Mission Codename The right turn
That’s the slow-motion moment the first drop of this splashes down onto your tongue. Time stands still. Your other senses dull just a bit to compensate for the rush of pleasure about to cascade across your taste buds.
Holy WOW. This hit all the right notes at a recent tasting…
And then we saw the price and yea, DEAL SEALED.
Virage does one thing really well - making Right Bank style blends. This comprises 56% Cabernet Franc, 42% Merlot and the balance is Cabernet Sauvignon. They work with Hyde (!) and Beau Terroir vineyards down in Carneros. Carneros MERLOT? Oh yes. When you know, you know that Carneros puts out some incredible Merlot. Arietta, HdV, Keenan, Duckhorn, Truchard, and good old Cuvaison all serve as a testament to this fact. The rest comes from Komes Ranch, a Rutherford hillside, and Soda Canyon Ranch on Atlas Peak, providing extra oomph and minerality. Talk about PRIME Napa Valley fruit.
Emily Richer got her start as a chef in Napa before consulting for years at Quintessa, Robert Mondavi, Rudd Estate, and more. She credits Michael Havens for inspiration, and Aaron Pott for much of her influence, as they worked closely together at Quintessa. And Jean Hoefliger (of Alpha Omega, AXR) who taught her the art of blending – for which he took over from Pott with this 2010 vintage. This obsessive approach to everything from the vineyard sources to the final winemaking steps shows.
At 12 years this is going STRONG. Black Luxardo cherries and various secondary and tertiary notes form a backdrop too but are not ready for the center stage yet. Ripe and dried plums intertwine with cassis, herbs, and mineral nuances, within the seemingly sweet and ultra-round tannin profile. It dances a lengthy ballet on the impressive finish, perfectly melding elements of Bordeaux with distinctive Napa Valley depth.
Finally, we love seeing a boatload of great reviews on CellarTracker. That is after all, where a host of incredibly picky, and particularly discerning wine geeks gather to share honest critiques of wine. And the last 10 reviews for this one (many from recent months) testify to the quality: “In a beautiful place. Rich, but not heavy…” “Remarkably balanced and elegant while giving up nothing in complexity…” “Very classy wine, old school at heart but with modern cleanliness and purity.”
Not much is made of these wines. We secured what was left. For now, at least…
93 Points – Robert Whitley, WRO
“Drop this vintage of Virage into a blind tasting and my guess is most wine enthusiasts, even the experts, would peg it for a Bordeaux. In that sense, Emily Richer’s “Right Bank” project is a mission accomplished. She has embraced the model of St. Émilion, where Cabernet is difficult to ripen and thus Merlot and Cabernet Franc rule, to produce a superb Bordeaux-style blend with two grapes that often don’t get the respect they deserve, especially in California. This vintage exhibits the telltale herbal, savory nuance of Cab Franc, but on the palate, it seems the Merlot takes over with aromas of plum and red currant. There is a light touch of spicy oak, and the tannins are firm, but this wine has every right to improve over the next decade or so. Well done.”
What the Winery Says
2010 'Bordeaux Blend' Napa Valley Red
- Consulting winemakers
- Aaron Pott, Jean Hoefliger
- Emily Richer
- 56% Cabernet Franc, 42% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon
- Carneros, Rutherford & Atlas Peak, Napa Valley
- Hyde, Beau Terroir, Komes Ranch, Soda Canyon Ranch
- Total acidity
- 6.7 g/L
- 22 months
- 100% French oak: 50% new