Stratford Winery

2005 Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon •Knights Valley AVA

California: Sonoma County

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Mission Codename: Sonoma’s Camelot?

Operative: Agent White

Objective: Secure a delicious and value oriented Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma’s Knights Valley AVA

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Stratford

Wine Subject: 2005 Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Winemaker: Paul Moser


Knights Valley AVA, along highway 128 is located in Sonoma County at the base of the Mayacamas Mountains and next to Napa County. It is a small 55 square miles with about 1000 acres under vine. The gravel and rock soil and higher relative altitude is most influential to the exceptional Cabernet that grows there. The rustic and rural region is well known for its traditional northern California style.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Dark burgundy that is dense in color and has garnet reflections through its deep core. The deep color fades ever so slightly to garnet along the edges and fast thin legs race down the side the glass when swirled, then slower tears with hints of the wine’s color form and creep down the same track.

Smell – Well developed aromas of plush and ripe black-cherry, other black fruit and cassis are softly layered over classic Cabernet floral and herbal notes, mocha coffee, cigar tobacco, sweet wild fennel and a touch of oak.

Feel – Plush and smooth on the initial attack, this dry full-bodied wine shows its balanced acidity and fine-grained but grippy tannins at mid-palate. A kick of spice rounds of the overall structure of this lovely wine.

Taste – Dense, rich and juicy black cherry, cassis and other dark fruit are well integrated with favors of exotic spice, a touch of white pepper, black licorice and mild toasted oak. Mocha and coffee as well as a touch of tobacco linger through to the finish.

Finish – Long and clean, this delicious Cabernet lingers with juicy black cherry mixed with spice, mocha, tobacco and licorice.

Conclusion – It has always puzzled us that the Knights Valley has remained relatively unknown when you consider delicious and value oriented wines like today’s selection from Stratford. Soft texture and plush on the palate, but still showing good structure, classic Cabernet aromas and flavors with just enough complexity to keep things interesting. We enjoyed this wine with a classic upscale sirloin burger with grilled red onions and blue-cheese on a fresh brioche roll.

Mission Report:

AGENT RED: Greetings, Paul. We are thrilled to be showing your 2005 Stratford 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 continue to be great fans of your wines.

PAUL MOSER: Thanks, Red. Hopefully you Operatives read our previous interview.

RED: Indeed. I’ll skip the questions that I asked you last time. Instead, let’s talk about your wine! We are fans of your C&B and Moser Scharding wines. Can you please tell me about the Stratford label?

PAUL: The label has been around since 1982 though it has been through a few incarnation it is now only used for Cabernet Sauvignons’ that are worthy of the Stratford label.

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

PAUL: Jean-Noel Gagnard & the wines of Domaine Dujac

RED: How long have you been making wine?

PAUL: 28 years

RED: Who do you make wine for?

PAUL: Another deep question! I would say that I make wines that strike a balance between my own mad stylings and what I know are wine-drinker preferences. Left to my own devices, I might go off into the woods and talk to myself as I make extraordinarily odd and eccentric wines for myself.

RED: Tell me, what makes the Napa Valley so special?

PAUL: Combo of things, Weather, exposure and soil.

RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?

PAUL: Prescription Drugs.

RED: [Laughs] So I hear! Tell me, Paul, what’s occupying your time at the winery these days?

PAUL: Trial blends of our 07’s reds and 08’ whites.

RED: That’s exciting. I have had the good fortune to have had some recent covert tastings. Please, tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today

PAUL: The wine was made in two lots based on the way it was picked. We picked the sun side first and then a couple days later we came back through and picked the shade side. We felt the shade side was a better wine. This is 100% cab and dry farmed.

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

PAUL: Loin Lamb chop from Denver Colorado. Most important is to pair this wine with raw and simple ingredients that don’t over power the wine.

RED: Well, time for a trip to Denver, methinks! Please share one thing about yourself that few people know

PAUL: I am a very private person

RED: I like that answer. Very original. What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?

PAUL: I don’t have one. , Life is too short to drink the same thing over and over. Even if it wasn’t that great of wine it’s great to taste as many wines as possible.

RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?

PAUL: Very personally, avoid reviews and scores. You can let scores lead you to the style of wines your looking for although its best to explore for yourself!

RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?

PAUL: Mouton-Rothschild 1945

RED: What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?

PAUL: Am I for universal Health Care? YES!

RED: 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!

PAUL: Thank you, Agent Red. Always a pleasure to be ‘infiltrated’ by The Wine Spies!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Knights Valley AVA can be seen in this satellite photo.

What the Winery Says

About This Wine:

This Cabernet Sauvignon comes from an exceptional hillside vineyard at the southern end of Knights Valley. These grapes produced an exotically spice and intense wine full of ripe black cherry flavors and hints of cassis, mint, coffee, and chocolate. Soft and approachable, this wine pairs beautifully with grilled red meats, stews and cheeses.

The 2005 Stratford Cabernet Sauvignon is a single vineyard wine, grown on the Totem Ridge Estate, about one mile north of the Napa County line, just west of Highway 29, on eastern-facing slopes. This fruit comes from 16-year-old, dry-farmed vines, that are harvested very ripe even in relatively cool years like 2005 (25.5 degrees Brix).

The grapes were lightly crushed and fermented to dryness in stainless steel over a period of 13 days. After pressing and 48 hours of settling, the new wine was put to barrels where it underwent malo-lactic fermentation. The wine spent an additional 14 months in oak barrels, approximately 70% French and 30% American. The wine was bottled un ned, following a polish filtration.

A classic Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine displays a full, deep garnet color and lots of cassis/black cherry fruit complemented by tones of sweet tabacco, graphite & licorice. The palate is rich, with ne palate coverage and plush tannins to lengthen its finish. It is a great match for grilled red meat, feathered game and poultry, as well as hearty stews and daubes.

About The Winery:

One of the first upscale négociant brands in California, Stratford is owned by a partnership headed by wine maker Paul Moser and marketing partner Tony Cartlidge. The founders (a few left in the nest) Orginally focused on buying and blending Chardonnay that could retail for under $10.00 a bottle throughout the U.S wine market. Buying Chardonnay from dozens of wineries in both the North and Central Coast regions, Stratford blended wines that often achieved rankings. The project was so successful that they expanded the varietals to include Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. Eventually the project exceeded 75,000 cases per year, Stratford out grew its original rented space and the partners looked into the possibility of building a winery.. A site was chosen in the Napa Valley, and a facility was partially built before a majore financial backer pulled out of the partnership. Stratford went on to purchase Elhers Grove Winery and continued on with the Elhers grove label along with, Stratford & Cartlidge & Browne wines. In the year 2000 The partners decided to sell Elhers Grove and Built a 115,000 square foot facility in South Napa County, American Canyon which gave them the ability to to grow all the labels as well as help venturing wine makers with all of their custom crush needs.

Technical Analysis:

Harvest Dates: Oct. 10 & Oct. 18

Bottling Date: February, 2005

Release Date: March, 2007

Production: 860 cases

Appellation: Knights Valley

Time in Oak: 14 months

Type of Oak: 70% French, 30% American

Sugar at Harvest: 25.1°brix & 25.3° brix

Alcohol: 14.2%

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