Saturday, February 23, 2013

Wines from 2011 Vintage Propel Premiere Napa Valley to Near-Record Total

We are enormously grateful to raise $3.04 million today to further our efforts to promote, protect and enhance the Napa Valley. Cheers to the bidders and vintners who came together today to create a remarkable Premiere Napa Valley! 

Steve Reynolds' - of Reynolds Family Winery - double gavel start to Premiere Napa Valley 2013
Thanks to you the Napa Valley shined with its world-class wines and hospitality throughout the week, and the relationships we nurtured will help keep the appellation strong for years to come.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Michael Baldacci of Baldacci Family Vineyards shares some favorite #PNV13 lots

Premiere Napa Valley week is finally here! The Napa Valley has come alive with excitement and anticipation of this year's auction.

Three lots that I am looking forward to tasting on Saturday are Reynolds Family Winery, Cakebread Cellars, and the Ghost Block/Markham Vineyards joint lot...and of course, I must include mention of our lot from Baldacci Family Vineyards.

Steve Reynolds, Reynolds Family Winery
 Steve Reynolds, the winemaker at Reynolds Family Vineyards, is the chair of this year's Premiere Napa Valley. While he has worked many long hours to put the auction together, Steve has also labored over the wine that he will be donating to this year’s auction - a Cabernet Sauvignon, with a touch of Cabernet Franc and Merlot that all comes from the Stags Leap District. The wine is aged for 20 months in 100% New French Oak. The name of the wine this year is “ONE” to represent “those pioneers’ singular vision of what Napa Valley could be…” As the chair of the auction this year Steve is looking forward to what he calls an event that is “almost like wine heaven.”

The Del Bondio and Pelissa families began harvesting grapes in the valley more than 100 years ago and enjoy a close, multi-generational relationship. To celebrate, Bryan Del Bondio, president of Markham Vineyards and Andrew Hoxsey, proprietor of Ghost Block and grandson of Andrew Pelissa, have joined together for the fifth year to present a powerful blend red blend for Premiere. The fruit comes from Markham's Yountville Vineyard— planted after Prohibition and the source of the winery's Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon—and the Ghost Block Vineyard, part of pioneer George Yount's original land grant where he planted the first grapevines in Napa Valley. Bryan and Andrew offer this wine in honor of historic vineyards, family heritage and more than 100 years of Napa Valley history.

This year Cakebread Cellars honors their founders Jack and Dolores Cakebread. 40 years ago they made 157 cases of Chardonnay, and feel as if the 2012 is one of their best vintages for Chardonnay. The wine is a blend from their Cuttings Wharf vineyard and Foster Road Ranch, two of the four estate vineyards used for our Carneros Chardonnay Reserve. The grapes were hand harvested, whole-cluster pressed and barrel fermented. After four months, they blended the individual lots, and then put them back in barrel for finishing. The wine demonstrates the Cakebread style, with good fruit character—a balanced wine that will age gracefully for 7 -10 years.

What is my family's winery bringing to Premiere Napa valley? Baldacci Family Vineyards is a small family owned estate in the heart of the Stags Leap District. Producing 100% percent cabs since 2000, Premiere Napa Valley is a great time for our winery to show off everything that the Stags Leap District has blessed us with. We've use our ‘best of the best’ for Premiere Napa Valley. Our winemaker, Rolando Herrera, chooses his favorite barrel to feature our Premiere offering. This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 100% Stags Leap District, First Born will be full of rich red fruit, and dark fruit. This wine still holds true to the Stags Leap District as this Cab can only be described as truly an "iron fist in a velvet glove." It is barrel aged for 22 months in 100% new French Oak, and then bottle aged for 12-14 months prior to release. This Baldacci Family Vineyards Premiere wine is a can’t miss, as Rolando Herrera has taken shaped fruit from the 2011 vintage into a beautiful wine.

I look forward to seeing you at Premiere!

Michael Baldacci
#PNV13 Social Media Crew
Baldacci Family Vineyards

100% Napa Valley By The Glass for PNV Week

In celebration of Premiere Napa Valley week, and to showcase the best our wine region has to offer to the many trade and media who will be in town, the following local restaurants are offering 100% Napa Valley by-the-glass wine lists this week:
    Three cheers for our local restaurants supporting Napa Valley wines!
1313 Main
Bistro Don Giovani
Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen
Cindy Pawlcyn's Wood Grill & Wine Bar
Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch
Hurley's Restaurant
Lucy Restaurant & Bar at Bardessono 
Morimoto Napa
Mustard's Grill
PRESS St. Helena

We encourage you to support and thank these businesses when dining out and entertaining guests this week.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

"Prep your paddles!" J. Brewner from Judd's Hill reporting for #PNV13

Premiere Napa Valley 2013 is all about stellar wines! This is truly the event of the season for any restauranteur or hotelier to get their hands on extremely limited lots of Napa Valley’s finest wines. Four of my personal favorites up for auction are Acacia’s Pinot Noir, Casa Nuestra’s Oakville “Field Blend,” Saintsbury's Pinot Noir and the wonderfully bright Sauvignon Blanc from Coquerel Family Wines.

Acacia Winemaker Matthew Glynn
Acacia Vineyard

Acacia Vineyard has specialized in and become famous for their Pinot Noir. Every year, this winery produces several versions of Pinot, most vineyard-specific wines. 

Acacia Pinot Noir has the typical smoothness of world class Pinot, mixed with delicious fruity and smoky flavors that are accentuated in vineyard specific wines. Each Pinot Noir from Acacia really has its own personality. The Premiere lot is no exception, utilizing the winery's best juice from Carneros. 

Winemaker Matthew Glynn chose a favorite barrel from his favorite block in the estate's flagship Lone Tree Vineyard for this Premiere offering. Located on a southwest-facing slope, this block has an ideal combination of soils, sun exposure and drainage, and consistently delivers the best Pinot Noir from the estate, making it worthy of the Premiere Napa Valley designation. 

This wine is a beautiful mauve color and aromas speak to the luscious Carneros growing region. The wine permeates the glass with elegant aromas of currant, violets, nutmeg and clove, with a hint of herbal expression.  Their light-handed use of previously filled french oak barrels imparts a hint of Tahitian vanilla bean.  On the palate, the wine is light to medium-bodied with bright undertones complimented by illuminating crimson fruit and a luxuriantly earthy finish.

Casa Nuestra Winery & Vineyards

Casa Nuestra literally means “our house” and it certainly feels like home when you visit. This beautiful estate was established back in 1979 in the historic district of St. Helena. All the beautiful fruit found in the Premiere auction lot is organically grown on the estate. Very little electricity is used, as the primary source for powering production is solar. This producer limits its production to 2,000 cases annually, and the auction lot for Premiere is a mere 20 cases. 

The fruit for the 2011 Oakville “Field Blend” blend is grown on the Oakville Grade in the western margin of the appellation, home to several varietals including Negrette, Carignane, Zinfandel, as well as a small amount of Petite Sirah. 2011 was a very mild growing season, and while the 2011 harvest was significantly smaller than usual, the quality of fruit was very good. For Premiere Napa Valley, they selected the crème de la crème of this vintage. 

The wine is brilliant garnet in color. It opens up with robust aromas of dark red fruits, currants, and boysenberry with subtle notes of succulent dark chocolate and cedar completing the nose. Flavors of fresh strawberries and boysenberries are lush and pronounced on the palate, followed by hints of roasted coffee, maple and sweet espresso on the long lasting finish.  This boutique production should be considered a gentle giant, exhibiting cohesive structure balanced by smooth approachability. This Bordeaux style blend is a first-class wine for all occasions. 


With this wine, Saintsbury reverts to the tried-and-true Brown Ranch blocks used for the winery's Premiere Napa Valley wine for the past 10 years—G and H. These blocks are located at the back of the ranch in Carneros. Planted here on the most exposed promontory with the rockiest of droughty soils is the great Pommard clone, which thrives in these challenges. The 2013 Premiere lot encompasses the mantle of great site adversity, draping the broad shoulders of the kingly Pommard in a coolly wonderful growing season capped with the best Indian Summer experience since 1999—in a word, magnificent!

Winemaker Christine Barbe
Coquerel Family Wine Estates

The Coquerel Family Wine Estates Premiere lot is 20 cases of Premiere Sauvignon Blanc crafted in a "Pessac Leognan" style. This beautiful vintage of Calistoga fruit has aromas that are fresh and enticing with bright citrus layers supported by subtle undertones of papaya and green mango. On the palate, the tropical notes come to the forefront with rich, lush layers of guava, passion fruit and lychee, as well as hints of herbs and lemon zest. This wine is beautifully balanced and extremely enjoyable! 

Prep your paddles as these limited release auction lots will go fast. This is your only opportunity to acquire these gems. Each auction lot is so extremely different and reflecting several distinctive appellations. Premiere is the event of the season giving you access to the pristine fruit from some of Napa Valley’s most celebrated vineyards!

J. Brewner
#PNV13 Social Media Crew
Judd's Hill Winery

Friday, February 15, 2013

"Giddy as a School Kid" - A Vintner Perspective on Premiere Napa Valley (#PNV13)

Selling wine on the road to restaurants and retailers can be a tough gig from time to time. That said, there is no better time of year to work for a Napa Valley winery than just ahead of Premiere Napa Valley. There is an instant rapport when I walk into an account and see the Napa Valley Vintners' envelope on the desk of a buyer. Three things happen after I ask if they’re excited about Premiere Napa Valley; the first of which is a very physical reaction. The look is best described as a giddy school kid thinking about a summertime break. Next up, “Does Titus have a lot at Premiere this year?” Lastly they apprehensively ask, “What other lots are you excited about?”

I certainly share that giddy school kid look as I start thinking about all the fantastic, one of a kind wines that will be at Premiere. It never ceases to amaze me the care that goes into creating lots as small as five cases and as big as twenty. These lots represent the best of the best from a particular vintage and will never be recreated. The lucky retailers and restaurants that win these lots will truly have something very unique.

“Does Titus have a lot at Premiere this year?” This year, 2013, I am proud to say that Titus Vineyards will have a five case lot available at Premiere Napa Valley 2013, #PNV13. Titus Vineyards farms two estate vineyards. The main forty acres of estate vineyards are planted adjacent to a 1910 ranch house and include all five Bordeaux varietals as well as Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Sauvignon Blanc. For #PNV13 Titus Vineyards focused on the six and a half acres of Cabernet Sauvignon planted at the Ehlers Lane estate. The vineyard is planted in thin, rocky soil atop a volcanic tufa hill, and its row orientation offers beneficial airflow. This five case lot of Cabernet Sauvignon is called Undici Opportunita which is Eleven Opportunity in Italian. The Cabernet from this site was the best fruit to show off opportunities the 2011 vintage offered. This Premiere Napa Valley lot will be sure to have bidders taking notice.

People often wonder if wineries are in constant competition, not liking to talk about or try other wines besides their own. The truth of the matter is that no one in the wine industry would be working in it if we did not like wine. We are the best people to ask ‘what other wines are good out there.' We will likely be honest - even to a fault sometimes. Everyone in Napa Valley is happy to champion the efforts of their friends and neighbors. The only time you may not see that is if we are trying to hoard it for ourselves...or knock off a ‘by the glass’ placement for our own.

One of the first wineries that comes to mind is St Supery Estate Vineyards and Winery. Their twenty case #PNV13 lot of estate, Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon is meant to show off the best of the best from their Rutherford estate vineyards. Planted over twenty five years ago, this California Organic Certified vineyard’s top three blocks were chosen to craft this delicious blend, and I had an opportunity to preview the lot. Subtle oak is present from aging twenty two months in French Oak. The color is a deep, shimmering purple that stains the tears inside the glass. Black cherry, blackberry and complementing oak spill out of the pronounced nose. The palate is supple with focused fruit and the tannins are well integrated. I wouldn’t mind having a glass of this right now. This is going to be an even better wine with time, and is certainly one of the lots to taste if you are at #PNV13. If you are not at Premiere Napa Valley 2013, you may get a chance to try this wine when your favorite retailer or restaurant wins the lot - so stay tuned.

I do hope I get the chance to preview more of these excellent lots, and am able to share additional insider info soon. Keep checking back with the Napa Valley Vintners for the best, up to date inside track to Napa Valley.

Cheers -

Christophe Smith
#PNV13 Social Media Crew
Titus Vineyards

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Give Me Cabernet: Stephanie Gibbins, #PNV13 Social Media Crew

February is upon us, and everyone is thinking of red roses and conversation hearts.

Here in the Napa Valley, excitement is brewing as Premiere Napa Valley is upon us. Whether it’s your first time being a part of Premiere or this is yearly occurrence for you, everyone is looking forward to the more than 200 lots that will be presented at auction.

Wineries are busy thinking of Premiere Napa Valley months before the event. As for me, I’ve been busy making sure everything on the social media side is ready. In the past, I haven’t been a part of many Premiere Napa Valley events so this time I took it upon myself to make sure I did something worthwhile - I became part of the Vintner’s Premiere Napa Valley Social Media Crew to help share the excitement of Premiere Napa Valley (#PNV13) online.

One of the ways we are doing this is by focusing on some of the unique wine lots that are available at this year’s Premiere Napa Valley. The lots I choose to cover were Rombauer Vineyards (where I work), Duckhorn Vineyards and Silver Oak.

Rombauer Vineyards

I got to sit down during all this madness and pick Richie Allen - our winemaker’s - brain about our 2011 Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon. Atlas Peak has become a coveted appellation, the high altitude allowing the fruit to ripen quicker and the true characteristics of the fruit to show. This fruit is truly unique! Christmas spices along with currant caress your senses. The weight and intensity on the back pallet will keep you coming back for more. You won’t be disappointed with the high quality of this delicious and intense Cabernet Sauvignon.

Duckhorn Vineyards

It was only fitting to tell the story of Duckhorn’s lot as they are our neighbors just down the road. Duckhorn’s Premiere Napa Valley lot is a 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Three Palms Vineyard. The 2011 vintage was exciting for Duckhorn, they acquired the rights to the all the grapes from Three Palms Vineyard. Three Palms Vineyard is an iconic vineyard and this wine shows it off. Aromas of cinnamon and clove hit your senses followed up with the mouthwatering red-fruit flavors. Your pallet will enjoy the depth this wine gives. Make sure you taste this wine and see for yourself how this iconic vineyard’s wine stacks up.

Silver Oak

Silver Oak is known for their reds but this Cabernet Sauvignon really stands out. The 2011 Jumpin’ Jack Flash Cabernet Sauvignon is one that will wow you. The creation of Director of Winemaking Daniel Baron and CEO David Duncan, this lot was the obvious choice. Blending of Cabernet and Merlot makes this wine memorable. Grab a glass and taste it for yourself.

Hopefully your mouth is watering just like mine, and this is only just a taste of what Premiere Napa Valley has to offer! Now we sit and wait until the 23rd to see what other rare wines will be a part of this “must attend” event for the wine trade. See you at Premiere!


Stephanie Gibbins
#PNV13 Social Media Crew
Rombauer Vineyards

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

#PNV13 Social Media Crew Reporting: Alex Crown, Cornerstone Cellars

“What’s in a lot? It’s just wine...” I overheard her saying to a friend while I was enjoying a glass of Cabernet Franc. “It’s a bit more complicated than that,” I reply. “Premiere Napa Valley wines are one of a kind, sometimes only sixty bottles exist and then that's it! For a collector and connoisseur, the cellar isn’t complete without a Premiere wine. Rarely do wine shops, wine bars, and restaurants have the opportunity to carry wines as limited as these. If you come across one, you’ve truly found a gem.”

Here are four lots that I’m pretty excited about for #PNV13: Honig Vineyard & Winery, Cornerstone Cellars, Robert Mondavi Winery and Hill Wine Company.

Honig Vineyard & Winery

Honig is releasing their 2011 Westside Trio Cabernet Sauvignon. Good things come in threes - three vineyards and three on the winemaking team. With this wine, we have their three best vineyards from three AVA’s coming together to create a wine that is greater than the sum of its parts. All of the vineyards are west of highway 29. The majority comes from the Campbell Vineyard in Rutherford. Oh yes, there is some Rutherford dust in this glass. Add a splash of Bartolucci from St. Helena and a dash of Rafael from Oak Knoll, and let it mature in 100% new French oak barrels to have a wine that powerful, structured, drinkable while being cellar worthy for decades.
Cornerstone Cellars

Cornerstone Cellars is releasing the 2011 Premiere Cornerstone, a Bordeaux blend heralding from the Oakville Station. The Oakville Station is unique vineyard, 40 acres in size, carved out of the historic To Kalon vineyard in Oakville. This is a Cabernet Sauvignon based blend with some Merlot for a mid palate lift and a bit of Cabernet Franc for increased structure. The Oakville Station vineyard can do no wrong. This wine is rare with only 5 cases produced from this single vineyard site. Twenty-two months in new French oak integrate with the soft tannins resulting in incredible aromatics, a beautiful mouth feel, and a wine that while stunning now, will greatly reward the patient.

Robert Mondavi Winery

Robert Mondavi is providing a 20 case lot this year - a 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Monastery Block within their To Kalon vineyard. Tucked right up against the Mayacamas Mountains in Oakville, this block always makes it into the reserve program at Mondavi.

Hill Wine Company

For Premiere, Hill Wine Company is offering a hillside select blend of Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon from the winery's newest property. The clusters and berries were hand sorted until they had the best of the best. Through this minimal intervention, winemaker Phillipe Langner was able to allow the grapes to speak for themselves through the wine, reflecting the special place they came from.

I’ll be there tasting these and many other wines from the 2011 vintage at the Barrel Tasting on Saturday February 23. The 2011 wines that I have had the fortune of trying so far have been spectacular. 2011 was a winemakers vintage, presenting them with a challenge that rewards us all.

Alex Crown
PNV Social Media Crew
Cornerstone Cellars

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Introducing the Premiere Napa Valley Social Media Crew

It's February in the Napa Valley, which means Premiere Napa Valley is right around the corner! For those who don't know, Premiere Napa Valley is a wine auction that raises funds for the NVV to promote, protect and enhance the Napa Valley - the NVV's annual 'bake sale' so-to-speak. With over 500 trade and media coming to Napa Valley for Premiere - both for the actual event on February 23 and for countless related events the week prior, including the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers - it has turned into an annual homecoming for those in the industry to spend quality time with winery owners and winemakers.

Of course, the wines of Premiere Napa Valley are what make this event so special. Crafted by winemakers at our member wineries throughout the Napa Valley, Premiere wines are one-of-a-kind lots are made specifically for this event, allowing winemakers to let their creative juices flow. Examples include a new single-vineyard wine, a blend of top barrel lots that is available only through Premiere, or a wine crafted by mutiple winemakers working together on a joint lot.

There are so many interesting stories to tell the week of Premiere Napa Valley, both about the wines and the events going on throughout the Valley, that this year we've engaged a Premiere Napa Valley Social Media Crew - a group of social-media savvy vintners to help us share the excitement of Premiere with our fans and followers. We extend a huge thank you to these crew members!

Michael Baldacci, Baldacci Vineyards (@BaldacciWinery)
Alex Crown, Cornerstone Cellars (@CornerstoneNapa)
J. Brewner, Judd’s Hill (@JuddsHill)
Stephanie Gibbons, Rombauer Vineyards (@RombauerVino)
Christophe Smith, Titus Vineyards (@TitusVyds)

This week and into next each crew member will be writing guest blog posts for UNFILTERED. On Twitter, along with following the #PNV13 twitter handle, keep an eye out for tweets from these wineries - and, of course, @NapaVintners - leading up to and during Premiere. These folks will be our eyes and ears throughout the Valley - and your back-stage pass into Premiere Napa Valley.

Cheers to Premiere and to our #PNV13 vintner social media mavens!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Auction Napa Valley tickets are on sale!

Tickets for Auction Napa Valley: The American Wine Classic, the country's first and most celebrated charity wine auction, are now available. 

2013 Auction Napa Valley invitation
 Taking place from May 30 to June 2, Auction Napa Valley 2013 offers a variety of options from "The Complete Auction Experience" to "A Perfect Day in Napa Valley" and "Friday at the Auction," providing a kaleidoscope of ways in which hopeful Auction-goers can be part of the party that transforms extraordinary wines, foods of the gods, and the panoramic beauty of Napa Valley into the well-being of the Napa Valley community.

Learn more.