2007 Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon
California: Napa Valley: Oakville
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Mission Codename: 2007th Heaven
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Saddleback Cellars, a Wine Spies Operative favorite, to procure the latest vintage of their exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Saddleback Cellars
Wine Subject: 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Winemaker: Nils Venge
Backgrounder: The Oakville AVA, centrally located and adjacent to Napa Valley’s famous Rutherford AVA, was established in July 1993. Oakville is considered one of the most diverse AVA’s in the Napa area and grows some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon in California. This wine is produced by the famed Nils Venge who is widely considered to be one of the best Cabernet winemakers in the region and is aptly named the ‘King of Cabernet’. In 1982, Nils was the first California winemaker to win a 100 point score from Robert Parker, Jr.
2007 Vintage Report: 2007 was a remarkable vintage for California red wines. Robert Parker, Jr. gave the 2007 vintage a stunning 96 points for all Northern California red wines. This is the highest score for a vintage in over a decade. Wines from 2007 – which are in shorter and shorter supply – have been almost universally superb. When we showcase a stellar 2007, please be sure to stock up.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark garnet with even coloration. At the heart of the wine, it shows a inky and dark purple. After spinning the wine, wine-stained tears form high up on the glass wall. They hang there for a moment, before moving slowly downward.
Smell – The nose elicits soft, woodsy, toasty notes, accompanied by black cherry, blackberry, dark plum, red licorice, cotton candy, sweet spice, toasty oak and a hint of tobacco leaf.
Feel – Soft tannins with a warm, inviting mouth feel. The wine is smooth, soft and well-rounded on the palate.
Taste – Bold black cherry, dark plum, blackberry meld with earthy dried leaves, supple leather and dried tobacco leaf. As the wine opens up, it also reveals sweet spice, cigar box and a hint of dried Mission fig.
Finish – Smooth and softly dry with a very long- lasting finish that contains rich, red and black fruits that linger on the palate.
Conclusion – Simply divine, today’s 2007 Saddleback Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon is a very approachable, easy-drinking wine with plenty of character. It is immediately apparent that the tannins, acids and alcohol are all evenly balanced. This wine’s supple tannins are backed delicious fruit. While it pairs nicely with rich, Italian foods in red sauces, as well as steaks and meats, it also drinks well on its own. Food is not necessary to enjoy this easy-drinking Cabernet, however. It is a well-balanced wine that will not compete with food, much less overwhelm it. This ready to enjoy wine provides a lovely blend of smooth, dry tannins and well-ripened, dark-red fruits. Though it drinks quite well at present, this wine will age well and will likely improve even further with cellaring.
AGENT RED: Thanks for being back with us, on another mission, Nils! Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
NILS VENGE: Thanks, Red. Our 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon is primarily from our Oakville estate in the Napa Valley. We have held onto this vintage for all these years to age beautifully in our cellars.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
NILS: Grilled Rib Eye Steaks.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Oakville AVA – and your vineyard – such a special place for Cabernet Sauvignon?
NILS: Oakville is known for its outstanding terrior that embodies certain characteristics and qualities in our wine. It is consistently a prime location for growing and maturing the grapes.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
NILS: Barrel sampling and consulting for other wineries.
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 Saddleback Cellars can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
93 Points – Wine Advocate – “The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon appears to be one of the finest Saddleback Cellars Cabernets yet produced. This cuvee may last 15 or more years given Forman’s Midas touch with this varietal. Dense cassis fruit intermixed with chocolate, spicy oak, and licorice are found in this full-bodied wine that shows good purity and depth. This big wine is normally very realistically priced”
About This Wine:
In the heart of Napa Valley Cab country, Nils has held the title “King of Cab” and continues to create a variety of Cabs from his estate vineyard in Oakville along with other premium grape sources.
About The Winery:
Established in 1982, Saddleback Cellars is a small winery located in Oakville, in the heart of the Napa Valley. 14.8 total acres are planted to 8.4 acres Cabernet Sauvignon, 2.9 acres Chardonnay, 1.75 acres Merlot, 1.1 acres Pinot Blanc, 0.3 acres Pinot Grigio and 0.3 acres Zinfandel.
Known as “The King of Cabernet,” legendary winemaker and owner, Nils Venge, has been making stellar Cabernet Sauvignon, along with many other varietals here since its establishment. Nils’ philosophy on making wines for Saddleback is that they must reflect the best qualities that Napa Valley has to offer; sometimes a single vineyard, sometimes a single appellation, or a blend of appellations to make the best wine in a particular vintage. Despite his reputation as “The King,” Nils is a down-to-earth, cheerful, full-of-life kind of guy whose wines not only reflect the character of their region, but also seem to reflect his personality – bold, yet approachable, friendly and fun yet with layers of complexities.
In 1939, Lady Liberty welcomed the Venge family, Nils’ grandparents and his father, Per, into New York harbor from Denmark. Grandfather, Kund, was asked by his company in Denmark, George Jensen Silver, to oversee the New York City enterprise. The small family thrived in this fast paced new world. Per attended New York City College and studied business administration. When Knud retired from the silver jewelry business, the Venges looked westward, and Southern California is where they headed.
The family bought a home in the Hollywood Hills where Per was able to indulge in his love of horses. He worked at North American Aircraft as an efficiency engineer during World War II and was a member of the Sheriff’s Posse of Los Angeles County. One day, on horseback, Per spotted Gudrun Ingwersen, also a member of the Posse. When their eyes met, he knew he was looking at the woman he was destined to marry. Soon after, Gudrun gave birth to twins, Nils and his twin sister, Karen.
After the war, Per started a wine, beer and spirits distributor business in Los Angeles which specialized in Danish and European products. While growing up, Nils worked for his father on weekends and the summer holidays. When he graduated from San Marino High School, it was Per’s wish that young Nils would take over the family venture. They both agreed that they really needed to know more about wine. So, Nils enrolled at the University of Davis where he went on to earn his Bachelor’s Degree in Viticulture with a minor in Enology in 1967. When he returned to Southern California, Nils enrolled at L.A. State College to work toward a degree in International Business Law. At the same time, Nils signed up as a Navy Reservist which sent him on a tour of duty in Danang, Vietnam.
When he returned in 1970, Nils decided that what he really wanted to do was put his degree to work in the Napa Valley and not to take over the family business.
Average Sugar: Brix