Saturday, March 14, 2015

Venge Vineyards "Scout's Honor" Napa Valley Red Blend 2013

Venge Vineyards "Scout's Honor" Napa Valley Red Blend 2013

We first discovered Venge wines when we met patriarch and legend Nils Venge back in the mid 1990's. He was consulting winemaker to several of Napa's emerging and established labels and was also producing several labels under the Venge Family brand, mostly Bordeaux varietals, and this proprietary blend based on Zinfandel. He also produced a Sangiovese, which was also released by Del Dotto for whom he was consulting winemaker at the time. We still hold some Venge Penny Lane Family Reserve Sangiovese 1998-2000 that we acquired at the Oakville Winery. We also still hold one remaining bottle of Scout's Honor red blend, named for the family golden lab from the 1998 release. 

Nils Venge left the family wine and spirits business in the 1960's to study viticulture at UC Davis in the early days of the emerging craft before the 'fine' wine business was established in America. In 1976 he managed to purchase 17-acres of vineyards in the Oakville District that was planted in Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Nil's honed his craft as a winemaking pioneer and earned legendary status when he crafted the first California wine to receive a perfect 100 point score from emerging influential reviewer Robert Parker with the 1985 release of Groth Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet. 

With the same care, attention and creativity that Bordeaux and Bordeaux blend Meritage producers apply to Cabernet Sauvignon, Nils applied to Napa Valley Zinfandel in this blend created as a tribute to his faithful k-9 companion, Scout. Scout's Honor is a unique blend of  Zinfandel (71%), Petite Sirah (15%), Charbono (10%), and Syrah (4%). While the blend may vary from year to year, the result is a full bodied, bold expressive fruit forward wine that throttles the Zinfandel bramble fruit with breadth and depth of complementary fruit forward varietals.  

We met with Nil's and son Kirk during our Napa Wine Experience in 2002 when they were developing their Calistoga Rossini Ranch property. They partnered in the family venture as well as in the consulting winemaking business for other Napa producers. Kirk Venge took over the primary winemaking duties and oversite of the family business in 2008, the fourth generation Venge in the wine and spirits industry. Following in the footsteps of his legendary dad, Kirk has emerged as one of the emerging up and coming winemakers in Napa Valley. He has been making wines for several premier wineries including Igneous, Beau Vigne, and B-Cellars.

Venge changed up the vineyards significantly with the 2012 release of Scout's Honor, with more “old-vine” plantings providing the foundation for the blend, accented by Altas Peak mountain Syrah and Calistoga and Yountville fruits. 

The result is full bodied, forward, rich, concentrated bold wine with expressive red and black berry brambly fruits, a firm layer of charcoal/creosote that gives way to tones of sweet mocha chocolate with a dusty floral finish on the smooth balanced gripping tannins. 

RM 92 points.

This is a must wine to keep in the cellar - perfect for bar-b-q ribs!