Crauford Wine Company

2003 Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon •Maroon Vineyard

California: Napa Valley

Offer Expired:Sep 06, 2008 at 11:59 pm
Avg. Price

What We Say


We always feature great wines, but today’s wine is an absolutely superb Cabernet Sauvignon. Grab some, Operative, before we run out

Savings Alert!

Shipping Included on 6 bottles or more. Enter this coupon code at checkout (discount will be shown before you complete your order): CABSPY

Mission Codename: Tattoo You

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Investigate the reports that Napa winery, CrauforD, still has a handful of cases of its fabled 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon. If true, procure any remaining cases for our Operatives

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: CrauforD Wine Company

Wine Subject: 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon

Winemaker: Chris Corley

Backgrounder: CrauforD makes wines of remarkable distinction and incredible quality. When intel began trickling in that the supply of their ‘03 Cab was dwindling, Agent Red was dispatched to investigate. Read his tasting report below, followed by his mission report, to see how he got his hands on today’s superior wine.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Deep and inky, ruby red to burgundy-purple in color with dark concentrated color right to the edges, with sparkling edges, a tight surface and thick, tightly-spaced legs that creep down the glass

Smell – Dark and earthy with deep and powerful concentrated fruit of dark berry, black plum, dark chocolate, darkly roasted coffee grounds, smoky earthen meats and mushroom with dark forest floor that round out the deep aromatics of this wine

Feel – Heavy and round, with a very slight slickness (like a light port, perhaps). The wine also has a nice mouth-coating effect that coats all over as supple tannins make their appearance

Taste – Concentrated flavors of earthen berry, dark cherry, and smoky oak, dusky herb and dried meat

Finish – Rich and deep and delicious, with flavors that really linger and supple tannins that add a hint of dryness and keep the flavors going strong for a long time

Conclusion – This is a wine that does not mess around! While it doesn’t exactly smack you in the mouth like more heavy-handed cabs, this is a big and dark wine. This is a ready to drink wine that does not require any additional aging to be thoroughly enjoyed, but will still reward the patient few that are able to lay a few bottles down. If you love big, extracted, smoky and dark Cabernet Sauvignon, this 2003 from CrauforD deserves your rapt attention.

Mission Report:

The note read:

Agent Red, meet us @ 3pm, Saturday. Come alone, to 38.667047 -122.482474

I was intrigued. The coordinates looked familiar – and then it dawned on me; This was somewhere along the eastern slope of Howell Mountain, a region that is revered for producing some of the finest Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc grapes in all of Napa Valley.

I fed the coordinates into my W. I. N. E. (Wine Internet Nexus Engine) handheld and, sure enough, it was Howell Mountain. I zoomed in and determined that the location was almost exactly in the middle of a vineyard. Text scrolling across my screen made my heart skip a beat. This was the Maroon Vineyard and I was headed there tomorrow.

At 1200’ feet this vineyard is situated on the eastern side of Howell. There is something very special about wines from this particular area and as a loyal Wine spies Operative you have enjoyed great wines produced by close-in neighbors.

I had no trouble sleeping the night before, as I had a pretty good feeling about this clandestine meeting. You see, the sender left a clue on the envelope by mistake. Being a Wine Spy requires a highly attuned sense of smell – and the envelope had the unmistakable smell of seasoned beef and Cabernet Sauvignon! I had the feeling that I was in for a treat.

I planned to arrive a few minutes early, and as I climbed Howell in my spy car, I noticed the smoke. Rolling down my window, the aroma of ribs. Yum.

I parked and was immediately greeted by Kelly Darter, General Manager of CrauforD Wine Company, who I had met the previous week while on another Napa mission. Kelly invited me over to a table at the edge of the vineyard. There, a small group of people had gathered. Bottles of wine and giant wine glasses sat atop the table. Wine (CrauforD’s own 2003 Cab from this very vineyard was poured, laughter ensued and, finally, our early dinner was served!

We ate and drank and generally caroused, and then we toured the vineyard. M Block, which is CrauforD territoty in this particular vineyard, was pristine and the fruit hanging there looked beautiful. With harvest just weeks away, I could sense the excitement and the anticipation of the CrauforD clan.

I thanked my hosts for the meal and the tour. As I was leaving, Kelly handed me a wine tote, filled with a few bottles of today’s wine. When I got back to the Safe House, I discovered this note inside:

Agent Red, Thanks for visiting with us today! Please accept these bottles or our 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon. We’re glad that you love our wine so much and we’re pleased to make some available to your Operatives. Since you raved about the wine and the meal, here’s our “Top Secret” recipe to share with your Operatives:

Braised Short Ribs with Tattoo Cabernet Reduction Sauce

Tattoo Cabernet Reduction Sauce

1 Tbsp. pure olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
4 strips bacon, chopped
3 cups chopped sweet onions
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1⁄4 cup chopped celery tops
1⁄2 cup thinly sliced Portobello mushrooms
3 Tbsp. Flour (Seasoned with Salt & Pepper)
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 cups beef stock
2 cups Crauford Tattoo Cabernet Sauvignon
2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh Italian parsley, chopped
2 cloves
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. Red Pepper flakes
Salt to taste

Add olive oil, butter and bacon to medium-hot sauté pan. Sauté onions, garlic, and celery until very soft. Cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Add mushrooms and sauté until tender. Sprinkle with flour and stir until absorbed. Add tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, stock, Tattoo Cabernet Sauvignon, rosemary, thyme, parsley, cloves, bay leaf and red pepper flakes. Stir until well blended, then salt to taste. Simmer until reduced by a half. Pass the reduction through a conical sieve or colander. Add to braised short ribs.

Braised Short Ribs

8 beef short ribs
1 cup flour w/ 2 tsp salt & 1 tsp pepper mixed well
1 Tbsp. flour

Season beef ribs well on both sides with salt and pepper. Dredge ribs on all sides in seasoned flour, making sure to shake off excess flour before searing.

In a large, thick-bottomed pan, sear the ribs in oil until they are dark-golden brown on all sides. Once browned, remove fat from pan (yes, remove the fat, more will accumulate when baked). Smother w/ Tattoo Cabernet Reduction Sauce.

Cover tightly with aluminum foil and place pan in preheated oven at 325° and cook for 3 to 3 1⁄2 hours, until meat falls easily off the bone.

Enjoy with mashed potatoes and French green beans.

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the site of today’s wine and culinary celebration (and the vineyard, too) can be seen in this satellite photo.

What the Winery Says

Crauford Wine Company, Member, Napa Valley Vintners

This wine is berries, blackberry, currants, jam, dark chocolate and coffee. Aged in french oak barrels (40% new) for 24 months, the subtle tones of vanilla and toast from the oak are well integrated and a nice counterpoint to the rich fruit characteristics. This is a big bold wine with full-bodied tannins, yet it has a beam of jammy richness that shines through from the initial attack right through to the long lingering finish.

About This Wine:

In 2003, we had early indications that the tannins may be a little more aggressive than usual. We decided to split the pick into two lots – each lot utilizing a different technique for moderating tannic fruit. It was sort of Old School vs. New School. The Old School tank was a thirty day (total skin contact) extended maceration. The New School Tank we pressed off mid-fermentation, around 9-10 brix, and allowed the fermentation to fnish off the skins and seeds.

The resulting wines were as we had expected. The early pressed tank displayed great jammy fruit and vibrancy, and the tannins were quite smooth. The extended maceration tank was considerably more tannic, but had some layers of complexity and texture that the other tank didn’t. In the end, as we had planned from the beginning, the tanks were blended, and they married beautifully – each complementing the other.

The 2003 Cabernet vintage in Napa, in general, has produced some exceptional wines that we feel which age well given their sheer size and opulent fruit early on, and this wine has both criteria. Barrel aged for 24 months, and held in bottle for 18 months prior to release, this wine should be drinking well now through 2017.

The Vines:

2003 marks our fourth vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon for CrauforD, although our connection with the vineyard dates back about 15 years into the late 1900s. We had done some winemaking work for the founder of the vineyard and really took a liking to the fruit that he was bringing in from his feld, and the resulting wines. They were dark, and intense; the tannins were frm and the textures bold.

When the opportunity arose for us to produce our own wines from the site, we were excited, and it was pretty clear that M Block was the section that we wanted to pull our fruit from. M Block sits about two-thirds up the mountain on the southwest end of the vineyard.

About The Winery:

CrauforD Wine Company was founded in 2000 by Marilyn Crawford Corley, whose family originated in Scotland. The company themes reflect her Scottish ancestry. The motto on the family crest, “Tutum te robore reddam,” which appears on all of our wines, translates as “I will render you safe by my strength”. While Marilyn is now retired, she continues to contribute as a consultant to the company.

Paul Maroon and Cory Frampton have worked in partnership with the company since 2002 providing fruit from Maroon Vineyard and financial services. Paul and Cory became the sole owners of CrauforD Wine Company in 2006 when Marilyn retired. Kelly Darter, our General Manager joined us in 2006 after working for many years in destination marketing and event planning.

Winemaker Notes

I’d like to say we’ve been tasting the 2003 Tattoo a lot over the last few months. The truth is, we’ve been drinking it.

This wine was bottled in the summer of 2005 and was originally slated to be released in the summer of 2006 – approximately twelve months of captivity in the bottle before the genie is released.

As we were nearing the date, we began to feel that the wine could use a little more time before being released. Although tasting delicious, the tannins still felt a little firm. Our experience with this vineyard has shown us that, given a little time, the tannins will resolve themselves.

The 2003 Tattoo is a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine tasted so great that year that the best blend ended up being no blend. It’s just the big, dark full-bodied type of Cab that we love to drink. It’s just begging for a thick grilled steak! Along with all that great richness comes some tannin. And like any truly symbiotic relationship, tannins sometimes require nurturing and patience.

We decided to wait another six or so months and release the wine in January, and it is really tasting great now! I think that this wine will be drinking well for the next 8-10 years.

It’s been a lot of fun to taste this wine’s evolution over the last 18 months, and we’re the most excited now that we’re releasing it into the wild …

If you love something, set it free!

Technical Analysis:

RELEASE DATE: January 2007

PRODUCTION: 2000 cases

APPELLATION: 100% Napa Valley
100% Maroon Vineyard
100% Mountainside M Block – 1200 ft. elevation

BLEND: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon

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