Editor’s note: Long prior to Chris Shepherd ended up being a James Beard Award- winning chef, he established enough of an enthusiasm for red wine to operate at Brennan’s of Houston as a sommelier. He keeps that interest to this day. When Chris revealed interest in blogging about wine-related subjects for CultureMap, we stated yes.
In today’s column, he shares his preferred Cabernet Sauvignon chooses fromNapa Valley Take it away, Chris,
Cab Season Big, tasty Cabernet Sauvignon fromCalifornia’s Napa Valley Yes, Cabernet is produced all over the world, however today we’re talking particularly aboutNapa Valley
Today, 40 percent of the planted vineyard acreage in Napa County is Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cab represent 58 percent of the worth of the nation’s yearly grape harvest. But has it constantly been in this manner? Let’s return to the start.
George Calvert Yount (as in, Yountville) was the very first to plant Napa Valley grapes in 1839. But it was Charles Krug who is credited with developing Napa Valley’s very first business winery in 1861. Wineries began appearing all over, however struck 2 significant obstacles in the early 1900s. The initially was phylloxera, an insect bug of business grapevines that ruined 80 percent of the valley’s vineyard acreage. The 2nd–Prohibition
Think about that for a minute. Phylloxera followed by Prohibition triggered almost thirty years of destruction to the red wine market in our nation. Imagine if that were to take place today. You would not have a bottle of red wine from Napa Valley for more than thirty years.Unimaginable
And then something cool occurred. In 1944, 7 vintners united with the concept that an increasing tide raises all boats. Now, the Napa Valley Vintners trade association is 539 wineries strong.
British red wine store owner Steven Spurrier had a concept to arrange a blind tasting of red wines from the U.S., particularly Napa Valley, and French red wines 43 years after Prohibition ended. He was a Francophile who enjoyed French red wines and didn’t believe anything made beyond France might go beyond the quality of French red wines.
Spoiler alert: Napa Valley red wines won in both the white (1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay) and red (1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon) classifications. It was a sweep, which catapulted the understanding of red wines from California, specifically Napa Valley, into the stratosphere. The story of the 1976 Paris Tasting was informed in a 2008 motion picture called Bottle Shock, starring Alan Rickman, Bill Pullman, andChris Pine I simply viewed this motion picture for the very first time a couple of months earlier. I extremely advise it.
Now let’s discuss 4 of my preferredCabs California Cabernet is all over the board– from big production to really highly-sought-after cult red wines. These 4 red wines are quite simple to discover and are fantastic expressions of the locations in Napa where they’re grown. Vintages differ from year to year, however these red wines constantly hold high quality and consistency. Please note that we’re showing up on the release on what would have been the 2020 vintage, however since of all the fires in Napa, a lot of wineries didn’t produce red wines that year. Just like you would head out and support your dining establishments in times of crisis, it’s a great time to support your preferred wineries by purchasing up back vintages. These wineries have actually lost a year of production.
Founded in 1961, this historical winery went into an amazing brand-new chapter when the Lawrence household bought it in 2018 and employed a young master sommelier called Carlton McCoy. He has a great vision for the winery and its future.
These red wines age for several years and years to come. One of my favorites is the Trailside Vineyard Cabernet, which originates from the eastern ridge ofRutherford I personally like when you can discover red wines that has an excellent 10 years on it. They’ve grown in the bottle however still have lots of tannin and great deals of rustic red fruit. If you belong to their Wine Club, you have access to hard-to-find bottles and older vintages, which is truly cool. We were fortunate enough a couple of years back when we were going to Carlton in Napa to taste a 1976Heitz Cellar Bella Oaks Vineyard Cab It tasted fresh and spectacular– tannins and fruits still undamaged. Pure pleasure.
A classic red wine from Heitz.Photo by Chris Shepherd
Donn and Molly Chappellet established their winery in 1976. Their objective? To make red wine to equal the fantastic red wines ofBordeaux They purchased arrive on Pritchard Hill– just the 2nd winery there afterProhibition Farming the hillside was tough and costly, however Donn and Molly were right.
Now, Pritchard Hill has actually been called “Napa Valley’s Rodeo Drive.” I believe that indicates it’s elegant and preferable. Chappellet’s Cab is a terrific expression of a mountain-grown Cab– dark fruits (dark currants, cassis, blackberries) with huge tannin structure. Drinking a present vintage is effective and even much better on a cold Houston night.
I understand this post has to do with Cabernet Sauvignon, however their Pritchard Hill Cab Franc is among my preferred red wines of perpetuity. They likewise produce a spectacularChenin Blanc They do it right.
Now let’s head over to Howell Mountain and discussDunn In 1978, Randy Dunn and his better half bought 14 acres on the top of Howell Mountain with 5 acres of Cab currently planted. Now they farm about 42 acres of Cab They make Howell Mountain Cabernet and a Napa Valley Cabernet, a mix of Howell Mountain fruit and fruit from the Valley flooring that they buy. The top of the Howell Mountain Cab bottle is identifiable since it’s dipped in red wax. Just like the bottle, the red wine is effective and stylish and lasts for several years. Contrast that with the Napa Valley Cab, which is more friendly with softer tannin structure (and no red wax).
Sidebar: When handling a wax top, you can invest your time attempting to suffice off, however the very best and simplest method is to drive your corkscrew directly through it. It will pop off.
One of my very first red wine memories was when I was a cook at a dining establishment in Clear Lake back in 1996. The owner opened a bottle of 1984 Dunn Howell Mountain Cab for the chef and I to taste. It was among those ‘aha’ minutes that red wine drinkers are fortunate to experience. It opened my eyes– the scents, the tastes. It’s a part of me now. If any of you take place to have a bottle of 1984 Dunn Howell Mountain Cab laying around, I would enjoy to consume it with you.
The last red wine is near and dear to my heart. Born in 1996, Dave Miner ended up being a customized crush customer and began his own red wine label. A customized crush customer does not own their own vineyards. Instead, they purchase fruit from other vineyards and utilize it to make their own red wines. Dave and his household have actually been good friends for a long time and constantly impress me with the structure and depth of the red wines. They make Bordeaux- design red wines, Rhone- design red wines, Burgundy- design red wines, and little one-offs that take place all the time. My better half Lindsey and I really enjoy their red wine club. But for the function of this post, let’s talkOakville Cab
Oakville is an area on the Napa flooring understood for effective Cabernet– lots of dark fruits with cedar notes. Miner Cab is precisely what you would get out ofOakville This red wine is definitely wonderful whenever you fire up the grill. Also, watch for Oracle, which is a Bordeaux- design mix that’s mainly Cabernet, and 2 various Pinots that we delight in from Rosella’s Vineyard and Gary’s Vineyard fromSanta Lucia Highlands
I’m truly thrilled to see where all 4 of these wineries are going. Get out there, pop some bottles, and commemorate Cab season. Don’ t forget– 2020 was a difficult year in Napa Valley and Sonoma, so support them if you can.
Contact our Wine Guy through e-mail at email@example.com
Chris Shepherd won a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest in 2014. He just recently parted methods with Underbelly Hospitality, a dining establishment group that presently runs 4 Houston dining establishments: Wild Oats, GJ Tavern, Underbelly Burger, andGeorgia James The Southern Smoke Foundation, a non-profit he co-founded with his better half Lindsey Brown, has actually dispersed more than $10 million to hospitality employees in crisis through its Emergency Relief Fund.
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