Friday, March 18, 2022

Anderson's Conn Valley Vineyards 'Right Bank' Cuvee

Anderson's Conn Valley Vineyards 'Right Bank' Cuvee Napa Valley Bordeaux Blend 2004

Friday night dinner, Linda prepared a Tomahawk Ribeye beefsteak with cheese potatoes and creamed spinach. She frequents the local butcher who invariably has a couple of these in fresh in the meat case and she'll pick them up for sharing. One steak grilled then sliced is easily enough for the two of us and often leaves some left for beefsteak sandwiches in the following days. Its also a dinner that cries for a expressive complex red wine, which results in a food wine pairing exposition. 

I pulled from the cellar an aged Right Bank Bordeaux Blend, aptly named "Right Bank" by the producer in light of its Merlot predominance in the Blend accented by another Bordeaux varietal Cabernet Franc - 60% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc. 

Oenophiles and Bordeaux enthusiasts know that a Bordeaux Blend will comprise the classic specified Bordeaux varietal grapes - Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and perhaps Malbec. 

Those wines produced on the Right Bank of the Gironde River, to the north and east of the slightly diagonally running river, will be predominantly Merlot based, complemented by the remaining varietal (s) in the mix. 

Meanwhile, those wines from the Left Bank, to the - south and west of the river, will be predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, with lesser amounts of some combination of the remaining Bordeaux varietals in the Blend.

Hence, at 60% Merlot, this is considered a 'Right Bank' Bordeaux (Blend). Indeed, the rear label cites they produce this wine from the two Bordeaux varietals to be complimentary of those from the most famous Right Bank appellation St Emilion.

This is from Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards a family owned and operated producer founded in 1983 who released their first vintage in 1987. This is not to be confused with Conn Creek Napa Valley labels and brand from St Helena that go back to the 1980. 

Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards produce estate Bordeaux varietal wines from their 40-acre estate located south of Howell Mountain in Conn Valley just over the first lower slope of the Vaca Range that makes up the eastern wall of Napa Valley. They promote that they are just 3 miles or 10 minutes east of downtown St. Helena to invite visitors to their tours. 

Anderson's is run by Todd Anderson who graduated from University of Pacific in Stockton, CA with a degree in Geology before working for a small tech firm in seismic oil and gas exploration. Todd soon joined up with his parents in starting a “small vineyard” in the creation of Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards.

Anderson's Conn Valley Vineyards 'Right Bank' Cuvee Napa Valley Bordeaux Blend 2004 

Anderson produces a portfolio of Napa Valley sourced wines, Bordeaux varietals and blends as well as a Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc whites. 

Conn Valley’s Cabernets are made from 100% Estate grown grapes from the vineyards located at the winery site in Conn Valley - from their estate Cabernet Sauvignon, a Reserve, a Cabernet Franc, this Right Bank blend and their flagship super premium Eloge blend label. Their website library notes go back to the 2007 or 08 vintages, post dating this 2004 vintage release. 

Prior to blending and bottling, their wines are aged in the hillside caves located on the Conn Valley Estate.

According to the rear label, winemaker for this release was Mac Sawyer, winemaker since 2000, he sadly passed away in 2012.  Owner, founding winemaker Todd Anderson brought Mac on when they created the ultra-exclusive Ghost Horse Label,

Mac interned at Chateau Cheval Blanc, one of the most famous top rated estates' labels in the world. No doubt that experience formed the inspiration from the wines of Saint-Émilion and at Cheval Blanc, that Todd Anderson and Mac sought to recreate with this Right Bank Cuvee, crafted in the style of Cheval Blanc from Napa Valley fruit. 

The first vintage release of Right Bank Cuvee was in 2001 and was intended to be produced only for the the annual Napa Valley charity fundraising auction Napa Premier.  

The story goes that legendary wine reviewer Robert Parker was on his annual visit to Anderson’s Conn Valley when Todd Anderson agreed to let Parker taste the Right Bank 2001 on the condition that he agreed not to publish any tasting notes. Impressed with the wine, somehow, Parker unintentionally published glowing tasting notes in the Wine Advocate. The ensuing demand for the Right Bank label was so great that Todd agreed to make it part of Anderson’s Conn Valley’s annual portfolio. 

My records show we've had a half dozen vintages of this label that included a mini-vertical dating back to the 2003 release, including at least one vintage in large format magnum.

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate rated this 94 points and described it, "Their Napa Valley Cheval Blanc look-alike is called Right Bank, usually a blend of two-thirds Merlot and the rest Cabernet Franc, although it can change somewhat depending on the vintage. This is a thrilling wine that comes as close as just about any wine in Napa to mimicking a great Right Bank Bordeaux."

At eighteen years, the fill level, label, foil and most importantly the cork were all in ideal condition. Never-the-less, this seemed to be waning on the back side of its peak drinking window signaling it may be time to drink as it will likely start or continue to decline from here going forward. In 2007, Parker wrote, 'drink it over the next fifteen years (or more)'.

Dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, complex, black berry, black currant and plum fruits were accented by acidity, floral, smoke, leather, tobacco, hints of menthol with moderate tannins on the lingering finish. 

RM 89 points.