Saturday, June 20, 2020

Whitehall Lane Petit Verdot

Petit Verdot Redux - Whitehall Lane

After the sensational Petit Verdot tasting with dinner the other evening, I pulled another 100% Petit Verdot from the cellar for a repeat, comparison tasting experience. We tasted another Napa Valley Petit Verdot, this time from Whitehall Lane which is just up the Route 29 Napa Highway from Piazza Del Dotto. This was the same vintage, 2014, as the Piazza Del Dotto we tasted the other evening.

We tasted and acquired this label during our visit to the winery during our Napa Wine Experience in 2018.

Whitehall Vineyards Napa Valley Rutherford Fawn Park Vineyard Petit Verdot 2014

This is 100% Petit Verdot, sourced from the Whitehall estate Fawn Park Vineyard, located in the Rutherford AVA, just off the Napa Valley floor on the eastern hillside in St. Helena. It is one of seven vineyards on the Whitehall Lane estate.

Like the traditional Bordeaux producers, consistent with the percentage of fruit in a typical Bordeaux Blend, the vineyard is planted primarily to high-power Cabernet Sauvignon with just a small two-acre block of Petit Verdot. As I wrote the other evening, Petit Verdot is usually added to the blend in a small portion, usually less than ten percent, to add color and structure to the mix.
According to Whitehall Lane, the vineyard has been producing for about twenty-five years but the property’s history pre-dates the vines or its buildings. It’s been told that local Native Americans mined the neighboring Glass Mountain where they turned the mined obsidian into tools and arrowheads. There is a home on the property that was constructed in 1865 with a second story addition made when Judge Chiles owned the estate in 1915.
A vintage barn pre-dates the house and was constructed in 1905 using timbers harvested from Howell Mountain. The property was originally used as a dairy to supply milk to the nearby St. Helena Sanitarium—now known as St. Helena Hospital.

The property was owned by the Hultman Family from 1928 to 1978, and they ran the dairy and raised chickens there. In 1978, Loren Sorenson purchased the land, planted the vineyard, dug a spring-fed pond and continued a small farm for the local 4-H program. 

Whitehall Lane was founded in 1979 and was acquired in 1993 by the current owners, the Leonardini Family of San Francisco and Saint Helena.

The property is named Fawn Park Vineyard after the road that borders the southern side of the estate. This road was originally the stagecoach road going up and over Howell Mountain to Angwin and Pope Valley.

Tasting this again, I wish I had bought more as this is a big bold expressive fruit forward style that we love.

Consistent with our original tasting of this wine back in 2018, "Dark inky blackish purple, full bodied, structured concentrated rich tongue coating black fruits, hints of clove spice and earth, with tongue puckering chalky tannins that form distinct 'legs' on the glass. This wine begs for hearty cheese, grilled steak or darkest mocha chocolate."

RM 92 points. 

Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Red 2016

Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Red 2016

We discovered this wine label a decade ago and have been admirers of it ever since. With son Alec visiting from NYC for the week with fiance Vivianna, we've been opening some fine wines for dinners as well as casual sipping.

Tonight we opened a Petit Verdot to compare with the same varietal and vintage release as one we tasted the other night. I then opened this Bordeaux Blend from Washington State Columbia Valley  for casual elegant sipping with a tray of fine artisan cheeses.

Quilceda Creek CVR stands for Columbia Valley Red - their Bordeaux Blend which is their 'second label', subordinate to the ultra-premium flagship Quilceda Creek Cabernets and Red Blends, at a fraction of their $150 to $250 prices. It is made from 'declassified barrels' of fruit from all the Quilceda Creek estate vineyards, Champoux, Galitzine, Palengat, and Wallula Vineyards, It represents a great value high QPR relatively speaking but is still pricey at a release price of near $70. 

Quilceda Creek is family owned and operated with a long storied legacy and history of winemaking that dates back to the turn of the last century. Founder, Alex Golitzin is a descendent of Prince Lev Sergeevich Galitzine, acclaimed winemaker to Russian Czar Nicholas II's Abrau Dursau estate, and the Massandra and Novy Svet sparkling wine estates. Prince Lev Galitzine was known as "the creator of Russian champagne".

Alex was born in Paris where his family lived after fleeing the Russian Revolution. In 1946, after WWII, Alex and his family emigrated to San Francisco, California. During his youth, Alex regularly visited Napa Valley and his maternal uncle, André Tchelistcheff the legendary Napa Valley winemaker at Beaulieu Vineyard, who was known as the "Dean of American Winemaking".

In 1967, Alex and his wife Jeannette moved to Washington State they established Quilceda Creek in 1978. They produced their first vintage was in 1979, making Quilceda Creek one of the oldest, family-owned and controlled wineries in the State of Washington.

The 2016 Quilceda Creek "CVR" Columbia Valley Red Wine was awarded 93 points by Jeb Dunnuck, and Owen Bargreen and the International Wine Report, 92 Points by Wine Advocate, and  90 points by Stephen Tanzer of Vinous.

It was aged in 60% new French oak; 6,675 cases were made. 

This is bright ruby colored, medium full bodied, rich, elegant and balanced, the aromatics burst from the glass on opening, black berry fruits accented by currant and plum are accented by a layer of graphite, licorice,and smokey herbs with notes of tobacco leaf and oak spices turning to full but smooth silky supple tannins on the finish.

RM 91 points.