What We Say 2005 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT!:
We always feature great wine, but when we sleuth out a real stand out, we issue these special alerts. Today’s Napa Cabernet Sauvignon is a deeply delicious stunner of a wine.
EXTRA SAVINGS ALERT!:
Today’s wine is offered at over 15% off, but order six or more bottles and we’ll give you an additional 5% off, AND we’ll throw in Free Ground Shipping! Just enter coupon code: NAPASPY and your savings will be applied at checkout
Mission Codename: La Bella Luna
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Infiltrate the difficult to penetrate Luna Vineyards – and return with their legendary 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Luna Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: Mike Drash
Backgrounder: Napa, California is highly regarded for its fine wines. Particularly for producing some of the finest Cabernet Sauvignon wines available – anywhere in the world. The problem that some Operatives have with Napa Valley Cabs? The high prices of most really fantastic Cabs! At $100 or more for some of the best examples, most Operatives report that they are seeking a lower-priced alternative. Today, Agent Red returns, triumphant, after a long and difficult sojourn through Napa Valley. Read his tasting notes and mission report below
Wine Spies Tasting Profile
Look – Deep burgundy, with a dark burgundy – almost black heart – with a speedy but heavy-looking surface that settles fast after swirling, leaving behind tightly-spaced and skinny legs that start slow and then streak down the glass
Smell – Lush layers of dark and smoky fruits, with a soft rush of blueberry, blackberry, plum, licorice and slate with mild spice and soft cigar box
Feel – Wet, light and cool at initial entry, then lush medium tannins take hold with a rich texture that coats your mouth and suddenly becomes larger in your mouth!
Taste – DEEPLY delicious and richly layered with concentrated flavors of dark mixed berries, plum, chalky mineral, black cherry and cassis
Finish – Extra long finish with richly layered velvet tannins that dry but then leave behind a flavorful sweetness that tapers off gradually
Conclusion – This wine shows strong production quality and tender care. It is a delicious wine that reinforces why Napa – and Luna Vineyards – are known for producing beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon. 2005 Cabs are just now beginning to emerge and we while we have tasted a few really good examples from this vintage, we are very impressed with this 2005 from Luna. This wine has a super mouthfeel, a deep & delicious concentration of classic Napa flavors, deep layers of aromas and an intriguing finish. I recommend this wine for so many reasons, but primarily because it is a delicious and fun to drink wine that outperforms many other high-dollar heavyweight Napa cabs!
Mike Drash, winemaker for Luna Vineyard, has been making wine for more than 16 years. During his career, he has made wines for De Loach, J Wine Company, and later Far Niente. In 2003 Luna Vineyards and Mike had the great fortune to create the ultimate pairing – when Mike joined the winery as winemaker.
I caught up with Mike by satellite phone earlier this week. What follows is a transcription of our brief call:
MIKE DRASH: Hi, Mike here.
AGENT RED: Greetings, Mister Drash, Agent Red here.
MIKE: Hello, Agent Red!
RED: I know that you must be very busy, so thank very much for spending the next few minutes with me.
MIKE: Not a problem, and, yeah, busy doesn’t even begin to describe my life these days. Most people put in 40 hour work weeks, I have been putting in 40 hour days!
RED: How is harvest progressing?
MIKE: We’re nearly 90% done. It came early this year, just like ‘04, and we’ve been working hard to make sure that the fruit is picked and carefully sorted – at the right moment.
RED: How is the fruit looking? It was a crazy year for winegrowing, correct?
MIKE: Yes! With a frost, fires, crazy heatwaves and haze, we were joking that locusts and hail were also going to make an appearance!
RED: Let’s thank Mother Nature for showing a little restraint, eh?
RED: So, will the ’08 be great?
MIKE: You know, despite the chaos that the crop endured, yes! The 2008 vintage looks very promising. It was a really variable year and it could have gone either way. Fortunately, the vines have maintained really good health. This, despite the losses due to the frost and the shatter that we got.
RED: That’s good news! Tell me about your 2005 Cab that we’ll be showing to our Operatives.
MIKE: They’ll love it. If you enjoyed 2004 vintage Cab, you’ll really love the ’05! 2005 was one of the latest harvest years that I can remember, and we were picking fruit up until November. The result is a wine that is just about as close to a Bordeaux as possible in California.
RED: The wine spent 20 months in barrel, right?
MIKE: Yes, and a long time in bottle before I felt that it could be released. Its drinking beautifully right now and I think that this wine has better aging potential than even the 2004’s.
RED: One final question for you, Mike, then I’ll let you get back to the grapes: How would you characterize your style of winemaking?
MIKE: Well, as an anthropology and sociology major, I take a less scientific approach than some and, instead, rely on my senses and my intuition. I don’t make my wines in the lab, I make them in the field. Starting with diligent care of the grapes, I allow my senses – and experience – guide me. If it smells great and tastes great, pick it! I know it’ll become great wine!
RED: Thanks, Mike! Again, I appreciate the time you gave me today. I really love your wines, and I know that my Operatives will as well.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Luna Vineyards winery and estate vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Luna Vineyards, Member, Napa Valley Vintners
About This Wine:
The deep blackberry color carries through on the nose, mingled with blueberries and anise. On the palate, there are more black fruits and graphite combined with a lush, velvety texture. The bright fruit flavors complement dusty tannins on the finish, like fine dark chocolate sprinkled with cocoa nibs. Our 2005 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon has a great deal of finesse, and we can expect it to be at its peak from 2012 through 2018.
Our 2005 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is composed primarily of grapes from a hilltop vineyard on Atlas Peak. This sunlit vineyard is planted in Aiken Series volcanic soils, growing at an elevation of 2,200 feet. The balance of the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes came from a vineyard on the western-facing lower slope of Howell Mountain. 2005 was a cooler growing year resulting in a later harvest than expected. This growing season benefited the grapes with a longer hang time prior to harvest. We picked our Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in late October.
In 2005, the hallmark of the vintage is the higher natural acids, which forecasts the excellent cellaring potential of this wine. We fermented these grapes for three weeks at warm temperatures, and followed with an extended three-week maceration, extracting the maximum ripe flavors and supple tannins. The wine was blended in January, 2007 adding Merlot and Cabernet Franc, to soften the tannins. After aging 20 months in 67% new and 33% one-year old Billon French oak barrels, the wine was bottled, unfined and unfiltered, in June, 2007.
About The Winery:
Luna Vineyards has been known for more than a decade as the benchmark Napa Valley producer of Pinot Grigio and Sangiovese. Today, President Mary Ann Tsai and the rest of the Luna Vineyards team are still passionate about creating world class wines that reflect the character of the vineyard terroir. By seeking out exceptional vineyard sites for each varietal, using natural fermentation methods and a minimum of intervention in the cellar, Luna has also gained critical acclaim for its Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Luna Vineyards is located at the southern end of the historic Silverado Trail, a region renowned for its natural beauty and legendary wineries. For more than a decade, Luna Vineyards has been known as the benchmark Napa Valley producer of Pinot Grigio and Sangiovese.
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