Cuvaison is best known for their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir but in 2012 they launched a sparkling program. Comprised of mainly Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay, this brut was made in the traditional Champagne method. Using Pinot Dijon clone 115 planted in 1998, winemaker Steve Rogstad says these 25-year-old vines bring a “precocious beauty” to the wine, and I have to agree. This is a delicate wine with minimal sweetness, using the grace of the Pinot and the acidity and light salinity of the Chardonnay to make a very balanced, almost shy wine.
Small lot Chardonnay. Not many people take the time to create small batches of wine, but Cuvaison does and it opens the door into wines that are specially cared for and you can taste that. This Chardonnay is a shy, subtle Chardonnay, and even though winemaker Steve Rogstag says it’s an “iconic California style,” it’s really more a respectful nod to Burgundy. Yes, this is 100% Chardonnay, aged in both French and American oak for 18 months, with full malolactic fermentation, but the acidity and light flavors veer away from California to France.
The devil is in the details and with Cuviason’s Diablo Syrah, the details are key to an exceptional wine. Syrah often is mis-treated and most Syrahs on the market are fairly benign. But winemaker Steve Rogstad coaxes much out of these 21-year-old vines grown is less than optimal soils. A smooth viscosity leads to plum, huckleberry, black cherry, red currant, and light pomegranate notes, with back notes of young tobacco leaf and new leather. This is not a timid wine, but a sensuous one that is definitely meant to work with food, as it’s a little heavier on the alcohol.
Though Cuvaison is best known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, they have an impressive overall portfolio of wine that often doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Case in point, their 2019 Merlot is nothing short of outstanding. This is a medium bodied wine that drinks like a full-bodied wine with lots of swagger. Black cherry notes dominate along with plum, blackberry, light blueberry, cocoa powder and fresh sawed cedar wood. This is 100% Merlot and shows that with excellent fruit, you can make a Merlot that doesn’t need the addition of other grapes to make it better.
2018 Raymond Vineyard & Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Selection, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review
From a 375ML. Purple in color, opaque and bright. The nose has cassis, sandalwood, and spice. Medium to full bodied. Firm tannins. On the palate, nice cassis flavors. Not too ripe but nothing green. Depth. Nice finish. This is drinking well now and should drink well for another seven to ten years. It drinks well on its own and would be a nice wine with a burger.
This is a blend of 60% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. Purple in color with a ruby rim, opaque and bright. The nose is great with black cherries, chocolate, slight blueberries and spice. Full bodied. On the palate, this is deep, complex and layered as it unwinds in the glass. Great texture. Flavors of black cherries and chocolate with a bit of char and spice. Long finish. Delicious. This is young but drinking well. Drink over the next fifteen to twenty years. Great on its own, this will work with foods. Roasted chicken would be a nice matc
This is is 96% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Petite Verdot. Purple in color, ruby at the rim, opaque and bright. The nose is great with cassis, pencil lead, cedar and spice. Medium to full bodied. Firm tannins. On the palate, this is a big but not over sized Cab. Lots of cassis with some char and minerality. Drinking well now but may still improve a bit. Drink over the next ten to fifteen years. Great on its own, this would be a classic pairing with a roast or steak.
Of course, this is the "It" wine right now as it was just named the Wine Spectator Wine of the Year. It proved to be love or hate at a recent tasting with many rating it as their favorite and a few putting it closer to the bottom. Of course, even the later voters thought it was a fine wine overall. It also proved pretty easy to pick out blind as most or the group was able to. Purple in color with some ruby swirls, mostly opaque and bright. The nose has a strong cotton candy note (others said sweet tarts or "Smarties) along with some cassis. Medium bodied. Light tannins. On the palat
This wine was originally released in the 1969 vintage and then not again until 2016. It appears to be more consistent since then. It is made to be a more ageable wine than their basic Napa Cab utilizing grapes from different areas in Napa. Purple in color with ruby swirls, mostly clear and bright. The nose has black cherries, slight cassis, cedar and minerality. Medium bodied. On the palate, cassis with good acidity. Some underlying smoked earth. Long finish. Drinking well now and should drink well for another ten to twelve years. Nice on its own, this will work well with roasted
Very nice showing for this Cab. This is 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% each of Malbec and Petite Verdot. Deep purple in color with ruby swirls, mostly opaque and bright. The nose has cassis, plums, chocolate and spice. Full bodied. Medium tannins. On the palate, cassis, plums, and black cherries. Good balance. Long finish. This is drinking well although it may still improve a bit. Drink over the next fifteen years. Great on its own but will work well with bigger foods. It should be great with a really good burger.