Sunday, January 27, 2013

California Cabs - Wine Spectator's Top Organic Picks

Since I traveled in Italy, Sicily and Greece for most of the fall, I'm still catching up on my wine mags. It's a pleasure to flip through the pages all at once, and I almost feel like I'm tasting some great wines.

Wine Spectator's Nov. 15 issue features the 2009 vintage of California Cabernets. Many great Napa vineyards are featured and it's worth mentioning the organically grown ones on James Laube's recommendations.

Spottswoode's St. Helena Family Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon (96 pts, $145) makes the list for the best Cabs, in a very tight field where scores ranged from 96 to 97 among 13 wines. In fact, it almost seems like the "value" wine in the top 13 when you look at the prices for Schrader Cellars' Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard MM IX at $400 and Harlan Estate (96 pts) and Screaming Eagle (97 pts, both priced at $750 a bottle. Outta control, people.

Of the Spottswoode, Laube writes, "Beautifully crafted, showing a subtle mix of dried herbs, baking spices, and floral scents, with a light core of currant and blackberry flavors."

In the Top Values category, you'll find Chappellet, of Pritchard Hill, on the list with its Mountain Cuvee Napa Valley (89 pts) at $32 a bottle. They make more about 15,000 cases of this annually. This wine, alas, is not sourced wholely from their own organically certified vineyards, but it's worth noting here that their more expensive Cabernets will be, starting with the 2012 vintage. Note that it takes three years of organic viticulture to become organically certified, so any of the estate grown vintages since 2010 would also be organically grown.

There's also a short feature on the Pritchard Hill area in the mag, featuring several photos of Chappellet which is nice to see. I look forward to finally getting up there and doing some tasting when the weather gets a little nicer.

Other Cabernets that are grown organically that are listed in the A-Z section of the 2009 Cabs feature include:

94 points
• Dana Howell Mountain Hershey Vineyard ($325)

93 points
• Dana Napa Valley Lotus Vineyard ($325)

92 points
• Araujo Eisele Vineyard ($305)
• Dana Rutherford Helms Vineyard ($325)
• Staglin Family Cabernet Rutherford ($185)

91 points
• Ehlers Estate St. Helena 1886 ($95)

90 points
• Chappellet (in transition) Pritchard Hill ($135)

88 points
• Longmeadow Ranch (($45 - Napa Valley - but is this estate grown?)

86 points
• Grgich Hills ($60)
ª Inglenook, Rutherford Cask ($75)

85 points
• Volker Eisele ($45) (2008)

Having listed them in point order, I should say I don't believe in the point system, but am just aggregating information on WS's rankings.

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