Friday, July 29, 2022

Boys Night Out Cellar Tour and Tasting

 Boys Night Out Cellar Tour and Tasting - Lokoya and Plumpjack Napa Cabs

We gathered at son Ryan's and his neighbor Dave's for a gala cellar tour and tasting. I took from our cellar these two aged twenty-five year old vintage classic Napa Cabernets.

Lokoya Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 

This is from winemaker producer Chris Carpenter who besides

"Given the high elevation of the sites, the vineyards demand constant attention. The deep understanding of the vineyard trajectory in each vintage comes from Winemaker Christopher Carpenter’s years of expertise. Intervention is kept to a minimum both in the vineyard and in the cellar, leaving the fruit to express itself as naturally and eloquently as possible."

This is sourced from the W.S. Keyes estate Vineyard at the northeastern side of Napa Valley’s Vaca Range, Howell Mountain Appellation. The estate W.S. Keyes Vineyard was planted in 1888, and has been the exclusive source for the Lokoya Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon since its first vintage in 1995. The vineyard sits at 1,825 feet, high above the fog line, where temperatures are cool but moderate, and Cabernet Sauvignon in particular thrives with extra time to ripen. The vineyard is subjected to a steady breeze and sunlight, surrounded by a forest of ponderosa pine. The lean, quick-draining soils force the vines to struggle, yielding small grapes that possess deep, concentrated flavor with a signature minerality and earthy undertone.

Lokoya Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 1997

At twenty-five years, from a ideal vintage with expected longevity, this was probably at its apex, nearing the end of it prime drinking window, and not likely to improve any further with aging. The fill level, foil, label, and most importantly, the cork, were all in ideal condition. 
Winemaker notes: "Wines from Napa Valley’s mountainous slopes need time to develop and show their full potential. Lokoya Cabernet Sauvignon’s profound tannin structure and concentration of flavor provide the optimal profile for aging. These are wines meant to lay down and mature for 30 years or more." 
So, here we are, exhibiting patience and opening this at twenty-five years.

“Our goal is for Lokoya to be something that people in the wine world will recognize forever.”

– Winemaker Christopher Carpenter

This label release was awarded 93 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and 91 points by Wine Spectator and Vinous. Robert Parker notes, "Several 100 point scores from Robert Parker have launched this wine to Cult Status."

Dark inky purple-colored, full bodied, dense rich but balanced and nicely integrated dark berry and black plum fruits, a layer of smoke and leather settling in perhaps due to age at 25 years, with earth, spice, hints of cassis with smooth polished tannins on the long finish.  

RM 93 points.

Plumpjack "Estate" Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon

I also brought this Napa Oakville Estate Cabernet. 

We still hold half a dozen vintages from this era, many Reserve labels, and selected this one based on my tasting notes from historic tastings, and to allow for a mini-horizontal tasting of this vintage in its twenty-fifth year.

This is from the estate attributed to Gavin Newsom, current Governor of California, but its widely known that the history of the estate and label is from the investments and holdings of Gordon Getty, philanthropist and descendant of the legendary J.P. Getty oil tycoon and industrialist. 

Getty and Newson first teamed up to open a simple wine store in 1992 in the Fillmore neighborhood of San Francisco. They called it PlumpJack Wines, inspired by one of Shakespeare’s memorable characters, Sir John “PlumpJack” Falstaff, a down-to-earth, fun-loving, irreverent character, rivaled only by his fierce loyalty to Prince Hal (Henry V), with whom he shared many goblets of wine at the local tavern.  

Building on this branding, they acquired a century-old 42-acre vineyard in the Napa Valley, dating back to 1881, one of the oldest operating wineries in the Napa Valley, known originally as Mount Eden Winery, from part of the Fagiani Ranch.  

Proprietors James and Anne McWilliams hired winemaker Nils Venge to restore the vineyard and produce wines under the name of Villa Mt. Eden Winery. In 1986 they sold the brand to Stimson Lane Wine & Spirits, of the U.S. Tobacco Co.  The deal allowed Stimson Lane access to the vineyards but the wine was made offsite.  In 1994 Stimson Lane gave up the lease on the Oakville estate vineyard property and moved the Villa Mt. Eden brand to its current home at Conn Creek Winery.

From there, in 1995, PlumpJack Estate Winery was born when taken over by Newsom and Getty. We've visited the estate on Oakville Cross Road, down from Groth and across from Silver Oak, and acquired those earliest vintages of this label during our numerous Napa Valley wine excursions during the nineties and in the following years. During the nineties it was one of our favorite wineries to visit and was one of our favorite labels - before the political partisanship overtook the persona of the brand. 

Plumpjack "Estate" Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon  1997

This label release was awarded 94 points by Wine Enthusiast and 90 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate. 

Dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, balanced black berry and black currant fruits with notes of smoke, black tea, tobacco and cedar setting in, perhaps from age, finishing with spice, oak and hints of anise with moderate lingering tannins. 

RM 91 points.