11 November, 2012

Napa Gems: Spring Mountain Vineyard and Its Chardonnay and Cabernet

Drawn by a longtime, childhood dream to see the “Falcon Crest” house of 1980’s TV fame, and my ongoing search for lean, elegant, subtle, structured wines in Napa, I took my mom to taste at Spring Mountain Vineyard last weekend.  Although we could only see the famous house from a distance, the tasting and our short walk around the Miravalle property, the lowest part of the Spring Mountain Vineyard estate, were stunning and educational.

As our hosts Tony and Brynn showed us with a Google Earth tour of the estate, Spring Mountain Vineyard  rises over a thousand feet over several microclimates and four original, contiguous vineyard properties that date back to the 19th century. In general, the Spring Mountain AVA gets a lot of rain in the winter and cool afternoons and evenings in the summer, and the vineyards on the Miravalle part of the estate are surrounded by shadowy, lush, evergreen hills.  Almost all the vineyards are sloped so that well-drained, sedimentary soil stresses the vines to create more concentrated fruit and lower yields than in the vineyards on the valley floor.  As of this Veterans Day weekend, the Spring Mountain crew was still picking Cabernet from the estate’s highest vineyards at nearly 1450 feet.

Noontime sun and shadows at Miravalle, Spring Mountain Vineyard

Spring Mountain Vineyard tastings take place in an olive tree grove facing the winery and terraced vineyards.  The wines we tasted were all beautiful but two stood out.  Aged in neutral oak, the non-malolactic 2010 Chardonnay had a very pretty nose of lemon, orange blossom, and honey.  The wine is weighty but crisp in the mouth with citrus and apple flavors up front and minerality and caramel on the finish.  The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon had funky, earthy, leathery, and cherry aromas—almost too beautiful to stop smelling and start tasting.  It tasted just as beautifully with silky tannins and concentrated raspberries, cranberries, herbs and balanced acidity on the front and a long leathery, almost meaty finish.  It is easily my favorite Cabernet in several years for its elegance, restraint, and a sense of a place on a gorgeous autumn day.

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