A Day in Rutherford’s Dust

This past week we had the good fortune to participate in the Rutherford Dust Society’s annual wine tasting “A Day in the Dust” at the historic Rubicon Estate Winery in the Napa Valley. It was a wonderful tasting followed by a gourmet luncheon in the historic barrel room, complete with a surprise visit from the man himself, owner of Rubicon Estate Francis Ford Coppola. We tasted 22 wines in two flights of eleven each. The wines were all 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet blends from the Rutherford AVA.

The renowned winemaker André Tchelistcheff , who years ago branded the term “Dust,” said: “It takes Rutherford dust to grow great Cabernet.” Some people think that wines from this region have a unique soil characteristic that can be tasted in the wines. I have never been able to ascertain that taste, but what I do know about these wines is that they are wonderfully-balanced Cabernet Sauvignon wines to be enjoyed now, or to be aged in order to gain even further perfection.

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Rutherford Dust Adventures — Tasting the 2007 Vintage

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.”

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