What We Say 2007 'Antaeus' Zinfandel Blend
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Each day, The Wine Spies strive to bring you the highest quality of wines that we can sleuth out for you. When a wine exceeds our high expectations, as today’s 94-point stunner has, we issue special notices like this Superior Wine Alert.
SECRET SAVINGS ALERT:
Subscribe to our Daily Dispatch (above) and you’ll always know what our Top Secret coupon code of the day is. Every day we issue a new members-only code that entitles you to have Ground Shipping included on orders of six or more and, sometimes, an added discount!
Mission Codename: The Son of Water and Earth
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Send Agent Red to infiltrate Storybook Mountain Vineyards on the slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains at the northern reaches of the Napa Valley. His mission: to return with an ample allocation of an award-winning wine of superior quality.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Storybook Mountain Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2007 Antaeus
Winemaker: Dr. J. Bernard Seps
Backgrounder: Robert Parker lists Storybook Mountain Vineyards among wineries “representing the pinnacle of wine quality in California,” and one of “six best Zinfandels in the world”. We sent Agent Red to Storybook to secure what he found to be their best wine. He returned to us, victorious, with Storybook’s 2007 Antaeus, a 94-point stunner that has deeply impressed all on our tasting panel. Located on the western slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains, at the northern end of the Napa Valley, Storybook makes some of the most sought-after wines in the region. Today’s hand-crafted wine, their 94-point 2007 Anreus is lovingly made from select grapes from the best rows of the winery’s estate vineyards. The 2007 Anteaus is a superb blend of 50% Zinfandel, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 4% Petite Verdot.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep garnet hues from core to edge, this wine shows concentrated color right through its darker heart. Spin the wine and watch it settle quickly, leaving behind tall, wine-stained tears that move slowly down the inside of the glass.
Smell – Dark and lush with bold aromas of blackberry, black cherry, cedar and violets out in front. Just below these, dark plum, India tea leaf, soft oak and a hint of vanilla custard emerge.
Feel – Plush and silky smooth on the initial attack. Fine-grained tannins, a touch of spice and a bright acidity all combine to fill the mouth, giving the wine a crushed velvet feel that begins mid-palate and slowly spreads outward.
Taste – Layers of black and red fruit mix with earth and spice, leading with smoky black cherry, blackberry preserves, dusty blueberry and dried flower petals. These flavors are soon joined by chalky mixed spice, black pepper and a hint of dried herbs de Provence.
Finish – Long and darkly flavored, the wine begins plush and juicy and then goes softly dry, with minerals, herbs and soft black pepper.
Conclusion – This extraordinary wine delivers on so many levels. It starts like a superior Zinfandel and finishes more like a bold Napa Cabernet. You might think that two distinct styles might fight it out in a blend of this nature but, instead, this wine is beautifully balanced and very elegant. Flavors are bold, and held in check, with each varietal distinctly showing up on the palate in perfect proportion. We are thrilled to bring you this fantastic wine. It is drinking beautifully now, but we encourage you to cellar a few bottles for the next few years. An easy food companion, pair this wine just as you would a California Zinfandel or big Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. Ours went perfectly with a garlic and pepper rubbed New York steak, right off the barbecue.
Special Note: Please do not miss out on this rare opportunity to procure this extraordinary wine….
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Dr. J. Bernard Seps
WINE EDUCATION: Dr. Seps’ winemaking skills grew from theory, practice and personal philosophy. Courses at U.C. Davis and intensive discussions with the winemakers in and outside the Napa Valley provided the theoretical framework. An apprenticeship, encompassing all aspects of winemaking from picking the grapes to bottling the wine, with one of the most famous Zinfandel makers in California (the late Joe Swan), yielded the necessary practical background. A very competitive nature and his “why not” approach to achieving goals, coupled with both a willingness for hard work and the satisfactions to be gained from recreating a major wine estate, have provided the drive and focus for producing Storybook wines.
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Storybook Mountain’s first and only winemaker.
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: Our first vintage was 1980 released in 1983.
AGENT RED: Greetings, Dr. Seps. We are thrilled to be showing your 2007 Antaeus today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
WINEMAKER: My pleasure, ‘Agent Red’.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
WINEMAKER: A series of experiences, from being a sommelier at 21 to visiting the Napa Valley then and after.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
WINEMAKER: The late Joe Swan
RED: Who do you make wine for?
WINEMAKER: I make wine to bring forth from our beautiful land all the best it will yield.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
WINEMAKER:* Within our site and its mountain bowl there are many unique venues, each with its own combination of rootstock, grape and vineyard culture. Our Antaeus, named for the figure in Greek mythology who was renowned for the strength he drew from the land, draws from these many sites to present not only a wine with a strong sense of place but a unique combination of Zinfandel and the Bordeaux varieties that captures all the richness and complexity that is best in Napa wine.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
WINEMAKER: Lamb roasted on a spit with touches of rosemary and garlic.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the upper Napa Valley so special?
WINEMAKER: Storybook has a unique east facing mountain bowl that is the coolest site in the upper Napa Valley, bringing unusual finesse to its wines from the estate’s certified organic grapes..
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
WINEMAKER: Creative responses to problems, growing grapes and bringing out all the facets that create great wine.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
WINEMAKER: With time and the anticipation of an enjoyable sensual experience.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
WINEMAKER: Wine shared is wine enjoyed.
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!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The approximate location of the Storybook Mountaun Vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
94 Points & Best Buy – Wine & Spirits Magazine – “Zinfandel brings out the delicate side of cabernet in this blend from the Seps’s estate in the hills above Calistoga. Jerry Seps farms organically and ferments the wine without inoculated yeast, allowing the purity of the fruit character and the layers of earthy complexity to show though. The wine hits an astonishing balance in this vintage, rich without weight. And while I have notes on the multihued berry flavors, the floral scents of violets and Earl Grey tea, it’s the texture that sets this wine apart, the love child of cabernet’s growling tannins and zin’s gentler caress. Not to be missed.”
About This Wine:
A blend of Zinfandel with Bordeaux varieties, drawing from our land the best qualities of each area of our estate, to yield an intense wine of great complexity.
Antaeus, the son of Water and Earth in Greek mythology, is the symbol of strength derived from the soil. So too this wine, deriving strength from the matching of site and grape on every part of our land. The aromatics are primarily Napa Cabernet, with all the richness that connotes; the body has Zinfandel’s sensual fruit and fullness, but the finish comes through with the structured, sinewy aspect of the Bordeaux varieties. The 2006 Antaeus is composed of 57% Zinfandel, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot and 6% Merlot. The intensity derived from red clay soils is here in full, while the coolness of our site provides the acid balance so essential to a wine’s grace and longevity. Fermentations are non-inoculated, MLs are completed with proprietary bacteria and the aging is done primarily in French oak. All the best claimed for terroir or a sense of place is found in Antaeus.
The Vineyards: Occupying a mountainside at the head of the Napa Valley, Storybook Mountain has been dedicated to Zinfandel for 30 years. It is a grape unusually well adapted to the red clay loam soils, eastern exposures and microclimate of our hillside estate. Yet there are hills and hollows on our land (the cooler exposure of a north facing hill for Cabernet, moister soils rich in clay for Merlot, etc.) that are every bit as appropriate for the Bordeaux varieties. Seeking the ideal match of grape and site has always been the Holy Grail at Storybook Mountain. The vines are hand tended, from pruning through picking. The crop is severely regulated, with two green harvests in May and August, to maintain just the right amount of grapes on each vine, averaging 2 to 2.5 tons per acre. No insecticides or herbicides have been used in all these years, and we have become totally organic growers. Once picked, within 40 minutes the grapes are in the fermenter, where they receive the gentlest of processing to softly meld their mountainside tannins with the deep flavors of the varietal and the character of the estate
About The Winery:
Storybook Mountain has established a world-wide reputation for the consistently high quality of its wines. The Zinfandel tradition began at Storybook Mountain in the early 1880s when its red clay-loam hillsides in the Mayacamas Range were first planted to this varietal. Here, an ideal match of terroir and grape allows Zinfandel to show its true potential.
Storybook Mountain’s sought-after estate wines are carefully hand-crafted from choice grapes grown in certified organic estate vineyards surrounding the winery. They are aged at least 12 months in the best French, Hungarian and American oak barrels, inside century-old caves dug deep into the mineral-rich volcanic rock underlying the hand-tended vineyard.
Proprietors Jerry and Sigrid Seps’ wines are famed for intensity and longevity. Raspberries, black cherries and spice are the essence of their complex, well balanced and elegant wines.