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Go West

Published:  23 July, 2008

The 2005 Napa Valley Vintners tour rolls into London next week. Stuart Peskett profiles the headline acts

Napa Valley Vintners Tasting

Thursday 8 September


The Music Room, 26 South Molton Lane

London W1

Nearest Tube: Bond Street

Napa Valley Vintners 2005

tour participants:

Beringer Vineyards

Cakebread Cellars

Chimney Rock Winery

Clos Du Val Wine Co


Duckhorn Vineyards

Ehlers Estate

Far Niente

La Jota Vineyard Company

Markham Vineyards

Niebaum-Coppola Estate Winery

Oakville Ranch Vineyards


Peju Province

Robert Craig Wine Cellars

Robert Mondavi Winery

Rutherford Hill Winery


Schramsberg Vineyards

Shafer Vineyards

Silverado Vineyards

St Supry Vineyards & Winery

Stags' Leap Wienry

Trinchero Winery

Turnbull Wine Cellars

Sunny side up

Shafer, the first 100% solar-powered winery in Napa and Sonoma, will be showing its 2003 Merlot and its 2001 Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon. The company began producing solar power in December last year, with a system of 784 solar panels, at a cost of nearly $1 million. The system produces enough electricity in one hour to power 2030 homes.

Watch the birdie

This month sees the opening of Paraduxx, the new winery of Duckhorn Wine Company. The new winery, located on a 5-acre parcel of land in the Yountville appellation, runs alongside the Silverado Trail. The new winery is a designated site for Duckhorn's signature red, Paraduxx, a blend of Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Other wines to taste on the day include the 2004 Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc, the 2003 Napa Valley Merlot and the 2002 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

New from Mondavi

Robert Mondavi Winery, now part of Constellation Europe's Cellar Door division, will be offering eight wines to taste from the company's Napa, District, and Reserve ranges. These include the 2002 Napa Fum Blanc, the 2004 Moscato D'Oro, the 2002 Reserve Pinot Noir and the 1999 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

Importer wanted

Peju Province Winery, which is based in Rutherford and is 100% organic, will be bringing three of its wines to the tasting and hoping to attract the attentions of UK importers in the process. It will be showing the 2002 Zinfandel and 2002 Syrah from its Estate Bottled Napa Valley range, as well as the 2001 Rutherford Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

Meritage Heritage

Two of the wines on offer from St Supry will be its Meritage blends: the 2000 Elu, which contains all five classic Bordeaux red varieties, and the 2003 Virtu, a Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend. Both blends change slightly each year depending on the quality of the vintage's fruit.

St Supry's CEO, Michaela Rodeno, was elected chairman of the Meritage Association in 1999, and she will be in London for the tasting. Other wines on show will include the 2004 Sauvignon Blanc, the 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2004 Oak Free Chardonnay.

Power of three

Paterno Wines International will be representing three wineries at the tasting: Chimney Rock, Rutherford Hill and Markham. Chimney Rock, based in Stags Leap District, is best known for its Cabernet Sauvignons, and the 2002 vintage will be available for tasting, as will the 2003 Fum Blanc.

Rutherford Hill uses a mix of bought-in grapes as well as fruit from its own 60-acre vineyard in the Rutherford appellation. Wines to taste on the day include the 2004 Rose of Merlot, the 2002 Chardonnay and the 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Markham wines available on the day include the 2002 Zinfandel, the 2001 Petite Sirah and the 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Double take

Silverado Vineyards will be presenting both of its Cabernet Sauvignons: one from estate vineyards in the Napa Valley and the other a single-vineyard Cab from Stags Leap District. The 2003 Sauvignon Blanc will also be available for tasting. The winery is preparing its 25th-anniversary celebrations, which will begin in 2006.

Sign here

Dariousch, which is based on the Silverado Trail, will be presenting two wines: the 2002 Signature Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2002 Signature Shiraz. The latter received a 90-point score from Wine Spectator magazine earlier this year.

French connection

Clos du Val, whose 1972 Cabernet Sauvignon was one of five selected for the famous 1976 Paris tasting, will be showing five wines, including the 2002 Chardonnay, the 2003 Pinot Noir, 2003 Zinfandel and the 2001 Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon.

All change

Beringer will be showing its 2003 Napa Valley Chardonnay for the first time, which it claims is very different to its previous Chardonnays, produced in a 'crisp, fruit-driven style'. Other wines on show include the 2003 Napa Valley Fum Blanc, the 2003 Napa Valley Pinot Noir and the 1999 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Solo performance

Silver Oak Cellars only produces Cabernet Sauvignon and just one at that. Its current release is the 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley, which will be available for tasting. The winery motto is 'Life is a Cabernet'.

Piece of cake

Cakebread Cellars will be offering its 2004 Sauvignon Blanc, 2003 Chardonnay and 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon at the tasting. Bruce Cakebread will be present at the Scottish annual tasting in Turnberry on 16-17 November.

Family affair

Trinchero Family Estates will be showing wines from its varied portfolio, which includes wines from the St Helena and Calistoga AVAs. The line-up includes the 2004 Trinchero Family Selection Pinot Noir, the 2003 Mary's Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc and the 2003 Montevina Chardonnay.

King of wines?

If Claret is the queen of natural wines, then Burgundy is king', wrote the academic George Saintsbury, whose name inspired this Carneros-based winery. Wines on show will include the 2004 Garnet Carneros Pinot Noir, the 2003 Carneros Pinot Noir and the 2004 Carneros Chardonnay.

Always bet on black

Turnbull Wine Cellars, based in Oakville, will be showing three wines: the newly released 2004 Sauvignon Blanc, the 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2002 Black Label Meritage. The latter uses fruit from the winery's Weitz vineyard on Oakville's volcanic eastern slope.

Historical property

Ehlers Estate in St Helena is a biodynamic winery, and visitors to the tasting will be able to sample three of its wines: the 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2002 Merlot and the 2004 Sauvignon Blanc. The property, which includes 39 acres of vineyards, was built in 1886.

True Brit

The wines from Oakville Ranch will all be sporting new labels for the tasting. The winery is owned by Brit Mary Miner, who bought the property with her husband Robert in 1989. Robert died in 1994, and a wine (a Cabernet Franc-dominated blend) is now made in his honour. General manager Paula Kornell will be in London to show the wines, which include the 2003 Chardonnay, the 2001 Robert's Blend and the 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Sparkling Schram

Schramsberg, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, produces only sparkling wines, and they are served to heads of state every year at the White House.

Wines on show will include the 2001 Blanc de Blancs, the 2001 Blanc de Noirs and the signature wine, 1999 J Schram, which is made primarily with Chardonnay.