Monday, March 7, 2011

Mt Veeder Appellation Trail - Robert Craig Mt Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon

Robert Craig Mt Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon

Part of the inspiration to visit Mt Veeder, in addition to it being one of the last remaining appellations not yet targeted in our focused visits, was our longstanding enjoyment of and appreciation for Mt Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon from Robert Craig. We first met Robert and tasted these wines back at our first visit to Robert Craig during our Napa Valley Wine Experience in 1996, and then again at our Robert Craig featured producer wine dinners in Napa Wine Experience 1998 and again in 1999

Indeed, we have a assembled a vertical collection of this wine dating back to the inaugural release 1993 vintage. 

We tasted releases of this wine with Robert and his crew at the Robert Craig Howell Mountain Harvest Party '09 and during other visits such as our 2008 Robert Craig Vineyards and Winery visit up on Howell Mountain. Needless to say, we're long time fans of Bob and the Craig team and their 'artwork'.
Rick & Bill with Robert at
Robert Craig harvest party

We have heard Robert say on more than one occasion that his favorite variation of cabernet releases is his Mt Veeder selection. Bob's roots are clearly embedded in Mt Veeder where he work for years learning and refining his craft. Hence it was only fitting that our visit to Mt Veeder was only complete when we revisited Robert Craig to taste the benchmark standard bearer for Mt Veeder Appellation Cabernet Sauvignon.


We (at/from left Beth & Bill, Rachel, Linda and I) stopped in at the Robert Craig tasting room near downtown Napa to say hello and recalibrate our tasting palate with the reference standard. We were warmly greeted by Rachel and the staff. We appreciate their hospitality and for affording us an impromptu focused tasting of just Mt Veeder cabs on short notice. It was the fitting finale to our trip. Thank you!

Indeed, as I write/type this, our allocation shipments of the '08 vintage releases arrived just this week. 

Robert Craig Mt Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Big full bodied, firm forward black fruits, black berry, black cherry, spice, layer of dark chocolate rich, hint of tobacco and cedar on a full firm lingering tannin finish. Perhaps the richest and most complex version yet. RM 93 points.

Robert Craig Mt Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Black berry and black cherry fruit flavors, layer of black currant, hint of leather, mocha and cassis on a nicely integrated fine-grained tannin finish. RM 91 points.

85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 3% Malbec.

Not only do we continue to enjoy each subsequent release of this wine, but they are getting better with time. We continue to be rewarded by the longevity and ageworthiness of these wines. My tasting notes journal of earlier tasting reviews are posted at

Mt Veeder Appellation Trail - Mayacamas Mt Veeder Winery & Vineyards

Mt Veeder Appellation Trail - Mayacamas Mt Veeder Winery & Vineyards

A visit to Mt Veeder would not be complete without a visit to the legendary Mayacamas Mt Veeder Winery & Vineyards. Founded and operated as a winery going back to the late 1800's, the current owners, Robert and Elinor Travers bought Mayacamas Vineyards back in 1968.

Located up and back off of Lokoya Road in the rugged Mt Veeder highlands located between 1,800 to 2,400 feet.are the mountain Mayacamas vineyards. Consisting of rich volcanic soil the vineyards  produce small grapes with distinctive, intense flavors.

Bob Travers remains the winemaker, producing about 4,000 cases annually, mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, with some Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Merlot. About 1,500 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon are made each year - blended with small amounts, 10% to 15%,  of Cabernet Franc and Merlot.  Mayacamas Cabernet Sauvignon is typically best consumed between twelve to twenty five years of age although some vintages will be at or near their best for even longer. Annual production of Chardonnay is about 1,500 cases. The remainder is split between a larger portion of Sauvignon Blanc and then Merlot which is blended with about 10% Caberrnet Sauvignon, with a small portion of Pinot Noir.

Wine flight of current release Mayacamas wines

Mayacamas Wines tasted (and purchased):

Mayacamas Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 

Winemaker's Comments: Deep, brooding blackberry and black cherry aromas, along with a sage-like dimension, on the nose.  The acidity on the tongue balances the surprisingly supple tannins.  Red currants and plums on the palate finish very long.  Will age gracefully for many years. 
Blend: 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot  
RM 91 points.

Mayacamas Chardonnay 2007
The nose is tropical - - banana peel, pineapple tart, and a bit of effervescent lemon. on the palate, more lemon character is joined by a hint of white peaches, and the subtlest vanilla. The hallmark fresh acidity is in form here.
RM 88 points.

Mayacamas Merlot 2006

Vivid cherry and plum aromas and shades of bay leaf on the nose. The smooth mouthfeel is enlivened with bright acidity. More cherry in the mid-palate, along with a licorice edge. The finish is long. Very classical in its structure. 
RM 89 points.

Mayacamas Sauvignon Blanc 2007 

Honeydew melon rind on the nose gives way to freshly cut limes on the palate. Diamond-like precision in the acid balance and focused fruit make this a bright, lovely wine to go with shellfish and all manner of seafood.
RM 88 points. 

    Historic Mayacamas Mt Veeder Winery
    Mayacamas wine cellar where small quantities of crafted wines are produced.
    No frills down-to-earth Mayacamas Vineyards tasting room

    Picturesque grounds of the rugged Mt Veeder mountain estate.