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Freemark Abbey - a brief review and tasting

Published:  23 September, 2016

A brief look at Freemark Abbey, an iconic Napa winery, and two of their top wines....

I'm always amazed at the things you pick up when you delve into the history of a well known or famous winery. Who knew for example that the original redwood cellar on the land we now know as Freemark Abbey was built and then subsequently operated by a lady called Josephine Tychson in 1886; one of the first female winemakers on record in Napa Valley? You can thank me later if that ever comes up in a pub quiz....

It wasn't until 1939 that the winery became known as Freemark Abbey. In 1968 they were mentioned in Leon D. Adams' book "Wines of America" which compared their 1968 Cab Sauv to a "good vintage of Chateau Margaux". High praise indeed...

Then, of course, came the Judgement of Paris in 1976. Freemark Abbey were one of only 12 wineries from America chosen to compete and the only winery who had both a white and red represented (in their case a 1969 Cabernet Sauvignon and a 1972 Pinot Chardonnay). Whilst they weren't the top performing American winery at the tasting their status as a top winery had been cemented.

Of course the key question is, "How did their more recent wines perform on a random Thursday evening in Worcestershire"? You can keep your fancy international blind tasting competitions, this is the real acid test:

Napa Valley Chardonnay 2012

Whilst obviously being keen to remain impartial I knew I'd love this wine before I tried it....The citrus and apple notes combine to form a rich tasting palate with hints of nut. This is a fantastic medium-bodied refreshing and crisp Chardonnay. It's the kind of wine you want to bash the "Anything But Chardonnay" brigade over the head with to be honest...

Napa Valley Merlot 2011

Whilst Chardonnay is not a grape I could ever be accused of neglecting the same cannot be said for Merlot. But for guest star spots in blends I can't recall the last time I sat down to enjoy one. This wine however will fix that as it'll live long in the memory. This is jam packed with layers of black fruits, chocolate and spiced notes underscored with hints of oak. I'll happily admit to being far more impressed here than I expected to be.