2006 Mt. Veeder Napa Valley Cabernet
California: Napa Valley: Mt. Veeder
What We Say
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SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s selection from Robert Craig Winery is truly a wine of elegance and finesse. If you are a fan of the great Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine belongs in your cellar and on your table!
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Mission Codename: Veederonomy
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Investigate Napa’s Robert Craig Winery
Mission Status: Complete!
Current Winery: Robert Craig Winery
Wine Subject: 2006 Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: Robert Craig
Mt. Veeder, located on the eastern slopes of the Mayacamas range has a climate that is cooler than the valley floor below. This climate and the more difficult (less fertile) volcanic mountain soil influence the flavors of the wines from this region. Most known for both Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, Mt. Veeder is known for producing grapes of exceptional character and bold intensity.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Darkest garnet with a deeper heart of nearly black plum. When swirled this wine shows thick, widely-spaced legs that start slow, teasing us with a notion of the richness to be experienced on the palate
Smell – Bold intensity with deep purple aromas of blackberry that lead the charge, giving way to black cherry, darkest unsweetened chocolate and bramble. The overall effect is one of full richness, where the wine shows on the nose as voluptuous. This is a description that is usually reserved for the feel of a wine, so this is an intriguing characteristic
Feel – Soft and satiny, round and full, this wine starts off with a big, wet, medium-bodied feel that goes to dry, as fine tannins show up rather quickly, sustaining flavors through to the long finish
Taste – Bold, initially, with big black cherry, underripe blackberry and cassis on the attack. Then, as the tannins take hold and a dryness appears, black pepper, dark spice and smoky raisin mingle with soft vanilla oak and dark chocolate
Finish – Plush at first, then more taut and firm, with lingering black fruit, spice, black pepper and clean oak. Flavors tail off slowly, with spice and soft minerals
Conclusion – Only procure this wine is you love amazing, incredible, fantastic, beautiful, delicious and excellent Cabernet Sauvignon! If you don’t, leave it for the rest of us! With beautifully balanced feel, flavors and aromatics, this is a true delight that is fun to drink on it’s own – but also with a hearty meal. We paired our review bottle with griddle-pan fried Filet and a plethora of complex dipping sauces (think meat fondue without the boiling oil). The wine held its own, throughout, accentuating the exotic flavors of the foods and cleansing the palate for the next bite to come. I give this wine my heartiest recommendation, dear Operative!
What follows is our original interview with winemaker, Keith Emerson:
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Keith Emerson
DATE OF BIRTH: 3/22/76
PLACE OF BIRTH: Boston, Mass.
WINE EDUCATION: Enology & Viticulture / Fermentation Science B.S., UC Davis
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Director of Winemaking – Vineyard 29, Consulting Winemaker – Robert Craig Winery, Winemaker – Knighton Family Vineyards, Leaf + Twig Vineyard, Gundlach Bundschu Winery, Bartholomew
Park Winery, Owner / Winemaker – Emerson Brown Wines, Owner / Winemaker – Emerson Wines (all current)
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Gentle, meticulous handling and attention to detail every step of the way. Small lot, hands on winemaking, utilizing gravity as much as possible and showcasing the fruit from each specific site.
SIGNATURE VARIETALS: Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Establishment of Emerson Brown Wines in 2005 (tremendously successful, boutique Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc), hand crafted in Vineyard 29’s state of the art facility
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Establishment of Emerson Wines in 2009. Single-vineyard (Shea Vineyard) Oregon Pinot Noir, hand crafted in Vineyard 29’s state of the art facility
WINEMAKER QUOTE: If you work harder than the next guy and pay attention to detail every step of the way, good things will happen!
AGENT RED: Greetings, Keith Emerson. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Robert Craig Winery “Affinity” Cabernet Sauvignon today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
KEITH: Thanks for having me
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
KEITH: I grew up in the restaurant and bar business back east. I’ve always said that I fell in love with wine through food.
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
KEITH: Honestly, on the job experience has been even more beneficial than my studies at UC Davis (though I learned a lot there as well, of course).
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
KEITH: Gentle, meticulous handling and attention to detail every step of the way. Small lot, hands on winemaking, utilizing gravity as much as possible and showcasing the fruit from each specific site.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
KEITH: I’ve been fortunate to work with and learn from several world class winemakers including Philippe Melka, Andy Erickson, Celia Welch, Zelma Long, Allan Johnson (NZ), and others.
RED: How long have you been making wine?
KEITH: 12 years
RED: Who do you make wine for?
KEITH: The wine drinker!
RED: Tell me, what makes the Napa Valley so special?
KEITH: The amazing geological activities that have occurred here over time. So many microclimates and soil types in such a small valley!
RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
KEITH: Lots of hard work, ridiculous hours, don’t ever plan on vacationing in September or October for the rest of your life!
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
KEITH: Online interviews (kidding)! Post-harvest vineyard meetings, post-harvest wine lot evaluation tastings, barreling down 2009 reds, ordering bottling supplies for upcoming bottling season, winterizing the winery, etc.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
KEITH: 2006 was my first vintage working with Robert Craig Winery and thus my first opportunity to influence the wines. The 2006 Affinity is a harmonious blend of primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, with a few additional Bordeaux blenders, from select valley and hillside vineyards.
Aroma: Concentrated berry and black cherry fruit at the forefront, underlaiin with sweet cassis and touches of violets, lavender and spicy oak. Flavors: A beautifully polished core of black fruit on the mid-palate, interwoven with black olive, red currant, espresso and a hint of maple. Finish: Lush and generous, focusing on more dense fruit, enlivened with crisp acidity and silky, fine-grained tannins.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
KEITH: Rack of lamb
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
KEITH: Huge Boston Celtics, Red Sox, New England Patriots fan
RED: What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
KEITH: Difficult to say though I always love a clean, refreshing Vhinos Verde from Portugal.
RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
KEITH: With an open mind and an appreciation for exciting, unique, well-made wines
RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
KEITH: Tough question… maybe DRC La Tache
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
KEITH: Thanks very much!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Robert Craig Winery in the Howell Mountain region of Napa can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
93 Points – Robert Parker – “. . .plays it slightly closer to the vest, and at least at this tasting, seemed to be the most backward and tannic of these wines, which surprised me. . . creme de cassis fruit intermixed with lead pencil shavings and an almost truffle-like note. . . a muscular wine, it needs 3-4 years of bottle age, but should certainly be another 20+ year wine.”
90 Points – Wine Spectator – Bordeaux-like in its structure and character, with aromas of anise, currant, rose petal, cedar and blackberry. . . Full-bodied, with excellent balance, depth and dimension, ending with tight, ripe tannins. Best from 2010 through 2016. 1,700 cases made
“Kudos to Robert Craig for such impressive achievements.” – ROBERT PARKER The Wine Advocate
“Ranked among the Wine Spectator’s Top 50 Napa Valley Cabernets based on ratings garnered over the past 15 years.”
About This Wine:
Sourced from a single-vineyard at 1800 feet atop Mt. Veeder. The 2006 Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon is everything that you’ve always loved in Robert Craig’s mountain Cabernets, only more of it! Unfiltered and unfined, this wine approaches perfection in its full, rich palette of bright flavors wrapped around a core of velvety tannins that provide impressive structure, weight and complexity. Sought-after collectors’ wine.
Aroma: Forward, concentrated aromas of blackberry and black currant, followed by chocolate truffle, vanilla nut and cream.
Flavors: Deep, succulent Mt. Veeder fruit drives this Cabernet, underlain with signature black currant, pencil lead, cocoa, cedar and spicy mineral notes. Tannins are refined and supple, adding weight to the mid-palate.
Finish: Goes on and on. Generous berry flavors build in intensity, melding with a band of refined, polished tannins.
Vineyard Notes: This single-vineyard source is located at 1800 feet along the mountain’s summit in southwestern Napa Valley. Contours of the 26-acre site offer quintessential Mt. Veeder terrain, with multiple hillside exposures and changes in elevation of up to 400 feet. Well-drained sandstone and blue shale soils provide an ideal foundation for growing small, concentrated berries. Each vineyard block is managed separately and grapes are picked over several weeks to insure perfect ripeness.
About The Winery:
Robert Craig Winery showcases four award-winning, terroir-based Cabernet Sauvignons from exceptional Napa Valley mountain and hillside vineyards.
These cellar-worthy, structured and stylish Cabernets convey a unique personality derived from the soils, climate and varietal characteristics of each growing region.
About The Winemaker:
ROBERT CRAIG Vintner – For Robert Craig, winemaking always begins with the vineyards — more specifically, with his belief in the crucial importance of vineyard location in producing wines of tremendous depth and character.
By concentrating on small quantities of wine from distinctive Napa Valley mountain vineyards, he has been able to create wines that reflect the impact of “terroir,” or the combination of soils, climate and viticultural characteristics of the growing locale.
Our winemaking philosophy builds upon the best that the winegrowing appellation has to offer. The goal is to let each wine’s special personality and unique qualities shine through.
Wine Type: Red Wine
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
Blend: 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot
Appellation: Napa Valley
Harvest Date: Oct. 9 – 28
Sugar: 25.6° Brix
Aging: 20 months in Chateau-style French oak, 80% new, 20% second year
Bottling Date: July 2008