Friday, August 27, 2021

Big Bottle Birthyear wines for Wedding Celebration

Big Bottle Birthyear wines for Wedding Celebration

For son Alec and wife Vivianna's (re) wedding celebration festivities, we hosted a welcome reception for out of town guests and celebrants. We hosted the evening reception at the Boathouse Restaurant at the Saugatuck Rowing Club in Westport, Conneticut, with an evening of small bites and light drinks. 

As has become the custom in our family celebrations, we served a couple of large format six liter bottles of wine from the groom's birthyear vintage from our cellar

Silver Oak Bonny's Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1990 

Silver Oak has become a legendary cult brand, known for its focus and bold vision: focus on one varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon, aged exclusively in American oak and worthy of cellaring for decades to come.

Silver Oak Cellars was founded by Bonny and Justin Meyer, together with their financial partner, Ray Duncan in 1972. Founder Ray Twomey Duncan, a Colorado entrepreneur, began investing in California vineyards in the late 1960s. Justin Meyer was a Christian Brothers-trained winemaker. They co-founded Silver Oak out of a Napa Valley dairy barn in 1972, producing only 1,000 cases of their inaugural vintage. 

Over the ensuing decades, Silver Oak gained immense popularity as their Napa Valley and Alexander Valley Cabernets sold quickly upon their release from the winery and became a highly sought-after staple on restaurant wine lists nationwide

Justin continued as winemaker until selecting Daniel Baron to succeed him in 1994, when he then retired, selling his share of Silver Oak to the Duncan family in 2001. Ray’s sons, David and Tim Duncan, own and operate the winery to this day which consists of more than 400 acres of vines in Napa Valley and Alexander Valley.

When Justin told his wife in 1974 that he was ripping out the three acres of clover in front of their Oakville home to plant a vineyard, Bonny Meyer suggested that she’d like to make it her own personal project.

Silver Oak Bonny's Vineyard was planted by Silver Oak founders Bonny and Justin Meyer in 1974 on a gravelly, four-acre plot in the Oakville district of Napa Valley adjacent to the family home.

When the first fruit came off the vines four years later, it was clear that this little, unusually gravelly patch of Napa Valley was something special. Instead of putting it into Silver Oak’s Napa Cabernet, Justin Meyer decided to bottle it separately in 1979, making it one of Napa’s first vineyard-designated wines. It became one of Napa Valley's legendary places, one of a few legendary vineyard names: To Kalon. Beckstoffer. Eisele. Martha’s Vineyard, and of course, Bonny’s.

The Christmas before the first vintage wine was to be released, Meyer surprised his wife with a hand-carved wooden sign, proclaiming it from that point forward, that little patch of vineyard in their front yard would forever be known as Bonny’s Vineyard.

Silver Oak’s inaugural vintage was crushed that fall after Justin and Bonny returned from their honeymoon. In the early years Bonny managed Silver Oak business and sales while Justin oversaw winemaking and managed burgeoning Franciscan Vineyards, purchased by the partners in 1975. A couple of years after the partners sold Franciscan, Justin left and took over primary management duties at Silver Oak. Always part of the management team, Bonny focused on PR, marketing, and package and facility design. The original Silver Oak and Meyer Family Port labels both won design awards, as did the Oakville Silver Oak winery when it was completed in 1982. 
Today Bonny is a partner in Meyer Cellars, a family business, and continues to focus on marketing and investing as a Principal of Meyer Family Enterprises, and her interest as a philanthropist and a community activist.
Silver Oak produced a Bonny’s Vineyard Cabernet from 1979 until 1991, when they discontinued the label. From its very first vintage, it washighly regarded and recognized by both consumers and critics. Son Matt Meyer, recalls, “I can remember my dad saying after one of their annual August release parties where the Bonny’s sold out in a matter of hours, ‘We’ve got more than a thousand cases of Alexander Valley and Napa Valley Cabernet left, and not a single one of Bonny’s.'" Realizing they were disappointing more people than they were making happy, Silver Oak decided to stop making a separate Bonny’s Vineyard release and started blending the fruit into their Napa Valley bottling.

When Justin Meyer retired in 2000, he sold his share of Silver Oak to his longtime partner, Ray Duncan. While there were discussions of Meyer hanging on to a few of the vineyards, ultimately, all the vineyards were included in the deal, except for one, Bonny's, because it was simply the front yard of the family home.
Bonny’s Vineyard was replanted in 1999 and began producing viable fruit in 2002, when sadly, only a month before harvest Justin Meyer died of a heart attack. That year’s harvest proved a somber one for the family, and the single barrel of Bonny’s Vineyard Cabernet they produced under the new Meyer Family Cellars label was not and never will be sold.

It was a much-heralded bottling for Silver Oak over the course of the next two decades, then discontinued as a single vineyard designated label for a dozen years. The vineyard is now bottled under its own label by the Meyers.  
 In 2003, twelve years after the name Bonny’s Vineyard last appeared on a wine label, the Meyer family released its first commercially available Bonny’s Vineyard Cabernet, which they have produced every year since. The family believes the fruit from the roughly 1.5 acres of the vineyard surrounding the homestead, represents the best of what the site has to offer. 

This bottle was a one of only sixty such bottles produced in the second to last 1990 vintage of Silver Oak “Bonny’s Vineyard” Cabernet. We served it out of the original wood case engraved with the wine vintage and marked with the serial number of the particular bottle.

Winemaker Notes: "The 1990 Napa Valley Bonny's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon has a dark ruby-red color. It has a nose of black cherries, red peppers and bay leaves. This wine has full body and a tart, long finish with a slight tannic grip."

This release was awarded 94 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate.

Still showing well at 31 years, the fill level, label, foil and cork were near perfect. Of course storage in a six liter large format bottle ages better than a standard bottle. 

Never-the-less, dark garnet colored, medium-full bodied, dense concentrated black berry and black currant fruits accented by graphite, cigar box, leather and notes of cassis and spicy oak on a long lingering finish. 

RM 93 points. 

Newton Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1990

The Newton Estate consists of a square mile of hillside that was acquired by Dr Su Hua and Peter Newton in 1977. The Newton Vineyards Spring Mountain property sits above the town of St Helena on the steep slopes of the Mayacamas Mountain range, which separates Napa Valley from Sonoma County. The site boasts expansive vistas of Napa Valley with steep sun drenched slopes by day and the cooling valley at night. The terraced mountain estate has less than one-fifth of its total 490 acres planted to vines at elevations ranging from 500 to 1,600 feet above sea level. The non-farmed acreage remains in its native forested state providing natural habitat for indigenous wildlife.

Newton Vineyard was one of the first wineries in the Spring Mountain AVA (American Viticultural Area) in Napa Valley. The Newton estate consists of 112 parcels or lots, all planted to specific varieties, including Bordeaux varietals Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot, and Chardonnay, with an emphasis on Cabernet Sauvignon. All 112 parcels are vinified separately, so to provide the winemaking team plenty of options for crafting the final blend before bottling. In 1990, Newton was the first winery to produce and sell an unfiltered Chardonnayin the US, making it a pioneer in the Napa wine industry. While Chardonnay tends to be Newton's most well-known and popular wine, it also produces powerful red wines that have become renowned cross the world.

The winery was designed and built to blend into the mountain and includes elements of the founders’ native lands interwoven with the California environment — roses, a pagoda, a Japanese red gate, lanterns, a London phone booth and French gardens.

In addition to the estate property, Newton also has holdings in Yountville, Mount Veeder, and Carneros, which the company uses for blends.

In 2001, part of Newton was sold to luxury group LVMH, and it continues to be one of the internationally known producers in Napa Valley. The founders previously founded Sterling Vineyards, also in Napa Valley, but sold it to Coca Cola in the 1970s.

I served from our cellar a six liter bottle of Newton Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from Alec's birthyear vintage, 1990, that we have been holding for more than a decade for such an occastion.

Newton Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1990  

At thirty-one years of age, the bottle had a wax capsule that was cracked and showed some signs of seepage and a resulting slightly reduced fill level at the bottom of the neck. The cork was completely saturated but the label was still unmarred. 

The wine lived up to loftiest expectations showing little or no sign of diminution from aging or from the dispacement of a small portion of the wine. 

This vintage release was awarded 95 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate.

The 1990 Cabernet Sauvignon was the first Newton Cabernet to have an extended maceration of 25-35 days and to include an important percentage of Cabernet Franc in the final blend. 

Ruby colored, medium-full bodied, a firm dense core of firm blackcurrant and black cherry fruits was accented by notes of cigar box, black tea and cedar with hints of cassis and dark mocha chocolate with supple tannins on the lingering finish.

RM 91 points.

The Newton Website is currently offering the 1994 release of this label - 84 bottles are available to club members only on their website.