What a terrific day for us on Wednesday of this past week! We were among twenty-five wine writers and wine bloggers present at the annual Rutherford Dust Society’s “A Day in the Dust.” The venue was the historic Rubicon Estates Chateau and the setting dramatic as we entered the room to view the tables with sets of wine glasses numbered and prepared for the tasting. First we heard from present-day wine legends like Andy Beckstoffer, Joel Aiken, Peter Granoff, Larry Stone and others. Then it was down to work, or should I say pleasure, and the tasting of the wines.
The wines we tasted were from 23 different vintners in the Rutherford AVA, all 2007 vintage, Cabernet Sauvignon or blends made predominantly with Cabernet Sauvignon. Andy Beckstoffer explained to us that the 2007 growing season had been one of the best in memory. The season started with early heat, followed by cooler weather than normal. August warmed but there were no heat spikes. Usually the Napa Valley experiences five or six heat spikes that are in the high nineties or above the 100 mark, none of which are good for grapes. September was cooler than usual and the grapes gently matured to their ideal sugar levels. Peter Granoff told us that with the 2007 vintage there had been a shift from long hang time and high alcoholic wines to wines that were more elegant, balanced wines with a soft finish. Peter stated, “We have gone full circle and now we are looking for elegance.”
We tasted the wines in two flights; the first flight of 12 was followed by a short break while the glasses were refilled with wines for the next flight of 11. We sat quietly sniffing, tasting, retasting, and taking notes. We had the option of blind tasting or finding the wine by its number in our booklet. We chose to do a blind tasting and look afterwards to match the wine with the producer. All the wines we tasted were very good and well structured. This was the first time we did a blind tasting with a set of wines from the same vintage and AVA. It was interesting to note the similarities we found in the wines but even more intriguing to find some subtle differences. One wine we tasted had herbal characteristics that we did not find in any of the others. Later we learned that this wine was from hillside vineyards and not from the Valley floor. Some wines were more tannic than others but all the wines were very pleasing in the mouth. These are wines to drink now but even better to hold for a few years or more.
Here are the wines we rated as the best of the tasting.
Round Pond Estate – 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon – $50
Frog’s Leap – 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon – $75
William Harrison Winery 2007 Rutherford Red – $80
Quintessa 2007 Quintessa – $135
Provenance Vineyards 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford – $40
Beaulieu Vineyards 2007 George de Latour Cabernet Sauvignon – $115
Rubicon Estate 2007 Rubicon – $145
Staglin Family Vineyard 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon – $175
Following the tasting, a delicious lunch was served. What a delight to see a table with all the wines we had tasted and wines from other Rutherford wineries available for us to have with our lunch. Ah, the Staglin Cabernet with the roast beef, what a joy!