Selections for July 2017

Power, unabashed.

2013 KENEFICK RANCH ‘Picket Road Red’ – Calistoga, Napa Valley

Wine Rep to Wine Buyer on How to Sell This Wine:

“Tell ‘em about the owner, a retired neurosurgeon who now applies his attention to detail to his vineyard, and who sells nearly all of its yield, keeping just a small fraction for his own ‘Kenefick Ranch’ label.”

“List the unique cepage – 50% Petit Verdot for intensity of color, violets in the nose, and structural purpleness on the palate . . . 30% Merlot to calm all that down a little with a cushioning effect . . . 20% Cabernet Sauvignon for that classical combo of black olives and cassis.”

“Describe the location, right across the street from Araujo, who would charge you many times this price for their own product.”

“Remind ‘em about 2013, quite possibly Napa’s most important vintage EVER.”

“Mention Calistoga, that top-of-the-valley wine place which until recently (2010) could only be called ‘Napa Valley’ on the label.  This may be our first official ‘Calistoga’ submission to your club.”  

You know what?  Screw all that.  I think you should just pour this and say, “WOW!”  Such saturation of color, flagrance of fragrance, and impact of structured fruit on the palate says it all:  This is a lot of durable Napa juice for the money!! RIBEYE ALERT!!!


A kinder, gentler 2013


This guy has done it all. 

David Ramey worked at Petrus.  He got the Matanzas Creek and Chalk Hill balls rolling.  He helped convert the original Girard into Rudd.  He made Dominus.  He gave California winemaking a broader list of techniques to consider, with enlightenment on barrel fermentation, sur lie aging, and bottling sans filtration.  He has earned the right to be a stuck up jerk; one of those wine industry know-it-alls who make sure you know they know.

- And he’s anything but.  I’ve sat with David at a lunch or two and can attest to his down-to-earth-ness and generosity with his incredible awareness and experience.  He oversees the making of great Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon under his eponymous label these days, and certainly deserves to be so identified.

. . . And this Cabernet is so like the man.  If the Kenefick Ranch offering is daunting and brash like some roaring, smoke-belching funny car on the race track, this 2013 swerves to pass it with a Jaguar’s elegant deftness.  All of its parts work so cooperatively that you don’t even notice the parts.  The fragrance is the feel is the flavor is the finish.  Vintage 2013 does exert itself with a slightly astringent finish, but these are the good kinds of tannins provoking hunger and providing a backbone for aging. 

I would call this a modern day classic, and point out our very good price.