Monday, April 14, 2014

Robert Craig Napa Valley Affinity 2004

Robert Craig Napa Valley Affinity 2004

From one of our favorite producers, with a perfectly prepared Pittsburgh style strip steak prepared by Linda at home, I pulled from the cellar this long time favorite, Robert Craig Napa Valley Affinity 2004.

Indeed, we've been collecting this wine since its' inaugural vintage in 1993 and we still hold more than a dozen vintages. Crafted to provide a sophisticated Cabernet Sauvignon at a reasonable price with early gratification, Affinity defies this approach with its age worthiness.

R&L with Robert at Harvest Party
We may hold more Robert Craig wine in our cellar than any other producer. We've been fans of Robert Craig since the early nineties. We've been to many events at the winery as well as several private functions with Robert, his wife Lynn, and Rachel and various members of the Craig team.  

This ten year old 2004 remains consistent with earlier tasting notes, deep dark purple inky color, the ripe berry fruit aromatics, full body, ripe berry fruit, accented by a undercurrent of caramel are starting to give way to a layer of anise, tobacco, leather and firm full tannins on the long fruit filled finish. Tasted from a 375 ml split. In this smaller format, it may be starting to show its age.

RM 89 points.

Hidden Ridge 55 Degree Slope Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Hidden Ridge 55 Degree Slope Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Since its emergence in 2001, this label has been produced by noted winemaker Marco DiGuilio, whose wines we own under his own and several other labels dating back to that timeframe. The property is owned by entrepreneurs, Oklahoma natives, husband and wife team Lynn Hofacket and Casidy Ward, who bought the remote and wild property in 1991. They began clearing the 55 acres for vineyards in 1996, designing and developing the terraces and planting rootstock grafted to Cabernet Sauvignon.

As DiGiulio’s responsibilities as managing partner of Bin to Bottle and as winemaker for several other luxury brands grew, he handed over primary winemaker duties at Hidden Ridge Vineyard to Timothy Milos as consulting winemaker.

A fifth generation Californian, Timothy was born and raised in the Bay Area. He attended U.C. Berkeley and Sonoma State studying Cell Biology, then Molecular Plant Pathology at Cornell University graduate school. While at Cornell, he was introduced to the art and science of winemaking. After a period working in the Finger Lakes region he went on to the Masters program at the University of California at Davis in 1997.

He has worked for Stags Leap, Opus One, Anderson Vineyard, and Cliff Lede Vineyards. He works with Marco DiGiulio on projects in Napa and Sonoma counties, making wine for several luxury brands, many of which specialize in mountain Cabernet. In addition to Hidden Ridge Vineyard in Sonoma County, he also works for one of our favorite Mayacamas Mountain-top discoveries, Rubissow Wines, whom we visited during our Napa Valley Mt Veeder Wine Experience in the Spring of 2011.

Hidden Ridge Vineyard is nicknamed, the "Impassable Mountain" because it took ten years to develop due to the 55% slope of the ridgetops. The Hidden Ridge Vineyards consist of 21 blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon in some of the most isolated areas of the Mayacamas Mountain Range along the Napa-Sonoma County line - located at 38 29'50.95 N, 122 34'09.40 W.

In an enclosed valley on steep mountainside slopes with eastern, southern and northern exposures. The terraced slopes and lean soils challenge and stress the vines resulting in small - berried intense fruit.

I first discovered this wine at Morton's Steakhouse in Crystal City, Arlington, near Washington DC where it was available by bottle or by the glass. During the ensuing years we enjoyed the 05, 06 and then the '07 vintages there. We also picked up the '05 at BRIX in Napa and tasted at dinner during our Mt Veeder appellation trip in the Napa and Sonoma Mt Veeder area.

Like the earlier vintages this is dark garnet colored,  full bodied and concentrated rich with layers of dark berry fruits with notes of anise, mocha and tones of that Mayacamas signature cedar and camphor or eucalyptus before turning to dried herb, tobacco and tea on the lingering silky tannin finish. 
RM 91 points.