Friday, June 19, 2015

#SipWithKaren Unexpected #NapaValley Wines

This week Karen MacNeil, of the Wine Bible fame and Keynote Speaker at the upcoming 2015 Wine Bloggers Conference, hosted a twitter tasting (#SipWithKaren) featuring six "unexpected" Napa Valley wines. The event was sponsored by Napa Valley Vintners and included  Bottlenotes and The Daily Sip, in which MacNeil is the Editor-in-Chief. The tasting was heavy on whites with an Albariño, a Chenin Blanc, an unoaked Chardonnay, a Sauvignon Blanc; and for the reds and Cabernet Sauvignon, and 100% Petit Verdot.  I know what you are thinking, what so unexpected about a Napa Cab. I had the same question. Besides tasting the wines, the most informative part of the program was the tweets regarding Napa Valley by our sponsored host. I was generally aware of some of these facts; others, not so much.
  • #NapaValley was designated California’s first American Viticultural Area or AVA in 1981.
  • #NapaValley has 16 sub- or nested AVAs demonstrating the incredible diversity of our region
  • #Napa has a Mediterranean climate, which affects only 2% of the earth’s surface – characterized by sunny, dry summers
  • Within #Napa can be found half the world’s soil orders..
  • Did you know that only 9% of #NapaValley is planted to grapevines?
  • In #Napa we grow more than 3 dozen wine grape varieties – from #albariño to #zinfandel
  • #Napa’s warm, dry growing season and morning fog allows grapes to fully ripen & maintain acidity
  • Did you know #Napa’s To Kalon Vineyard was planted in 1868 by HW Crabb? To Kalon is Greek for “highest beauty".
  • Fun fact about Napa: over 60% of wineries produce less than 5k cases per year.
  • Did you know #NapaValley has about 1/6th the planted grapevine acreage of #Bordeaux?
  • Once widely planted, today only about 25 hectares/60 acres of Chenin remain
  • #SauvBlanc is the fourth most widely-produced wine grape variety in #Napa.
  • #Chardonnay is #Napa’s 2nd most widely planted wine grape (behind #cabernet) - 6,900 acres/30,500 tons in 2014.
  • Mighty #Cabernet is the king of grapes in #Napa w/ 20,600 acres planted (40% of the total 45k acres planted)
  • #Napa’s quality #Cabernet commands the highest average price per ton of all CA winegrapes – $5,500/ton in 2014
  • Lots of #petitverdot grown in #Napa (2,900 tons/2014) but very little bottled as a stand-alone variety

The six unexpected Napa Valley wines

2014 Artesa Napa Valley Albariño ($28, 14.2%) - fermented and aged 5 months in stainless steel (85%) and new french oak barrels (15%).  Starts with peach, then pineapple-lemon, then honeysuckle, with a long acidic finis. Karen MacNeil: This #albariño from @Artesa is easy to love. It’s a perfect #apéritif & great way to start the flight.

2013 Cornerstone Cellars  Napa Valley (Oak Knoll District ) Chenin Blanc ($25, 15.5%) - white fruit aroma; citrus, velvety texture, and mineral palate; finishes with plenty of acid. Karen MacNeil: Not as full bodied as #chardonnay, but not as light bodied as #pinot grigio. This #chenin is right in the middle & I love the crisp finish on this @CornerstoneNapa #cheninblanc #EasyToDrink.

2013 Robert Mondavi Winery  Napa Valley Fumé Blanc ($17, 15.5%): Napa Valley – 89% (61% Wappo Hill Vineyard, 20% To Kalon Vineyard); Mendocino County - 11%. Starts with lemon grass, but palate is deeper with minerals and finishes strong & long in acids. Karen MacNeil: This @RobertMondavi Fumé Blanc has beautiful focus and a lovely salinity. Long flavors of spice and bitter citrus.

2013 Alpha Omega Unoaked  Napa Valley Chardonnay ($33) - sees no ML or oak, but spent 6 months “sur lie,” which contributes to it’s creamy texture and and allows apple-tangerine-citrus notes to shine through. Karen MacNeil: I like the @AOwinery “Unoaked” #Chardonnay a lot. It’s a wine that’s effortless to drink all day long.

2012 Robert Mondavi  Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($29, 15.5%): 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, 4% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot, 1% Malbec. Blackberries prevalent throughout; herbaceous and textured, some chocolate, long soft finish. Karen MacNeil: This @RobertMondavi #cabernet offers a tremendous value. Each glass would only cost you the equivalent of a Starbucks latté.

2010 St. Supéry Estate Vineyard & Winery Dollarhide Ranch Napa Valley Petit Verdot ($50, 14.5%):
97% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon; 100% French oak (50% new oak), 20 month.  Big dark fruit, spices, chocolate, lingering barnyard notes - envelop the mouth.  Karen MacNeil: This @StSupery #petitverdot is very focused and precise. There’s no static – it sings its song exactly.

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