von Strasser Winery
2005 Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon •Estate Vineyard
California: Napa Valley
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SUPERIOR WINE ALERT!:
We always feature great wine, but when we sleuth out a real stand out, we issue these special alerts. Today’s Estate Vineyard Napa Valley Cab is a near-perfect delight!
Mission Codename: Practice Makes Perfect
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Acquire the exceptional Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from von Strasser Winery.
Mission Status: Accomplished
Current Winery: von Strasser Winery
Wine Subject: 2005 Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: Rudy von Strasser
The fruit for this exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon (the overall 2005 vintage is rated 95 points by Wine Enthusiast) come from Napa Valley’s Diamond Mountain AVA located in the north east corner of Napa in the Mayacamas mountains. This mountain fruit, grown in porous volcanic soil that drains well with more exposure to sunlight results in berries that are more concentrated in both flavor and intensity. Only about 600 acres of vines are planted in the AVA’s 5,000 total acres.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep garnet with purple hues, a dark clear core and a ruby edges. Groups of long fast slender legs ring the glass when swirled.
Smell – Bold and youthful aromas led of by its fruit components of tart black cherry and wild bramble berries backed up with black pepper, new oak and complex hints of cocoa and licorice.
Feel – A medium tangy initial attack that quickly smooths, this dry full-bodied wine has firm, but fine tannic structure and medium acidity. After some time, this wine opens up completely, revealing an elegant and rich palate.
Taste – Flavors of black cherry, black currant and a little plum; both new and smokey oak over developing layers of spice, vanilla, licorice and cocoa.
Finish – Super long and smooth with lingering flavors of black cherry, smoke, spice and licorice.
Conclusion – This is truly an exceptionally delicious Cabernet Sauvignon that is just starting to show its true character and finesse. Although it is still developing, this wine is both complex and elegant. A great mouthfeel and its classic Cabernet aromas and flavors make this wine great for grilled lamb chops or venison; or my favorite way to enjoy wine as the days get shorting… pour yourself a glass and snuggle up with your favorite secret agent in front of the fireplace!
von Strasser Winery is now a fully vetted winery. Read Agent Red’s original mission report entitled Diamonds Are Forever below:
While my life is almost completely consumed with wine, I do have other interests. One of them is treasure hunting.
I am constantly receiving intel for my assets around the wine industry – and sometimes that intel has noting to do with wine.
Recently, I received a report that the world famous Diamond District, in the norther tip of the Napa Valley, was so named because a cache of stolen diamonds was buried high up in the Mayacams mountains, among some of the fines Cabernet Sauvignon grapes known to humankind.
This report included clues to the specific whereabouts of the diamonds, valued at an estimated $5 million. My source provided a map, general coordinates and a few old photographs from the 1920’s. I agreed to a 50/50 split and set of to Napa.
Once up in the Mayacamas, a gorgeous vine-covered region at the northern tip of the Napa Valley. Juggling the old photos and my portable GPS, I managed to make my way what was almost certainly the right vicinity.
An open wine glass? Up here? My Wine Spies PDA is never wrong, and that alert was difficult to believe. Utilizing the PDA’s direction finder, I made my way toward the wine. I made my way down a vineyard row, turned a corner – and witnessed a remarkable sight: A small table with a white tablecloth with a single glass of wine atop it!
I approached the table and saw that its surface was strewn with… with… loose diamonds! My heart raced. Ignoring the note card that sat next to the wine glass, I grabbed a diamond and examined it with my jewelers loop. My heart sank. These were no diamonds. Instead, just fakes.
I stood there for a moment, stunned. Eventually, I snapped out of it and reached for the card. It read, “Agent Red. My apologies for the subterfuge. To make it up to you, I have arranged a special allocation of a very special wine for you. Sincerely, [CENSORED] – von Strasser Winery.”
This note was significant and I felt instantly better. I had been trying to infiltrate the von Strasser Winery for months. Their wines, particularly their Cabernet Sauvignon, is the stuff of legend.
I grabbed up the glass, inhaled deeply, and took a sip. Heavenly.
Then, my phone rang.
“Agent Red. [CENSORED] here, from von Strasser….”
The rest is obvious, dear Operative, for today you have a unique opportunity to sample one of the best Cabs from one of the best regions – by one of Napa Valley’s best wineries.
Diamonds? Who needs diamonds, when you have a wine this good?
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the von Strasser Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
von Strasser Winery, Member, Napa Valley Vintners
Awards & Accolades:
93 Points – Wine Enthusiast – A selection of the best lots off the mountain estate vineyard, the 2005 is rich and ageworthy. Blended with small amounts of Petit Verdot and Merlot, it shows sweetly ripe flavors of black currants, cherries, dark chocolate and plums, with smoky, vanilla new oak nuances. The tannins are pure mountain Napa, dense and refined. Drink now through 2015. — S.H. (5/1/2008)
About This Wine:
This is what cabernet is all about! It is a big, bold wine with intense fruit, a full body and a long smooth finish. Look for blueberry and cassis lined with chocolate and anise. The Estate Cab is very approachable early but will continue to improve with age and reward your patience.
About The Winery:
The von Strasser Story – With a family connection to Eric de Rothschild, Rudy wrote a letter asking to do an internship at Chateau Lafite-Rothschild. Each year the Chateau had been hiring an intern from the French winemaking program at Montpellier. Thinking that two minds are better than one, Mr. Rothschild invited Rudy to work for the 1985 harvest as their first American intern. (The result was so successful, that each year since the Chateau has chosen a new Davis graduate to work as an intern at the winery.) Rudy returned to Napa Valley in the spring of 1986 and was hired as the enologist at Trefethen Winery and Vineyards. In 1988, he became the assistant winemaker in charge of production at Newton Vineyards in St. Helena.
Shortly after their marriage in 1989, Rudy and Rita von Strasser set out looking for a vineyard property to make their home. Having already developed a deep passion and talent for producing Cabernet Sauvignon, Rudy was committed that the property must be in a microclimate blessed with the ability to grow and produce the finest red wines in Napa Valley; wines worthy to carry the von Strasser family name. Serendipitously, the old Roddis Estate Winery on Diamond Mountain had just been put on the market, and in the spring of 1990, the von Strasser label was born.
The history of the property reads like a who’s who of early California Cabernet History. After being denied a permit to turn his estate into a golf course, William Bounsall decided to subdivide his property, and in 1968 sold 1/3 of his property to Albert Brounstein. Canadian born, Al pioneered the modern decade of winemaking in this AVA by planting Cabernet Sauvignon in three distinct vineyard sites and bottling each separately under the name Diamond Creek Vineyards. The next year, 1969, Bounsall himself decided to get into the grape business and planted 2 acres to Cabernet Sauvignon with bud-wood from the famous Martha’s Vineyard. In 1978, Bill Roddis bought the Bounsall ranch and started Roddis Cellars. The wines were made by Andre Tcheistcheff, and in their days where considered by many to be the biggest wines made in the Napa Valley. In 1985, the winery was sold to the Gilby family (British gin), who used it as a corporate retreat. The vineyards, now totaling about 7 acres, were leased to Pine Ridge Winery, who bottled the grapes separately as their “Diamond Mountain” Cabernet Sauvignon. In 1990, Rudy and Rita von Strasser bought the property and began the fulfilling task of renovating and modernizing the estate and the vineyards to make the property one of the gems of Diamond Mountain.
The building that houses the winery is an historic barn that was built in the late 1880’s. Through careful planning it has been remodeled into a modern winemaking facility while retaining its working-ranch charm. To take full advantage of the hillside location and to better control the variables of winemaking, the von Strassers added caves to their property. Dug into the virgin hills, these caves retain an ideal climate for barrel aging, and average temperature of 55 degrees and an average humidity of 80%.