are wondering – you are getting screwed. 

You pay more for “Napa Valley” wines because it is one of the best places to grow Cabernet in the world.  But “the best place” as defined by Napa’s history and common knowledge is not reflected in American law.  American law reflects the litigious and commercial side of Napa; the side of Napa that allows Pope’s Valley, Chiles Cannon, and Wild Horse Valley to exist alongside the prime bench land areas running up the Napa River water shed. 

Recognizing the potential of Napa Valley’s bench lands, the part of the hill side which sits in the middle of the slope, is nothing new to Napa’s grape farmers and vintners.  As far back as 1938, when Andre Tchelistcheff began his fifty vintage stewardship over Napa’s early Cabernet production, the potential of these bench land sites was well known.  And although these bench land vineyard sites are not legally recognized it is easy to point them out via a roster of famous wineries: Harlan, Colgin, Shafer Hillside, Bryant Family, Joseph Phelps Insignia, and Opus One (among others) all sit on Napa Valley bench lands. 

In a way, pointing out the quality of bench land fruit is to point out the obvious.  France’s most revered vineyards are mid-slope, bench land vineyards across the entire country – Burgundy, Bordeaux or the Northern Rhone.  But a vintner doesn’t need to travel to France to recognize the quality of bench land plantings.  Bench lands provide better drainage, better soil structures, superior air flow through the vineyard, and more intense sunlight.  The combination of these factors make the world’s best Cabernets – at once more opulent and massive in scope but also with purer and more precise fruit tones. 

But all of this doesn’t mean that there aren’t hidden Napa Cabernet gems – wines that are both planted in an exceptional area and vinified by an accomplished vintner but without the egotistic price tag.  You can find them if you know where to look. 

And Viader is one such Cabernet.

Planting exactly half way up the slope from Saint Helena into Howell Mountain Delia Viader gave herself an enormous advantage and disadvantage at the same time.  The latter is because her vineyards fall within the legally generic designation of Napa Valley – lumped together with so much insipid grape juice.  But Viader’s wines prove her mettle, for these are no common Napa Cabernets, and her bench land planted vineyard displays this at full force.   

Coming from well drained, steep hillsides makes the aromatics of Viader’s Cabernet different from most.  Aromas of blackberries are infused with chocolate, violets and baking spices.  The bench lands tame generic Napa Cabernet’s tendency towards sloppy, overly sweet fruit by enlivening the structural elements of the wine, its tannins and acidity, and layering them into powerful drive across the palate.  This wine is youthful, and the finish reveals this: while incredibly lengthy the wine has tremendous power.  Colossal when first opened the wine eases into itself slowly, evolving and changing with each glass.  While drinking it now you will note its unrestrainedly youthful potency and decades from now you will admire its voluptuous longevity.    

Halfway between Saint Helena and Howell Mountain, beyond Napa’s legal justifications; on a steep, unnoticed slope, sits a true Napa Gem – Viader’s Cabernet.

2006 Viader Dare Cabernet

Suggested List Price:  $41.99

Special price via this email:  $29.99

We will be tasting this wine on Friday afternoon and Saturday all day (unless we sell out of it!)  Stop in and give it a try!

All orders must be secured with a name, credit card number, and phone number.  All orders will be available at the time of purchase.  Half case (5%) and full case discounts (10%) do apply to this special offer.

When the wine is ordered your credit card will be charged.  The wine will be held in climate controlled conditions until you are ready to pick it up, free of charge.  Offer is good while supplies last.

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