What We Say 2005 Home Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s delicious Cabernet Sauvignon is usually only available at the winery. Today only you can secure you very own allocation of this superb wine exclusively through The Wine Spies.
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Mission Codename: Take Me Home, Country Road
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Return to Chateau Souverain and secure an allocation of their winery exclusive 2005 Home Vineyard Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Chateau Souverain
Wine Subject: 2005 Home Vineyard Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: Ed Killian
Today’s wine is made from Souverain’s 120 year old estate vineyard in Alexander Valley.
The Alexander Valley in northeast Sonoma County is located on the western side of the Mayacamas range and extends westward to the edge of the Russian River Valley. This appellation was formerly considered a part of Dry Creek Valley but became its own appellation in November 1984. The region is best known for exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot but recently people are starting to discover its Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Chardonnay as well.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Darkest garnet purple with a nearly black and barely clear heart. This wine’s dense color remains to the very meniscus and when swirled, slow widely spaced and colored medium-thin legs descend to the wine below.
Smell – Rich and ripe blackberry and other dark fruit is layered over complex savory herbs, baking spice a touch of smokey oak, toasty vanilla and also floral violets. Hints of mocha coffee and wild anise also make an appearance and linger into the finish.
Feel – Soft and elegant, this dry and full-bodied wine is both concentrated and expansive but plush and elegant too. Its smooth and well developed tannins are buttressed by lively acidity and a touch a minerality creating an almost chewy character.
Taste – Rich blackberry red plum and other dark ripe fruit are well integrated with the complex savory herbs and baking spice found on the nose. Smokey and toasted oak along with hints of meaty leather and linger and reach the far corners of the palate.
Finish – Extremely long and clean with its supple but firm tannins holding onto the rich fruit and as the complex spice and herbs fade and beg for another sip.
Conclusion – The 2005 Chateau Souverain Home Vineyard Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a delicious wine from both a great vintage, a great appellation and a great vineyard. Elegant and well developed with complexity that spans from the nose through to the finish. Well structured but not overbearing this is a wine that easily can stand on its own or pair with grilled game meats. We paired this wine with a simple grilled New York Strip and found ourselves in heaven.
Authentic and Attainable is how Souverain describes their great wines. While we agree with the first part of that declaration, we found the second part to be somewhat, well, relative.
You see, many wineries hold back their more precious wines for their tasting room customers or for their wine club members. Today’s wine is just such a wine and unless you are a club member or can get yourself into their tasting room, this wine is unattainable to most of our Operatives. However, as an Operative, you know that this exclusivity has never kept us from getting you a wine once we have our sights set on it.
I wish that I could tell you that today’s mission to obtain the unobtainable was fraught with intrigue and peril. Rather, we simply relied on our network of assets in the field.
One such asset, industry insider Codename: Malbec, pulled a few strings and made a few key introductions and viola! I was in, landing a temp spot in the tasting room. Once inside, I was able to learn everything that I could about Souverains great wines. Because our Operatives have been keen for a great Pinot Noir for under $25, I zeroed in on the Carneros Pinot. With a few days at the tasting room, I was able to sample the wine freshly opened and well-decanted. Both were great, but a few hours of decant on this wine and it sings!
While I worked there, I got to learn a lot about the Souverain way of making wine. Their 120 year-old estate vineyards sits within Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley, where I happen to think some of the finest California wines come from. Winemaker Ed Killian has been making wines in this region for more than a quarter century and his desire to create wines that express the harmony between place and varietal shows in each of the wines that he stewards at Souverain.
When my temp gig was up, Malbec quietly revealed my true identity to the tasting room manager – who was happy to have had a bonafide Wine Spy in the house. The manager pumped my hand and asked me which wine I loved most, and how many cases I would be needing.
I just love this job!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of Souverain’s estate vineyards is Top secret, but their tasting room can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Layered nuances of vanilla, fresh roast coffee, nutmeg and clove. This balanced Cabernet Sauvignon is well-structured with fine-grained tannins that lead to a long, powerful finish.
Vineyards & Vintage: The grapes for this wine are sourced exclusively from Souverain’s own 120-year-old estate vineyards in the Alexander Valley. These vineyards are located along an inland expanse of the Russian River, which channels early evening breezes to cool the valley’s warm afternoons. The moderated warm climate as well as the volcanic and alluvial soils of the valley allows Cabernet grapes to ripen evenly and retain their balanced acidity.
The 2005 vintage will best be known for its vigor due to an extended growing season brought on by a mild, temperate summer and fall. The season got off to a rainy start, and May was the wettest in over one hundred years. With a cool start to June, July was summer-like but lacked heat spikes. As a result, the grapes enjoyed extended hang time, allowing the fruit to fully mature delivering ripe, delicious flavors. Harvest was late but very compressed, avoiding late fall rainstorms.
Winemaking: Winemaker Ed Killian keeps each vineyard lot of the Cabernet Sauvignon separate, gently pressing each lot for desired color and flavor extraction—an important step in the Souverain Cabernet program. The wine is then racked and aged in 100% new oak barrels (60% French, 20% Hungarian and 20% American) for a total of 24 months before blending and bottling. Ed Killian and his winemaking team keep close watch on each wine throughout the aging process to help determine which lots will make up the final blend.
Winemaker’s Comments: The 2005 Home Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon offers an inviting nose of ripe blackberry, black plum, dark roasted coffee and anise. There’s a nice continuity between the nose and the palate of this wine. The flavors are dense and concentrated and the oak is well integrated. The fine-grained tannins frame the black currant, blackberry and nutmeg flavors and lead to a spicy fruit compote finish.
About The Winery:
Authentic – Wines that are the best expression of each varietal and Alexander Valley
Attainable – Exceptional wines that you can drink every day
Award Winning – A sixty-year history of unsurpassed wine quality as noted by the wine press
At Souverain, our goal is to make authentic wines that are the best expression of each varietal and Alexander Valley. We believe our consumers deserve to drink great wine every night, so our wines are exceptional & attainable. Our love affair with producing wines has stretched back over 60 years and during that time our award winning wines have received numerous accolades and praise from the wine press.
In the end, though, the most important award to us is a satisfied consumer.
Having worked with the same growing areas – and in some cases the same vineyards – for more than 25 years, Ed Killian knows the vineyards of Alexander Valley inside and out. He understands which blocks will give him the fruit he’s looking for to create Souverain’s signature style. He believes the most important part of winemaking is learning the characteristics and tendencies of the vineyards.
Ed joined Souverain winery as associate winemaker in 1992 from Lambert Bridge Winery in Dry Creek Valley. In his role as associate winemaker, Ed had a strong hand in every aspect of winemaking at Souverain, and was named winemaker in May of 1996. As winemaker, Ed views his role as the steward of the Souverain name and historical legacy. He uses his expertise to craft Alexander Valley wines on which he’s proud to put the Souverain name.
Souverain has such an incredible history of making distinct wines, and I constantly work to carry on that legacy and tradition, says Ed Killian. The beautiful, concentrated fruit of our 120-year-old Alexander Valley Estate Vineyards contributes to this, as do our cellar techniques and our new state-of-the-art winemaking facility. My mission is to continue to craft wines that represent the best of Alexander Valley.
Ed serves on the Board of the Alexander Valley Winegrowers, and is a member of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture and the California Enological Research Association. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of Redlands and a master’s in enology at the University of California at Davis. Upon graduation Ed worked as a research enologist for Guild Wineries before joining Lambert Bridge in 1981.
He and his wife, Jean – both native Californians – have lived in Healdsburg since 1981. When Ed is not making wine, he is an avid home brewer and also enjoys cooking, scuba diving and gardening
The history of Souverain began in the Napa Valley in 1944 when J. Leland “Lee” Stewart harvested his first crop of wine grapes from his Howell Mountain property in the northern part of the valley.
At the suggestion of his young daughter, Stewart named his winery “Souverain” (taken from the French word for “sovereign” or “supreme”), and his Cabernet Sauvignon bottlings from the 1960s were considered by many to be just that.
In the years that followed, Stewart used innovation and a natural gift for winemaking to establish Souverain as one of the great California wineries.
The winery moved to the Alexander Valley when Stewart eventually sold it in 1973. Stewart stayed on as a consultant throughout the construction of the new facility. In 1976, a limited partnership of growers took control and by 1981, Stewart had fully retired from winemaking.
Beringer winery bought Souverain in 1986 and added the word Chateau to the Souverain brand name. In 1992, Ed Killian was hired on as Associate Winemaker and by 1996 he was the head Winemaker.
In 2006, Souverain built a state-of-the-art winemaking facility surrounded by the 120-year-old Souverain Estate Vineyards in the Alexander Valley, near Cloverdale, where Winemaker Ed Killian has long been sourcing the grapes for his award-winning Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc.
While the name, faces and location of the winery have changed over the years, the tradition of fine wine production continues at Souverain today. Just as Lee Stewart began, Ed Killian consistently produces outstanding wines that represent the best of their region.
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellation: Alexander Valley