2003 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
California: Napa Valley
What We Say
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Mission Codename: Super-Duper Recession Buster
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Secure an exceptional Napa Valley Cab at a recession busting price.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: St. Supery Vineyards & Winery
Wine Subject: 2003 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: Michael Beaulac
The grapes for this delicious wine comes from vineyards in Rutherford as well as another vineyard in Napa Valley. Rutherford is, of course, the most famous AVA’s in Napa Valley for Cabernet Sauvignon. Located at the center of Napa Valley its soils are of volcanic ancestry combined with sediment from the San Francisco bay’s ancient original boundary and are primarily gravel, loam, and sand. This combined with exceptional winemaking and a nearly ideal climate results in vineyards of the highest quality and esteem.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark purple with a dark, almost black inky core. Dark garnet hued edges and clusters of slow chubby legs ring the glass when swirled.
Smell – Rich and bold aromas of black-cherry and blackberry over well developed notes of floral violets, herbal wild anise, toasted oak and a touch of spice, cocoa and vanilla.
Feel – A smooth and dry initial attack. At mid-palate, the medium firm, but fine tannins and a touch of minerality emerge. Easy acidity with notes of spice at the end round out this well structured full-bodied wine.
Taste – Classic Napa Cab fruit of ripe and tangy blackberry, plum and black-cherry over layers of wild anise, black pepper spice, toasted vanilla and oak and a touch of cocoa.
Finish – Long and clean with ripe wild berries along with its herbal, floral and spice notes that linger and slowly fade inviting another sip.
Conclusion – The 2003 St. Supery Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon shows tremendous finesse, especially at the price. Rich and flavorful, full-bodied and round with good structure. Complex layers of flavors, what more could you want? This wine is drinking wonderfully right now (immediately after opening, or decant to fully explore this wine) and will continue to improve for years to come.
For today’s mission report we decided to provide you with a background on the Skalli Family, owners of St. Supery:
The Beginning – A story rich and nuanced like the wines produced since the early 20th century, the Skalli Family’s alluring history has offered a distinctive depth, like no other wine experience. Beginning in the early 20th century in Algeria, the Skalli Family first found its passion for wine growing, creating strong viticulture roots for generations to come. Over the next decades, a curiosity and keen intuition led Francis Skalli to produce a number of full-bodied, generous wines. With the family’s momentous move in 1961 to Corsica and the Languedoc, (as Algeria found its independence), the Skallis found a virgin plot of land along the eastern coast of Corsica and created Terra Vecchia, one of the best vineyards on the island and in the Languedoc, started Les Establishments Skalli, later known as Les Chais du Sud. The passion for wine in this beautiful region continued to be nurtured by Francis until 1964 when tragedy struck, killing him in a plane accident at the age of 39. After ten years, Francis’s son, 24 year old Robert Skalli, decided to carry on with the family mission of winegrowing. Moving his residence to the Languedoc, he showed his commitment to work in the heart of the vineyards of southern France. Gaining know-how and expertise in the wines of the region, which were not living up to the expectations of consumers at home and abroad, Robert’s intuition told him that the quality of Languedoc wine could be significantly improved.
A Period of Progress in Southern France and the New World – In the early 80s, Albert, Francis’s brother, joined Robert on a trip to California. They found strong similarities between the wine-growing regions of Napa Valley, California, and the French Languedoc. Two ideas germinated: first they would raise the quality of Languedoc wine in a spectacular way; second they would create a great wine in Napa Valley. It here that the Skalli family story goes hand in hand with the story of wine in southern France and the New World.
In 1982, the Skalli family acquired Dollarhide Ranch, 1500 acres of magnificent rolling hills in the north-eastern corner of Napa Valley. At the same time, the Skallis decided to take on the Languedoc challenge. Robert Skalli staked the success of his mission on varietal wine. He broke the age-old French tradition of “Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée”, rallying winegrowers all over the Languedoc to his cause. He encouraged them to aim for quality wine by planting new grape varieties in their vineyards. It was all about innovation: taking the bold step of introducing varieties as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon that had never before been planted in the Languedoc.
In 1986, the Skalli family acquired another choice piece of land in Napa Valley. Deep in the heart of Rutherford, an appellation renowned for Cabernet Sauvignon, they found a 56-acre vineyard. A Victorian house dating to 1882 on the property provided rare historic distinction; in sum, the perfect location for a fine winery like St. Supéry.
By 1987, the Languedoc vineyards were undergoing profound changes. Under Robert Skalli’s leadership, a major step was taken when a group of wine professionals succeeded in creating a new official category for the region: “Vin de Pays d’Oc”. That same year, the first French varietal wines made their debut under the Skalli family’s Fortant label. These new wines soon developed a sound reputation which has continued to spread throughout the world.
In 1988, St. Supéry started crushing grapes. A year later, the rich aroma of its first wines, especially the Sauvignon Blanc and the Cabernet Sauvignon, could be fully appreciated, revealing what America’s best winegrowing region had to offer. In 1990, the St. Supéry winery opened its doors to visitors.
The 1887 barrel chai of Sète, southern France, was completely renovated in 1990. Its 2700 French oak barrels allow the wines to mature in optimum conditions, developing nuance and complexity.
The F. wines were launched in 1995, in memory of Francis Skalli. After combing the area for the best parcels of vineyard land, a dozen dedicated winegrowers were selected to follow a rigorous viticultural program to produce the best grapes possible. This required intimate knowledge of the Languedoc region and the cooperation of its best growers. The first vintage, 1996, was a patent success. Three grape varieties, Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, gave rise to three exceptional wines.
In 1997, St Supéry came out with its first vintage of Meritage red and white; these smooth, generous, blended wines, grown in the greatest wine region of California, Napa Valley, reveal all the elegance and subtlety that American wine is capable of. Produced in limited quantities, they are considered to be the best St Supéry wines of the late 90s.
The Terra Vecchia wines were launched in 1998 after Robert Touboul (Robert Skalli’s cousin) revived the Corsican vineyards. What makes these wines so unmistakably Corsican is the subtle smoothness of their tannins and their unique, richly varied aromas. Terra Vecchia wines evoke authenticity and native tradition while urging us to explore uncharted territory and discover new flavors.
In 1999, Robert Skalli gave his name to three varietal wines and three appellation wines. These wines combine power with delicacy. They are robust, complex and elegant all in one astonishing sip. Such contrasting qualities evoke the bright sun and gentle scents of their native land, the South of France.
In year 2000, developing a closer relationship with the French consumer became central. To this end, the Skallis acquired the “Caves Notre Dame”, one of the most highly regarded wine stores in the Languedoc region; a local distribution network for upscale wines that also supplies restaurants nationwide.
The Skallis also acquired the Silène des Peyrals domain, a vineyard where fine wines of the AOC Coteaux du Languedoc are grown. They improved Clos Poggiale, still another vineyard on the eastern coast of Corsica, which produces some of the best AOC wines of the island.
St. Supéry launched its Limited Edition wines, which derive their strong identity, elegant structure and fruity accents from carefully selected parcels of the Dollarhide and Rutherford vineyards. Produced in very small quantities, they are the quintessence of St. Supéry’s terroirs.
In 2001, the Skallis took their foothold in one of the most prestigious appellations of the Rhône Valley when they purchased Maison Bouachon, a century-old wine house in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Today… and Tomorrow Today, Skalli family wines have established a sound reputation in over 70 countries across the globe. They can be found in a wide range of restaurants, from prestigious gourmet establishments with several stars to modest neighborhood bistros. Thanks to the quality and diversity of their origins, they accompany even the most exotic cuisines with balance and harmony.
Over the last 20 years, Robert and his cousins Michel and Philippe Skalli (Albert’s sons) made a vital contribution to raising the quality of wines in the south of France. At the same time, they created, along with Robert Touboul and Claude Skalli, what has now become a great Napa Valley wine.
And the future? Equally active and enthusiastic, the third generation is ready to carry on with the family mission of finding new terroirs in the vast winegrowing regions of the Mediterranean and South America. They will continue producing exciting contemporary wines which express the richness and variety of the soil.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the the St. Supery Vineyards and Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
St. Supery Vineyards & Winery, Member, Napa Valley Vintners
About This Wine:
Luxurious, rich and concentrated with aromas of cherry, currant and blueberry these are just the start of this 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon. The harmonious flavors of black cherry, anise and plush cassis explode upon tasting. This is a classic Napa Valley Cabernet which is wonderful young but has everything it needs to age beautifully. Enjoy now through 2011.
About The Winery:
Two vineyards – one in Rutherford at the heart of Napa Valley’s Cabernet Sauvignon country, the other in a serene corner of the Napa Valley – gave rise to the divine wines of St. Supéry, most notably, award-winning Cabernet Sauvignons and Sauvignon Blanc.
Every day, wine aficionados from around the world visit our winery estate in Rutherford, one of Napa Valley’s best-known appellations. A tour of our winemaking facility gives visitors a look at the state of modern winemaking, while a visit to the historic landmark 1880 Victorian Atkinson House (now a living museum) gives them a sense of the Valley’s past. Yet perhaps the biggest attraction is the uniquely informative and engaging St. Supéry Winery and Gallery
About The Vineyards:
St. Supéry first invested in vineyards in 1982 with the acquisition of Dollarhide, a 1,500-acre property in northeast Napa Valley. The winery has continued to invest in vineyards since that time, knowing that only through close management of the grapes in the vineyards can we ensure the highest quality wines in the bottle. In total, St. Supéry has over 500 planted acres in Napa Valley. It is in these vineyards, with very diverse terrains, that St. Supéry wines get their start.
Dollarhide – Dollarhide is St. Supéry’s largest vineyard estate with over 1,500 acres of rolling hills, oak-covered knolls and seven lakes in a private mountain valley in northeast Napa Valley. About one third of the acreage is planted to wine grapes.
Rutherford Estate – St. Supéry’s estate vineyard surrounding the winery in the celebrated wine growing region of Rutherford in the Napa Valley on Hwy 29 is also the winery site. Thirty-five acres are planted with red Bordeaux varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. The climate and soils of Rutherford are ideal for these grape varieties, which often are blended with Dollarhide fruit to create St. Supéry’s refined and elegant Élu and Virtú wines.