What We Say 2005 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT!
Today’s wine reminds us very much of another stellar Napa Cabernet Sauvignon that we ran recently. That cab cost nearly twice as much, making this wine even better, from a QPR perspective. Take advantage early, as we may run out before midnight…
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Mission Codename: The Sensorium Emporium
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Sensorium Wines and be the first to capture their 2005 Napa Cab
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Sensorium Wines
Wine Subject: 2005 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemakers: Jeff Ritchey
Backgrounder: in 2006, Jeff Ritchey became a Wine Spies favorite. Seemingly prolific, Jeff makes his own great wines – while also managing to act as consulting winemaker for many prominent wineries throughout California. Jeff’s Sensorium wines are the embodiment of his years of experience, delivering balance, sophistication and – most of all – wines that enliven the senses. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and mission report below for more detail
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark garnet, with deep color concentration out to the very edges of the glass. When swirled, this wine appears tight and bouncy and it settles fast. When it settles, it leaves behind thin, evenly-spaced legs that run down the glass at speed.
Smell – Deeply layered with smoky dark fruit of plum, raspberry and black cherry, with cola, nutty spices, vanilla, cocoa and soft oak
Feel – Bright, light and medium round up front, slightly grippy on the mid-palate, and then soft tannins grip the edges of the tongue and pucker the lips. This wine has a lightness and freshness that one might not expect from a bomber Napa Cabernet Sauvignon
Taste – A delicious mix of balanced light and dark flavors, this wine delivers tart cherry and raspberry, with pomegranate and soft chocolate – that is followed by a mid-palate sweetness and bigger and more densely extracted flavors of black cherry, cola, burnt blackberry tart and a slight herbaceous quality
Finish – The bright flavors are replaced by smokey and more dark flavors that linger for a long time, with a slight dryness that makes your mouth water.
Conclusion – Once again, our good friend Jeff Ritchey delivers a wine to fall in love with. Brighter and more balanced than some of the big Cabs that Napa is well-known for, this wine won’t overpower your palate. You’ll appreciate this when you pair the wine with fine foods. Although youthful, this wine is ready to enjoy now. That said, we can’t help but think of how great this wine will be after laying down for a couple of years! We’re stocking up for the Holiday’s and we hope that you enjoy this wine as much as we do. Kudos to Jeff for consistently knocking our spy socks off with his great wines!
Jeff is a busy winemaker. Tried as we might to nail him down for an interview, Jeff proved too elusive – even for us! With harvest and crush behind him soon, we hope to catch up with Jeff in a month or two. Here for your benefit, is a prior mission recap:
Winemaker Jeff Ritchey makes great wines and has been winemaker from prestigious wineries such as Gundlach Bundschu in Sonoma County, Clos LaChance in Saratoga, Clos LaChance in San Martin to name a few.
Today, Jeff continues as consulting winemaker for a handful of California wineries, like San Saba Vineyards, Picchetti Winery, the Los Gatos Wine Company and Fleming-Jenkins, where is experience and skill help these wineries to turn out consistently great wines. He is also a partner in another winery that he helped start, Blue Cellars.
In 2002 he started Sensorium Wines where he was able to experiment and make the wines that he wanted to make. We have loved Jeff’s efforts at San Saba and elsewhere and unrestrained by outside influences Jeff is now turning out wines of his own. And, my dear spies, his wines are great.
As busy as Jeff is, I managed to connect with him after a prolonged surveillance. At a recent tasting, Jeff introduced me to his wines and to his partners in wine production. Great wines and a great group of folks.
Between sips, Jeff explained that, “Sensorium specializes in small lot, handcrafted Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon wines from select vineyards in Napa Valley, the Santa Cruz Mountains, and the Central Coast. Our wine exhibits a balance of richness and complexity that rewards the discerning taster, yet allows for the simple pleasure of drinking it Our focus is on making elegant wines that engage the senses and reveal themselves in evolving, ever-deepening, and surprising ways. In other words, wines you can feel.”
Jeff’s wines have a cult following and are only available in a limited number of venues. We are fortunate to be able to bring you a small quantity of his special wine – at a very special price. Jeff hopes that you enjoy his wines and assures you that when you become a fan, he’ll have more wine for you. Just come back to The Wine Spies and we’ll provide you with the Top Secret hook-up!
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
This elegant and balanced wine has silky tannins framed with notes of cherry and raspberry fruit along with nutmeg, sweet vanilla and cocoa accents from the new oak barrels.
The 2005 growing season was late in California allowing for a long hang time on the vine.
This 100 acre vineyard is located in the hills east of Rutherford. Block 1A, 9 and 10 were planted in 2000 and each contains closely spaced, vertically trellised Clone 4 or 337 Cabernet Sauvignon on 101-14 rootstock. Block 1A (clone 4) is located on a steep hillside with thin, red soils and a southwestern exposure and blocks 9 and 10 (clone 337) are on an east facing bench on the west side of the vineyard. The combination of the three blocks adds complexity to this wine. The grapes were hand picked at the peak of flavor and crushed within hours of harvest to insure the flavor was maintained.
About the Winery:
Our wines are made using traditional techniques. After harvesting the fruit at peak ripeness, the grapes are hand sorted, gently destemmed, crushed directly into open top fermenters and left to cold soak on the skins for 3-5 days. As the indigenous microflora begin to show activity, cultured yeast is added to the fermentation. Throughout the fermentation the must is hand punched down twice daily. Towards the end of fermentation 60% of the fermenters are chosen to be pressed at dryness, usually 2-3 weeks. The remaining 40% of the fermenters are selected for extended maceration of up to 6 weeks to add complexity. All lots are pressed directly into barrels via gravity where they age for 20 months.
About The Winemaker:
Jeff Ritchey – Sensorium’s award-winning winemaker, was previously winemaker at Clos LaChance Winery in San Martin, California. With his guidance, Clos LaChance increased production from 10,000 to 30,000 cases and built a new, state-of-the-art, 30,000-square-foot winery. Jeff’s wines have won numerous awards and acclaim from critics and the press. As a consultant, Jeff’s expertise has served several wineries in the Santa Cruz Mountain and Monterey areas.
Jeff holds a Master of Science degree in Enology from UC Davis, one of the world’s leading schools for enology and viticulture.
Varietal: 97.75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc, 0.25% Petite Verdot
Appellation: Napa Valley
Bottling Date: July 17, 2007
Harvest Date: October 4, 2005
Oak: 60% New French and American
Release Date: March 15, 2008
Time In Oak: 20 Months