Wallis Family Estate
2006 Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon •Wallis Vineyard
California: Napa Valley: Diamond Mountain
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s selection from Wallis Family Estate deserves special recognition as a superior wine. If you love Napa Valley Cabernet, this is an exceptional example of one of the finest from this vintage.
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Mission Codename: Its the Cab!
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Comb the Napa Valley and secure a most delicious and beautifully balanced Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Wallis Family Estate
Wine Subject: 2006 Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Winemaker: Phil Steinschriber
Backgrounder: The fruit for this exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon comes 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. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and mission report below
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Beautiful deep burgundy, with a darker heart of concentrated blackberry jam, with garnet hued-edges. When swirled, this wine has a dynamic springiness to it that leaves behind intriguing legs that start off fat and slow, but then turn quickly skinny as they rocket down the glass
Smell – Deep intensity with aromas of blackberry, bramble, black plum, sweet cherry and smoky raspberry. These are all layered atop aromas of chocolate, earthy sweetwoods, and dry musky minerals
Feel – Soft at first, light weight and slightly dry on the attack. Slowly, this wine takes shape in the mouth as a medium body is revealed and well-structured tannins and a balanced acidity appears
Taste – Bold and delicious, finely balanced with beautifully integrated flavors of cassis, ripe black cherry, soft plum, ripe blackberry and dark mocha with a subtle tomato vine and toasted oak
Finish – Robust at first, ultra long with lingering ripe blackfruit, flinty minerals and a hint of smoky cherry. The wine coats the mouth and then, as flavors tail off, the mouth waters – indicating that its time for another delicious sip!
Conclusion – Great ready for a blustery report! I love this wine! It just plain blew me away. With its classic Napa Cab stylings, this wine provided us with hours of enjoyment over dinner last night. We started sipping before the first food arrived, and we continued sipping – and discussing the wine – through the entire meal. Having time to savor the wine and to let it develop over the course of the meal was an ideal treat. Sampling it with a diverse range of foods, proved its felxibility. With bold flavors that are held in check by beautiful fruit and balanced acidity, this wine was a perfect companion and the center of conversation, from appetizer to salad to main course to dessert. It worked perfectly with them all. Try that with other Napa Cabs and you might find incompatibility. Try it with this wine and you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised – and maybe a little tipsy!
AGENT RED: Greetings, Edward. We are thrilled to be showing your WFE Cab today. The wine is great. Thanks so much for the wine, and for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today. We have become great fans of your wine!
EDWARD WALLIS: I am glad you found us. It shows your commitment to finding exceptional wine to offer to your Operatives.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
Edward: I came to the Napa Valley in 1974 with little real knowledge of fine wines. Then I got the chance to have a bottle of Freemark Abbey’s 1970 Cabernet Bosche. It was one of California’s first vineyard-designated wines, and it was so much better and richer than any wine I had tasted before. I have had a chance over the last thirty years to taste some of Napa Valley’s shining stars, but that wine brings back happy memories.
RED: Wouldn’t it be nice to taste a 1970 Freemark wine today? Tell me, where did you learn the most about winemaking?
Edward: First let me explain that I am not the winemaker. The reason our wine is so good is that we are blessed to have found winemakers that are at the top of their craft. We planted the vineyard in 1997. The fruit went to David Ramey at Ramey, and later to Chris Carpenter at Lokoya. Their wines from our fruit always received mid nineties, and high praise. Our 2006 and 2007 Cabernet was made by Phil Steinschriber. Phil has been involved in the beverage business since his teens. He became Diamond Creek Vineyard’s winemaker in 1991. “He produces the Diamond Creek wines today after setting a tone of softer wines in the 90’s and rounder more complex wines in the 2000’s.” Phil knows the Diamond Mountain District from a very personal commitment to its terroir. We like to think of it as sperroir, or a spiritual connection to the area. Phil has championed Diamond Creek’s success, and we are very proud that he has made our wine for vintages 2006 and 2007. Our 2008 vintage is being made by Thomas Rivers Brown.
RED: What is the Wallis winemaking style or philosophy?
Edward: It’s really simple. Choose the right varietal for soil and climate conditions, stay out of the way of the professional winemaker, employ meticulous farming practices, use only the best fruit, and spends lots of money on barrels. Let the wine become great through subtle stewardship and avoid heavy handed manipulation.
RED: Great answer! What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
Edward: That would be John Kongsgaard, David Ramey, Chris Carpenter, Phil Steinschriber, and Thomas Rivers Brown. Their winemaking styles are different, but what they share in common is a religious attention to detail.
RED: How long has Wallis been making wine?
Edward: The 2006 Wallis Family Estate Cabernet and Little Sister Cabernet is our first commercial vintage.
RED: So far, so great. Who do you make wine for?
Edward: Your savvy Operatives!
RED: Right answer! Tell me, what makes the Napa Valley so special?
Edward: The Diamond Mountain District in the Napa Valley produces the best Cabernet and blends of any Napa Valley sub appellation. As an example Wine and Spirits, “WS” December 2008 issue for “The Years Best Cabernets for Vintage 2005” Phil’s wines placed first with a WS score 98, second with a WS score 97, and sixth with a WS score 95. Three in the top ten. Everything lines up for Cabernet as a varietal for this area. The special quality of the Napa Valley is that every sub appellation would tell you the same story, praising a different characteristic.
RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
Edward: Go to work for one of the greats. Log the cellar rat hours to learn the craft.
RED: If only I had the time, I would love to learn the craft myself. What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
Edward: This time of year it’s about staying out of the winemakers way, monitoring the farming, and getting ready to bottle the 2007 vintage.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
Edward: This wine is a blended Cabernet. It contains the varietals Cabernet, Cab Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot. It is over 75 percent Cabernet, about 10 percent Merlot, with Cab Franc and Petite Verdot equally split. The vineyard is planted to eight distinct blocks, and the final blend is made about six months before bottling. This wine was bottled mid August 2008. The 2006 Wallis Family Estate Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon “is a rare find indeed.” Made from a blend of the traditional Bordeaux varietals, it has bold aromatic characters of black currants, mouth filling plums, espresso and toast topped off with vanilla bean ice cream notes. This wine has an opulent full bodied character that lingers long after the wine is swallowed. A wine to enjoy immediately or to hold for the next 7 to 14 years. We made 300 cases.
RED: It is an amazingly great wine, Ed. I personally love it very much. What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
Edward: I would try it with any meal. It would depend on how the meal is seasoned, and not so much on what type of main ingredient. Cajun fish, great, Thai vegetables, pastas, meats. I don’t think I would try it on my cereal for breakfast, but otherwise it’s totally open.
RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
Edward: Buy and drink this wine. In general I would rather drink one very good wine occasionally than a collection of ordinary wines every day.
RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
Edward: A bottle of the 1970 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Bosche. Got any?
RED: Ah! Like I said earlier, wouldn’t it be great! Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
Edward: Thank you for giving us the opportunity. Cheers!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Diamond Mountain district can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About The Wine:
The 2006 Wallis Family Estate Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon “is a rare find indeed.” Made from a blend of the traditional Bordeaux varietals, it has bold aromatic characters of black currants, mouth filling plums, espresso and toast topped off with vanilla bean ice cream notes.
This wine has an opulent full bodied character that lingers long after the wine is swallowed. A wine to enjoy immediately or to hold for the next 7 to 14 years.
About The Vintage:
The 2006 vintage looked to be a grower’s year and with excellent agricultural practices at WFE the grapes were spectacular. There was a flood on New Year’s day which did some damage to the vineyards, but those parts were replanted and there was no effect on the rest of the vineyard. There was only a slight reduction in crop level. Bud break was slow and came late in the spring with fruit set around June 1st after the weather had turned for the better. There was record breaking heat in July, but with delayed bud break it did no damage to the vines. It accelerated the maturation of the vines to catch up to historical timing. Any clusters that did receive sunburn were removed through the thinning process.
The weather turned seasonal through August and normal maturation post veraison was the order of the harvest. The harvest period was cool with a bit of rain in October which had no effect. The grapes were harvested mid to late October and produce wines of excellence. There is a tannic and vibrant component to the resulting wines that hint at long term aging.
The grapes were harvested at night with lights in the vineyard allowing for cold grapes to arrive at the crusher. Four people sorted the grapes before entering the destemmer where all lots were put into small fermentors to control temperatures more easily. The wines were allowed to ferment close to 90 degrees to extract deep color and cooled to 80 degrees at 12 brix to allow for fruitier components to be preserved in the wine. The wines went to dryness and some of the lots were allowed to have extended maceration to extract the softer tannins. All the wines were put into new French oak barrels and aged for 21 months.
About The Winemaker:
Phil Steinschriber has been involved in the beverage business since his teens. He became Diamond Creek Vineyards winemaker in 1991. “He produces the Diamond Creek wines today after setting a tone of softer wines in the 90’s and rounder more complex wines in the 2000’s.” Phil knows the Diamond Mountain District from a very personal commitment to its terroir. We like to think of it as sperroir, or a spiritual connection to the area. Phil has championed Diamond Creek’s success, and we are very proud that he has made our wine for vintages 2006 and 2007.