Napa is a challenging place for wine lovers today. The wines are almost inimitably expensive, save Bordeaux. The once storied valley is replete with overripe wines. But, times are changing. Spottswoode has always been a stalwart and emblem for great Napa Cab, though even their prices have been escalating. However, today there are an increasing number of more classic Napa wines if you know what you are looking for – and these wines will be the subject of future articles. Moreover, there are more untold but essential stories that are not commonly told, with today’s media focusing mostly on the ‘new’ California outside of Napa. I intend to explore some of these stories in future articles as well.
In the meantime, Spottswoode. The Novak family has kept this estate legit for generations and it is regularly making some of the best wines in the Valley, right in the St. Helena pocket. Their Sauvignon Blanc is, in my view, the best in California. But the Cabernet Sauvignon is what this estate is all about – a perfectly balanced wine in all vintage conditions, likely due to the impeccable organic farming and soft-touch vinification by Aron Weinkaumpf.
The 2014 vintage was a drought vintage. It produced a wide variety of wines depending on the producer and appellation. The majority of the wines are easier drinking, with lower tannin. But there are notable exceptions, such as Larkmead’s top wines. The Spottswoode 2014 is an easier wine than is typical for the estate – it drinks well now when usually Spottswoode Cab benefits from 5+ years aging. It is absolutely delicious and a great way to experience the estate if you don’t have a cellar or a will to maintain one. But don’t mistake – this is a truly great wine.
Excellent to Excellent+