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: Associate 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. 2012 reflects Pott’s new vision of vineyard management and 2 tons / acre.
Winemaking: The aim is to represent this special site that creates soft, elegant wines with lots of finesse – wines that are more stylistically similar to Stags leap than to mountain neighbors. Saint Helena Winery shares wine collecting customers with Revana, Forman, Vineyard 29, DR Stevens, O’Shaughnessy and Gemstone. Hand-picked and thoroughly hand -sorted (passing by 8-10 people at several winemaking stages) 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 in 3 ton tanks for 2-4 weeks 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 vine by vine, extensive grape sorting and managing each barrel for quality, 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. Keeping all fruit for their label, the vineyard is 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. Practicing sustainable farming, the year-round vineyard team employs such precision farming that the team knows every vine on the estate. Highly detailed farming includes use of weather stations, vigor-reducing cover-crops, leaf and shade management for each cluster, cluster separation for open space, aggressive fruit-drop, very limited irrigation and picking of 13 acres across 8 days. Yield management results in mid-October harvests ranging from 1.5 to 3 tons per acre depending on soil density. In 2013, only 27 tons came from the entire 13.5 acres.
Chardonnay 2018, Sonoma Mountain New Vintage!
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 2017 New Vintage
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.” 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
Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
93 Points, Wine Advocate: “Very classy cassis and cigar box notes with nuances of underbrush, cedar chest, pencil lead and smoked meats. Medium to full-bodied, the palate delivers mouth-coating blackcurrant flavors with loads of earthy sparks and a firm, grainy-textured finish.” Winemaker Notes: “A near perfect vintage in the Napa Valley and offers notes of fragrant violet, ripe plum and cherry along with black tea, spice, and coriander seed. On the palate the wine is lush and balanced leading to a beautiful, lingering finish.” With earth, humidor and tea notes, this vintage lives up the “Little Haut Brion” nickname given by Pott. 100% Cabernet, it was cane pruned to 2 clusters per shoot, yielding only two tons/acre. Aged 22 months in French oak. 300 cases. Magnums
“Sympa” Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 New Vintage 93+ Points, WA [6-bottle half case
93+ Points, Wine Advocate: 93“Deep garnet-purple colored, it opens a little slowly, revealing crushed black cherries, warm plums and blackcurrant cordial notes plus touches of oolong tea and cigar box with a waft of lavender. Medium to full-bodied, it has a beautiful, fine-grained texture and plenty of freshness framing the vibrant fruit, finishing long and layered.” Points, Galloni: “Brings together the plump fruit with pretty mineral notes that give the wine energy and vibrancy. Layered and expressive.” 100% new French oak, 5% Petite Verdot. Cane-pruned to two clusters per shoot, two tons per acre. Magnums