What We Say 2005 Sweetwater Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon
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Mission Codename: The Water of Life
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Levendi Winery, this time to procure the astonishingly great update to their near-perfect Sweetwater Cabernet Sauvignon – which our Operatives went crazy for earlier this year
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Levendi Estates
Wine Subject: 2005 Sweetwater Cabernet Sauvignon – Napa Valley
Winemakers: Alison Doran
Backgrounder: Earlier this year, we procured a small allotment of Levendi’s fantastic 2004 Sweetwater Cabernet Sauvignon. We loved the wine, as did our Operatives. When we learned that Levendi was readying the release of their 2005, Agent Red was dispatched, with the specific mission of procuring a larger cache. For his misison, Agent Red also enlisted the support of new Wine Spies recruits from around the wine blogesphere. Included below are their reviews as well.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark and concentrated, burgundy to deep garnet at its core, with richly concentrated color out to the edges. When swirled, the wine moves quickly and settles quickly, leaving behind tightly-packed legs that take a very long time to emerge
Smell – A deep and aromatic perfume rush up to greet you, delivering sweet and rich aromas of toasty cherry, dark currant, leather, anise, mint, oak and mildest dried fall leaves
Feel – Cool and light at very first – then slightly round and bright – and then quickly mouth-coating with grippy medium tannins
Taste – Delicious with big black and red fruits of dark plum, cherry, and cassis with hints of European salty licorice, vanilla and bramble with soft oak
Finish – Begins bright, sweet and fruity, then goes deliciously dart, with bold flavors that taper slowly with a mineral dryness
Conclusion – You know how much I loved the 2004 vintage of this wine. I gushed about it then, and I have no reservations about gushing about it now. While it may present a little young to some drinkers, this wine really is ready to drink now. Lay a few bottles down for a few years and I know that your patience will be handsomely rewarded. What strikes me about Levendi Cab’s is the beautiful balance that they all seem to strike. Where some Napa cab can be dark and dusky monsters, Levendi wines are hewn from brighter stuff, making them beautiful food companions or wonderful solo-sippers. In neither case with this wine overpower your meal or your palate. Look no further for the great Holiday Cab you are seeking! You’ve found it right here…
In place of our usual Mission Report, we are proud to present you with these select reviews from our wine blogger friends around the world:
Sonodora from wannabewino.com:
“Sugar plums dance through heads
Tart black cherries tingle tongues
Noses delighted by enticing aromas
Dark chocolate envelopes mouths
Big juicy blackberries picked fresh
Mingle in pie with vanilla essence
Beguiling bramble flavors lure
Black fruit gives way to hints of red berries
Structure and tannins promise
Years of life to come”
Dr. Xeno from WineLog.net:
“Dark garnet. Black/blue fruit with some big anise at first and good! Then almond with hazelnut, followed by nicely integrated oak. Silky tannins, but with nice grip. Blackest fruit now with just a hint of blue whispering up from the depths. Dried herbs and anise are closer to the end. Full body. Great balance with good food-centric acidity. Tight right now but still drinking well, needs some time. Ends with some black cherry and mocha.”
Douglas from www.chicagopinot.blogspot.com:
“Drank with steak and stuffing with Heinz gravy. Tobacco and mint on the nose, light on tannins, positive blend meal, especially harmonious with gravy. Soft leather mouthfeel, at least twelve second finish. A Cab that’s more about the finesse than power.”
Denise from WineSleuth:
“A savoury nose, not very fruity but what I could detect were black stewed fruits,prunes, blackcurrant jam, bit of spiciness, words like dark and harsh were thrown about but I think that was because of the alcoholic content. A surprisingly medium bodied wine on the palate with more of the black fruits, particularly blackcurrant and very ripe plums, soft tannins which was again a surprise. I think everyone was expecting a monster of a wine when in reality, it was more like a pussycat. Having said that though, it did have a nice acidic balance which meant the wine went really well with the mature English cheddar Ele had on hand. The cheese made the fruit a bit brighter on the palate, a nice foil.”
And, finally, you can read about our great blogger party at the Mutineer Magazine website.
A hearty Spy Thanks to those of you that sent in your reviews!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The approximate location of the Sweetwater Ranch Vineyard, where today’s Cabernet Sauvignon was grown, can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Levendi Winery, Member, Napa Valley Vintners
About This Wine:
Deep, dark purple in appearance. Lovely vanilla sandalwood notes with plum and wild cherry on the nose. Rich and mouth-filling with friendly flavors of plum and black fig fruit. Topped only by a luxurious finish of dark chocolate.
About The Vineyard:
The Sweetwater Ranch vineyard produces grapes with intense flavors and individuality that sets it apart from other Napa Cabernets. These grapes possess intense flavors and overall balance, which makes Sweetwater Ranch a beautifully bold Cabernet Sauvignon.
About The Winery:
The Greeks claim to have invented wine. We think Napa Valley grapes perfect it. Combining our proud Greek heritage and the traditions passed down through the generations with the best-grown, hand-selected fruit in the region, Levendi has found the perfect balance of craftsmanship and legacy—richly poured into a glass.
Wine, after all, is a labor of love—an art form onto itself. And like all great art, it is meant to be shared. We see our wine at the table with family and friends. And at all those special moments with loved ones with whom life itself is worth celebrating.
In ancient Greece, wine was vital to both culture and community. The wines produced were inventive and integrated into every facet of life—from worship to commerce. Today, Mediterranean communities still hold wine in the highest regard. And from one generation to the next, wine is propagated, refined and shared with family.
Our family, the Gianulias’, has a strong Greek tradition of private winemaking dating back for centuries. Since 1926, on American—and Napa Valley—soil, we have propagated, refined and developed special handcrafted vintages to share with our family. And yours.
The Greek toast “Levendi” acknowledges a hard day’s labor and achievement. It celebrates the fields, the rain and the sun that nurture our special grapes. Essentially, it’s a toast “to celebrate life.” And it is the philosophy on which we craft our wine.
About The Winemaker:
Every year presents new challenges in winemaking. That’s because winemaking is indelibly—and eternally—tied to agriculture. Agriculture is unpredictable. And that’s where Alison Doran’s passion really begins—solving problems and producing remarkable results from her hand-harvested, hand-selected grapes.
For more than 30 years, Alison has been walking the vineyards that produce the finest varietals in the region. Spending a majority of her time on vineyard management, she keeps an eye on every aspect of vine growth—limiting their vigor so that they produce the most concentrated and intensely flavored grapes. She developed her skill from mentoring by renowned wine expert Andre Tchelistcheff, completing a degree in winemaking from UC Davis and spending time in the legendary winery-filled region of Alsace, France. Since then Alison has honed her craft into a distinctive style all her own—harvesting at optimum ripeness, and making sure she gets the “pop & jump” out of every grape.
At Levendi, Alison has brought vitality and excitement to the development of each vintage. The result of her labors is embodied in the exquisite taste and velvety feel our wines deliver glass after glass—a testament to Alison’s dedication to the vineyards, to the fruit and to her passion for the perfect pour.
*Appellation: * Sweetwater Ranch Vineyard, Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley
Elevation 300 Feet
Soil Type Clay Loam
Clone 8 and 337
100% Cabernet Sauvignon, Single Vineyard
Oak Aging: 20 Months, 100% French Oak, 50% New
Technical Notes: Alcohol 14.5% by volume
Total Acidity 4.5 grams/Liter
Cases Produced: 2,200
Release Date: April 2007
Detailed Vineyard Report:
The Sweetwater Ranch is located in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley, adjacent to the Stags Leap District. This vineyard is home to the grapes that are used to produce our signature Cabernet Sauvignon. The climate in this region is moderate to cool, and Cabernet Sauvignon in this area needs a long growing season to mature with warm autumn temperatures.
Soils are rich, silty clay loam, ideal for minimal irrigation. Prior to 1999, this vineyard was planted to Chardonnay, but when Phylloxera struck it was replanted to Cabernet Sauvignon, with small plantings of Syrah, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The 105-acre Sweetwater Ranch is divided into two sections: The Rigi section, which covers 25 acres and the Sweetwater section which covers 80 acres. The vines are spaced 6×4 and face North to South. Close attention to sunburn is critical because of the intense sun exposure on the West side of the vineyard.
Sweetwater Ranch is planted to clone 337 on the SO4 rootstock. Clone 337 is widely planted in California and is appreciated for its small berries and moderate yield. The wines it produces are typically dense and complex, often times with cassis and tobacco as the predominant aromas and flavors. The SO4 rootstock thrives in moist clay, which makes the Sweetwater Ranch soil a perfect match. Because the climate is generally cooler in the Fall, harvest typically takes place late October, with grapes reaching 25-26° Brix. Optimal yields are 4-5 tons per acre, but this vineyard can easily reach yields of 6-7 tons per acre.