Winery: An historic estate in St. Helena, the manicured vineyards are located where in the mid-1800s some of the first settlers in the valley arrived, and planted vines in adjacent acreage. Planted in the 1960s and founded as Saint Helena Winery in 1994, grapes were initially sold to Quintessa, Opus One and Merus. Under new ownership, the winery now keeps the entire vineyard production for their own releases, creating only 2,000 cases.
Winemakers: Saint Helena Winery Winemaker and Vineyard Manager Lindsey Wallingford works closely with Consulting Winemaker Aaron Pott, the first American to be Head Winemaker of a Classified Bordeaux Chateau, also named “Winemaker to Watch” by Wine Spectator. Pott worked with John Kongsgaard at Newton, was closely mentored by Michel Roland, worked at Chateau Troplong Mondot and Chateau La Tour Figeac, returned to California as Winemaker at St. Clement and then for several years at Quintessa. He consults with Blackbird, Fisher Vineyards, Quixote, 7 Stones, Bello Family among others. Wallingford formerly worked with Screaming Eagle, Bryant Family, Paul Hobbs and Michel Roland. Vintages since 2012 reflect Pott’s new vision of vineyard management.
Winemaking: Saint Helena Winery shares wine collecting customers with Revana, Vineyard 29, O’Shaughnessy and Gemstone. Hand-picked and thoroughly hand-sorted (by 8-10 people) the resulting perfect berries are cold-soaked to extract color, flavors and aromas, then aged two years in French oak. Each vineyard block is fermented separately for tannin elegance, left on lees and racked (into the same barrel) only twice. Pressed very mildly, the juice is moved with gentle gravity flow. Diligence to detail in managing the vineyard, sorting and each barrel, has meant that not one barrel has yet been declassified.
Vineyard: Nestled up against the York Creek and Napa River, the site called “little Haut-Brion” by Aaron Pott is warmer than the rest of St. Helena. The vineyard is organically farmed for highest fruit quality, not tonnage. 13.5 acres are planted to 3 different clones of Cabernet Sauvignon across three variations of soils, providing a diverse array of fruit profiles, allowing the winery to create two estate Cabernets, each with their own distinct terroir-driven aromas, flavors and textures. The year-round vineyard team knows every vine on the estate. Their highly detailed farming includes use of weather stations, vigor-reducing cover-crops, leaf and shade management for each bunch, cluster separation for open space, aggressive fruit-drop, very limited irrigation. Cane pruned to 2 clusters per shoot. Yield management results in mid-October harvests averaging only 2 tons per acre, with 27 tons from the entire 13.5 acres most vintages.
Chardonnay 2018, Sonoma Mountain Very Limited
93 Points, Antonio Galloni, Vinous: “Rich and oily, it possesses terrific richness. White flowers, orchard fruit, tangerine and pineapple give very pretty top notes and exoticism. The 2018 was done entirely in oak [13% new], with less stirring during the first year and about 16 months in oak. It is a very pretty and distinctive wine.” Whole-cluster pressed, native yeast fermented, complete ML fermentation in once-used French oak barrels and with sur lie aging and battonage. From the famed Ulises Valdez’ “Scopus” vineyard, at 700 feet elevation, with rocky and volcanic red soils sloping eastward into summer fog for cool nights and mornings. Near Kistler. 350 cases.
Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 Fall Release
Winemaker Notes from Aaron Pott and Lindsey Wallingford: “Opens with aromas of black truffle, blackberry bramble jam, roasted duck, blood orange zest and ripe green fig, Fruit, wood and spice aromas are well integrated and inviting. The wine exhibits plum, black licorice, cedar and molasses. A lush feel in the mid-palate leads to a long finish with notes of cherry, bay laurel and cocoa framed by firm tannins and a velvety weight over a long finish.” With earth, humidor and tea notes, this vintage lives up the “Little Haut Brion” nickname given by Pott. Vines are cane pruned and hand-tended down to two clusters per shoot, yielding approximately two tons per acre. 2 clusters per shoot, under 2 tons per acre. Magnums 792
“Sympa” Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 New Vintage!
Winemaker Notes from Aaron Pott and Lindsey Wallingford: “Our flagship 2017 Sympa opens with notes of black cherry, blackberry, tobacco, and cedar on the nose. On the palate, lush black cherry and blackberry, layered above notes of lavender, dried herbs, and black truffle. The wine offers dense texture with bright red and black fruit characters. Powerful and deep, it displays firm, chewy tannins on a long and savory finish.” From the block of gravelly ancient riverbed with limited soils, cane-pruned to two clusters per shoot, and yielding only 2 tons/acre off the famed Phelps Backus Clone. 100% new French oak, 6% Petite Verdot. Magnums 1200
“Sympa” Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Library Release
Ronn Weigand, MS & MW, Restaurant Wine: “Stunning: a concentrated, very ripely flavored, firmly structured, well- balanced, and very long and persistent on the finish. It tastes of black cherry, blackberry, cedar, walnut, tobacco and black licorice. 1% Petite Verdot.” Will benefit from aeration before drinking. Made from the famed Phelps Backus Cabernet clone, it is from the driest- farmed part of the site, on a low-vigor ribbon of ancient riverbed. 2 clusters per shoot, under 2 tons per acre, 1% Petite Verdot. “Sympa” (Sympathique), in French means “cool, charming, nice, agreeable, pretty.” 430 cases. Magnums 1200