If you’ve spent any time tasting wine in Napa Valley you can attest to the fact that Cabernet Sauvignon is everywhere. It happens that Napa is one of the places in the world where Cabernet truly flourishes. When journeying from one winery to another it can be a bit overwhelming when you realize that if all you did was taste Napa Cabernet, it would become a part time job to try every one in the valley. It is tempting though because there are so many fine examples out there. Production sizes, styles, vineyards and more vary so greatly that this one terrific grape produces a sea of distinct offerings.
Today I’m going to look at two from one small producer, Piña Napa Valley. The Piña family has a long history in Napa Valley that dates back to the 1860’s. While they are perhaps best known for their great reputation as vineyard managers, their wines have also earned a strong following and exceptional reputation amongst Cabernet lovers especially. Their winery is located on the Silverado Trail. Some of their offerings are made in tiny quantities and available only directly from the winery. Today’s selections, while still modest in case production, do see a little bit of distribution around the country.
First up is the Piña 2007 D’Adamo Cabernet Sauvignon. It is a single vineyard offering. The Piña family has leased this property since 1982. They replanted it in 1997. This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Barrel aging was accomplished over 20 months in French oak; 68% of the barrels were new. Just over 1,000 cases of this wine were produced and the suggested retail price is $75.
Black cherry, raspberry, truffle and a hint of eucalyptus mark the nose of this 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. Blackberry and continued cherry notes are evident throughout the palate. It has an intense, layered and well balanced attack loaded with wave after wave of unrelenting flavor. Graham cracker crust, tons of dusty baker’s chocolate, black pepper, earth and a terrific mineral component make up the lengthy finish of this wine. Tannins are finely grained and well integrated.
The D’Adamo Vineyard Cabernet is delicious right out of the bottle. But give it an hour or so of air, or watch it develop over a leisurely meal with a friend, and you’ll be even more impressed as it unleashes its charms. Of course laying it down for a few years would also work if you have the patience.
The second wine is the Piña 2007 Buckeye Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s also a single vineyard offering; Buckeye Vineyard is located on Howell Mountain. The Piña family has had this vineyard since 1996 and they planted it the following year. This selection is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Barrel aging was accomplished over 20 months in French oak; 73% of the barrels were new. 840 cases of this Mountain Cab were produced and the suggested retail price is $85.
Leather, cigar box, plum, berry and thyme are all present in the nose of this wine. Dark fruit including black raspberry, blackberry and an undercurrent of plum are all present throughout the palate which is layered with mountain fruit intensity. Anise, chicory, chocolate and plum pudding spice notes emerge in the impressively lengthy finish of this wine. This offering is tightly structured with firm tannins and solid acidity.
Much like the previous Cabernet, the Buckeye Vineyard needs air. A couple of hours in the decanter are hardly out of the question; that time will allow it to really shine. In truth this wine is really just a baby right now. Don’t get me wrong it’s pretty tasty. But if you want to get the very best out of this wine, lay it down for 8-10 years and then open it up. If you do decide to drink it now, pair it with something substantial.
When people speak about top shelf Napa Cabernet Sauvignon the Piña wines are the sort of releases they mean. I know it’s the style and quality of Cabernet I think of when outstanding examples come to mind. Both of these wines are exceptional and each of them is really just at the beginning of its lifecycle. The D’Adamo is a bit more accessible at the moment and it would be my choice if I was picking amongst these to drink tonight. If you love Cabernet from Napa Valley, consider the wines from Piña, you can thank me later.