Sunday, September 11, 2022

Mt Veeder Winery Reserve Napa Cabernet 2003

Mt Veeder Winery Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2003

I pulled this from the cellar to enjoy with left over Lasagna from restaurant dinner earlier in the week and it proved to be a tasty pairing. 

The 31-acre estate Mount Veeder Winery was founded in 1972 by Michael and Arlene Bernstein. In 1982, the Bernsteins sold the winery, and it has had several other owners since then. Today it is owned by Constellation Brands, the international wine and spirits conglomerate who have acquired several storied Napa Valley properties and brands including Robert Mondavi and this Mt Veedery Winery. The brand remains to this day producing ultra-premium Bordeaux based red wines.

Michael and Arlene Bernstein were the first to plant grapevines on Mount Veeder in 1970. When 59 of their original Cabernet cuttings took root and flourished, they knew they were on to something. Encouraged by their friend and Napa legend Robert Mondavi, the Bernsteins established the first winery on Mount Veeder, hence their brand is synonymous with the storied appellation.

At the time, the Mount Veeder AVA did not exist. Undaunted, Michael and Arlene became the driving force behind its establishment. They later made history as the first vintners in Napa Valley to plant Petit Verdot, and the first to plant all five of the classic Bordeaux varieties on the same property.

Today, Mount Veeder Winery has three vineyard ranches nestled high in the Mayacamas Mountains, producing powerfully flavorful, concentrated wines that express their unique mountain terroir high above Napa Valley. The estate ranches range in altitude from 1,000 to 1,600 feet in elevation to provide diverse microclimates for a wide variety of growing conditions and fruit profiles. All of the key Bordeaux grapes prosper, keeping with the tradition of being the first vineyard in California planted to all five Bordeaux varieties.

The Mount Veeder vines are planted on wide terraces of earth cut into steep slopes resembling a giant staircase. At elevations of 1,000 to 1,600 feet, they're in a microclimate very different from the Napa Valley floor. Above the fog bank, they are exposed to the gentle morning sun and protected from the afternoon heat by the surrounding mountains allowing the grapes to ripen slowly and evenly. In in autumn, approaching harvest, the mountain's cool days and warm nights mean extra hang time. 

We're huge fans of the Napa Valley mountain fruit wines, so much so that we've devoted several of wine trips exclusively to one mountain appellation per trip. Our Napa Valley Wine Experience in 2011 was devoted to and focused solely on Mt Veeder producers and wines. Another Mt Veeder producer estate visit from that trip is featuered on this link.

At nineteen years, this vintage predates my Cellartracker records and wasn't picked up from earlier record systems, so I don't have history of when or where I acquired this bottle, but its likely been in our cellar since original release. 

This is undoubtably at the end of its prime drinking window and will not improve with any further aging, but it was still holding its own and showing well. The foil, label, fill level and most importantly, the cork, were all in pristine condition, a testament to our cellar conditions for long terms aging. 

Wine Enthusiast gave this a 94 rating and Best of the Year and Cellar Collection accolades. 

Wine Enthusiast wrote: "As good as the winery's '03 Cab was, this is even better. It's almost all Cabernet Sauvignon, with a few drops of other Bordeaux varieties, and is so long, rich and deep in flavor, it just has to cellar well. The tannins currently star, and they're tough and gritty, but six or more years will start to melt them, leaving behind pure, sweet, black fruit." 

Garnet colored, medium bodied, complex tangy blackberry and black plum fruits with notes of tobacco, black tea and some spice with smooth polished supple tannins on the elegant finish.

RM 91 points.

@cbrands @RobertMondavi