Friday, February 12, 2021

Venge Vineyard "Scout's Honor" Napa Valley Red Blend 2017

Venge Vineyard "Scout's Honor" Napa Valley Red Blend 2017

Sis-in-law Pat in town for Linda's birthday and some winter games we opened this big red fruit filled sipper with snacks for casual sipping. 

We've been enjoying Nils and Kirk Venge' wines since the early 1990's when Nils was featured by Wine Spectator Magazine in a 1994 article on up and coming wine producers. 

One of the labels of the Venge portfolio is Scout's Honor named for the family Labrador Retriever. I remember Scout walking the rows in the vineyards with Nils during a visit to the Rutherford Penny Lane estate back in the nineties (shown right from our 2002 visit).

Scout's Honor is based on a tradition of producing a full bodied, delicious and enjoyable red wine that can be opened and enjoyed immediately upon release however when cellared correctly it will age for 5 to 8 years.

Scout's Honor starts as a unique proprietary red blend anchored by a base of old-vine Zinfandel and builds upon that with dry-farmed Petite Sirah, old-vine Charbono, and finish with mountain vineyard Syrah.  

The blend for 2017 is 63% Zinfandel, 16% Charbono, 12% Petite Sirah and 9% Syrah.

We have been collecting this label since the earliest releases in the mid-nineties and hold a half dozen vintages. We typically keep a half dozen vintages of this label on hand for easy, enjoyable smooth sipping with everyday fare, great with BBQ, burgers, pizza to hearty cheese, beef, fruits and chocolates.
Normally we would drink from the oldest vintage as part of cellar management but I wanted to try this recent release.  

Nil's has stepped down into retirement and winemaker and production duties are now with son Kirk who has raised the bar taking this label to new heights in recent years, earning 93 or 94 points from Wine Advocate for vintages 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.  Kirk says, this 2017 is “perhaps our finest effort to date.” It’s 100% Napa fruit, a blend of 63% Zinfandel, 16% Charbono, 12% Petite Sirah, and 9% Syrah from mostly 60-100+ year-old vines. 

Winemaker Kirk's tasting notes for this release: “The result is an unpretentious red wine that is ready to enjoy upon re-lease. This vintage has a gorgeous, concentrated assemblage of sweet honeysuckle, crushed blue herbs, aromas of violets, anise, and a touch of vanillin. On the palate is pure richness from the old-vine Zinfandel with loads of super ripe black fruits and currants, pepper spice, and an enveloping masculinity of char and tannins from the Syrah, Charbono and Petite Sirah. A seamless balance and mouth coating deliciousness are found throughout the palate, with an extra-long finish that is quite pleasing to the senses. 2017 Scout’s Honor is certainly a generous mouthful of red wine that we recommend be opened and enjoyed immediately upon release. Cellared correctly it will age for 5 to 8 years.”  

"We start with a base of old-vine Zinfandel from our Signal Fire Vineyard in Calistoga (where some of those vines have been producing for over 100 years!) and build upon that with dry-farmed Petite Sirah, old-vine Charbono, and finish with mountain-vineyard Syrah from the Stagecoach Vineyard. The result is an unpretentious red wine that will satisfy time and time again. Not just a fan-favorite, this wine honors our late winery dog, Scout." 

Wine buddy Andy and I visited Kirk and Nils up at the Calistoga estate and the Signal Fire Vineyard back in 2002 (shown right)

From a branding perspective, this may be the last year you see this packaging with a paper label as the 2018 release went to a more upscale painted on glass bottle label marking, moving to a more premium positioning for this label. It remains to be seen what happens to the price point. It is already priced at the high end of the Zinfandel range, but well worth it with its sophistication and complexity and quality of the blend.

Bordering on what one might call a 'fruit-bomb"! Garnet-purple colored, full bodied, dense sweet ripe black cherry and raspberry and currant fruits with notes of spice, hints of cassis and pepper and vanilla with a long extracted finish. 

RM 92 points.