Saturday, December 3, 2016

Who's Certified Organic on James Suckling's Top 100 Napa Red Wines of the Year?

It's that time of year when everyone is compiling their 100 Best Lists, and James Suckling's published his Top 100 Napa Reds of 2016, which is a list of wines mainly from the 2013 vintage.

Of the 100 wines listed, eight are from certified organic vines. All of the wines are Cabernets. Four come from valley floor locations in Napa's traditional Cab heartland - Rutherford and St. Helena.

Starred wines also made Suckling's Top 100 Wines of the Year (International) List as well.

Rutherford: Dana Estates, Inglenook, Staglin
St. Helena: Spottswoode

Calistoga: Eisele Vineyard
Coombsville: Rocca Family
Pritchard Hill: Chappellet
Yountville: Grgich Hills Estate

#7 *Spottswoode, Estate, $150 (#91 on the international list)

This enduring classic comes from a St. Helena matriarchy (who were also organic pioneers) which had another great vintage in 2013. Its estate Cab has made top 100 lists for decades. 

#13 *Dana Estates, Helms Vineyard, $475 (wine club mostly) (#20 on the international list)

Korean magnate Hi Sang Lee has spared no expense in constructing a winery in Napa Valley and buying three choice vineyards. The Helms vineyard is in Rutherford.

#21 Eisele Vineyard, Estate, $350 (wine club mostly)

Hallowed ground for Cab lovers since the 1960's, this vineyard is certified Biodynamic as well as organic. It's owned by Francois Pinault, one of France's wealthiest businessman; he also owns Chateau LaTour in Bordeaux. The vines and winemaking are overseen by the very capable Loire native Helene Mingot.

#24 Chappellet, Pritchard Hill, $179

An estate long known for its great Cabernet, this Napa pioneer has also been making renowned Cab since the 1960's.

#25 *Inglenook, Rubicon, $210 (#27 on the international list)

A benchmark winery with historical roots dating back to the 1880's, Inglenook's glory days are upon us with Bordeaux winemaker Philippe Bascaules at the helm.

#58 Grgich Hills Estate, Old Vine, $185 

The Grgich family has done everything possible to save these vines, planted in 1959 to the Inglenook clone (aka Niebaum Cabernet #29), and their love and their good farming shows. Ivo Jeramaz is a hero to Napa's organic community; he spoke at the Napa Organic Winegrowing Conference this year about his no till organic farming on this site, wowing attendees with a presentation and tasting in this very vineyard.

#62 Rocca Family, Collinetta Vineyard, $108

This small family label has eked out a spot on the top lists, at last. Their Coombsville vines yield a decidedly unique Cabernet that you owe it to yourself to try.

#86 Staglin Family, Estate, $250

A big, rich, righteous Cabernet, this is meant to age.

In addition, at least five other wines that made the top 100 are organically farmed but not certified.

Overall, about 7 percent of Napa's vines are certified organic, although the number has been declining over the last few years when some vineyards changed ownership.

Additionally on the international list, Soter Vineyards' Mineral Springs Ranch Pinot Noir, grown Biodynamically on a Demeter certified vineyard, ranked 25th.

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