2006 Willow's Blend Red Wine
California: Napa Valley
What We Say
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Mission Codename: Laughing Willow
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Comb the Napa Valley and secure the most delicious and best balanced Napa Valley red blend possible
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Moffett Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2006 Willow’s Blend – Napa Valley
Winemaker: Trent Moffett & Jennifer Rue
Backgrounder: Today’s blend of 50% Cabernet, 29% Cabernet Franc and 21% Syrah, come to us from Moffett vineyard sites in Yountville, Oak Knoll and St. Helena, respectively. This diversity of extraordinary sites has yielded some extraordinary fruit for the winery – all resulting in an extraordinary red blend. The Napa Valley is the birthplace of some of our very favorite wines. A single sip of today’s wine reveals why; the wine is deep and very delicious. This wine is a made from a blend of mountain fruit and fruit from the floor of the Napa valley, giving the wine with a balanced and best of both worlds flair. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and mission report below
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark burgundy, with heart of concentrated black cherry color. The edges take on a softly garnet-purple hue. When swirled, this wine shows of a heavy surface that settles quickly, leaving behind intriguing tears of varying widths and speeds
Smell – Big and brightly intense, with an immediate rush of red cherry, ripe blackberry, cassis and smoky blueberry. These are attached to soft spice, oak, subtle eucalyptus and a hint a caramel (oak)
Feel – Smooth,soft, light weight and slightly dry on the attack, this wine soon digs in, revealing a medium-body that is supported by medium-firm tannins and a balanced acidity
Taste – Bold and very delicious, slightly intense but well balanced with well integrated flavors of black cherry, ripe blackberry, spice, flinty mocha, with a hint of fresh herbs and softest spice
Finish – Dark and bold, ultra-long, with lingering black and red fruit flavors, soft minerals and a hint of smoke. The wine coats the mouth, causing flavors to hang around for a long very time. Then, as flavors tail off, the mouth waters, reminding us to take another delicious sip
Conclusion – In a word, extraordinary. While I have been really partial to single varietal wines of late, every now and then a blend just blows me away. Clearly, when a winemaker has access to the best fruit from the best vineyards sites around the Napa Valley, he or she has the opportunity to tinker and test – until the wine is just so. This is a boldly delicious wine that offers so much up to your senses. Richly aromatic this wine is a delight to simply inhale over and over. The feel of the wine wine has me experimenting with sips-to-gulps, in order to experience the wide range of sensations available to the palate. If you love delicious red blends, I give this wine a very big recommendation. Enjoy!
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Trent Moffett
DATE OF BIRTH: April 28th, 1969
PLACE OF BIRTH: Byrn Mawr, PA.
WINE EDUCATION: Hands on in the cellar and classes at UC Davis
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: I grew up in the wine business and started working at my family’s winery 4 days after getting my degree.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Vineyards, Vineyards, Vineyards. I’m definitely a minimalist and really enjoy watching the fruit go through it’s natural process.
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Cabernet Sauvignon
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Probably working in the South Island of New Zealand
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: The first 5 years working with my parents at Livingston Wines, my Dad and I were the only two in the Cellar and we shared some great times together.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: “It takes a lot of beer to make good wine” Probably used by many, but it’s still my favorite.
AGENT RED: Greetings, Trent. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Willow’s today. It’s delicious! Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
WINEMAKER: It’s great to have the wines with Wine Spies, you guys have a fun and exciting business.
RED: Like, you, we’re having fun in the wine trade! Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
WINEMAKER: It really started in College when I started a wine tasting group and was able to get some funding from the University till they figured out what I was actually doing. I grew up in the business, but fought it for a long time because I was much more interested in playing football with my friends or going out 4 wheeling and meeting friends.
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
WINEMAKER: In my parents cave. I’ve worked with an amazing group of winemakers in my career and have learned so much from each of them.
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
WINEMAKER: Growing up on a vineyard and winery, you learn early that you can’t do a whole lot with fruit that is inadequate. We successfully made probably 80% of our wines with natural yeast and have always enjoyed the luxury of having our tanks available for whatever cold soaking and extended maceration we need to bring out the full potential of the fruit. These days with the custom crush world, I’ve had to change a few things, but I also found a winery that only has 4 other custom crush clients, of which I’m one of the largest customers. We have experimented the last few years with dry ice in small open top bins during fermentation that I believe has made some amazing wines. I still believe if you get the vineyard right, the winemaking falls into place naturally.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
WINEMAKER: It’s hard to really pick from all the different people I’ve worked with. I guess I would say John Kongsgaard. He left Newton Vineyards and came to work for us on a consulting basis and brought a very different style and philosophy to our cellar then the old style we had with Randy Dunn. It was also a time when wine made a major shift from big tannic wines to big fruit forward wines. I also learned quite a bit from Greg Graham (Rombauers old winemaker) and Marco DiGiulio who makes wine for a number of amazing wineries.
RED: How long have you been making wine?
WINEMAKER: My full time cellar role at Livingston Wines, now Livingston Moffett Wines was 3 years into my job in 1995. Before that I was mainly doing sales and helping in the cellar when needed.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
WINEMAKER: Right now I have four different labels, two of which are mine (Moffett Vineyards and C&T Cellars) and two that I am partnered in (Gauge Wines and Napa Branding Company) I still run my parents label Livingston Moffett Wines, but do not have any winemaking responsibilities anymore.
RED: Tell me, what makes the Napa Valley so special?
WINEMAKER: The Napa Valley is one of the more unique growing regions in the world. With 15 different sub appellations you come across so many different soils and micro climates. We are blessed with the prefect climate for grapes with our geographic. We are close to the Bay allowing the fog to penetrate the valley giving us cool mornings and our afternoons can get quite warm for ripening the fruit. We can have close to a 60 degree shift in temperature in a 24 hour period.
RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
WINEMAKER: When you start up, try and work in different regions around the world, it will not only be some of the best times of your life, but you will get an education that you could never receive in school.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
WINEMAKER: Right now we are putting the 2009 vintage to bed. I only have one lot left that hasn’t completed malolactic fermentation. Once all the lots are through ML, I will rack the wines removing the harder sediments and then let the wine rest for the next 3-5 months. I do have one lot of Cabernet Franc where we are stirring the Lees (sediments) to help broaden the mid palate.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
WINEMAKER: The 2006 Willow’s Blend is my second release under the Moffett Vineyards label. The wine is named after my 3 ½ year old daughter Willow. These are three of my favorite vineyards, the largest is only about 3 acres in size. The Cabernet is from St. Helena, neighboring a vineyard that my parents and I used to work with called Rockpile. This little site is one of the rockiest vineyards you will find in the Napa Valley, I actually put a letter in the owner’s mailbox after not finding him at home asking him if I could get some of his fruit. Two year later I controlled the vineyard. The Syrah vineyard was planted in the early ‘90’s on a friends property with the help of my Father and we have controlled his vineyard since day one. Finally the Cabernet Franc is another St. Helena piece that is just under an acre of planted vineyards – basically a backyard.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
WINEMAKER: This is a Meat lovers wine, also great with a Mushroom dish. I had it tonight with some homemade pizza, a few different cheeses, Shitake mushrooms, onions and a few basil leaves – YUM.
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
WINEMAKER: I love bungee jumping and sky diving. With 3 kid’s years 3 and under, it’s been awhile but it’s got to be the greatest high and rush in the world!
RED:What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
WINEMAKER: Anything with a cork or screw cap as long as it’s with good company. I met my father-in-law for the first time at a Basque Restaurant in Bakersfield and remember the first bottle going down real quick, when I turned and asked the lady for another bottle (this is a large family style restaurant with 3 or 4 table that seat a 100 or so at each table – wine included or at least the first bottle) she responded by saying that it would cost me another $4 for the bottle! I looked around like it was a joke, but that was the deal. I believe they had a barrel in the back and they just went back and siphoned out another bottle. It was all good to me.
RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
WINEMAKER: There are soooo many wines out there today making it harder and harder to know what you are getting. This is one of the reason I enjoy Wine Spies so much, here you get to actually meet the person behind the scenes. For me wine is about more then what’s in the bottle, it’s about the story behind the wine also. I look at wine like a photo album; I remember restaurants, places and events by the wine I was drinking. I really enjoy learning about the people behind the wine. On my C&T Cellars bottle, I have my cellar phone number on the cork – that’s fun, I love the calls.
RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
WINEMAKER: 1976 Freemark Abbey Petit Syrah from the York Creek Vineyard – this is probably the greatest wine I’ve had from California. It’s easy to throw out there some crazy old year from France, but I will tell you this Freemark Abbey drinks like a youthful soul mate. I actually have one bottle of the 1976 and it kills me because I have no idea when to drink it, I get sweaty palms when I hold the bottle thinking about opening it up and never do. The last one I tried was about 4 years ago and it was off the charts good.
RED: What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?
WINEMAKER: I guess it would be what do you do outside of the wine business? I find pure relaxation on the golf course and in the outdoors. I used to go to a lot of concert, mainly the Grateful Dead and I love to be around water. My favorite trip was a white water rafting trip in British Columbia with my Dad, we spent 9 days on the river starting in the glazier lakes and finishing in the desert on a 30 foot raft powered by a 250 horse powered outboard hitting class V rapids on the Fraser River, what a rush!
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!
WINEMAKER: Thank you, Agent Red. I am looking forward to our next covert mission together!
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Deep dark purple color – Powerful aroma of blackberries, spice, earth and toasted oak. The rich aromas follow through on the palate. The wine has a juicy rich mouth feel with lots of big fruit flavors on the front of the palate.
The mid palate picks up the spice and earthy notes from the Syrah and the finish is long and month watering with nice bright fruit from the Cabernet Franc component. This wine will age well but is impressive out of the gate. – Trent Moffett
The Vineyard: We have two excellent vineyards that help make up the Willow’s Blend Red Wine. The first in a St. Helena vineyard that is planted to 3 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and 1 acre of Cabernet Franc. The vineyard neighbors an old vineyard we worked with at Livingston Moffett that we named “rockpile” for its extreme soil. This is arguably the rockiest vineyard in the Napa Valley and provides us with concentrated stressed out fruit. The second vineyard is my Syrah vineyard in the Oak Knoll District. This practically dry farmed vineyard gives us (naturally) very low yields with dark as night fruit and wonderful syrah characteristics.
About The Winery:
Moffett Vineyards is located 1800 feet above the Napa Valley floor in the heart of the Howell Mountain Appellation. We are proudly carrying on our family’s tradition of viticulture using hands on approach to farming, winemaking, sales and customer service to create our finely crafted Napa Valley wines. Trent Moffett, a second generation vintner, is dedicated to producing top notch wines in limited quantities, from four different vineyards nestled into four distinct sub-appellations of the Napa Valley: Howell Mountain, Rutherford, St. Helena and the Oak Knoll District. Each vineyard is as unique as it appellation.
About Trent Moffett:
Trent grew up in the vineyards of Napa Valley, spending many summers working at family and independent vineyards. Upon graduating from the University of the Pacific with a BA in agricultural business, Trent joined the family business at Livingston Vineyards. There, with his father John Livingston, he learned the appreciation of winemaking from Livingston’s first wine maker, Randy Dunn. Trent’s multifaceted roles ranged from California sales to cellar master. Within a few years, Trent assumed all cellar operations, collaborating with esteemed winemaker Greg Graham from Rombauer (1992-1996), John Kongsgaard (1996-2001), and Marco DiGiulio (2001-2006). Trent worked a harvest in New Zealand’s South Island with Grant Taylor, one of New Zealand’s most honored winemakers. During this time period, he also started his own wine labels. In 1993 he introduced C&T Cellars, a négociant wine label, and just recently he formed Moffett Vineyards in 2005.
Trent’s experience has taken him from every aspect of winemaking to owning and operating a family business. His passion continues to grow with Gauge Wine.
Harvest Dates: September 28th, October
Tons per acre: Cabernet 2.75 tons, Cabernet Franc 2 tons and Syrah 2
BRIX: 26.9, 25.4 & 28.2
Varietals: 50% Cabernet, 25% Syrah and 25% Cabernet Franc
Production: 768 cases
Winemakers: Trent Moffett & Jennifer Rue
Aging: 22 months in French Oak 65% new barrels