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Tasting Report: 14th Annual Mt. Veeder Appellation Tasting

Despite intense morning rains, the turnout for Saturday’s Mt. Veeder AVA tasting at Hess Collection Winery was excellent. The outdoor event was saved by good preparation and hard work—organizers stretched a multitude of tarps over the arbor—and by good timing. Torrential downpour became random sprinkles as soon as corks were pulled.

And there was plenty of corks to pull. 28 wineries participated, most pouring multiple wines. Cabernet Sauvignon and related blends were the most common offering, but Syrah, Chardonnay and several other varieties—even Pinot Noir—were represented.

Overall quality was very high with most wines falling into my Highly Recommended range. As was the case last year, reds showed considerable diversity due to the Mt. Veeder AVA’s complex nature. A multiplicity of soils, facings and slopes means no two growing areas are alike. The rugged topography makes large, contiguous vineyards nearly impossible too.

Climate unites Mt. Veeder’s scattered growing areas. High altitude and relative proximity to the ocean results in one of the highest rainfall AVAs in Napa Valley. Similarly, the warm days are moderated by regular daytime breezes and cold nighttime air.

Three common threads appear in the red wines: medium+ body, elegant ripeness with cool-climate accents and, most obviously, structure of fine-grained or fine powdery tannins. This is consistent across varieties. While that makes abbreviated tasting notes seem repetitive, the typicity is welcome and reflects refreshingly light-handed winemaking.

Mt. Veeder is also yielding very attractive white wines. The fruit is always ripe and the wines never mean, but most are perky and supple. Chardonnay works well, as does Hess’ Albariño. An experimental, under-the-table Marsanne/Roussanne from a producer that shall not be named was very appealing. I’d like to see more of that in the future, and perhaps Grenache Blanc.

I asked Yannick Rousseau whether the day’s rain would have any adverse effects on Mt. Veeder’s 2013 vintage. He didn’t think so. White wine grapes have been harvested already and most reds need a couple more weeks on the vine, enough time to dry out. If there’s a risk, it would be for ripe Zinfandel.

2010 OShaughnessy Cabernet Sauvignon Mt. VeederWines of the Mt. Veeder Appellation Tasting

The wineries at the tasting were presented in reverse alphabetical order this year to give the back-of-the-alphabet folks a break. I’ve done the same here. Due to flow of the crowd, I tasted from both ends toward the middle. Regrettably, that meant I missed out on Mayacamas and Meadowcroft.

Y. Rousseau 2010 Chardonnay Milady Mount Veeder, $36
A great way to start the day: lemon, green and yellow apples, baking spice and a spray of white flowers. Lovely balance of fruit and acidity. Highly Recommended.

Y. Rousseau 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Le Roi Soleil Mount Veeder, $65
Medium+ body and tannins (fine-grained) with attractive flavors of black currant, blackberry, cocoa, spice and dark flowers. Lengthy. Highly Recommended.

2012 Yates Family Viognier Mount Veeder, $38
Rich with sweet honeysuckle and nectarine. Very long finish. Recommended+

2009 Yates Family Alden Perry Reserve Red Blend Mount Veeder, $65
Dusty black currant, spice, chocolate, oak and vanilla. Fine-grained tannins. Recommended+

2010 Vinoce Cabernet Franc Mount Veeder, $60
Oak, dusty and spicy fruit, tobacco leaf. Moderate fine-grained tannins. Recommended.

2010 Vinoce Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder, $75
Dry herb, dark fruit and spices, oak. Medium+ body and tannins (fine talc). Recommended.

2006 Veedercrest Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder, $125
Veedercrest ages their Cab for 48 months in French oak and two years in bottle before release. Very chocolatey with cedar, red cherry, oak and coconut. Medium+ length. Highly Recommended.

2009 Trinchero Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Cloud’s Nest Vineyard Mount Veeder, $70
Ripe dark berries, cocoa, spice and oak flavors with medium+ body and tannins (light powder). Long finish. Highly Recommended.

2011 Spotted Owl Chardonnay Mount Veeder, $45
Lightly-textured with medium to medium+ body and flavors of poached pear and spice. Recommended.  

2011 Spotted Owl Pinot Noir Mount Veeder, $50
Pinot Noir wouldn’t be in my top ten expected red wines from Mt. Veeder, but I’d be happy to drink this nonetheless. Earth, brown spice, red cherry and toast flavors with body and fine tannins just north of medium. Medium+ finish. Highly Recommended.

2008 Spotted Owl Syrah Alexandra’s Cuvée Mount Veeder, $45
A nicely balanced Syrah of medium+ body with minty black fruit. Highly Recommended.

2009 Spotted Owl Cabernet/Syrah Mountain Cuvée Mount Veeder, $45
Black currant and cocoa flavors with medium+ body and fine-grained tannins. Very good length. Highly Recommended.

2009 Spotted Owl Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder, $85
A savory, earthy Cabernet with black currant and cherry, spice and dry herb. Medium+ body with loads of fine-grained tannins. Well-balanced, flavorful and very long. Very Highly Recommended.

2010 Rubissow Merlot Mount Veeder, $38
Medium+ body and tannins of light powder. Flavors include minty, dark red cherry, herb and vanilla. Recommended+.

2010 Rubissow Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder, $60
Full-bodied with plenty of fine, powdery tannins. Nicely ripe black currant, dry herb and cocoa. Highly Recommended+.

2007 Rubissow Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder, $125
Built for cellaring and a little tight on the nose now, the flavors are a good balance of oak, black fruit and dark flowers. Medium+ body and tannins, long finish. Very Highly Recommended.

2005 Robert Craig Cabernet Sauvignon, inquire at the winery
Cedar, red currant and currant leaf. Nearly full-bodied with matching tannins of fine grain and chalk. Long. Highly Recommended+.

2010 Robert Craig Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder, $70
Almost full-bodied with plenty of fine-grained, drying tannins. Ripe blackberry, black cherry, vanilla, sweet spice and caramel. Medium+ length that will gain generosity as the tannins resolve. Highly Recommended+.

2005 Renteria Cabernet Sauvignon Tambor Vineyard Mount Veeder, $120 (1.5 liter)
Highly aromatic with notes of cedar, black currant and forest spice. Medium+ body and fine, mouth-coating tannins. Long and well-balanced through. Very Highly Recommended.

2007 Renteria Cabernet Sauvignon Tambor Vineyard Mount Veeder, $50
Outgoing, ripe red and black cherries, spice and vanilla. Nearly full-bodied with medium+ fine, mouth-coating tannins and notable acidity. Very highly Recommended.

2008 Renteria Cabernet Sauvignon Tambor Vineyard Mount Veeder, $50
Black cherry, sweet oak and spice in a nearly full-bodied wine with medium+ tannins (fine, mouth-coating) balanced by acidity. Highly Recommended.

2007 Random Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon (25% Cab Franc) Mount Veeder, $50
Medium+ body, loaded with a mix of fine, light and chalky tannins. Cedar, red and black currants and blueberries. Medium+ length. Cellar or grill a rib eye. Recommended+.

2009 Random Ridge Forunata Sangiovese (and a splash of Cab) Mount Veeder, $35
Minty dark fruit, tangy red cherry, dried rosemary and spice. Medium+ body and tannins (drying, fine grain and powder). Medium length. Decant or cellar. Highly Recommended.

2007 Progeny Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection Reserve Mount Veeder, $150
A powerful, nearly full-bodied wine with a wealth of fine and light-grained, drying tannins. Oak dominates the black fruit and spice now but will fall into balance with the cellar time this wine deserves. Long finish. Very Highly Recommended.

2009 Paratus Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder, $70
Plush black currant, oak, spice and resinous herb. Just about full-bodied with corresponding tannins (fine-grained and drying). For the cellar. Highly Recommended.

2010 O’Shaughnessy Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder, $100
Full of delicious ripe and tart black currant, spice, sweet herb, oak and chocolate. Medium+ body and surprisingly fresh with scads of fine, drying tannins. Quite long. Very Highly Recommended+.

2009 Mount Veeder Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Elevation 1,550 Mount Veeder, $80
Earthy spice, forest floor, dry herb, black cherry and cocoa. Medium+ body and drying tannins of fine-grain and talc. Highly Recommended.

2009 Mount Veeder Winery Reserve Red Wine (96% Cabernet) Mount Veeder, $80
Medium+ body and fine-powdery tannins. Flavors of earthy spice and very ripe black currant. Recommended+

2010 Mt. Brave Malbec Mount Veeder, $75
Malbec built in a Cabernet style with bold flavors of earth, spice and caramel surrounding a core of lively purple fruit and blue berries. Nearly full-bodied with fine-grained and talc-like tannins. Strikes a balance of friendliness and structure. Highly Recommended.

2010 Mt. Brave Merlot Mount Veeder, $75
Luscious earthy spice, licorice and dark fruit. Medium+ body and tannins with very good length. (The wine was decanted for four hours.) Very Highly Recommended.

2010 Mt. Brave Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder, $75
A powerful yet balanced wine with dark, earthy spice, plum and black currant. Nearly full-bodied with fine-grained tannins. (The wine was decanted for four hours.) Very Highly Recommended.

2009 Mithra Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder, $230
Full-bodied, rich and delicious with spicy dark fruit and fine-grained tannins. Very Highly Recommended.

Meadowcroft - Not tasted

Mayacamas Vineyards - Not tasted

2006 Marketta Chardonnay Mount Veeder, $36
A delightful Chardonnay with medium+ body, light-grained texture and flavors of smokey mineral, pear, toast and lemon oil. Highly Recommended.

2006 Marketta Red Blend (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec) Mount Veeder, $85
How did a Bordeaux get into a Mt. Veeder tasting? Spice and black currant with feral overtones and fine-grained tannins. Medium+ body. Very Highly Recommended.

2012 Marketta Chardonnay Mount Veeder, $36
To be bottled in two months: Spicy baked apple, dried lemongrass and just-ripe pear. Full-bodied. Highly Recommended.

2009 Lampyridae Communication Block Red Wine Mount Veeder, $50
A Syrah/Cabernet blend showing chocolate, black currant, blackberry and oak with medium+ body. Recommended.

2010 Lampyridae Communication Block Red Wine Mount Veeder, $50
Aaron Pott took on the winemaking in 2010 and this cuvée is also 100% Syrah. A gorgeous wine with earthy spice, white pepper and leathery dark fruit. Medium+ body with moderate, fine-grained and talc-like tannins. Very Highly Recommended.

2010 Lampyridae Communication Block Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder, $100
Dark spice, earth and black currant. Medium+ body and tannins (fine-grained) and length. Highly Recommended.

2010 Lagier Meredith Syrah Mount Veeder, $48
Disciplined but flavorful with plum, dark berries, dusty earth and white pepper. Medium+ body and drying tannins of fine-grain and talc. Medium+ length. Will be even better with decanting or age. Highly Recommended+.

2011 Lagier Meredith Tribidrag Mount Veeder, $4
Zinfandel by any other name would taste as sweet. And Tribidrag is, in fact, another name for Zinfandel. Black pepper, dark berries and a hint of peach on the nose. Medium+ body, moderate talc-like tannins and a lengthy finish. Highly Recommended+.

2012 Lagier Meredith Rosé Mount Veeder, $20
Crisp peach, pear and fresh berries. Recommended+.

2012 Hess Pinot Gris Small Block Series Mount Veeder, $28
Nearly full-bodied with apple, pear, baking spice and nectarine. Long, tasty finish. Recommended+

2012 Hess Albariño Small Block Series Mount Veeder, $28
Grapefruit, nectarine, spice and white flowers. Mouthwatering. Highly Recommended.

2009 Hess Collection 19 Block Cuvée Mount Veeder, $40
A complex blend of Bordeaux varieties delivering spice dark berries and black currant, chocolate and oak with medium+ tannins (fine grain and talc). Recommended+

2010 Hess Collection Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder, $55
Leafy black currants and spice. Medium+ body, fine-grained and chalky tannins. Recommended.

2010 Godspeed Vineyards Chardonnay Mount Veeder, $30
Straight-forward but pleasant with ripe yellow apple and baking spice.

2006 Godspeed Vineyards Trinity (Malbec, Cabernet & Syrah) Mount Veeder, $45
Resinous dark fruit and spice.

2008 Godspeed Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder, $50
Black fruit and cocoa with drying, fine-grained tannins. Recommended

2009 Foyt Family Wines No. 77 Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder, $85
Disjointed. 

2011 Fontanella Chardonnay Mount Veeder, $34
Green pears and spice, medium acidity. Recommended+

2010 Fontanella Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder, $54
Black fruit, dark spice and oak. Well-structured with fine-grained and chalky tannins. Lengthy. Recommended+.

2009 Fields Family Cabernet Sauvignon Dr. Konrad’s Vineyard Mount Veeder, $59
Full-bodied with light-grained and chalky tannins. Spicy, wild blackberry flavors and surprising acidity. Highly Recommended.

2010 Fields Family Cabernet Sauvignon Dr. Konrad’s Vineyard, barrel sample
Almost full-body with light-grained tannins. Cocoa, spice, black currant and currant leaf. Highly Recommended.

2010 Chateau Potelle Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder, $75
Spice, black fruit and medium+ body and fine-grained tannins. Recommended+.

2010 Chateau Potelle Cabernet Franc Mount Veeder, $39 (375ml)
Almost cologne-like masculine aromas of exotic and foresty spice hover around a core of dark red cherries. Medium+ body with substantial, fine-grained tannins. Highly Recommended.

2010 Chateau Potelle Merlot Mount Veeder, $39
Leafy and spice with tangy red fruit. Medium+ body, fine-grained and chalky tannins. Recommended.

2009 Anthem Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder, $95
Spice, underbrush and dark fruit. Medium+ body with drying, fine-grained tannins. Recommended.

 

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This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2013 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.

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