Rolling along with California Cabernets I love, Spottswoode is at the top of the list. Owned and run by mother and daughter team Mary and Beth Novak, this is one of the classic benchland estates, located in St. Helena not far from all the hubub, but doing its own thing.
I visited Spottswoode a few years ago and their organic and partially biodynamic farming is helped along by significant cover crop, including some huge daikon radishes you can pull straight out from under the vines. There is no pretension at this estate. Then assistant and now chief winemaker Aron Weinkauf led me around personally through the vineyards and cellar. It’s always fascinating to contrast walking through biodiverse vineyards and manicured ones. The latter are always less physically inspiring and less relaxing. It seems as though they have lost the rhythms of nature. Not so at Spottswoode, where you can wander at ease amongst the wildlife.
These are classically made wines that bear just enough California fruit to make them distinctively Napa rather than Bordeaux.
The 2011 is, for my palate, an ideal Cabernet Sauvignon dominant blend. A complete, utterly balanced wine – expect juicy cassis but also cedar and herbs. The structure is impeccable. The finish epic. This is always amongst the top 5 Cabs in California each vintage.
~$150 at private stores such as Marquis Wine Cellars