Friday, July 17, 2020

Darioush Napa Valley Shiraz 2013

Darioush Napa Valley Shiraz 2013

Attending family birthday celebration for grand-daughter Marleigh, son Ryan pulled from his cellar this Darioush Shiraz. We've been fans and collectors of Darioush Napa estate wines for decades.

We visited the magnificent opulent Darioush winery, designed in the style of a Persian temple, sitting at the bottom of the Silverado Trail against the bottom of the mountain overlooking the Napa Valley floor during our Napa Valley Wine Experience in 2017.

The wildfires of a couple years ago came down the hill just above the estate sparing the property but devouring the Signorello Estate nearby, the highlight of our Napa Valley Experience back in 2013.

We attended a gala wine dinner hosted by Darius and Shaptar Khaledi along with Domaine de Chevalier, Olivier Bernard at swanky Everest in Chicago back in 2003.

We visited the estate back in 2003 and had a private barrel tasting with Darioush winemaker Steve Devitt at the chai behind what was then the construction site of the current Winery Hospitality Center.

Known for their flagship Signature Series anchored by Cabernet Sauvignon, they also produce this Signature Shiraz which is a standard bearer for the varietal for Napa Valley.

Darius relishes this label attributing the fruit to Shiraz, named for his birthplace, Shiraz, Persia, Iran, although some pundits attribute the designation could also be granted to the varietal Petit Syrah.

Darioush Napa Valley Signature Series Shiraz 2013

This is a full throttle, not for the feint of heart Shiraz, akin to some of the 'fruit bombs' from the Barossa or McLaren Vale -  a style we love and favor.

Fruit for this label is sourced from Darioush estate vineyards that adjoin the winery in the Oak Knoll District and others in the Napa Valley appellation.

Black inky bluish purple colored, full bodied, bold, concentrated, expressive black and blue fruits with a punctuation of tangy clove spice with notes of white pepper with hints of bittersweet chocolate, expresso and smoke turning to bright nicely integrated tannins on the lingering finish.

RM 93 points.


Cliff Lede Napa Valley Claret 2017

Cliff Lede Napa Valley Claret 2017

For daughter Marleigh's family birthday gathering, son Ryan pulled from his cellar several Red wines for dinner including this Cliff Lede Napa Claret. He is a member of the Lede wine club and gets regular allocations of Lede labels and has a broad selection including this label which is normally only available exclusively to club members. The term 'Claret' is the British moniker for a Red Bordeaux Blend.

We hold more than a dozen Lede labels ourselves and we've visited the Lede Estate in the Stags Leap district along Silverado Trail in lower Napa Valley during several of our Napa Valley tours.

Cliff Lede estate viewed from the Lede Poetry Inn across
Silverado Trail
Cliff Lede is a Canadian businessman who collected Bordeaux before he decided to start his own 60-acre estate in Stag’s Leap District in 2002. He charged notable Napa winemaker and viticulturist David Abreu to replant the vineyards. Rising star Christopher Tynan has been winemaker since 2012.

Lede produces a broad portfolio of Cabernet Sauvignons including several single vineyard block designated 'Rock Block' labels named for Rock & Roll albums. The flagship Cabernet Sauvignon, called Poetry earned 100 pts from Wine Advocate for the 2013 vintage release.

The Bordeaux varietal grapes in this Claret blend are sourced from the Lede Estate Twin Peaks Vineyard in the Stags Leap District and a few grower partners within Napa Valley. The blend is not specified. 

Cliff Lede Napa Valley Claret 2017

Winemaker Notes for this label: "The 2017 Claret is a fresh an elegantly delineated wine boasting a mix of inviting fruit and spice notes. This dark ruby colored wine is laden with chocolate covered cherries, powered cocoa, and cassis aromas. Summer raspberry and blackberry flavors coat the palate and luxurious blueberry jam flesh out on the long, expansive finish. This lovely Claret is lithe and playful, but manages to maintain a weighty seriousness. The black licorice, allspice, and plum notes persist on the finish tempting the taster for another glass."

We tasted this opposite the Darioush Shiraz and it was akin to bringing a knife to a gunfight - the Claret being muted and opaque in comparison to the massive, bold Shiraz. In a neutral setting, this would've been ideal with a grilled steak or moderate cheese course.

Dark purple garnet colored, slightly opaque, medium bodied, nicely balanced and integrated moderate blackberry and currant fruits with notes of tobacco and spice turning to moderate tannins.  Ryan knows this label well and said this vintage release was subpar, slightly austere to the normal vintage releases.

RM 89 points.