For decades, a famous advertising campaign has been wondering what is most likely to become a legend. Over the years she has had stars like Judy Garland, Maria Callas, Marlene Dietrich, Elizabeth Taylor and Lauren Bacall. Recently Janet Jackson and Giselle Bundchen were represented. They were all icons of the pop culture of their time, famous for their talent, charisma and longevity.
The wines also achieve legendary status due to their quality, charisma and durability. It’s the opposite of the cult bottles. They are united by a good story that over time has led to greatness. They stimulate our imagination, ignite the sucking air and create an emotional bond that is stronger than that in a glass. There are nine legends of the Napa Valley.
Unicorn Vineyard Tri Palm Merlot
The Tri Palm Vineyard, considered Napa’s most important vineyard for Merlot, introduced the world to the revolutionary Dakhorn vineyards. The story began with 800 crates of the first three palms, marked in 1978 and made by Tom Rinaldi, the founder of the winery. It was sold for $12.50 a bottle, which was a lot of money at the time.
The founder Dan Duckhorn has been inspired from the beginning by Château Petrus, the famous Bordeaux Pomerol made of 100% Merlot. With three hands he felt he could compete. On the warm eastern edge of the valley below Calistoga, the vineyard is truly blessed with three palm trees planted by the socialist Lilly Coyt from San Francisco in the late 1800s.
Although it is thirsty at the bottom of the valley of thin, rocky and alluvial soils, where the roots have to dig deep for water and nutrients. Globally scattered volcanic rocks contribute to the structure and intensity of the wines, with thick, dark black and red fruits, dusty tannins and ferrous lands.
Most vines were planted in the 1990s. In 2011 Duckhorn took over the farm of Three Palms and started buying all the fruit after the Provençal and Sterling vineyards had moved to another location. In 2015 Duckhorn bought a 73 hectare vineyard.
Vineyard Three Palms of Merlot 2016 (94 points; $110) reflects his balanced strength. It shows the taste of chocolate plums, baker’s herbs and dried grass around a structured, strong and mineral core.
2014 Martha Cabernet Sauvignon and 2016 Rubicon / Photo by Jens Johnson
Winery Heitz Martha Cabernet Sauvignon
This wine was born in the sixties. Joe and Alice Heitz founded Heitz Winery on the hills of eastern St. Helena. In Oakville, Tom and Martha May also bought a vineyard, and the two couples became friends. The first vintage dates from 1966. The sale price was $9.
Joe was considered a winemaker, not a marketing man like his friend Robert Mondavi. He arrived in California from Illinois, where his parents and grandparents made homemade wine, for which young Joe picked wild grapes. He then studied oenology at the University of California at Davis.
After working with Andre Chelishchev at Gallo and Beaulie, Joe started teaching at the University of Fresno and helped open a department of oenology. But in the end he couldn’t resist the urge to open his own restaurant.
This place was located on Route 29, where there is still a small Heitz tasting room, next to a small part of Greenholino. Heitz’s most important estate is located in the east on Tapliner Straße, where the stone wine cellar dates back to the 1890s.
Joe was a pioneer. His decision to make a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon in the 1960s was unusual; most still produce blends. He also picked French oak very early.
Joe died in 2000 at the age of 81. The children of Alice and David and Kathleen continued to run the winery after his death and it now belongs to Gallon Lawrence Jr.
He was one of the first to understand the concept of single vineyard when he discovered that these wines were special, said Warren Vinyarsky of Wine Cellars deer riding in the Napa Valley Register obitz.
The Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard of March 2014 (100 points; $275) spent three years in 100% French oak, one year in neutral oak and another 12 months in bottle before being offered for sale. He has years to discover his core of eucalyptus, mint and cedar, the tattoo stones of the brand wine.
Inglenook Rubicon Cabernet Sauvignon
Inglenuk’s history began in 1879 in Rutherford, at the foot of the Majakamas Mountains, with the Finnish sea captain Gustav Nibaum.
After saving a fortune in Alaska, Nibaum bought the Inglenook property and neighboring property for $48,000. There he felt the great potential of the grape. Over time, he owned 1,100 hectares of land and began to produce wine. His extensive library of books on viticulture and oenology is now owned by the University of California at Davis.
The first harvest was brought in in 1882. Inglenook soon began to win international prizes for his wines. Château Inglenook, built in 1887, had the first sorting tables and bottling plants in the state and housed the gravity technology used in viticulture.
Nibaum died in 1908 and viticulture was continued and developed in Inglenuk. In 1919, Nibaum’s widow, Susan, was forced by a ban to stop producing wine, although she kept the vineyards and sold the grapes to the neighboring vineyards of Beaulieu for the sacred wines.
After the abolition of the drought law in 1933, Karl Bundschu worked in the wine industry. He accompanied Nibaum’s great-grandchild, John Daniel Jr., who eventually took over Inglenook and returned to the forefront in 1964 when the estate was sold and the brand’s reputation was damaged.
But in 1975 director Francis Ford Coppola founded an estate called Niebaum-Coppola Estate Winery. Three years later he created the first Rubicon vintage, a blend of Bordeaux-style reds named after Julius Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon, which was considered the point of no return during the Civil War in Rome.
Andre Chelistcheff has consulted, and the vineyards have made their way to organic certification. In 1996 Coppola bought the castle of Inglenook and the surrounding vineyards to create one of the largest neighbouring vineyards in the world.
In 2011, Coppola renamed the estate Inglenook and entrusted Philippe Bascole of Château Margot with the management of the winery and the development of a 50-year planting cycle of 235 hectares of vines.
In 2016, the Rubicon (93 points; $210) combines 93% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Cabernet France to create a classically styled wine with great restraint and structure.
Plates 2016 and Black Chicken Zinfandel 2017 / Photo by Jens Johnson
Logo of Joseph Phelps
The first Bordeaux-style luxury brand in the Napa Valley, Insignia, was born in 1974, red with a skeleton of District Reindeer Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Merlot. As a child of Joseph Phelps and his founder, the winemaker Walter Sug, he had to represent the best grapes they could find and demonstrate the power of blending.
Phelps didn’t have grapes of his own then, and these two weren’t on the same side.
In the beginning we weren’t out to make a trophy of red wine, Sug in The Best We Can Be explains: The life and wisdom of Joseph Phelps, Paul Shatkov. At that time, we were trying to make Americans understand the varieties…. So I wasn’t very happy making mixed wines.
In the 1960s, Phelps led one of the largest construction companies in the United States when he won a bid to build a winery in the Napa Valley. He has long been an ardent lover of European wine, and this project has opened up Napa’s potential for him. In 1973 he bought on the island of St. Helena. St. Helena Cattle Farm started planting vines.
In 1978, two years after the famous Terrible Paris Trial and the newly discovered fame of the Napa Valley, he prepared to publish the 1974 badge, and Phelps estimated the wine at $20. It was much higher than many Napa Cabs on the market, which shows that he believed in its quality.
Today Joseph Phelps grows 390 hectares of grapes on eight family farms. Winemaker Ashley Hepworth has been making the badge entirely from grapes grown on the estate since 2004. It attracts the best batches from the five Bordeaux grape varieties, although not all of them are present in the wine every year.
Badge of Excellence 2016. (98 points; $300) includes 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Pti Verdo and 3% each for Cabernet Franck and Malbec. It is beautifully constructed, spicy and designed for the aging process.
Robert Bialet Black Chicken Zinfandel
Bob Byale’s family started farming in Zinfandel in Napa, north of the city, in the modern Oak Knoll district in 1937. The ban and the global economic crisis have only just passed, but its consequences are still affecting the majority of California’s rural population.
Bob’s grandfather, Pietro Bialet, founded the ranch, but he died in an accident at work in 1942. Bob’s father, Aldo, who was only 13 years old at the time, started helping his mother Cristina with zinfandel, plums, nuts and white-legged chickens.
Subterranean domestic wine production soon followed, which took place under the protection of state regulations. To keep his wines a secret, the customers who used the phone at the party knew they could ask for a black chicken if they wanted his wine in a decanter. The vineyard likes to call these first customers the chicken coop.
This name not only distinguished them from the white chickens they sold, but also honored the wine of Chianti, where the black rooster is called Gallo Nero.
Biale celebrates these days with this friendly wine, as well as a variety of other Zinfandel wines made from old vines from historic sites. The first legal release of black chickens took place in 2000, mainly in the vineyards of the Oak Knoll area.
Aldo’s place in the history of Napa Valley was honored at the National Food and Wine Exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, where his old punch stick and grape box were on display. He died in 2009.
Black Chicken Zinfandel 2017 (91 points; $49) – bursting with sublime red fruit, concentrated tannins and a seductive texture.
2016 Order of Wineries Calaon Fum Blanc and 2015 Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon / Photo by Jens Johnson
Robert Mondavi Smoked White
When Robert Mondavi built the first large winery in the Napa Valley in 1966 under a drought law, the white wines, many of which are sweet, received a much higher percentage than they do today.
In his book Vintage of Joy, Mondavi remembers that he received the Sauvignon Blanc harvest from the producer. He didn’t know what to do with it, because a lot of things had been done in America at the time, of poor quality.
So I was wondering why we couldn’t find a way to reinvent Sauvignon Blanc and make it a success in America? He wrote.
Inspired by the Pouilly Fumé of the Loire Valley, he took this Sauvignon Blanc and matured it in French barrels to produce a light and refined wine. He called his creation Fumé Blanc and made dry and sweet versions of it the first year, when it cost $1.79.
Mondavi has always said that the unexpected success of his Sauvignon Blanc was a great first year. He also convinced him that he should always listen to himself, listen to his heart and have the courage to follow his own path.
In 2016, the $55 Fumé Blanc vineyard in Calonne will be home to the famous vineyard that lies behind the vineyard planted in 1868. Part of the fruit comes from the coveted I. Blok, where Sauvignon Blanc vines were planted with dry armaments for the first time in 1945. It would be the oldest Sauvignon Blanc vineyard in North America.
2018 Napa Valley Fumé Blanc (90 points; $24) is a delicious alternative in a mix with 13% Semillon.
Best Male Hillside Choice Cabernet Sauvignon
In 1973, one year after purchasing a property in the Deer Horse Riding Area, successful publisher John Shafer and his family moved from Chicago to the Napa River Valley. He read all he could about viticulture and winemaking, and his goal was to find a dry, hilly slope like the terraced vineyards of Europe.
He was shown an isolated site of 209 hectares under the high cornice of the Flying Deer Palisades, which had been on the market for three years. Thirty hectares, dating from the 1920s, were planted with red and white grapes.
But instead of looking at these steep, wild slopes to his disadvantage, Dad was happy, his son Doug Shafer wrote in the book Vineyard in Napa. This place was almost a photograph of what he was looking for, especially the southern and western slopes of the hills, which consist of thin layers of volcanic soil that allowed the vines to fight for survival and fulfill the promise of producing rich, lush, concentrated fruits.
The first year of Hillside Select was in 1983. That name was given after he was named Cabernet Shafer Reserve. The new name was more accurate because it was formed from the first 14 blocks of hills with names like Rattler, Lookout, Firebreak and John’s Folly.
It was Doug who first recognised the potential of wine as a winemaker in 1982.
I remember sitting in a barrel and having a wine tasting in one of Sunspot’s barrels, he wrote. My first direct thought was: Okay, here we go. The wine had an attractive perfume aroma. In his mouth he possessed richness, concentration and even sweetness in this phase of youth.
The winemaker Elias Fernandez has worked at Shafer since 1984 and still works there.
In 2015, Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon (96 points; $310) spent three years in a barrel. It is muscled in dark, concentrated fruit, Christmas herbs and dusty gravel. It’s velvety and it’s getting old.
2016 Barrel 23 Cabernet Sauvignon / Photo : Jens Johnson
Vessel 23 Cabernet SauvignonHirschsprung Cellar
The first winemaker, Robert Mondavi Weiner Warren Vinyarsky, founded Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in 1970 when he planted Cabernet Sauvignon in the plum garden under the palisades of what is now Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars.
Vinyarsky visited Nathan Fairy’s Cabernet vineyard, planted in 1961, and tasted the homemade wine produced by Fairy in 1969. Vinyarsky bought the neighboring land and called it Deer Skipping Vineyard, also known as S.L.V.
In 1976, his Cabernet de S.L.V. won first place on the famous Judgment Day in Paris in 1973 after tasting a series of first-class taxis from Bordeaux and California that lit up Cabernet’s place in the world’s Napa Valley.
From the beginning his goal was to produce a wine that would be an iron fist in a velvet glove. He was looking for a wine with a classic structure and elegance instead of a wine rich in extracts and tannins, sweet enough to be enjoyable in his youth.
In 1986 Vinyarsky bought the vineyard of Faye. The first harvest of Cabernet from the Fay vineyard was released in 1990. The Cabernet 23 barrel produced in the basement is a selection of the best from Fay and S.L.V.
The wine is named after a large wooden container that was refined in 1974 at the suggestion of André Tchelichtchev, S.L.V…. Today it has matured for 20 months in small French oak barrels and is still designed to mature, with long finishes and complex textures.
Barrel 23 Cabernet Sauvignon (95 points; $295) is a cohesive and beautiful expression of woody herbs, roasted oak and mocha, mixed with berry and liquorice scents, wrapped in a rich splendor and color.
2016 Rocky Chardonnay Hill / Photo by Jens Johnson
Rich Hill Chardonnay
It is believed that the first Chardonnay was grown in California under the Dry Act, which was planted on Spring Mountain in the 1940s by Fred and Eleanor McCrea. In 1952, when a commercial winery was built on this site, the property on the rocky slope became more than just a hobby for the owners and Fred started producing Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Gewürztraminer and Semilion.
It was not long before Chardonnay, produced in an elegant style from minerals, was compared to Chablis and repeatedly received gold medals at state fairs. The mineral skeleton consists of volcanic and limestone soils. Dry farming has also had an impact on Stony Hill wines because it sinks the roots deep into the water.
The original Chardonnay cuttings came from the Vente vineyard. In 1986 a large transplant took place. Fermentation takes place in neutral oak. The wine is then aged in more neutral oak, usually for 10 years. Stony Hill also avoids fermentation of apples and milk to emphasize acidity over richness.
Half of the annual production of 4,000 units remains chardonnay. In 1977 Fred’s assistant, Mike Celini, took over the winery, a position he still holds today.
In 2018, the Long Meadow Ranch family acquired Stony Hill Hall. Ted Hall said his Stony Hill family admired his low alcohol content, terroir wines with excellent acidity and minerality. The two families have also been committed to ecological and sustainable agriculture for a long time.
2016 Stony Hill Chardonnay (96 points; 54 USD) is a study in nuances of structure and age, with a clear, concentrated acidity and a heart of green apple, lemon verbena and wet stone.
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