Napa Valley Varieties: The Breadth and Leaders
With Winemakers from: Rombauer, Freemark Abbey, Artesa, Signorello, Barnett, Staglin Family
What’s not to like about Napa Valley? I started my wine study journey long before I started formal classes at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. I started by visiting Napa Valley in the late 1980’s. I visited Napa Valley throughout the next three decades, tasting more and more of the wines, attending eight years on fellowship at the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers, and gaining wine certifications along the way, including the Diploma of Wine from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, WSET®.
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Although Napa Valley is 1/8 the size of Bordeaux and only 9% of Napa Country is planted to grapevines, it seems that the whole region is one big vineyard. Some may argue that the price of Napa Valley wines is high, and yes, I would agree. It’s about quality over quantity there. But, if you are having a wonderful dinner with a special wine, one of my first choices would be a wine from Napa Valley. For more information about Napa Valley wines, see “Napa Valley Rocks!” sponsored by the Napa Valley Vintners, NVV.
Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley
The diversity of climates and soil types just inside of Napa Valley has allowed winemakers to grow many types of wine-grapes. In the video above, winemakers from Rombauer, Freemark Abbey, Artesa, Signorello, Barnett, and the Staglin Family discuss “Cultivating Excellence – All About Cabernet Sauvignon,” arguably the “king” of Napa Valley. The diversity of soil and climate lead to an array of flavors of this signature wine of Napa Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon accounts for 40% of total wine production and 55% of crop value. The perfect conditions in Napa Valley allow for optimum ripening and beautiful tannin structures in the wine. For instance, the sub- AVA (American Viticultural Area) of Mt. Veeder in Napa Valley has the lowest grape yields of any sub-AVA and produces a very inky-dark Cabernet Sauvignon.
It would be great to try each Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. I’ve tried many and I make some Wine Recommendations below. One of the winemakers in the video is Richie Allen, Winemaker, Rombauer Vineyards, who was featured in my newsletter a year ago, “Rombauer Vineyards: Chardonnay Giant, But Don’t Forget the Reds.”
Other Wine Varieties Dominant in Napa Valley
One of the winemakers in the video above is Richie Allen, Winemaker, Rombauer Vineyards, who was featured in my newsletter a year ago, “Rombauer Vineyards: Chardonnay Giant, But Don’t Forget the Reds.” He discusses the wide, diverse variety of grapes grown in the Napa Valley. Rombauer Vineyards alone has planted over 40 wine-grape varieties. Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel follow Cabernet Sauvignon as the leading grapes planted in the Napa Valley. Sauvignon Blanc from the Napa Valley shows a ripe, yet crisp expression of the grape and is a perfect pairing with the Oysters of the Northern California Coast. Chardonnay (13% of planted acres in Napa Valley) and Pinot Noir from the cooler Carneros AVA of Napa Valley are highly prized. Merlots from Napa Valley are complex and beautifully balanced. See my Wine Recommendations below.
Wine Recommendations – Napa Valley
Wine Enthusiast, 91 Points
Robert Parker, 94 Points
Wine Enthusiast, 90 Points
Wine Enthusiast, 91 Points
2017 Staglin Family, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford, Napa Valley (half-bottle), $145
James Suckling, 94 Points
Wine Advocate, 93 Points.
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