Napa Valley tagged posts

A 90 Point Napa Cab for $15 – Ca’ Momi 2012 ($14.95, RP90)

December 3, 2014 90+ Bargains  No comments

2012_CSNV-F

The days of the (drinkable) under $20 Napa Cab are over aren't they?  I think I've said that numerous times on this blog.  Well I'll be the first to raise my hand and say I was proven wrong here.  A relatively new winery called Ca' Momi has released a solid 2012 Napa Cab at the magical under $20 $15 price point.  This is the second coming of the 2005 Avalon.


Are there better wines for $15?  Sure, I think looking toward France, Italy or Spain will get you something a little better at the price point.  But are there better Napa Cabs for $15?  Absolutely not.  You don't have to trust me on this.  Robert Parker himself described this as "high-class" and gave it 90 points.  I followed a bottle over two days and this wine showed a nice nose of cherry with

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’10 Lagier Meredith Syrah – One of the World’s Best ($41.95, RP94)

December 2, 2013 High End Values  No comments

lagier_meredith_LRGNapa Valley isn't exactly known for Syrah, especially on the rugged slopes of Mt. Veeder where Cabernet grapes fetch extremely high prices.  But married couple Steve Lagier and Carole Meredith bought a few acres high on the mountain and planted Syrah.  They have no employees, and with the exception of harvest time, everything is done by Carole and Steve, from tending the vineyard to making the wine.  If you want an artisan wine, it doesn't get much more artisan than this.

That's all well and good, but "artisan" is meaningless if their product isn't special.  With Lagier Meredith Syrah, it is.  Every year.  Here is a quick review of the last decade of scores from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate:

2011 – 90

2010 – 94

2009 – 94

2008 – 95

2007 – 94+

2006 –

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A Paul Hobbs Napa Cab Under $20?

November 21, 2012 Cellar WorthyDaily Drinkers  No comments

Ahnfeldt Napa Cabernet 2009I've tasted several vintages of the Ahnfeldt Cabernet, and while I always thought it was a solid wine, I never found it particularly exciting... until they hired Paul Hobbs.  Hobbs is the Cabernet master (along with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Malbec).  Somehow every wine he makes, or consults for, turns out great.  At $19.95, this has to be the greatest value in Napa Cabernet.

Paul Hobbs is probably best known for his own label which produces Cabernet starting at $75 for the Napa Valley bottling and going up to $250 for the To Kalon Vineyard bottling.  The other part of Hobbs' business is consulting for several wineries from California to Argentina.  Wineries lucky enough to acquire his consulting expertise usually experience dramatic increases in the quality of their wines.

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Robert Craig Affinity – High End Napa Cab Under $40

September 28, 2012 Cellar WorthyHigh End ValuesSpecial Occasions  No comments

Robert Craig's Affinity bottling really got on the map after Robert Parker awarded it 96 points in the 2007 vintage. I bought 4 bottles without tasting it. I've only had one and I'm very happy with the purchase. It's an exceptional wine.

That wine is long since sold out but, having drunk both pretty recently, I actually think the 2009 is drinking better today. Time will tell which ends up as the better wine, but today the 2009 is a massive Cabernet with a ripe nose of dark fruit with a background of oak. But where this wine really stands out from other Napa cabs in the price range is the velvet texture and exceedingly long, highly nuanced finish. A true Bordeaux-like elegance exists with Affinity, which makes since because it's grown just south of the Stags Leap District in a cooler

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Finally, A Great Napa Cabernet Under $25

June 5, 2012 Cellar WorthyDaily Drinkers  No comments

Now that the economy is thawing out, it's getting much harder to find good Napa Cabernet under $25.  In fact, the last one I wrote up was on November 1st of last year.  As a point of reference, I've written up several Bordeaux and Rhone blends under $25 since then.  So I was thrilled to taste White Oak's 2007 Napa Cabernet.

With most wineries realeasing 2009s, I'm not sure why this '07 is still around but I have an idea.  2007 was such a great vintage (arguably the best of the decade) and the economy was in the crapper.  So there were an excess of great values on the market at the time.  Fast forward to today and the economy has improved and two good, but not exceptional, vintages have been released (at higher prices).    How do those '07s look now?

This is super dense and

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Second Wines Rock – Napa Cabernet Edition

April 25, 2012 Cellar WorthyHigh End Values  No comments

If you read Wine Spectator's March issue, you're aware of the outstanding values the second wines of Bordeaux's top Chateau.  Napa has a long history of copying (and often improving upon) French winemaking, so it comes as no surprise that some of the Napa Valley's top labels also produce some fantastic second wines.

Here are some of my favorite second wines, in no particular order, with first/flagship wine in parenthesis.  When possible, I linked wines that are available for purchase .
Darioush Caravan - $37.95 (Darioush Signature - $88)
Since the 2007 vintage, this has not only been a great second wine, but one of my favorite Napa Cabernets, period!  It's a huge, complex wine that completely destroys most Napa Cabs both on quality and value.  The price has gone up from $30 since the

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A $100 Togni Cabernet for $35

March 12, 2012 Cellar WorthyHigh End Values  No comments

Okay, the title of this post might be a little misleading.  The wine discussed here is not THE $100 Philip Togni Cabernet but it is made by the same person, comes from the same vineyard, and ages in the same 40% new French oak barrels as the $100 wine.  This wine, at 1/3 the price, is simply from the barrels that didn't make the cut for the more expensive version.

Try this analogy: I recently bought a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee.  The sales guy told me "you're basically getting a Mercedes ML350 for $20k less".  You see, the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee was built on the same platform as the Merc.  Same frame, suspension, steering, some of the interior bits.  Sure it doesn't have as many gadgets and it's not quite as flashy, but the most important parts are Mercedes.

The same goes for Philip

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If I Could Only Drink One Chardonnay – ’09 Beringer Private Reserve

February 17, 2012 High End ValuesSpecial Occasions  No comments

Beringer's 2009 Private Reserve Chardonnay is almost a stupid value.  There are tons of $50 Napa Chardonnays that don't hold a candle to the Beringer PR.  And this isn't one of those wines that is an outstanding value this vintage.  It's this good every vintage.

So how does Beringer do it?  Start with their history: they are one of the oldest wineries in the country, founded in 1875.  Add to that, their massive acreage of vineyard holdings that allow them to pick the very best every year.  A proven winemaking tradition passed down from Ed Sbragia to his mentor Laurie Hook rounds out a winery and a wine that delivers year after year.

Smokey and creamy without being obnoxiously flamboyant, this wine is the definition of Napa opulence with Beringer sophistication.  Its complexity and

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Caymus Strikes Again in 2009

December 1, 2011 Cellar WorthyHigh End Values  No comments

Which Napa winery releases their Cabernet almost a full year before most other high end producers?  Caymus. Why?  Because every single vintage sells out before the next is ready to be released.  Somehow Chuck Wagner manages to produce an incredibly consistent Cabernet regardless of the vintage, and his loyal fans recognize this.

Wanger put out a well produced informative video about how he makes Caymus wines.  If you are interested in the process, you would enjoy this video.  View the video on YouTube here.

Caymus's consistency comes down to vineyard management and after watching the video, I was surprised to learn that Caymus harvests by machine- something that most high-end wineries would not admit to.  It obviously works for them, and I appreciate that Wagner isn't interested in

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My New Daily Drinker Chardonnay: Rutherford Ranch

November 17, 2011 Daily Drinkers  No comments

Rutherford Ranch is another example of a high volume producer that consistently delivers a fantastic product.  As a wine enthusiast (not capitalized), I love nothing more than finding a small producer that produces an incredible product that's completely under-the-radar.  The problem is, one of two things generally happen.  1.) The small producer starts buying more grapes and becomes a bigger producer with lower quality or 2.) They get discovered and prices skyrocket.  Bottom line: it's great to find some go-to lables that produce wine in such a quantity that it's easy to get a hold of and has a high level of consistency.

My Short List of High Value/High Volume Producers (sticking to the U.S. here):

Hahn Estates (All)
Beringer (Regular, Reserve)
Mondavi

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