2004 Seps Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon •Estate Vineyard
California: Napa Valley
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
We always put quality first, when selecting wines for you. When a wine rises above that high standard, we issue a special alert. Today’s wine earns this recognition, handily!
LIBRARY RAID ALERT:
There are two ways to purchase today’s wine: As part of a $350 vertical – or right here, today only. We are grateful to Dr. Seps, for allowing The Wine Spies special access to his coveted 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon.
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Mission Codename: 1883
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Send Agent Red to infiltrate Seps Estate at 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 Dr. Seps coveted 2004 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Seps Estate at Storybook Mountain Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon – Napa Valley
Winemaker: Dr. J. Bernard “Jerry” Seps
Backgrounder: Seps Estate is the sister label to Storybook Mountain, a Wine Spies Operative favorite. Seps’ wines are estate grown, produced and bottled on the Seps estate, on Storybook Mountain, in Calistoga California. Robert Parker lists Storybook Mountain as “representing the pinnacle of wine quality in California”. Located on the western slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains, at the northern end of the Napa Valley, the Seps Estate vineyards produce some of the most sought-after wines in the region. A truly outstanding wine, Today’s Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon deserves your fullest attention.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark burgundy, with a dense core. Color remains deeply concentrated, right out to the ruby hued edges of the wine. Swirl the wine, and watch a slow, wine-stained tears take a very long time to form, before the run very slowly down the glass.
Smell – Blackberry jam and blueberry pastry are the heady initial notes. Following these, cherry, raspberry and a hint of plum mingle with dried violets, anise and hard cherry candy.
Feel – Soft and velvet smooth across the entry, this wine becomes weighty across the mid-palate. As the wine settles onto the tongue, it takes on a decidedly chewy feel at the edges of the palate. Supple tannins and a medium acidity elevate the flavors.
Taste – Juicy and delicious, with red fruit and black fruit delivered in equal proportion. Most pronounced are the blackberry and cherry flavors. As the wine settles onto the tongue, additional flavors of blueberry and cocoa dust mingle with a subtle hint of toasted oak.
Finish – Very elegant and very long, this wine leads with red and black fruit that gently tails off as the wine takes on a chewy, mouth-coating feel. Fruit yields to earthen flavors, but dark cherry is sustained all the way to the very softly spiced end.
Conclusion – We fell in love with the first wine that we featured from Dr. “Jerry” Seps, so we were absolutely thrilled to be able to bring you another. Today’s wine, from the Seps Estate sister label to Storybook, is a deep, mouth-filling, delicious Cabernet Sauvignon made a big and bold, but food-friendly style. A delicious solo-sipper, as well, this wine is also very versatile. Enjoy now, but be sure to lay a few bottles down for the next few years; We know that this wine will continue to progress and improve. Pair with a grilled New York steak or a juicy prime rib.
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 2004 Seps Estate Cabernet Sauvignon today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
DR. SEPS: My pleasure, ‘Agent Red’.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
DR. SEPS: 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?
DR. SEPS: The late Joe Swan
RED: Who do you make wine for?
DR. SEPS: I make wine to bring forth from our beautiful land all the best it will yield.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
DR. SEPS: Prime rib, rib-eye or venison.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the upper Napa Valley so special?
DR. SEPS: 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?
DR. SEPS: Fine-tuning the vineyard in anticipation of an excellent harvest.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
DR. SEPS: With time and the anticipation of an enjoyable sensual experience.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
DR. SEPS: 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 Seps Estate Vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
Exceptional – Wine & Spirits – “From the north-facing slopes at Storybook Mountain, this is a lively splash of cherry-red color, with a plush texture and bright, juicy, lasting fruit”.
About This Wine:
Passion, experience and a desire to bring forth from our land all the best it contains – has given birth to the Bordeaux project “Seps Estate” at Storybook Mountain Vineyards. Over 30 years ago, we replanted this century old site to Zinfandel. We have lived in the middle of this vineyard all these years, worked the land ourselves, and become a “benchmark” for this varietal according to Robert Parker and others. Even so, after gaining an intimate knowledge of every hill and hollow, the Bordeaux project was inaugurated in 1994.
The Holy Grail for any producer of quality is finding the ideal match of site and grape. That North facing, cool hillside we had never planted; those heavier soils near the lake that warmed more slowly in the spring… called for Cabernet, for Merlot. Why not use the lowest yielding, most intense clones for these varieties; choose rootstocks to match clone, site and soil conditions; adopt density and cultural practices to maximize the quality of this matching? Add Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot where appropriate; wait 8 years while grapes and techniques mature, selling the wine in bulk. And then? Vintage 2002 saw our first Seps Estate Cabernet and growing recognition that our vineyards are achieving yet another benchmark.
In 2006 and 2007, the Napa Valley Vintners invited all Napa Wineries to submit their Cabernets to represent the Napa Valley before trade and press. Among the 12 competition winners were Shafer Hillside – and the 2004 Seps Estate Cabernet
The same structure, finesse, and purity of fruit that have long characterized Storybook Mountain Zinfandels are evident in Seps Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. These qualities reflect the estate vineyard’s relatively cool climate, its clay-loam soils, and its easterly and northerly exposures. The style of the wines also reflects Jerry Seps’ preference for wines of moderate alcohol, intense, focused fruit and exemplary balance.
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.
Varieties & Clones: Cabernet Sauvignon – clone 4 (sometimes referred to as the Beaulieu clone), clone 6 (the shy bearing Jackson clone) & clone 337 (the majority clone in Bordeaux); Merlot – clone 9 ( the Rauscedo clone) & 181 (the leading quality clone in Bordeaux); Petit Verdot – clone 2 (Jackson clone) & the Viadar clone (a suitcase clone from Bordeaux). 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot
Fermentation: 17day, non-inoculated [natural] fermentations; temperature and nutrient controlled; delestage and pump overs with irrigators for oxygenation; malolactic after barreling with special proprietary Storybook Mountain bacteria
Barreling: 17 months in 100% new French oak