2006 Blend 25
California: Napa Valley
What We Say
EXCEPTIONAL WINE ALERT:
Today’s exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah blend is truly a fantastic wine worthy of this special designation. Pick up a few bottles. One or two to enjoy now – and a couple to keep in your cellar for a special occasion or gift.
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Mission Codename: The secret potion
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Return to B Cellars and acquire one of their amazing blends.
Mission Status: Accomplished
Current Winery: B Cellars
Wine Subject: 2006 Blend 25
Winemaker: Kirk Venge
Backgrounder: Since we first featured the fantastic blends from B Cellars a few years ago our operatives have been clamoring for us to feature another vintage! The focus at B Cellars is blending. This is evident, not only among the B Cellars team, but also among their wines. Each wine, or potion, is a unique proprietary blend that highlights the strengths of each component varietal and balances with its other varietals. Today’s delicious selection is 62% Cabernet Sauvignon and 38% Syrah. The blending of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah has become one of our most popular blends among our operatives and once you taste this wine, you’ll understand why they are so loved.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Extremely dark garnet that lightens only slightly along the edges and in the core when held to the light. Dark but clear with tightly spaced chubby legs that cling to the glass with hints of color when swirled.
Smell – Rich and ripe aromas of sweet black cherry and blackberry invite you in and are followed with toasted vanilla and sweet oak. Complex sweet spice and dried fall herbs blend with a touch of black licorice.
Feel – Smooth and rich on the initial attack, this full bodied dry wine is warm and expansive with firm and textured tannins and dark minerality that hits at mid palate and lingers into the finish. A solid dose of balanced acidity keeps the fruit and feeling fresh as well.
Taste – Great flavors of dark and black fruit included ripe and black cherry, blackberry jam and notes of plum mingle with vanilla, mocha and toasted oak. Beautifully complex Syrah spice, herb, and dark textured minerals evolve in succession and linger with with fading fruit that turns slightly tart at the end.
Finish – Extremely long with the ripe and plush fruit lingering over a base of textured dark minerality while the spice, oak and herbal notes fade, drying the palate and inviting another sip.
Conclusion – The 2006 B Cellars Blend 25 is a fantastic blend showcasing great fruit, a rich and generous mouth-feel, plenty of complexity but in a package that is easy to drink and will pair with a variety of rich foods. Event at five years old, this wine is young so please decant if you plan on enjoying it now or cellar for the next ten years. We paired this wine with grilled bison steaks.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Kirk Venge
YEAR OF BIRTH: 1976
PLACE OF BIRTH: Napa, California
WINE EDUCATION: UC Davis – Enology & Winemaking
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Proprietor & Winemaker/ Consultant Winemaker
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Greatness begins in the vineyards
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Multiple
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Purchasing the Venge brand from my father Nils and buying 12.6 acres in Calistoga to build a new winery and caves, set to complete in 2010
WINEMAKER QUOTE: “The vineyard determines the destiny of the winemaker.”
AGENT RED: Greetings, Kirk. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 B Cellars Blend 25 today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
KIRK VENGE: Certainly Red, always a pleasure.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
KIRK: I think it is the culmination of experiences. When you grow up in the wine industry, there is never a light that flips on telling you “I have to switch gears and make wine.” The wine industry has been a part of my life since I could walk and talk. My family is a winegrowing family. I have never known anything but grapes and incredible dirt to grow them on. I’m not alone in my upbringing but to the few of us that share second, third or fourth generation winemaking roots, that is a very special and coveted thing. I’m a second generation winegrower and third generation wine industry. Born and raised in Argentina from Danish decent, my grandfather, Per Venge, was a wine and spirits importer based in Southern California.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
KIRK: It changes with time but looking back, I’d say there are three. My father, Nils Venge, certainly taught me the production of wine and how he made it at Saddleback. I remember long days cranking a hand turned crusher and many long nights around a tiny basket press. That laid the foundation to how I make wine today but it was never entirely my own style. He encouraged me to find my own.
Growing up, Toby Forman was and still is my best friend. His father Ric Forman shared a lot of light into the theory of wine as well as the production. Ric is an academic but also exudes a romantic side to wine that I really enjoyed learning. He introduced me to French wines in particular. I really learned a lot from tasting and talking wine with Ric. He was a great teacher and loved mentoring Toby and I.
During college I worked my summers as a winemaking intern at Mumm and fortunately had the opportunity to work under Greg Fowler. He empowered his employees and we made a lot of wine together. My responsibilities at Mumm took me to another level. I was the experimental winemaker during harvests and we made hundreds of sparkling base lot cuvee’s as well as still Chardonnay and Pinot Noir table wines for his Fowler brand. That was a great 4 years during college and a final harvest in ’99 when I returned from an internship abroad in New Zealand. In November of 1999 I left Mumm and have been on my own since.
Today, with the brands that I’m so fortunate to be a part of making at various facilities, I get to work alongside and observe many of Napa Valley’s greatest winemakers. I think that has many wonderful advantages and keeps my practices as forward thinking as possible. We learn from one another on a daily basis with what works and doesn’t.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
KIRK: I would have to say when it depends entirely on the fruit source and style. Single vineyard or blend? In a single vineyard scenario, I make wine for the site as if it were a person or a critic. I want that wine to reflect the best of what that ground has to offer. Do the site justice. In a blend scenario, that is a wine made for the consumer and/or the client. Blend to the best final outcome with the wines at your disposal. Coach the best team of players. I’m always thinking about how a critic may enjoy the final product but if rest easier when I like the wine, the client likes it and consumer feedback is positive. With those three in check, we know we have a good wine regardless of a point score (but I sure do smile big when they are high).
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
KIRK: This is Blend 25 from 2006. That was one of my favorite vintages of late. Lower yields than ’05 before it and a dry spring and good heat for ripening. This blend is Cabernet Sauvignon based with Syrah. This is a strong wine that can lay down for many years. I really love what Cabernet and Syrah do together. Blend 25 is the original concept wine that B Cellars was founded upon. When I interviewed with one of the owners, Jim Borsack, I clearly remember him saying “Kirk, I want to make a powerful blend of Cabernet and Syrah like the Australians.” That was in back in 2004 and we’ve been making this blend since.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
KIRK: Salt and pepper ribeye or a strong array of Italian salumi. Something savory and loud. Give this wine a little salt in the dish and the fruit really pulls forward from the center of the palate.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Napa Valley so special?
KIRK: We have great ground here and an industry dedicated to producing world class wines from it. We have an advancing industry and quite possibly the world’s most educated pool of winemakers and winegrowers. I travel the world to visit winegrowing regions and I think what we have in Napa Valley speaks to art of winemaking at the highest level.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
KIRK: Bottling the 2009’s, creating the first round blends of 2010 and creating the game plan of vineyards for 2011. The anticipation of a new harvest is always the part of the business that I look forward to most.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
KIRK: If you can let my wines age at least a couple of years, the better. Venges make wines that age. I’m often disappointed with my wines when they are under a year in the bottle. That is hardly enough bottle age to enjoy them. Opening this 2006 that you are featuring today is right in the wheelhouse to fully enjoy.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
KIRK: Thank you for the opportunity Agent Red. On behalf of myself and the guys at B Cellars, we really appreciate the support. I never lose sight of the belief that without those who enjoy wine, there is no need for making it. Winemaking to me is living the dream. Without those of you out there enjoying it, the dream would not be possible. Many, many thanks!
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 location of the B Cellars Tasting Room can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards and Accolades:
91 Points – Robert Parker Wine Advocate -
About This Wine:
Blend 25 has always been a joy to create. It gives us a creative horizon to fashion a seductive, round and very flavorful wine. In 2006 this Cabernet/Syrah is a dream come true. This wine begins with a deep garnet hue leading immediately to sensations of blackberry, ripe black cherry and herbs de Provence; followed by plush maraschino cherries, lifted barrel vanillin and a wide array of black fruit aromatics. The evolution persists for several minutes. The palate is packed with black fruit, enveloped in round tannins and plenty of structure. Balanced, generous, smooth and polished this blend will age well over the next 8-10 years. 62% Cabernet 38% Syrah.
Blending Talents, Experience and Fine Napa Wines:
Just as the blending of two or more world-class wines can make an even more palatable potion, the uniting of two over-achieving entrepreneurs can create a union that is more effective than either one alone.
When B Cellars’ founder Jim Borsack first encountered his partner Duffy Keys at a fourth of July barbeque in 2002, both executives were exploring new life paths in the wine business. Over a drop of the good stuff, of course, their journeys became intertwined when they discovered that they not only shared the same tastes in wine but were also on parallel missions to acquire vineyard property.
In the spring of 2003, they scrapped their solo endeavors, formed B Cellars, and got serious about structuring a first-rate wine company predicated upon two absolute principles: first, to produce exceptional artisan wines, season after season, by employing a multi-vineyard strategy, and second, to develop distinct flavors by blending wines from mutually complementary varietals.
Not long after they met the third key player, Kirk Venge named “One of the Top 20 New Winemakers in the World” by Food & Wine Magazine (October 2005). Kirk brought with him a 37 year winemaking legacy via his father, Nils, and a keen understanding of the Napa appellation. A bond was established almost immediately. “With Kirk’s passion for great wine, first-hand knowledge and commitment to excellence, it quickly became apparent that he was the ideal winemaker for B Cellars,” said Jim.
All team members were in concert with the idea of blending the finest red wines from the Napa Valley Appellation, and Kirk was given the mandate to create three proprietary blends of consummate quality from year to year.
The B Cellars name and logo stand for a commitment to seasonless excellence. The letter ‘b’ and the degree symbol º refer to BRIX, a wine term which defines the optimal sugar/alcohol content in grape juice that indicates the potential for greatness.
B Cellars is committed to the artisan approach, creating perfectly balanced and complex wines. We are confident you will enjoy them and be proud to share them with friends and family.
Harvest Date: October 2004
Varietal Notes: 62% cabernet sauvignon, 38% syrah
Production: 1300 Cases