Cuvaison Carneros Estate Pinot Noir 2016
It’s almost a rule in Napa Valley – the older you get, the less respect you get. If you’ve got nothing “new” to bring to the table, then you’re not news, and you certainly won’t be talked about.
Which doesn’t fit well in the wine world. Wine is one of the slowest products to make (18 months is usually the minimum for any quality wine), and in other places vines that are 100 years old and their octogenariean winemakers are respected as legends. But not so in Napa.
Which brings me to Cuvaison, a winery that seems to be doing everything right, yet is rarely mentioned among the cognoscenti of the wine world. You would think that any winery celebrating its 50th vintage – and one that is still family-owned to boot! – would be something to celebrate. And to us, it is! Here’s the story:
Cuvaison is one the oldest of Napa’s rebirth wineries of the 1960s, in the same club as the “Judgement of Paris” group with its first vintage being released in 1969. The roots of that wine come from a partnership between a Silicon Valley engineer, Thomas Parkhall, and a laser physicist, Tom Cotrell. Instead of naming the winery Parkhall & Cortell, they named it after the French word referring to the time during fermentation when color extraction, structure and aroma are developed. Tom would catch the wine bug in a serious way, later founding Pine Ridge and Chalk Hill, among others. The two amicably split in 1974, selling the winery to the Schmidheiny family with none other than Philip Togni as their first winemaker!
Now maybe that is ancient history, but Cuvaison can still check all your hipster wine boxes: Purchasing 400 acres in Carneros in 1979 means the winery has some of the oldest vineyards planted on the coolest sites. Followed by investment in an eco-friendly winery that lets their current 20-vintage winemaker follow almost each and every single vine precisely. Finally, if awards matter to you, they have those as well – they won top winery in the world, twice.
You’re in for a tasty treat with this Pinot Noir:
Carneros makes beautiful Pinot Noir, and to my palate, it is always indentifiable for its bright Bing cherry aromas, rose petals and wild strawberries. It’s like a strawberry patch on a summer day where the farmer has planted roses to help cross-pollenate. But it’s not just about the pretty smell. On the palate a dark fruit note comes into play, bringing forth hints of plum, a touch of vanilla, and black tea and spice. Being a Napa Pinot, there is a touch of California’s sunshiney richness on the palate, which leads to a black cherry long and supple finish.
If you like Pinot, here’s a gem from Carneros you ought not miss!