Near Perfect Harvest

2018 has been a magical year in the Napa Valley.  The weather has been near perfect, allowing for a substantial fruit set and long hang-time.  After several challenging vintages defined by drought and wildfires, Mother Nature rewarded the perseverance of Napa Valley wineries with a near perfect growing season.

This season started after adequate winter rains filled reservoirs and replenished ground water.  The vines came to life in early spring and the weather was conducive to a large fruit set.  The temperatures were moderate with no rain and minimal wind.  This all resulted in a picture perfect bloom and set.  The summer temperatures remained steady with minimal heat spikes allowing for a slow even fruit development.

This year veraison was extended with moderate temperatures allowing for a slow and steady development of fruit maturity.   As the fruit approached harvest, the mild weather continued and thick skinned red grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, had ample hang-time to allow secondary flavors to develop.

The excitement surrounding the 2018 harvest is evident as I talk to colleagues.  This is a banner year for the Napa Valley and we are all very fortunate for such fantastic weather conditions after several challenging vintages.  Be on the lookout for these wines when they are released in the years to come.  This may very well be one of the greatest vintages in Napa history!

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Wine and Cigars

Two of my favorite vices!   However, often fervent cigar aficionados avoid fine wine with their cigars.  As I travel around the US selling wine, I almost always find a local cigar shop to visit.  I frequently talk to the patrons conducting research on their favorite beverage to pair with their cigar.  The usual response is Scotch Whisky, American Bourbon, Port, or fine French Cognac.   I always try to influence the crowd to try fine wine.

There are many responses as to why some smokers prefer not to pair cigars and wine.  Usually it has to do with what can be dominating flavors in the cigar muting the flavor of the wine or the combination of bitterness that both cigars and red wine possess.   In both cases, I think they just have not had the right wine paired with the right cigar.

Truthfully, the proper pairing can be absolutely amazing.  The earthy tobacco notes of a good smoke can accentuate the same earth tones in a fine wine.  In addition, a properly aged red wine generally shows hints of cedar and spice similar to a great cigar.

The key to enjoying this play on flavors is finding someone knowledgeable enough on both wine and cigars to help put the right cigar in your hand for the wine you are enjoying.  I can tell you on my end that you can always find someone with the proper knowledge of one or the other.  Finding that rare aficionado of both smoke and wine is a bit more of a challenge.

I have had the good fortune of knowing a couple such professionals and always look forward to their recommendations.  Below are some of my favorite cigars to enjoy with our wines.  Yes, the wine selections are biased, but hey this is a winery blog!

Smith Wooton Cabernet Franc paired with My Father “The Judge”

This combination highlights the cedar and leather component to both the wine and the cigar.  The cigar is box pressed so it has a very slow even burn.  The smoke shows an earthiness that is perfect for Cabernet Franc.  This wine is a single vineyard CF that always displays a unique combination of floral perfume on the nose and rich earth on the palate.  The finish is smooth and reminiscent of cedar and tobacco.

Croze Cabernet Sauvignon paired with Olivia Serie ‘V’ Melania

OK, so this is a pairing that could change your life!   Make sure you have a solid 2 hours to enjoy the complexity of the wine and the cigar.  I also recommend a great playlist that will help you relax and take in all the glory.  Croze Cabernet Sauvignon is a deeply complex wine that showcases balance and elegance.  That same elegance is evident in the Melania.  Both showcase earth, espresso, and underlying spice.   The ‘V’ finishes with a touch of sweetness that is perfect with the acidity of the Cabernet Sauvignon.

Smith Wooton Mélange paired with Ashton Sun Grown

This is another interesting combination.  The Ashton Sun Grown cigars have a pronounced Graham Cracker note along with course black pepper spice.  The sheer richness of the Melange can handle the spice and slight sweetness of the cigar.  Melange is a dense wine that is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot.  The Merlot gives the wine an unctuous that highlights the creaminess of the Ashton.

If you are a cigar smoker, I urge you to try a well made fine wine with your next smoke.  The pairing can be ethereal.  For those who need help matching the right wine and cigar, I recommend the following:

The Pipe and Pint – Larry and Pete are the best in the business.  Great selection of cigars and wines, plus decades of knowledge.

Napa Cigars – Eric is fantastic and can offer great recommendations.  Wines served by the glass and a great selection of cigars.

 

Diamond Mountain AVA

The American Viticultural Area known as Diamond Mountain is located in the northern reaches of Napa Valley just West of Calistoga in the Mayacamas mountain range. Diamond Mountain is most famous for producing Cabernet Sauvignon that is notably age-worthy. The area is considered a warm climate and is characterized by unfertile, steep slopes. Growing world class grapes in this area takes considerable skills. The soils are highly porous which allows for ample drainage. The elevations put many of the vineyards above the fog line resulting in more direct sun exposure than other Napa AVA’s.

The grapes grown here are tiny and thick skinned. This leads to wines of considerable structure and color. The true challenge in making wine from Diamond Mountain grapes is tannin management.  The wines benefit from considerable aging in the cellar.

We produced a single vintage of Diamond Mountain Cabernet in 2012 from s special parcel at the very top of the mountain.  We aged this wine nearly 3 years in French Oak barrels to allow for the proper tannin integration and polymerization.  The resulting wine is rich, dense and silky smooth!

AVA Map
Napa Valley AVA Map
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Napa Valley AVA Map