Black Cat Vineyard
2005 Napa Valley Syrah
California: Napa Valley
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Mission Codename: The Mysterious Legend of the Black Cat
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Locate a dark, dusky, delicious and fantastic Syrah for our Operatives to enjoy on Halloween night – or any night
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Black Cat Vineyard
Wine Subject: 2005 Syrah
Winemaker: Tracey Reichow
Backgrounder: The popularity of Syrah is undeniable. Big and bold in flavor and texture, it packs a concentrated punch of flavor that many people love. This Rhone varietal, although many believe that the grape originated in the Persia region, is 100% French in lineage. The Syrah grape is directly descendant from the Monduese Blanche and Dureza varietals and is grown worldwide with great success. Today’s serious Syrah is a bold delight with original flavors, deep aromatics and a perfect mouth feel. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and interesting mission report below
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep garnet to burgundy in color with perfect clarity with a deep and inky heart of of pure garnet, a bouncy surface, concentrated color to the edges – with two levels of fat, widely-spaced legs
Smell – Dark, rich, juicy and and earthy with bold perfume of beautiful fruit of dark stonefruit, blackberry, smoked meats, cherry, raspberry and earthen pepper
Feel – Round and slightly cooling at first, then gently grippy with soft tannins that dry the lips, cheeks and tongue
Taste – This wine presents bold, sweet and delicious and juicy flavors, but with a slight brightness that makes it really fun in your mouth. this wine is finely balanced with savory and fresh flavors of dark cherry, plum, smoky blackberry, soft white pepper, leather, and tart cherry
Finish – Long, dry and slightly tart, this delicious leaves behind lingering and mouth watering flavors
Conclusion – Is this the best Syrah ever? It is certainly the best I can recall tasting. I really love this wine and found it difficult to put down. Its a powerhouse of delicious fruit, with deep aromatics and a balanced feel. With fruit that really shines through on your palate, and a brightness that makes it a brilliant food-friendly gem, this wine is guaranteed to please you. Enjoy now, and if you have the patience, cellar a few bottles for up to seven more years for a different experience.
The following is a transcribed conversation (with notes) which took place in the mid-1990’s, between Tracey Reichow, and a handsome and sturdy black cat.
BLACK CAT: Mert!
TRACEY REICHOW: Hello puss. Are you lost?
BLACK CAT: No. I was just going for a stroll, and thought I see what was going on here. This used to be great gopher-stalking land. What are you doing?
TRACEY: I’m planting a vineyard. I’m going to grow grapes and make wine here.
BLACK CAT: Wine, huh? I’ve smelled the stuff but, honestly, it makes my whiskers sort of curl.
TRACEY: We humans like it. It elevates our spirits and makes a great meal even better.
BLACK CAT: Kinda like a hunting a cricket and the satisfying crunch that a successful catch brings?
TRACEY: Umm, I guess so.
BLACK CAT: You mind if I hang out and watch you? I’ll just sit here in the shade.
TRACEY: Sure. Now that I’m done clearing the land – that tractor was a blast to drive – I’ll be digging post holes for the vine trellises.
BLACK CAT: (Yawn)
TRACEY: I hope that the pounding sounds don’t bother you.
And so it was that the Black Cat came into Tracey’s life
BLACK CAT: I caught a mole. Its for you. I’ll leave it right here for you.
TRACEY: Thanks, I think.
BLACK CAT: What are you going to do today?
TRACEY: Well, the irigation is all in. Sorry about that spray of water yesterday, by the way. Today I’ll be planting Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.
BLACK CAT: And Catnip, too?
TRACEY: Not today, Black Cat.
BLACK CAT: I was thinking that I should adopt you. In fact, I’ve decided. You are now my human.
And so it was that the Black Cat came to live in the vineyards, working side-by-side with Tracey, while the vineyards came to life
BLACK CAT: I heard you talking about winemaking the other day. The fellow you were talking to kept saying ‘passion this’ and ‘terroir that’. It all sounded like so much fluff. I can tell what you believe about winemaking.
TRACEY: Well, I do believe that winemaking is an art, and that somewhere at the intersection of art and science is where great wines are made.
BLACK CAT: That’s dandy. Sounds nice, too, but you imbue your wines with something else that makes them special. You imbue love. You nurture your wines and when I watch other humans enjoy them, I see the glow that they get.
TRACEY: Thank you Black Cat. I aspire to create wines of beauty and elegance. I also make wines that make food better. I don’t think that a wine should be a centerpiece. Rather, it should make everything around it better.
BLACK CAT: Then, from what I see, you’ve done it. Speaking of food, what’s for dinner?
TRACEY: Ahhh. Tonight we’ll be enjoying our 2005 Syrah with friends. I think that I’ll grill some blackened Tri-tip. Although, I do love long-cooked pork ribs. This wine is very versatile.
BLACK CAT: How about a nice fat mousie, too?
And so it went for some years. Black Cat lorded over the vineyard, becoming Tracey’s shadow, friend and confidant. Today, nearly 15 years later, Black Cat’s spirit lives on – and the winery is home to almost a dozen cats. One night, during Black Cat’s reign, four other near-identical black felines showed up on the vineyard, each of them carving out a niche in the vineyard – and in Tracey’s heart…
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Black Cat Vineyard can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
Awards & Accolades:
92 Points & Gold Medal – Beverage Testing Institute, Tastings.com – Deep violet black color with a blue cast. Toasty coconut, baked blackberry, praline, and fresh meat aromas follow through on a round, supple entry to a dry-yet-fruity medium-full body with cocoa and tangy pomegranate accents. Finishes with a touch of pencil shavings, roasted pepper, and nuts on the long fade. A very flavorful, elegant, and stylish syrah.
About This Wine:
This award-winning Syrah delivers layers of expressive fruit with a silky finish. Grown on the family estate vineyards in Napa ’s eastern foothills, the finest lots of grapes are hand-selected for this artisan wine. The granite and volcanic soils are ideal for developing the refined flavors of the Syrah grape.
Intense black fruit aromas and spicy black pepper mingle with hints of tobacco and vanilla bean. Lustrous flavors of plum, blackberry and red currant flow to a languorous finish of fruit and spice. Round tannins carry the wine to a velvety close. An immensely enjoyable Syrah!
Limited Edition – 200 cases
About The Winery:
Black Cat Vineyard is a small boutique winery located in the beautiful Napa Valley, home to some of finest and most well known vineyards and wineries in the world. We take great pride in the attention to detail that sets Black Cat Vineyard apart from the rest. We craft wines in very small quantities to allow artful attention to every detail. As the proprietor and winemaker for Black Cat Vineyard my obsession for quality drives me to carefully control every step of the process from the vineyard to the bottle to produce hand-crafted artisan wines.
This hand-made, artisan wine begins with a personal selection of each bin of grapes. The fruit was then gently crushed and partially destemmed into small open-top fermenters. Fermentations were punched-down, by hand, three times per day. Fermentation was completed in 11 days and each lot was gently pressed before going to barrel. Aged 19 months in 60 gallon barrels; 100% French oak, 33% new.
About The Winemaker:
Tracey Reichow – As the founder, vineyard manager and winemaker of Black Cat Vineyard I wear many hats. The story of how that came to be is anything but conventional. My passion for learning and my desire to continually broaden my horizons took me first to the fast paced and highly competitive world of investment banking where I learned that there is no substitute for hard work and “doing your homework”. During my years in the business world, I had the good fortune to sample many fine wines and was particularly intrigued by the complexity of some of the classic Rhone varietals, especially wines of Hermitage and Chateauneuf du Pape. It was then that I first developed a special interest in Syrah, the premier grape of the Rhone Valley. After nearly ten years in the fast lane, I left the business world to raise my two beautiful children. Motherhood has taught me invaluable lessons in patience and nurturing that could never be learned anywhere else.
Great wine begins in the vineyard so I start each day with a stroll through my vineyard to assure that the grapes are of the finest quality. The manicured vineyard gets attention every day and improvements are constantly being made based on experimental trials I conduct every year in small sections of the vineyard. The granite and volcanic soils make the vineyard a natural for growing Syrah on this rocky hillside property. Constant vigilance enables swift response to “Mother Nature” and is rewarded with superior premium Napa Valley grapes. I work and worry all year to harvest the perfect grapes at the perfect time and the results have been incredibly rewarding.
Varietal: 100% Syrah
Appellation: Napa Valley
Harvest: Oct. 14, 2005