What We Say 2003 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
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 even better than that, as is the case with today’s wine from Silver Oak Cellars.
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Mission Codename: Platinum Oak
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Infiltrate Silver Oak Cellars and see if the legend surrounding their Cabernet Sauvignon is well-deserved – or just so much bluster. If the wine lives up to its reputation, secure an ample quantity for our Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished, wine procured!
Current Winery: Silver Oak Cellars
Wine Subject: 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: Daniel Baron
Backgrounder: Fans of Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon are as fiercely loyal as they come. Try getting your hands on part of a new shipment to your local bottle shop and you’ll likely find it pre-sold – and often for a price that is higher than the regular retail price. Agent Red was able to get an inside look at Silver Oak and he loves their 2003 Alexander Valley Cab. Read his tasting notes and mission report below
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep, rich burgundy in color and dark right to the edges where only the finest sliver of clear is apparent. That sort of concentrated color is a great sign that usually means that the wines flavors will follow suit. This wine also has a deep dark heart and fat, slow-moving legs
Smell – Rich dark concentrations of ripe purple fruit, smoky, earthen plum, deep cherry, violet, anise, oak, soft spices and a unique soft hint of melted butter
Feel – Cool and light at first but almost immediately the wines chalky tannins bite down, coating the mouth and drying the lips
Taste – Complex and bold with layers of concentrated flavors of rich dark cherry, cassis, light plum, blackberry, dark bakers chocolate and with a hint of minerally-tomato vine
Finish – Long and slightly dry, with big and integrated flavors and sweetness that lingers
Conclusion – This is a fantastic wine. It is rich and deeply layered and very tasty. A great surprise for sure. I always try to manage my own expectations when it comes to popular wines; Sometimes wines don’t live up to their hype, other times the wines are better than expected. This wine from Silver Oak delivers the goods, and then some. It is a big wine to be sure, but it also has an elegance that keeps its big flavors in check. If you’ve always wondered about this wine, now is your chance to become a believer. I am.
Afterward – Decant this wine for an extended period for best results. After 4 hours, the wine becomes far more refined and way more delicious
From the early days of my own wine infatuation, Silver Oak was a name that I had heard again and again. Usually some friend or other would recommend it, or I would overhear conversations in local bottle shops. Always, the esteem that people showed for the wine was exceptionally high.
When I made the decision to finally try the wine, I headed out to my favorite shop. This particular shop stocked everything and I walked in knowing that I’d walk out with a bottle of Silver Oak’s Cabernet Sauvignon. Not only was this shop out, so, too, were the subsequent 4 that I visited.
A year and a half later, The Wine Spies had been covertly spying new wines and recruiting new Operatives for more than 8 months. It was finally time to pay Silver Oak a covert visit.
After a single tasting, I was hooked. There was no need for an extended surveillance here. The wine needed to find its way into the cellars of our thirsty Operatives and so I set about to make contact with the winery.
Making my intentions clear, the winery welcomed me with open arms – but then put The Wine Spies through a rigorous vetting process, checking our credentials, conducting a deep background check and making sure that we knew wine. It was a spy-worthy process and one that made me admire them all the more.
We are very proud to be featuring this great wine today and we hope that you enjoy it as much as we do. If you have never tasted what all the fuss is about, now is your chance!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Silver Oak winery and surrounding vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Silver Oak Cellars
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Winemaker’s Tasting Notes:
The 2003 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is an elegant, highly expressive wine that displays great complexity due to the multifaceted climatic conditions of the harvest season. The wine is dark ruby with a purple to red edge. It has bright aromas of black cherry, dark chocolate, black tea, allspice and ginger. In the mouth, it offers a full-bodied attack, a round, balanced mid-palate redolent of cherry preserves, brown sugar and caramel and an extremely long finish of savory ripe fruit. Properly cellared, it should give drinking pleasure through 2026.
The 2003 harvest had two distinct phases – a hot, compressed first half and a cool, drawn-out second half – resulting in a very complex, layered wine.
We received above-average rainfall of 40 inches, with a disproportionate amount in April and May. This created some extra work in the field and resulted in low yields at some vineyards. June and July were mild, and August was cooler than normal. A short heat wave began in mid-September and we brought in the first fruit on September 13th. Temperatures remained warm and built to another heat wave that peaked at 104 degrees. We picked frenetically throughout this heat spell and brought in approximately 60% of the fruit. Then, abruptly on September 23rd, it became cool and foggy and remained so for two weeks. This seemed like a completely different growing season, with foggy mornings and afternoon temperatures in the high 80s. It gradually warmed up, and we were able to complete harvest by October 20th.
Blending and Aging:
Our 2003 Alexander Valley, a blend of wine from several different vineyards, is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. We blended the vineyard lots in early 2004 and transferred the wine to 50% new and 50% once-used American oak barrels for aging. Blending prior to barreling allows us to achieve a balance of the wine’s natural elements, such as fruit and tannin, before they are influenced by oak. The wine is then aged in barrel for approximately 25 months and another 15 months in bottle to harmonize its components before release.
About The Winery:
Renowned for its distinctive Cabernet Sauvignon, Silver Oak is a must-see destination for visitors to wine country. Wine lovers are invited to sample our wines at our two welcoming tasting rooms. Whether you’re a wine enthusiast or just want to learn more about Cabernet Sauvignon, a visit to our winery will enhance your appreciation for the craft of winemaking.
Each of our two estates – one in Napa Valley and the other in Alexander Valley – features a welcoming tasting room staffed by knowledgeable professionals with a contagious passion for the wine they serve. For a $10 fee, visitors taste both current releases and receive a Silver Oak wineglass.
Tasting rooms are open Monday through Saturday, from 9 am to 4 pm, and are closed Sunday and some holidays. During construction of our new Oakville winery through the fall of 2008, Napa Valley wine tasting and sales will take place in a temporary building on site.
Tours of our Alexander Valley estate are available by reservation on Monday through Friday at 1:30 pm; please call 707.942.7026. We regret that we cannot currently offer tours of our Napa estate.
Silver Oak celebrates the release of its new wines twice a year with a festive Release Day event at both estates, featuring gourmet hors d’oeuvres and, of course, our delicious new vintage.
Appellation: Alexander Valley
Composition: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Bottle Sizes: 750 ml Bottle, 1.5 L Magnum, 3 L Double Magnum, 6 L Imperial
Release Date: Saturday, August 4, 2007