What We Say 2004 St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon
LIBRARY RAID WINE ALERT!
Today’s wine is is a top secret selection that we acquired from the library at Raymond Vineyard and Cellar. It is a superb example of the best from both the winery and also from Napa’s 2004 vintage.
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Mission Codename: Generation Now!
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Infiltrate Raymond Vineyards and acquire their exceptional Saint Helena Cab.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Raymond Vineyards & Cellars
Wine Subject: 2004 Saint Helena Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: Walter Raymond
Saint Helena is one of the more recent distinct AVAs or districts in Napa Valley, having been formally designated in 1995. Just north of the famous Rutherford AVA, St. Helena is distinct from its neighbors in climate, aspect and soil. Being between the mountainous districts (Spring Mountain and Howell Mountain) to the north and the valley floor to the south (Rutherford) this region is uniquely ‘up-valley’. This AVA covers about 9000 acres with the well known Charles Krug being among the first to grow grapes here dating back to the 1870s.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep and dark purple with a dark and almost black but clear core. Dark garnet and deep purple edges along with clusters of slow thin legs that ring the glass.
Smell – Juicy with vivid fruit components of blackberry, black cherry and other black-fruit layered over complex notes of earth and floral violets, exotic spice and hints of wild fennel and black pepper.
Feel – The attack on this full-bodied wine is clearly masculine (but not overly aggressive) with a spicy and tangy feel that follows through to the finish. Firm, but fine tannins and balanced acidity frame the complex fruit and spice.
Taste – Bold, juicy and tangy ripe blackberry and black cherry fruit along with balanced and extremely well integrated flavors of spice, oak and earthy notes.
Finish – This wine finishes as it starts with bold fruit, spice and a touch of minerality that just keeps going and going.
Conclusion – The 2004 Saint Helena Cabernet Sauvignon is truly an exceptional wine that pulls no punches, and while it is masculine in profile, it is also quite elegant, in a way that only a wine fit for a ‘wine spy’ can. Big and bold, luscious fruit, complex spice and earthy notes, great structure; this is a wine that is drinking great now and is truly worthy of your cellar collection. Be sure to decant this wine for at least an hour and you will be handsomely rewarded.
Agent Red had been raving about the great the wines from Raymond Vineyard and Cellar. I reviewed the dossier and was most impressed by Raymond’s five generations of winemakers. After infiltrating the winery I was able to secure a TOP SECRET library raid of their exceptional 2004 Saint Helena Cabernet Sauvignon.
Here is a transcript of Agent Red’s original conversation with Krisi Raymond:
I caught up with Krisi Raymond recently, to talk with her about today’s wine. The was no easy feat, mind you. With harvest in full swing, the life of a winemaker is in full-on frenzy mode.
What follows is the transcription of our conversation:
the phone rings
AGENT RED: Go for Red
KRISI RAYMOND: Hi Red, its Krisi Raymond.
RED: Krisi! Hi! Thanks for calling me! I know how busy you must be.
KRISI: I found a free moment so I thought I’d call. I know that I could get called away so…
RED: I appreciate that. What’s happening in your world right now?
KRISI: Well, we’re about half way through the harvest. We’re still waiting for Zinfandel, Syrah and Petite Sirah, but nearly everything else is off the vine.
RED: How were the yields this year?
KRISI: We got lucky and had no damage in our estate vineyards. Some of our growers and friends from other wineries got hit hard. Some lost up to 75% of their crop!
RED: Ouch. Did your location protect you from the frost, or was it the timing?
KRISI: Both actually. We saw little frost, and bloom was also late this year. If the frost had hit during bloom, it would have been more bleak.
RED: Well, that’s good news for you. Listen, I know we don’t have much time, but tell me about your Small Lot Red Wine. We love it, by the way.
KRISI: Thanks! I’m happy to hear that. And, we are happy to let The Wine Spies have the exclusive on the wine. I am sure that your Operatives will love it, too.
RED: I’m sure they will, and thanks so much for allowing us to sell the wine. Its not available anywhere else, except the winery, so we are very proud to be showing it!
KRISI: This is our first release of this wine and it was a real labor of love for us. Each component wine was placed in separate barrels, where they sat for 17 months. Blending was done by the entire winemaking team, each of us tinkering and contributing.
RED: The backbone of the wine is Cabernet Sauvignon, which is what Raymond is best known for, right?
KRISI: Exactly. It makes good sense that we would include our Estate Cabernet fruit in this blend.
RED: But the other varietals give the wine a brightness and slight spice that make it come alive…
KRISI: Yes, the Merlot and Cabernet Franc were blended with Petite Sirah for richness and body along with Zinfandel for that slight spicy zing.
RED: A great effort, Krisi. Our Operatives are big red blend fiends so I’m sure they’ll be taking advantage.
a series of tones sound
KRISI: That’s my pager! The vineyards call!!
RED: Thanks, Krisi! I appreciate your time. Let’s catch up again soon to discuss showing another of your great wines!
KRISI: Will do, Red. Agent Raymond – OUT!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Raymond Vineyards and Cellars can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Raymond Vineyard & Cellar
Raymond Vineyard & Cellar, Member, Napa Valley Vintners
Awards and Accolades:
91 Points – Gerald D. Boyd
About This Wine:
100% Cabernet Sauvignon with opening aromas of blackberry and black cherry followed by cassis, lilac, spice and earth. Luscious dark cherry, blackberry and cassis flavors throughout with notes of blueberry, plum, currants and black pepper in the long, smooth finish. This full-bodied Cabernet is well structured and complex with nicely integrated tannins.
The St. Helena estate vineyard was purchased in 1985. This vineyard is located on gravelly alluvial fan soil with excellent drainage, an essential component in high quality fruit development. The vines are also less vigorous in this area of the Napa Valley, producing smaller berries and lower yields, for more concentrated, intense wines with good tannin structure. We produce this wine to showcase the terroir and distinct flavor characteristics of this vineyard. The 2004 growing season began with drier conditions than normal followed by warm temperatures in the spring, leading to early bud break. Cooler than usual temperatures throughout the summer growing months, paired with drier soils, led to smaller berry size and lower yields. The St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard was hand picked during the second and third weeks of September.
The grapes were fermented on the skins for ten days at 72-85° with pumpovers twice daily. After fermentation, the wine was gently pressed, racked and aged in 100% new, tight grained, medium toast Nevers oak barrels for 19 months. Tight grained French oak barrels impart their oak to wines slowly for a consistent, well-rounded aging process while yielding subtle oak influences to the Cabernet Sauvignon.
This gorgeous wine will pair nicely with grilled lamb or pork, roast duck, a rib eye or filet mignon steak, Osso Buco, grilled portobello mushrooms topped with crumbled blue cheese, hearty stews such as Cassoulet or rich tomato based pastas.
About The Winery:
Roy Raymond, Sr. and his two sons, Roy Jr., and Walter founded Raymond Vineyards in 1971. This father and sons team worked together to plant and build Raymond Vineyards. Roy, Jr. and Walter still work side-by-side running the winery and producing fine Napa Valley wines.
The Raymond family and Napa’s history are closely linked. Roy Raymond Sr. arrived in the Napa Valley in 1933 and was hired as a cellar worker at Beringer Brothers Winery in St. Helena. He met Martha Jane Beringer and they were married in 1936.
Martha Jane’s grandfather and granduncle, Jacob and Frederic Beringer, had founded their California winery in 1876 after emigrating from Germany. Her father, Otto Beringer steered the winery through the difficult period of Prohibition by producing sacramental wine for religious purposes. Roy Raymond Sr. was selected to help with the long process of rebuilding, after Prohibition was repealed.
Roy and Martha Jane had two sons, Roy Jr. and Walter. Growing up in the Napa Valley, the boys spent many hours with their father in the winery and vineyards at Beringer. After attending college they took their places as 4th generation winemakers in the family business.
After Beringer Winery was sold in 1971, the Raymond family left to start making wine under the Raymond name. They purchased 90 acres just south of St. Helena in the geographic heart of Napa Valley. Their first harvest was in 1974.
A metal farm building functioned as their winery for the first few years, the grapes were unloaded with pitchforks and shovels, and the tasting room and offices were in Roy Sr.’s backyard pool house! The quality of the wines attracted immediate attention from wine journalists, competitions and the public. Raymond wines now earn accolades across the country for their elegance, balance and finesse.
Today, Roy, Jr. is the winery’s Executive Advisor. Walter is President and heads up winemaking and all production activities. Roy Jr. has seen his son, Craig take over duties as Vineyard Manager. Walter’s daughter, Krisi has been involved in sales, marketing and winemaking. With the addition of this 5th generation, Raymond family members oversee all operations, from grape growing and winemaking to sales and marketing.
Roy Sr. continued to be active in the family winery until shortly before his death in 1998. His kindness, generosity, strong work ethic and dedication to excellence continue to be an influence on a daily basis. The Raymond family and staff are proud to carry on this 130 year old tradition of creating fine Napa Valley wines in a close knit family tradition.
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellation: St. Helena, Napa Valley
Acid: 0.67 g/100ml
Aging: 19 months of aging in new Nevers French oak barrels
Production: Limited to 390 cases.
Other Notes: While delicious at an early age, this wine has the potential to be cellared for 10-15 years past the vintage date.