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Mar 17, 2010 01:46 PM

Very Specific Napa Wineries

I would like to check out some wineries next week. I am looking for specific styles of wine. I want to see if I can find 2-3 wineries still making cabs or bordeaux blends in the old style. This means low alcohol levels <14%, and not big "Parker scoring fruit bombs" I have not been to NV in many years my old freliables were Stag's Leap and Caymus and Duckhorn. I have almost given up on California wine but last year Chowhounds helped to steer me to some great Pinot producers in Sonoma that are still letting the terrior come through. I know I have read some articles about how there is a small movement to return to an older style of winemaking but can't remember where it was. Thanks.

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  1. There was an article in the Financial Times this weekend about this and Ridge was mentioned. I am not sure if they have a tasting room in Napa or Sonoma though since the article mentioned that they are located near Silicon Valley.

    3 Replies
      1. re: wolfe

        Ridge would be a good example of what I am looking for but they are in Sonoma and that is mainly their zinfandels. I was hoping there might be some small lesser known upstarts that are in the same style. I read the article referenced above and agree with JR about how CA wines are moving into the realm of non food friendly and way over "produced." at least for me. Any wineries similar to how Swan produces pinot in Sonoma is what I am looking for. Thanks.

        1. re: scfinson

          I just remembered something about the article I read they talked about some new young winemakers that worked at some big wineries but made some wines themselves and one of them was one of the Mondavi's wifes's son. Does this ring a bell with anyone?

    1. Mayacamas and possibly Dunn are two that come to mind.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Scott M

        Second the Mayacamas rec. I would also add Cathy Corison's wines at Corison Winery on 29 just south of St. Helena. She makes wonderful old-style wines that age very very well. Dunn is probably another good recommendation, but I haven't had his wines in over a decade. Cain Vineyards grows all 5 Bordeaux varietals and sticks to a more restrained French style. All of these are pretty expensive, but Cain has a cuvee that is $30-$40 a bottle that is pretty good.

        To the OP: sad to say your old standby of Caymus is pretty much at the bleeding edge of the new fruit bomb style today. They're experimenting with super low acid wines that allow the fruit to explode in the mouth, and will not age at all.

        Corison Winery
        987 Saint Helena Highway St, Helena, CA

        1. re: SteveG

          While I agree that Caymus is a fruit bomb, the winery has been realistic about pricing in the current economy and has discounted its top wine, Caymus Special Selection quite steeply. I've seen it on restaurant wines lists for about $125 (which is less than previous vintage's retail price) and it should be at retailers for less than $100.

      2. Liparita's Stags Leap Cab is 13.7% and it can be tasted at Napa Wine Company. The same day that I was tasting at NWC (last Friday to be exact) I also paid a repeat visit to Sullivan Vineyards. Their winemaker is French, and they have a table red that is 13.5% and some of their blends are just slightly over 14% (I bought a bottle of their Couer de Vigne which is 14.1%).

        I too have been looking for lower alcohol reds but they are hard to find in Napa.


        Napa Wine Company
        7830 40 St Helena Hwy, Oakville, CA

        1. Buried in this post is a discussion of Acorn, which you might enjoy.

          1. Frog's Leap, maybe? Their reds seem to be mostly <14%, plus I've heard that visiting there is a really fun experience.