Black Cat Vineyard
2005 Family Cuvee
California: Napa Valley
What We Say
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Mission Codename: Here, Kitty, Kitty…
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Black Cat Winery and acquire a small allocation of their famous red blend
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Black Cat Vineyard
Wine Subject: 2005 Family Cuvee – Red blend
Winemaker: Tracey Reichow
Our Operatives are crazy about Bordeaux style red blends. We have not featured a great California blend here recently, and demand by our Operatives has been increasing. For today’s wine, we sent Agent Red back to Black Cat Vineyard to visit with winemaker Tracey Reichow – and to put her Family Cuvee to the test. Agent Red loved the wine and you can read his mission report and tasting notes below
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Ruby red to garnet, with a darker Burgundy heart. When swirled, this wine shows a springy surface that settles quickly. The edges stop spinning quickly and, interestingly, the center keeps spinning for a long time. This wine exhibits mixed-width legs that are unevenly spaced on the edges of the glass
Smell – Lush bright fruits of cassis, cranberry and cherry, with darker aromatics of black cherry, blackberry, cigar box, soft spice and vanillan with the most subtle hint of burnt caramel sugar (a wonderful addition)
Feel – Initially round, the slightly grippy as subble tannins coat the mouth and dry the top and rear of the mouth
Taste – Rich, bright and softly smoky, this wine show off its great fruit as led by dark mixed berries, cassis and plum. These are followed by dark cherry and a hint of soft spice and sweetwoods
Finish – Long and brightly clean with a slight dryness, fruit and spice
Conclusion – Another great wine from Tracey Reichow, and a testament to the love and care that she infuses into each bottling. This is a beautifully balanced wine, that has an easy-drinking quality to it, but also a sincerity. This is a real blend-lover’s wine that pairs easily with many different types of foods. The classy and classic Napa Cab shines through in this wine, beautifully complimented by the lush and rich Syrah. If you are looking for a very flexible wine that can be be enjoyed on its own or with a fine meal, this is a winderful choice.
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
About This Wine:
This handcrafted blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah shows enticing layers of fruit with an exotic spicy note. Grown in the rocky foothills of Napa Valley , the wine is produced in very small quantities to allow artful attention to every detail.
Delightful aromas of ripe cherry, plum, blackberry and vanilla. Packed with generous black and red fruit flavors. The Syrah in the blend presents an alluring spiciness, rolling into a silky, lingering finish. Complex and layered, this wine will really please the Cab lovers.
Family Cuvee received kudos in “Top Wine Pairings” by innovative chefs and sommeliers from top Napa Valley restaurants. Black Cat Vineyard Family Cuvee was selected as the top pairing with a traditional Rigatoni Bolognese by the wonderful folks at Cuvee Napa Restaurant!
The fruit was hand-selected, crushed and destemmed into small open-top fermenters. Fermentations were punched down by hand, twice daily. Upon completion of fermentation, each lot was pressed and allowed to settle in tank before going to barrel. The wine was barrel aged for 19 months and bottle aged for 12 months prior to release. 100% French oak, 33% new.
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.
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: 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Syrah
Appellation: Napa Valley
Harvest: Oct. 14, 2005
Brix: 25 °