White Cottage Ranch Winery (CLOSED)
2007 ‘Risa’ Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon •Estate Vineyard
California: Napa Valley: Howell Mountain
What We Say
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Mission Codename: Good Wine Leads to Good Laughter
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Revisit our friends at White Cottage Ranch Winery and secure their latest release of the delicious Risa Cabernet Sauvignon
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: White Cottage Ranch Winery
Wine Subject: 2007 ‘Risa’ Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: Rudy Zuidema
Napa County’s Howell Mountain AVA, established in 1984 is known for its wines of deep concentration and intensity. The higher elevation and relatively flat aspect make the location great for vineyards, and specifically Cabernet Sauvignon. The first vines in the Howell Mountain area were planted in the 1880s. The Howell Mountain region in the Napa Valley is the birthplace of some of our very favorite wines. We fell in love early on with Rudy Zuidema’s wines and we have not been disappointed by one of this high-elevation Howell Mountain wines yet. Today’s wine is a made from a blend of mountain fruit and fruit from the floor of the valley, imbuing the wine with a balanced best of both worlds flair.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep and dark garnet with a dense heart that shows burgundy hues throughout its dark clear core. Along the edges the color remains garnet and when swirled, medium legs ring the glass before descending to the wine below.
Smell – Rich and ripe with this wine’s black-fruit including blackberry and black cherry melding with a heady mocha and cocoa component. A touch of black licorice, earth and spice rounds out the inviting nose of this wine.
Feel – Smooth and dry, this full-bodied wine has firm but very fine tannins that are very well developed for a relatively youthful wine. Well balanced with good acidity and focused mountain minerality.
Taste – Concentrated black fruit and especially blackberry and black cherry as found on the nose blend with rich cocoa and mocha coffee. Soft earthy and mineral notes, black licorice, oak and a hint of balsam adds depth and complexity.
Finish – Persistent in its finish with ripe and rich fruit linger with the cocoa and other flavors lingering on the palate and fading gently as they beg for another sip.
Conclusion – The 2007 White Cottage Ranch Winery ‘Risa’ Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a delicious Cabernet that is both expressive in its flavorful but balanced in its mouth-feel. While still youthful, this wine is well developed in its aromas and flavors and is structured enough to grab a hold of you. Enjoy this wine tonight or cellar for 5-10 years.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Rudy Zuidema
WINE EDUCATION: BS Ag Science Management UCD 1991
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: St. Clement 91-93, 93-94 Cuvaison, Honig/Patz and Hall 94-96, Robert Craig 96-02, Ehlers Estate 02-07, White Cottage Ranch 07-present
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Make authentic, natural wines that tell the story of the vintage.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: Good enough just isn’t.
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: (DATE) As head winemaker, the 1996 Robert Craig Mt. Veeder Cabernet came out in February of 1999.
AGENT RED: Greetings, Rudy. We are thrilled to be showing your 2007 Risa Cabernet Sauvignon today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
RUDY ZUIDEMA: Thank you for having me. I am so excited about this….I feel like I’m in “The Borne Wine Blend” movie
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
RUDY: Of course, and they continue to happen regularly. Initially it was when I was in the south of France working in a small cooperative winery in a village of 180 people. Everyone in this village had anywhere from a few vines to a few acres of vines, all of which were brought to the co-op. Regardless of variety or ripeness, the whites got dumped in one vat and the reds in another. The farmers would then take their weightage over to the warehouse and trade in the ticket for their cased wine for the year. The wines were absolutely horrible!! However, the pride each and every person had for this wine was amazing. The quality meant nothing, but the fact that this was an effort that all 180 people were part of made the wine taste like liquid gold.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
RUDY: Ben Riggs, from Australia, is a big part of who I am now. His winemaking was driven by texture, not flavor. He allowed the vintages to change in flavor profiles but all of them felt the same in acidity, viscosity, and weight. I love that feel.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
RUDY: Behind every good winemaker is a great spouse. My wife is the only one who I need to make sure can get through half a bottle and love every sip. If I can accomplish that, I’m sure there will be some others who jump on the bandwagon.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
RUDY: The 2007 “Risa” Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of Howell Mountain Cab, Merlot, Cab Franc, and Napa Valley Cab. The word “Risa” means to laugh or smile in Spanish and Italian so the wine is built to be more playful and a bit softer than our other wines. The fruit profile is clean and bright showing off more red fruit notes such as raspberry, cherry, and rhubarb. The wine is a serious Cabernet but very easy to drink.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
RUDY: A great friend and a great movie……but if a piece of grilled salmon or a savory meatloaf with sautéed mushrooms happens to be close, give it a try.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Howell Mountain so special?
RUDY: Although Howell Mountain is only 10 minutes from the Napa Valley floor, it seems like a planet away for our vines. The elevation and exposure are rough for a grapevine. The fact that we are above the fog line and we get direct sun in the late afternoons makes it hot and dry. The vines struggle early and throughout the growing season making for low vigor, small yields and very intense fruit.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
RUDY: We farm organically and bio-dynamically and follow a pretty strict calendar for our tea applications, compost preparation, and tilling regiment. It takes a lot of time to stay on top of all of these practices.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
RUDY: Trust your own tastes. Try not to let anyone else tell you what wine you should like or why you should like it. If you think the really special and expensive wine on the table sucks…..it sucks!
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
RUDY: Here at White Cottage Ranch we take our farming and winemaking pretty seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Come on up and get to know us and ask a bunch of silly wine questions. We’ll love to talk about them with you.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
RUDY: Cheers, and thanks again!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the White Cottage Ranch Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Meaning “laughter” in Spanish, our Risa has grown in distinction over the last several years. This wine is a blend of Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc combined with excellent Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley floor. This brings together intense powerful fruit and a rich smooth texture. The flavors are layered with currant, cocoa, black cherry, and a hint of the maple cream on the finish.
About The Vineyard:
“Block 1”, shown here was the first portion of White Cottage Ranch to be planted back in 1989. Currently, these are the oldest vines on the property, which produce luscious, complex and hearty fruit. Many of the characteristics indicative of Howell Mountain grown wines shine through the produce of these vines. Deep, rich, full flavors develop and mature with the influence of soil minerality and distinct weather patterns. With property elevations here ranging from 1500 to 2000 feet above sea level, it is here where mountain soils meet semi-alpine skies. Milder mountain summers and rugged foothill winters help shape the growing season here, defining this unique growing region.
About The Winery:
Dennis and Adele Johns grew up together as high school sweethearts in St. Helena, the heart of Napa Valley. As the winemaker at St. Clement Vineyards for twenty years, Dennis established his reputation as an innovative and highly respected winemaker.
In the search to begin their own vineyard and winery, Dennis and Adele discovered that the last 65 acres of White Cottage Ranch, a historic 5000 acre cattle ranch dating from the 1800’s, was for sale.
The most outstanding factor of the property was that this land was on Howell Mountain, an area recognized for growing exceptional red wine varietals for over 100 years. Dennis and Adele’s firm belief that fine wines are ‘grown’ and not just vinted, coupled with plans to produce high quality red wines, forged the 1989 purchase of White Cottage Ranch.
In 1990, five different variations of resistant rootstock were planted based on the soil profiles. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc were budded in 1991. The first crop was in 1993. Subsequently, they have added Sangiovese, Zinfandel and Syrah.
A new winery was finished in the summer of 2005 and is now open by appointment to taste.
The family produces small amounts of artisan crafted wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Zinfandel and a Sangiovese-Zinfandel blend they call “Ezivese”.
About The Winemaker:
Rudy Zuidema has quickly worked his way up the ladder of a winemaking career. After graduating from U.C. Davis in 1991 with a degree in Plant Science and Agricultural Management, and a harvest with Wirra Wirra, Australia under his belt, he started as an entry-level cellar man at St. Clement Vineyards. There he found the ultimate mentor, then winemaker Dennis Johns. At that point, Rudy decided that he would be making wine for the rest of his life, and also discovered and began to develop a winemaking style that embraces a balanced fusion of concentrated fruits, rich aromatics and seamless textures.
After St. Clement, Rudy took his next steps in cellar management at Cuvaison Winery, and then moved on to an assistant winemaking position at Honig Winery, followed by a seven-year stint as head winemaker for Robert Craig Wine Cellars. Working with specialized varietals from each of these spectacular properties, and exploring the range of growing and winemaking techniques a single grape can inspire, Rudy finds his work a labor of love.
At White Cottage Ranch, Rudy also manages the estate organic and biodynamic-farming program.