Sawyer Cellars

2005 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon

California: Napa Valley: Rutherford

Offer Expired:Jun 25, 2009 at 11:59 pm
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Mission Codename: Red Barchetta

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Secure a balanced and delicious Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon for our exacting Operatives

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Sawyer Cellars

Wine Subject: 2005 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Winemaker: Brad Warner


Napa Cabernet Sauvignon continues to dominate as the leader in California red wine. For good reason, too, as Napa produces some of the richest and most delicious examples on the planet.

The Rutherford AVA is among the most famous names in the valley and is primarily know for its exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Beautiful dark garnet with a clear but darker ruby heart. The wine has a tightly springy surface that settles very quickly after swirling, leaving behind medium-width legs that move very slowly down the glass

Smell – A lush, warm and dusky rush of deep aromatic red fruits and dark berries, showing off dark blueberry, rich blackberry, red cherry and just-picked raspberry, with additional layers of dark mocha, leather and spice

Feel – Medium-bodied, yet soft and round at front of the palate – then mouth-coating and slightly drying with lush tannins that fade slowly to reveal more flavors

Taste – Deliciously juicy and flavorful, with brightly layered blackberry, smoky blueberry cobbler, black currant and cherry, followed by chocolate dust and soft spice

Finish – A long, rich and dusky finish that tails off slowly. The wine goes from tart to sweet and back again as it fades smoothly and reveals new flavors

Conclusion – This is a very exciting and very delicious Cab that represents the finest qualities of Napa Cab – without exerting too much muscle. What we find in this wine is balance and delightfully fun flavors; The wine just tastes great! With juicy, real-fruit flavors that have you experimenting with small sips and larger gulps and a dusky and complex nose that has you inhaling the wine over and over again, this is an experiential wine that is also just fun to drink. With balanced acidity, this is a great food wine as well. This wine gets my heartiest recommendation.

Mission Report:

For today’s wine, Agent Red was sent to interview Brad Warner, winemaker for Sawyer Cellars. Please enjoy:

AGENT RED: Greetings, Brad. We are thrilled to be showing your great Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is truly superb. Thanks so much for the wine, and for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

BRAD WARNER: My pleasure, Agent Red. Thanks for featuring our Cab today. I trust that your Operatives will love it.

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

BRAD: In the late 1960’s I worked at Charles Krug Winery and met Robert Mondavi and became fascinated with the are of wine making.

RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?

BRAD: Robert Mondavi Winery but traveled to Europe and learned from the experience. Also, learned a lot from the joint venture RMW/Rothschild.

RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?

BRAD: Quality in the vineyard. I like to make wine from our estate vineyard w/o the over influence of tannin or oak so wine can show its true varietal character. I like to make wines as natural as possible.

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

BRAD: Robert Mondavi and Tim Mondavi

RED: How long have you been making wine?

BRAD: At Sawyer since 1995 and have been in the wine business since 1967.

RED: Who do you make wine for?

BRAD: I make wines to compliment fine cuisine and our consumers.

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

BRAD: Consistent climate and the soil

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

BRAD: Being a Winemaker is a lifestyle. It is something with you 24/7 and becomes a passion. I always tell a person with interest to work a harvest season or two before they decide.

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

BRAD: Preparing for the bottling of our 2007 wines and last racking of our 2008 reds before harvest.

RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today

BRAD: The 2005 Estate Cabernet is full-bodied with balanced tannins and expressive.

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

BRAD: Fish or red meats.

RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know

BRAD: I enjoy backpacking and street rods, of which I have a few.

RED: What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?

BRAD: Usually a Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay or Cab.

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

BRAD: One should trust their palate, enjoy the wine that fits you regardless of the price.

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

BRAD: A well-made Cab.

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

BRAD: _If you won the lotto and all of the sudden had more money than you could spend would you stop making wine, retire or change professions? _ I would continue as a Winemaker, as I mentioned before it is a lifestyle which I choose to live.

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!

BRAD: Thank you, Agent Red. Give my regards to your wine-loving Operatives!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of Sawyer Cellars, in Rutherford (Napa Valley), California, can be seen in this satellite photo.

What the Winery Says

About This Wine:

Delightfully balanced between lush fruit and velvety tannins, our 2005 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is an elegant wine that opens with intriguing aromas of wild blackberries and black currant layered with classic mocha and spice characteristics. On the palate, the dense blackberry is accompanied by cassis, and chocolate, while hints of the signature “Rutherford Dust” linger on the graceful finish. This full bodied Cabernet Sauvignon is enjoyable now and will continue to develop complexity as it ages for the next ten to twelve years.

About The Winery:

When Joanne and I first visited the valley over 20 years ago, it was love at first sight. We visited frequently and made great friends. We started attending the Napa Valley Wine Auction in the mid-eighties and met many of the growers and vintners- really, really nice people. In 1991 we made our first Cabernet Sauvignon – 120 cases. After an exhaustive, four year search, we finally found that “perfect place” right in the heart of the Napa Valley in the famed Rutherford appellation. Charles Sawyer – Proprietor

About The Vineyards:

Our 50 acre estate vineyard is located in the heart of the Rutherford Appellation, one of Napa Valley’s oldest grape-growing regions. The Valley’s first grapes were planted in this area more than 160 years ago by pioneer George Yount, who had been granted 11,814 acres of land from the Mexican government as repayment for services rendered. In 1864, Yount gave 1,040 acres as a wedding gift to one of his granddaughters, who married Thomas Rutherford. It was Rutherford who became the first in the area to make a serious commitment to premium viticulture and winemaking. Although initially planted as a vineyard, the property ultimately fell into general agricultural use, at one time host to walnut and plum orchards, as a result of the devastation of vineyard disease and the deleterious effects of prohibition on the winemaking industry.

Winemaking Style:

It is our hope that our wines reflect one of our greatest strengths: our grape source comprised of fifty acres of prized vineyard located in the heart of the Rutherford Growing District. Rather than imposing on our wines a preconceived style or succumbing to a highly extracted, over-oaked style of wine that can mask the underlying quality of the fruit, we strive through our winemaking to produce a wine that is true to its varietal characteristics and also expresses the unique qualities of a Rutherford-born wine.

About The Winemaker:

Brad Warner, a native Californian, was raised on the rustic northern pacific coastline. The values instilled in him by his family included a strong work ethic and a genuine appreciation for the natural environment that surrounded him, attributes which continue to define Brad today.

In 1967 Brad moved to the Napa Valley and began his career in the wine industry as a cellar worker for Charles Krug Winery. Three years later he moved to the new Robert Mondavi winery as Cellar Foreman.

During his career at Mondavi, Brad completed his formal education as well as gaining the invaluable hands on experience that informs his wine making today. Innumerable courses in winemaking and business management from Napa Valley College, UC Davis and Stanford University are a part of Brad’s background. Brad also traveled to Europe with the Mondavi family to visit first growth wineries in France to study their winemaking techniques. Brad says, “Learning winemaking with Robert, Tim and Michael Mondavi was a great experience”. He remained at Robert Mondavi Winery for nearly 30 years until he retired at age 52.

Brad had met Charles Sawyer in the early 1990s at a social function in Napa Valley. At that time they discussed their shared passion for the great wines produced in the area. A few years later Charles and his wife Joanne purchased their vineyards in the Rutherford appellation, and in 1995 Brad helped Charles produce 135 cases of their first red table wine.

In 1999, Brad began his second career as Winemaker for the newly established Sawyer Cellars. He worked with Charles to plan and build the winery and is very proud of the facility that opened for harvest later that year.

Brad feels that it is uncommon when two people both have the same strong passion and enological values for premium, quality wine making. For Brad and Charles, it happened.

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