What We Say 2006 Affinity Napa Valley Cabernet
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s selection from Robert Craig Winery is truly a wine of elegance and finesse. If you are a fan of the great Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine belongs in your cellar and on your table!
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Mission Codename: Affinity for Greatness
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Investigate Napa’s Robert Craig Winery
Mission Status: Ongoing…
Current Winery: Robert Craig Winery
Wine Subject: 2006 Affinity Napa Valley Cabernet
Winemaker: Robert Craig
While Robert Craig Winery is well known for their mountain fruit wines, today’s selection is made from fruit found in in the Mt. George region of southeastern Napa near the Stag’s Leap District. This area rivals Rutherford for top honors of Napa’s Cabernet Sauvignon. The region is best known for exceptional Bordeaux varietals and today’s selection is an excellent example of the character of the region’s wines.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep and dark purple with garnet reflexes through its dense but clear core. Along the edges the color remains a deep garnet and when swirled, widely-spaced fat legs hang for a few seconds before descending to the wine below.
Smell – Medium in intensity with inviting aromas of lush and vivid black-fruit including blackberry, black cherry and blueberry are interlaced with toasted and smokey oak, exotic allspice and floral violets.
Feel – Smooth and rich, this full-bodied classic is dry with finely grained silky tannins and bright but balanced acidity. Mouth-coating and expansive, with excellent minerality, this wine has real staying power that lingers long into the finish.
Taste – Plush and rich flavors of black cherry, plum, blackberry and blueberry with subtle and sentimental allspice and mild cinnamon. Flavors of toasted oak are well integrated with complex black olive, mocha coffee and the underlying minerality that is initially felt on the palate.
Finish – Warm and lingering, this clean and well structured wine’s flavors clings to the palate, making the mouth water in anticipation of another sip.
Conclusion – The 2006 Robert Craig Winery Affinity Napa Valley Cabernet is a delicious Cabernet Sauvignon (blend) with tremendous character. Warm and inviting on both the nose and the palate, this wine is drinking wonderfully right now but has the backbone to cellar for years to come. We enjoyed this delicious wine with word-fire grilled pork-loin seasoned simply with garlic, pepper, paprika and sea-salt.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Keith Emerson
DATE OF BIRTH: 3/22/76
PLACE OF BIRTH: Boston, Mass.
WINE EDUCATION: Enology & Viticulture / Fermentation Science B.S., UC Davis
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Director of Winemaking – Vineyard 29, Consulting Winemaker – Robert Craig Winery, Winemaker – Knighton Family Vineyards, Leaf + Twig Vineyard, Gundlach Bundschu Winery, Bartholomew
Park Winery, Owner / Winemaker – Emerson Brown Wines, Owner / Winemaker – Emerson Wines (all current)
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Gentle, meticulous handling and attention to detail every step of the way. Small lot, hands on winemaking, utilizing gravity as much as possible and showcasing the fruit from each specific site.
SIGNATURE VARIETALS: Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Establishment of Emerson Brown Wines in 2005 (tremendously successful, boutique Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc), hand crafted in Vineyard 29’s state of the art facility
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Establishment of Emerson Wines in 2009. Single-vineyard (Shea Vineyard) Oregon Pinot Noir, hand crafted in Vineyard 29’s state of the art facility
WINEMAKER QUOTE: If you work harder than the next guy and pay attention to detail every step of the way, good things will happen!
AGENT RED: Greetings, Keith Emerson. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Robert Craig Winery “Affinity” Cabernet Sauvignon today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
KEITH: Thanks for having me
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
KEITH: I grew up in the restaurant and bar business back east. I’ve always said that I fell in love with wine through food.
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
KEITH: Honestly, on the job experience has been even more beneficial than my studies at UC Davis (though I learned a lot there as well, of course).
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
KEITH: Gentle, meticulous handling and attention to detail every step of the way. Small lot, hands on winemaking, utilizing gravity as much as possible and showcasing the fruit from each specific site.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
KEITH: I’ve been fortunate to work with and learn from several world class winemakers including Philippe Melka, Andy Erickson, Celia Welch, Zelma Long, Allan Johnson (NZ), and others.
RED: How long have you been making wine?
KEITH: 12 years
RED: Who do you make wine for?
KEITH: The wine drinker!
RED: Tell me, what makes the Napa Valley so special?
KEITH: The amazing geological activities that have occurred here over time. So many microclimates and soil types in such a small valley!
RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
KEITH: Lots of hard work, ridiculous hours, don’t ever plan on vacationing in September or October for the rest of your life!
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
KEITH: Online interviews (kidding)! Post-harvest vineyard meetings, post-harvest wine lot evaluation tastings, barreling down 2009 reds, ordering bottling supplies for upcoming bottling season, winterizing the winery, etc.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
KEITH: 2006 was my first vintage working with Robert Craig Winery and thus my first opportunity to influence the wines. The 2006 Affinity is a harmonious blend of primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, with a few additional Bordeaux blenders, from select valley and hillside vineyards.
Aroma: Concentrated berry and black cherry fruit at the forefront, underlaiin with sweet cassis and touches of violets, lavender and spicy oak. Flavors: A beautifully polished core of black fruit on the mid-palate, interwoven with black olive, red currant, espresso and a hint of maple. Finish: Lush and generous, focusing on more dense fruit, enlivened with crisp acidity and silky, fine-grained tannins.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
KEITH: Rack of lamb
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
KEITH: Huge Boston Celtics, Red Sox, New England Patriots fan
RED: What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
KEITH: Difficult to say though I always love a clean, refreshing Vhinos Verde from Portugal.
RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
KEITH: With an open mind and an appreciation for exciting, unique, well-made wines
RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
KEITH: Tough question… maybe DRC La Tache
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!
KEITH: Thanks very much!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Robert Craig Winery in the Howell Mountain region of Napa can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
“Kudos to Robert Craig for such impressive achievements.” – ROBERT PARKER The Wine Advocate
“Ranked among the Wine Spectator’s Top 50 Napa Valley Cabernets based on ratings garnered over the past 15 years.”
About This Wine:
Finesse and grace are the hallmarks of this classy 2006 Cabernet, echoing a Margaux-like complexity, depth and harmony. Dark, luscious fruit is married with ripe, round tannins that provide the structure for aging. Since the Affinity debuted 15 years ago, this Bordeaux-style Cabernet has been a sought-after favorite on wine lists of the nation’s top restaurants and fine wine shops. The 2006 blend is 76% Cabernet, 13% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot.
Aroma: Concentrated berry and black cherry fruit at the forefront, underlaiin with sweet cassis and touches of violets, lavender and spicy oak.
Flavors: A beautifully polished core of black fruit on the mid-palate, interwoven with black olive, red currant, espresso and a hint of maple.
Finish: Lush and generous, focusing on more dense fruit, enlivened with crisp acidity and silky, fine-grained tannins.
Vineyard Notes: The foundation for Affinity is Robert Craig’s estate vineyard and an adjoining property to the south of the Stag’s Leap district, in the southeastern foothills of Mt. George. This Bordeaux-like growing area supplies bright, distinctive black-red Cabernet fruit. Other varietals add structure and complexity.
About The Winery:
Robert Craig Winery showcases four award-winning, terroir-based Cabernet Sauvignons from exceptional Napa Valley mountain and hillside vineyards.
These cellar-worthy, structured and stylish Cabernets convey a unique personality derived from the soils, climate and varietal characteristics of each growing region.
When Robert Craig decided to make a flagship Bordeaux-style Cabernet blend in 1993, he looked for entirely different fruit sources from his mountain Cabernets. He was fortunate to find an exceptional 8-acre vineyard to the south of Stag’s Leap in the Mt. George foothills of southeastern Napa Valley.
This region, known as Coombsville, is reminiscent of Bordeaux in its moderate, cool growing conditions – yet unique in its own right. Our estate vineyard and a neighboring property are the foundation for the Affinity blend, supplying bright, distinctive black-red Cabernet fruit with hints of currants and violet notes.
About The Winemaker:
ROBERT CRAIG Vintner – For Robert Craig, winemaking always begins with the vineyards — more specifically, with his belief in the crucial importance of vineyard location in producing wines of tremendous depth and character.
By concentrating on small quantities of wine from distinctive Napa Valley mountain vineyards, he has been able to create wines that reflect the impact of “terroir,” or the combination of soils, climate and viticultural characteristics of the growing locale.
Our winemaking philosophy builds upon the best that the winegrowing appellation has to offer. The goal is to let each wine’s special personality and unique qualities shine through.
Blend: 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot
Appellation: Napa Valley
Harvest Date: Sept. 30 – Nov. 1
Sugar: 25.6 Brix
Aging: 16 Months in French Oak
Bottling Date: April 2008
Production: 5800 Cases