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ST: The competition is fierce. There are some great wines being made in Napa. You may find some that don't inspire you, but technically you'd have a hard time finding wines here with basic flaws — you don't see that sort of thing anymore.
NM: In many ways, I get a sense that this immediate region — namely Napa and most of Sonoma — is coming out of its pure discovery phase and is really starting to focus on site specificity. Producers are now, more than ever before, thinking critically about what works in terms of varietal choices and viticultural methods for individual sub-appellations and even specific sites, tailoring them instead of employing the one-size-fits-all approach from earlier days.
ST: I think we're getting closer to what European regions have long been doing.
RC: When I first came to the Napa Valley, there were vineyards that had everything from Riesling to Gamay Beaujolais to Petite Syrah — they'd have ten varietals in one vineyard! In the old days that worked because the buyer was usually some very large winery, like Gallo, who would make all sorts of different wines. But what's happened over time is that things have focused down to thinking about what's the very best varietal for a specific terroir. I think where you really see the increase in terroir specificity is with Pinot Noir. It wasn't too long ago that I didn't really care for many California Pinot Noirs. But they've come a long way and producers are really refining how to work with that grape and where to grow it. And here in the Napa Valley, I think that focus on terroir is why Cabernet is king, because this is really the place for Cabernet Sauvignon.
And it's with that very focus on a sense of place that Robert Craig himself has succeeded in carving his own niche with the noble varietal for which Napa has become so well known. By applying the concept of terroir to the region's mountain Cabernets, he and his team have managed to showcase a collection of special wines, each with their own unique character and personal story. To learn more about Robert Craig Winery and its portfolio of wines, visit Robert Craig Wines online. Photo Credits: Lynn Craig and Robert Bruno.
Tasting Notes on the Robert Craig Mountain Cabernets
- 2005 Howell Mountain Cabernet: Aromas of purple flower and dry, Mediterranean herbs that follow through on the palate with bright, fresh red berry fruit and warm spice intermingled with a savory flavors; fine-grained tannins, and a long, white-peppery finish. Origin: estate vineyard at nearly 2300 foot elevation on Howell Mountain.
- 2005 Mount Veeder Cabernet: Lush, deep, dark berry aromas that come through on the palate along with flavors of cassis and mocha; assertive but fine-grained tannins, and a lingering fruit-laden finish. Origin: slopes at 1800 foot elevation on Mt. Veeder.
- 2005 Spring Mountain Cabernet: Aromas of dark red berry fruit coming through on the palate as ripe black cherry along with warm spices of clove and nutmeg; long, subtly spicy finish. Origin: vineyard at 2000 foot elevation on Spring Mountain.
- 2006 Affinity Cabernet: Subtle aromas of berry fruit and mocha that come through on the palate with pronounced ripe black olive flavors; smooth, satin-textured tannins and a long, savory finish. Origin: estate vineyard at Mt. George foothills, in southeast corner of Napa Valley, blended with other Napa Valley vineyard sources.