The UK wine trade is used to having the opportunity to take part in special wine tasting events. The world of wine is always keen to show what it can do to some of the planet’s most influential buyers. On November 1 the opportunity falls on Napa Valley to demonstrate how the style and diversity of Cabernet Sauvignon has evolved over the last 30 years with a special Perspective tasting that will allow producers to show how one wine has changed and adapted over three vintages. Here’s what you can look forward to.
Connor Best of Napa Valley Vintners sets out what buyers can look forward to at its special Perspective tasting on November 1 that turns the clock back on different vintages of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon.
Tell us about the Vintage Perspective tasting?
The tasting is an opportunity for members of the trade and media to taste 18 3-vintage flights of Napa Valley wines in a blind tasting format. The goal of the tasting is for attendees to experience the overall quality and ageability of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet-based blends, and discover the individual vintage characteristics and vintage-to-vintage consistency. The UK has always been a great market for Napa Valley wines and this tasting is a unique opportunity and will be enlightening to anyone who buys, sells or is involved in wine education in Napa Valley and Californian wines.
You are looking to show three different vintages, tasted blind?
We feel that a 3-vintage flight is a great way to demonstrate the unique characteristics of an individual vintage while also showing overall consistency and the style of individual producers.
How have you chosen which vintages to show?
We have decided to present the wines in two different flights. Flight 1 (which will include tasting wines from 11 wineries) will include recent release wines from the 2014, 2015 and 2016 vintages, or as we say “wines leaving the market, wines in the market and wines soon-to-be in the market.”
Flight 2 (that will involve seven wineries) will include two library vintages (some dating back to the 1990s) along side a current vintage to show evolution over time. We will show wines from the 1990, 1991, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 vintages.
Why focus on Cabernet Sauvignon?
Cabernet Sauvignon is the signature variety of Napa Valley, accounting for more than half of the planted hectares and producing some of Napa Valley’s most renowned wines. The tasting will be a great opportunity for the trade and media alike to discover for themselves how the style of Cabernet Sauvignon has evolved over the past 30 years.
What do you think the perception of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon is amongst UK trade buyers compared to five and 10 years ago?
We feel that the best way to engage the trade in the UK and to challenge conventional perceptions of Napa Valley wines is to provide opportunities for people to taste the wines in an educational setting, allowing them to form their own opinions about the quality, diversity and ageability of our wines.
Which wineries are taking part?
We have a wide range of wineries and producers taking part that we feel really reflect the best of what Napa Valley can do with Cabernet Sauvignon. They are: Barnett Vineyards; Cain Vineyard & Winery; Corison Winery; Darioush; Favia; Herb Lamb Vineyards; Inglenook; Jamieson Ranch Vineyards; Long Meadow Ranch Winery; Newton Vineyard; Pine Ridge Vineyards; Rombauer Vineyards; S R Tonella Cellars; Shafer Vineyards; Silverado Vineyards; The Hess Collection Winery; TOR; and Trefethen Family Vineyards.
Can you tell us about this year’s vintage in California?
The 2019 harvest is progressing smoothly, producing exceptional fruit throughout Napa Valley. Harvest began in mid-August with sparkling wine producers across Napa Valley bringing in Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay. As early autumn brings on mild weather and the harvesting of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Paul Goldberg, president of Bettinelli Vineyards and president of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers has said of the upcoming vintage: “We have seen exceptional fruit quality across Napa Valley this year. Overall the conditions have been moderate, allowing for excellent hangtime and steady ripening.”
Overall the Napa Valley Grapegrowers has released this report: “The 2019 growing season began with heavy rains in March and April, which cultivated robust cover crops that organically enriched the soil with an abundance of nutrients. The rain in April also created a bit of shatter in Chardonnay clusters during bloom, but didn’t significantly reduce crop size, and most growers referred to it as ‘nature’s way of thinning’. Fruit set was on course during the spring for Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec. With the exception of a brief heat spike in June, summer weather was moderate and veraison was even.
“Harvest began in mid-August with a brief heat spike that growers, vineyard managers and their crews expertly handled. Two days of light rain in mid-September prompted some growers to trim their canopies to increase air flow around ripening fruit. As most growers are now picking Cabernet Sauvignon, harvest continues at a robust pace under mild autumn conditions.
Tom Farella, of Farella Vineyard, has also said: “Winemakers are enthusiastic about cultivating the 2019 vintage. The quality of the fruit that has come into our cellars has been truly exceptional, with deeper colour than anticipated, ample texture with bright acidity, and clean fermentations,” said. “Mother Nature has thrown us some interesting little bumps along the way, but the 2019 is coming in with a nice soft landing.”
You can follow the 2019 Napa Valley harvest at www.napagrowers.org and www.harvestnapa.com.
- If you would like to attend the Vintage Perspective tasting then please email Emma Welling on email@example.com.
- The tasting takes place on November 1 at 67 Pall Mall, St James’s Room. 67 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5ES. The blind tasting starts at 10.30am and runs through to 1pm with the full event open until 2.30pm.