Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Robert Craig Affinity Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Robert Craig Affinity Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Linda prepared a grilled beefsteak dinner that called for a hearty red wine so I pulled from the cellar Robert Craig Affinity Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. She finished up the Syrah from earlier in the week while I opened this bottle to enjoy with my grilled steak.

As I've written often in these pages, Robert Craig is one of our favorite Napa Valley producers and represents one of our largest holdings in our cellar. We've held many wine dinners with Robert and Lynn Craig and attended many events at the estate and winery. 

We visited Robert Craig's site high atop Howell Mountain several times with sister Jan and bro-in-law Bill, and Bill and Beth C. One of our memorable trips featured a picnic lunch at the site overlooking the  valley below shown below. It was during that trip that Bill discovered and subsequently sourced Howell Mountain Cabernet, Affinity and Robert Craig Zinfandel which they served at daughter Krista's wedding.

With Robert Craig at the estate high atop Howell Mtn
back in 2008.

We hold as many as two decades of Robert Craig vintages dating back to the inaugural vintage release in 1993. This label, Affinity, represents the Robert Craig Cabernet Sauvignon based blend of Cabernet Sauvignons and other Bordeaux varietals sourced from the various Napa Valley appellations.

Robert Craig flight of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons

Robert Craig offers at least five different Cabernet labels from what he used to refer to as 'three mountains and a valley', referring to his appellation designated premium labels from Mt Veeder, Howell Mtn and Spring Mountain. I recall on more than one occasion hearing Robert speak fondly of this label and the QPR - quality price ratio, and how he proudly held the price point of this wine to provide excellent value and be a draw to the Robert Craig brand. The appellation designated labels sold for twenty to thirty percent more. I wrote later about the discontinuation of the Mt Veeder label after two decades of being one of the flagship labels, and was Robert's favorite.

In late years, as Robert and co-owner wife Lynn retired and stepped down from running the daily business, the new owners raised the price point of this label from the high forty dollar range to upper sixty dollars, splitting the difference in the entry level price and the price point of the higher premium price appellation designated labels.

Robert Craig Affinity Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

I remember that we were in Bloomington, Indiana visiting son Alec at Indiana U, and we dined at Nick's bar, where we used to frequent when we were in college. I was astounded to see them serving this label, especially since as collectors of this producer and members of their club, it wasn't yet generally released. It turned out that a former employee of Craig Wines worked at Nick's in Bloomington and arranged earliest access to latest releases and acquired this wine for their wine selection. 

That was the first time we tasted this label, and we ended up acquiring a collection from the local Big Red liquors where it was already on the store shelves. 

We tasted a posted notes on this wine in 2011 and then again in 2019.

So, it was fun and only fitting perhaps, that I took this wine over to Alec's to drink with grilled Wagu beefsteaks we picked up at Mariano's, for dinner and to watch Indiana play in the quarter-final game of the Big Ten basketball tournament. Alec had also recently tasted this label brought by a friend to their home just the week before so he was eager to share a photo of tonights' selection with that friend. 

Tonight, this was consistent with my earlier tastings when I wrote of this wine back in 2011, "Dark inky color, medium-full bodied, concentrated full round black berry, black cherry, and ripe plum fruits with accents of spice and cedar on smooth moderate tannin lingering finish."

RM 92 points. 

Fellow Cellartracker,  sums up this wine well in his tasting note, "At 10 years of age, this is drinking very nicely right now! Blackberry, wild berry, and black cherry fruit up front. Notes of espresso, dark chocolate, licorice, with subtle spice and minerals on the mid-palate. Still has some firm, supple tannins with a nice long finish. The extra age has really done this wine justice."