2004 Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon •Somerset Vineyard
California: Napa Valley
What We Say
If you are visiting us for the first time, Welcome! The Wine Spies feature one exceptional wine each day – and we only bring you wines that we ourselves seek out and love. Always, the wines are great. Sometimes greater than great, as is the case with today’s wine from Sensorium Wines.
HOLD-OVER ALERT! Yesterdays wine was so delicious that we convinced Sensorium winemaker, Jeff Ritchey, to give us a few more cases. This wine is great, so please pick some up before we run out.
TOP SECRET EXCLUSIVE: Today we have a very special wine for our operatives. We were able to sleuth out another limited exclusive, this time from prolific winemaker, Jeff Ritchey of Sensorium Wines. This wine, a wonderful 2004 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, is difficult to find on sale anywhere but a few places in California. We are offering today’s wine at 25% off its retail price with free shipping on Six bottles (use promo code SPYSHIP)
Mission Codename: Enliven your Senses
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Determine if winemaker Jeff Ritchey’s stellar reputation is deserved
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Sensorium Wines
Wine Subject: 2004 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemakers: Jeff Ritchey
Jeff Ritchey makes wine. For years, Jeff has been winemaker or consulting winemaker for many different wineries. He has earned a reputation for turning out great wines for these wineries and in 2002, started his own Sensorium Wines. Read the mission briefing below for more detail.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Beautiful deep ruby and pink with glistening edges and thick, slow-moving and widely spaced legs that crawl down the glass
Smell – Warm and aromatic with a great rush of ripe red fruit and plum with raspberry, cherry, oak, vanilla and lightest cocoa
Feel – DIFFERENT! This wine feels slippery and wet, with a butter-like feel (not taste) that glides the wine across the lips and tongue. Medium body with unique mid and back-palate tannins and velvet smoothness that makes me want to roll this wine around in my mouth over and over again
Taste – A rush of raspberry, cherry, plum and light vanilla that are very present but do not overpower at all. Rather, the flavors here are perfectly integrated and in balance with each other
Finish – Sweet and fruity at first, then a tang creeps up from the back of the tongue to the front, with a gradual drying that makes you smack your lips and reminds you to take another sip!
Conclusion – Three words best describe this wine: “Wow, wow, wow!”. I could leave it at that, but know this: Jeff Ritchey’s reputation as a craftsman winemaker is fully deserved. This is a beautiful, elegant, refined, approachable, accessible, tasty treat of a wine that I am so excited to have found for our Operatives. This wine would be right at home on casual missions or as a compliment to elegant dining with top spies.
Most wines benefit greatly from decanting. When wine comes into contact with oxygen, aromas and flavors in the wine are allowed to be released. This allows a wine to realize its fullest potential at time of drinking.
I decanted this wine for about 5 hours before tasting it again. This wine loves the air and I recommend that you decant for a few hours before you enjoy it. At 5 hours in the air, this already great wine underwent a wonderful transformation; the aromatics and the flavors, while great before, were even more delicious and smoothly pleasing. Decant People, Decant!
Winemaker Jeff Ritchey makes great wines and has been winemaker from prestigious wineries such as Gundlach Bundschu in Sonoma County, Clos LaChance in Saratoga, Clos LaChance in San Martin to name a few.
Today, Jeff continues as consulting winemaker for a handful of California wineries, like San Saba Vineyards, Picchetti Winery, the Los Gatos Wine Company and Fleming-Jenkins, where is experience and skill help these wineries to turn out consistently great wines. He is also a partner in another winery that he helped start, Blue Cellars.
In 2002 he started Sensorium Wines where he was able to experiment and make the wines that he wanted to make. We have loved Jeff’s efforts at San Saba and elsewhere and unrestrained by outside influences Jeff is now turning out wines of his own. And, my dear spies, his wines are great.
As busy as Jeff is, I finally managed to connect with him after a prolonged surveillance. At a recent tasting, Jeff introduced me to his wines and to his partners in wine production. Great wines and a great group of folks.
Between sips, Jeff explained that, “Sensorium specializes in small lot, handcrafted Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon wines from select vineyards in Napa Valley, the Santa Cruz Mountains, and the Central Coast. Our wine exhibits a balance of richness and complexity that rewards the discerning taster, yet allows for the simple pleasure of drinking it Our focus is on making elegant wines that engage the senses and reveal themselves in evolving, ever-deepening, and surprising ways. In other words, wines you can feel.”
Jeff’s wines have a cult following and are only available in a limited number of venues. We are fortunate to be able to bring you a small quantity of his special wine – at a very special price. Jeff hopes that you enjoy his wines and assures you that when you become a fan, he’ll have more wine for you. Just come back to The Wine Spies and we’ll provide you with the Top Secret hook-up!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Somerset Vineyard can be seen in this satellite photo
What the Winery Says
This unique Cabernet Sauvignon was grown in a vineyard high up on the eastern side of Napa Valley on three new hillside blocks of the Somerset Vineyard noted for red soils and good drainage. Chosen for their potential, Blocks 1A, 9 and 10 are proving to be worthy of its praise. The 2004 growing season was nearly ideal in California. This elegant and balanced wine has silky tannins framed with notes of cherry and raspberry fruit along with nutmeg, sweet vanilla and cocoa accents from the new oak barrels.
Somerset Vineyard This 100 acre vineyard is located in the hills east of Rutherford. Block 1A, 9 and 10 were planted in 2000 and each contains closely spaced, vertically trellised Clone 4 or 337 Cabernet Sauvignon on 101-14 rootstock. Block 1A (clone 4) is located on a steep hillside with thin, red soils and a southwestern exposure and blocks 9 and 10 (clone 337) are on an east facing bench on the west side of the vineyard. The combination of the three blocks adds complexity to this wine. The grapes were hand picked at the peak of flavor and crushed within hours of harvest to insure the flavor was maintained.
Our wines are made using traditional techniques. After harvesting the fruit at peak ripeness, the grapes are hand sorted, gently destemmed, crushed directly into open top fermenters and left to cold soak on the skins for 3-5 days. As the indigenous microflora begin to show activity, cultured yeast is added to the fermentation. Throughout the fermentation the must is hand punched down twice daily. Towards the end of fermentation 60% of the fermenters are chosen to be pressed at dryness, usually 2-3 weeks. The remaining 40% of the fermenters are selected for extended maceration of up to 6 weeks to add complexity. All lots are pressed directly into barrels via gravity where they age for 20 months.
Vital Facts Vineyards and Blend: 98% Somerset Cabernet Sauvignon 2% Uvas Creek Vineyard Cab. Franc Appellation: Napa Valley Aging: 20 months in 60% new French and America Oak Brix @ harvest: 25.5 on Sept. 24, 2004 Bottled: July 15, 2006 Alcohol: 14.3% Production: 226 cases Release date: November 1, 2006 Price: $36