Sunday, March 28, 2010

Napa Cellars - Napa quality, value priced

In today’s economy, wine consumers are constantly searching for quality wines at value prices. Napa Cellars certainly fits that bill, releasing a foursome of “back-to-basics” quality Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, produced in a traditional Napa style but with prices under $30. You will even find that their tasting fee at their Napa tasting room is lower than most Napa Valley wineries!

Napa Cellars was originally founded by Rich Frank (Frank Family Vineyards) and Koerner Rombauer (Rombauer Vineyards), two of the most well-known winemaking families in Napa. In 2006 they became part of the Trinchero Family Estates group who was named this year by Wine Enthusiast magazine as the American Winery of the Year. They continue their tradition of classic quality Napa Valley wines reflecting the character of the valley. The winemaker, Joe Shirley, has been with the Trinchero family for many years.

The California Wine Examiner tasting panel sampled the mighty foursome with the following comments.

Napa Valley 2008 Chardonnay was sourced from select vineyards in the southern Napa Valley, including Yountville and Oak Knoll districts. The common comment from most panel members was the Rombauer-like character of the wine. Aromas of green apple are evident along with some citrus qualities. On the palate it is full bodied and smooth, but not buttery, adding in additional flavors of melon, pear and peach along with spices of clove and leading on to a medium long pleasant finish. Suggested retail price is $24.
The Napa Valley 2007 Merlot is also from grapes grown in the southern areas of Napa Valley. The bouquet has a pleasant, subtle intensity of dark berries, some chocolate, tobacco and mint. The dark berry flavors, bakers chocolate, plum and blueberry shown through on the palate. It exhibited a tartness bite that showed that it was still a bit young. It was interesting that about half of the tasting panel felt this was a very good wine, while the other half felt that, while it as good, it was not as good a value as the others. Suggested retail price is $22.

The 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is produced with grapes from St. Helena, Oak Knoll and Rutherford in the center of Napa Valley. This has the classic Cab aromas of currant, cassis, black cherry, caramel and peppery spices. The same fruit qualities were apparent in the flavors along with anise, vanilla and raspberry. In the mouth, there was a bit of a dusty character that shows its central Napa Valley source. Some on the panel detected an herbaceous/veggie quality. It has a medium long dry finish. Suggested retail price is $26.

The Napa Valley 2007 Zinfandel was a favorite of all on the panel. This wine has a dark rich purple color and a nose of plum, blackberry, raisin, prune, pepper and some tobacco. It was a joy to drink with a typical Zinfandel jammy texture full of dark fruit, dry prunes and a long finish. A couple panel members said that Zinfandel was not their favorite varietal, but they really liked this Zin. It is very easy to drink. Suggested retail price is $22.

The Chardonnay and Zinfandel were particular favorites for all, yet many also championed the Merlot and Cab. All of the wines are on their shopping lists due to the quality of the wine combined with its cost.

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