2004 Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon •Estate Vineyard

California: Napa Valley

Offer Expired:Aug 18, 2008 at 11:59 pm
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Clever spies stock up on the best wines. When they buy 6 or more bottles of today’s King of Cabs, they will be rewarded with Free Ground Shipping, but only if they enter secret savings code NAPASPY at checkout.

Mission Codename: King Cab

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Return to Salvestrin Vineyard and Winery, a Wine Spies Operative favorite. Recover their fabled Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and recover an ample supply for our Operatives to enjoy

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Salvestrin Vineyard and Winery

Wine Subject: 2005 Retaggio Red Wine

Winemakers: Kent Barthman and Rich Salvestrin

Backgrounder: Napa, California is revered for its wines. In particular, for producing some of the finest Cabernet Sauvignon wines available anywhere in the world. For today’s wine, Agent Red returns to our friends at Salvestrin and return, victorious, with their exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon. Three generations of Salvestrins have made wine in America. Today, Rich Salvestrin makes wine on the family’s estate, a practice which began with Rich’s grandfather, John, and was continued by his son, Ed. By American standards, three generations is about as old as a winemaking family can be. Rich’s heritage shines through in today’s wine! Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and mission report below

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Dark burgundy in color with a deeply concentrated heart. When swirled, this wine shows a speedy surface that takes time to settle. When it does, it leaves behind perfectly even-spaced legs that streak down the glass

Smell – A deep rush blackberry, plum, dark cherry and baking spices lead the charge, followed but darker and more earthen notes of cedar, cola and a hint of pipe tobacco

Feel – Velvety and round up front, then medium tannins bite down on the mid-palate as the wine coats your entire mouth with a slightly chewey goodess

Taste – Richly dark, with concentrated plum, mixed dark berries and cassis, with distinctive smoky licorice and hints of black pepper and dusty earth

Finish – This wine finishes long and slightly dry with big fruit and a slight salty licorice and burnt plum tart

Conclusion – This great wine delivers everything that you would expect from a fine Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – and more! This wine is richly layered with dark aromas and flavors that please, with deep fruits and smoky, sophisticated notes of earth and subtle tobacco. Really interesting here is follow-on flavors that rush into your mouth after you have swallowed the wine. Big European-style salty licorice flood onto your palate and the effect is both very interesting and very pleasing. The wine is not salty per se, but that distinctive flavor certainly comes through in a big way. This delightful Cab is well balanced, delicious and very unique!


Today is one of those days where I am re-filing a previous mission report. Having previously sleuthed out Salvestrin – and fallen in love with their wines – a full on infiltration mission was unnecessary. Rather, when I revisit a winery that I love, I simply ask them for another great wine. That’s what I did for today’s wine. Enjoy this prior mission report, from a few months back, when I first became acquainted with Salvestrin:

Three generations of Salvestrins have made wine in America. Today, Rich Salvestrin makes wine on the family’s estate, a practice which began with Rich’s grandfather, John, and was continued by his son, Ed. By American standards, three generations is about as old as a winemaking family can be.

When Central Command issued a Priority Alert for a great California Super Tuscan, our Assets flooded us with intel on various wineries. On feeding all of the data into the W.I.N.E. (Wine Internet Nexus Engine) system, I was presented with three recommendations. At the top of the list was Silvestrin.

Immediately I set out to the winery. Nestled between a residential neighborhood and Crane Park near downtown St. Helena, the 26-acre property is expansive and lush with grape-laden vines. There, on a beautiful late-June day I had the great pleasure to meet with Shannon Salvestrin, Rich’s wife and partner in day to day operation of the winery.

With myself posing as a wine writer (the perfect cover, as I really do write for Imbibe Magazine and Color and Aroma Magazine), we tasted through the range of their wines. We lingered especially long on the Retaggio, today’s wine.

Retaggio is Italian for Legacy_, a fitting name for this Tuscan Style wine, from this particular winemaking family, for this wine is the wine embodiment (em_bottlement?) of the family’s fine heritage and wine-crafting experience.

Made from grapes of Napa Valley Sangiovese and Estate grown Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, the Salvestrins have captured the essence of fine Italian Super Tuscan, but in a rich, sleek and somehow more modern California style that does not sacrifice its old-world roots.

At the end of the tasting, I quietly reveled my true intent, asking Shannon for several cases of the wine for our worthy Operatives to enjoy. She readily agreed, allowing us to procure a small cache – but with the suggestion that we counsel our Operatives to “… stock up and also keep a few bottles in the cellar to enjoy later.” This Wine Spy has taken her advice to heart. I only hope that I can be patient, for this wine is ready to drink right now!.

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Salvestrin Estate vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.

What the Winery Says

Salvestrin Estate Vineyard & Winery, Member, Napa Valley Vintners

About This Wine:

Ripe, sweet, dark fruit steals the show here, as the wine opens with aromas of blackberry, ripe dark plum and allspice. The ripe fruit flavors carry through the structured mid palate and shine again in the bright, ripe finish that is complemented by toasty oak and cocoa powder which pleasantly linger. This wine evolves beautifully in the glass and for years to come.

About The Winery:

Our family has been growing wine grapes in Napa Valley for 75 years, since the day John Salvestrin arrived from northern Italy and began farming a 26-acre vineyard originally planted in 1860. For us, this historic St. Helena vineyard is home and making great wine a family value. We invite you to learn more about our vineyard and winery in these pages and to visit us the next time you’re in Napa Valley.

In 1910, Italian grape grower and home winemaker John Salvestrin emigrated to the U.S., settling in 1927 in California’s Napa Valley. In 1932, John and his wife Emma purchased the historic Crane ranch in St. Helena, beginning a lineage of three generations of Salvestrins who have farmed this heralded property’s vines, some of which date back to the 1890s.

Following in his father’s footsteps, John’s son Ed farmed the family vineyard while working in the St. Helena Post Office, and Ed’s son Richard, graduating in 1987 with a degree in viticulture from Fresno State University, joined his father in nurturing the cabernet sauvignon, merlot, sangiovese, petite syrah, and zinfandel vines that now comprise it. Rich, is the Vineyard Manager and Co-winemaker along with Kent Barthman, who has been consulting for the Salvestrin family since the winery completion in 2001.

Ed’s wife Susanne, a longtime pastry chef at nearby Sutter Home Winery, along with their daughter Lynn, run the family’s Sunny Acres Bed & Breakfast (originally the Victorian-era home of Dr. George Crane), making guests feel right at home with her warmth and delicious country-style breakfasts.

For Susanne, Ed, Shannon and Rich, Salvestrin Estate Vineyard and Winery is a special place, embodying the passionate commitment of three generations of Salvestrins to produce exceptional grapes and wines.

The Estate Vineyard and Winery:

Located in the heart of Napa Valley, just south of the town of St. Helena, our 26-acre estate vineyard was planted originally in the 1860s by Napa Valley pioneer George Crane. Viticultural innovators, Yount and Crane were among the first to plant European grape varieties in California. Two blocks of the vineyard’s old zinfandel vines planted by Crane survive to this day.

Beginning in 1932, three generations of our family have farmed this unique vineyard, which today is comprised of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, sangiovese, petite syrah, and zinfandel vines. The vineyard’s warm microclimate and gravelly volcanic soils give us fully ripened fruit with an ideal balance of flavor, tannin, and acidity.

For many years, we sold all our grapes to other Napa Valley wineries. However, in 1994, we began making our own wines. In 2001, we completed construction of a new winery on the site, which blends state-of-the-art technology with traditional old-world methods, enabling us to expertly vinify our hand-crafted, estate-grown Napa Valley wines.

Technical Analysis:

Composition: 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot

Production: 1700 cases

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