Mission Codename Claus, claws, clouds
In the string of truly outstanding recent vintages in Napa Valley, 2015 is one of the most memorable, as the Wine Advocate words it perfectly; “best wines from 2015 are singular, totally unique expressions of their vineyards and are absolutely spectacular.” Moreover, Cloudy’s Vineyard sits between two esteemed neighbors; Switchback Ridge and Hourglass! This Kirk Venge made single-vineyard hits the mark and truly exemplifies all that, and more. What’s more is 55% savings, unheard of for a Cult Napa label of this caliber!
Black as a moonless night and opaque as charcoal, with ruby-purple twirls surrounding the narrow rim. Bold black cherries, dark chocolate, toasty baking spices, are all integrated on the nose into wild blackberries, and oak nuances. Massive on the entry, yet fresh with an embracing lift in the midpalate with a luxurious mouthfeel that feels at once warm, and plush. The finale leaves the palate with a ‘cloudy’ feel rising higher into the stratosphere as time starts to blur with a seemingly forever finish. This gentle giant begs for protein and spice, be it an aged, marinated rare ribeye or an ethnic lentil stew. Don’t be afraid to turn things up a notch with the pairings as this has the necessary oomph to meld it all together.
Back in the day when this project first made it to the wine news, the potential was evident, according to a Wine Spectator wineries to watch feature; “Claus Janzen debuted Bacio Divino (“divine kisses”) in 1993, creating a high-quality Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petite Sirah blend. He’s since added other unique blends - Pazzo (Sangiovese and Zinfandel) and Vagabond (Syrah and Cabernet) to that portfolio. His newest label, Janzen, is a departure from the blending philosophy, making two 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignons from distinctive vineyard sites. Cloudy’s Vineyard is a 2.5-acre parcel of Janzen’s land lying about 600 feet above the valley floor between St. Helena and Calistoga, and the much-lauded To Kalon located in Oakville. Nils and Kirk Venge are the winemaking consultants.”
According to Kyle Janzen, Cloudy’s is actually his father and founder Claus Janzen’s nickname. The Janzens bought the site in early 1999, and built a home and planted the estate vineyard over the next 18 months. Their first harvest was 2004 and they decided the wine was deserving of single-vineyard status and had to come up with a name for the site. Initially, they were going to call it Blue Squirrel (Parker’s first review of it actually lists it as Janzen Blue Squirrel Vineyard!) but Claus had a change of heart before the final bottling as he wanted something more personal. Claus’ Vineyard didn’t really have a great ring to it, and he worried people would pronounce it incorrectly (he pronounces Claus like Claws) so he decided to go with the nickname his buddies had for him growing up, which was Cloudy. To this date, he signs all his emails as Cloudy, and often takes the moniker of Cloudy headed winemaker.
Arriving directly from the Janzen library, these bottles will once again be gone before sunset. Grab as much as you possibly can, we’re talking the BIG LEAGUE of Napa Cabernet here at a fraction of the entry cost into the category.
Here’s what the wine press has to say:
95 Points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate - “Cloudy’s Vineyard is an estate vineyard located in the Vaca Mountains in Dutch Henry Canyon, between Switchback and Hourglass vineyards at 400 feet elevation. Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2015 Janzen Cloudy’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon leaps from the glass with bold kirsch, black raspberries, blackcurrant pastilles and eucalyptus scents plus hints of Chinese five spice and cigar box. Full-bodied, concentrated and jam-packed with black fruit preserves and exotic spice layers, it has a fantastically plush texture and a lively line lifting the long, cedar laced finish. Drink 2021-2040.”
What the Winery Says
2015 Cloudy's Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
- Kirk Venge
- 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
- Calistoga, Napa Valley
- Cloudy’s Estate Vineyard, planted in 2000
- Clone 336 with 110R rootstock
- 450-500 ft above Dutch Henry Canyon
- Sandy loam, volcanic rock and obsidian
- 0.68 /100ml
- 26 months
- 100% new French oak by Taransaud, Gamba and Sylvain from Allier and Tronçais forests
- Release Date
- April 1, 2018
- 6 barrels