Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Signorello Hope's Cuvee Napa Chardonnay for Thanksgiving

Signorello Hope's Cuvee Napa Valley Chardonnay 2014 for Thanksgiving Feast

Every year at Thanksgiving I rethink, and overthink about what wine will we serve with dinner. I seek a special wine with some distinction or significance, but invariably default to a favorite one that we enjoy. Such was the case again this year when we opened a couple of memorable bottles from our cellar that we have a history of enjoying. We gathered with family and in-law for a getaway week to our Destiny Cove vacation rental in Destin, Florida.

Signorello "Hope's Cuvee" Napa Valley Chardonnay 2014 

This ultra-premium Napa Chardonnay was an easy choice, not only for quality drinking, and ideal pairing with the dinner, but also brought back several memories related to family and friends for the holiday. 

When it came time to posting about this selection, I realized we last had this same label during a 'celebration' dinner just last summer. Notably, this is a label of which we hold several vintage releases, and this was the oldest bottle in that vertical collection, thereby practicing good cellar/inventory management.

Tonight's experience was consistent with that most recent tasting which I posted in Cellartracker and in these pages back in June. 

Bright golden yellow colored, medium-full bodied, rich, textured, round fruits, hints of butterscotch and peach accented by honeysuckle, nut, stone, and with a long flavorful lip-smacking finish.

6/13/2023 - I like this wine: 94 Points



 I wrote extensively about this wine and our visits to the winery with family and friends, and the recent history of the winery having been destroyed in the Napa region fires.

Posted Monday, June 12, 2023

Signorello Hope's Cuvee Napa Chardonnay 2014

Concluding a real estate transaction, Linda and I had an intimate mini-celebration dinner at home on the deck. I pulled from the cellar this premium Napa Valley Chardonnay for the occasion as a pairing with the roasted chicken with haricot verts, carrots and mashed potatoes.

As posted in earlier blogposts, we discovered and acquired (the then current release vintage of) this wine during our visit to the Signorello Estate on Silverado Trail in Southeastern Napa Valley during our Napa Valley Wine Experience in 2013

At that time I wrote about this label: "I am predominantly a red wine drinker and while I enjoy an occasional glass of white, most often with appropriate food, I don't normally get excited about a white wine. This chardonnay was the exception,  memorable and special."

As part of proper cellar management, we pulled from our cellar the oldest vintage release in our collection of the multiple vintages we hold of this label.  I had set this bottle aside over the weekend to open with Sis Pat in town since she was with us when we visited the winery (shown below), but we didn't get to it. 

With sister/in-law and nieces' family at
(Former) Signorello Estate overlooking vineyards
and valley floor.

The Signorello winery sits at the very southern end of Napa Valley and has 43 acres of vineyards, including some of the oldest Chardonnay vines in all of Napa Valley - fruit from 37-year-old vines goes into his Hope’s Cuvée.

The magnificent Estate was destroyed in the fires that engulfed much of sections of Sonoma and Napa in 2017. Fires came down the foothills to the property that sat up the hill back from the highway.

The fire reached the winery and completely destroyed the hospitality center that also housed offices, a wine lab and a family residence upstairs. The adjacent  crush pad and stainless steel tanks survived intact along with the barrel cellar and equally if not most importantly, the vines of the adjacent vineyards. 

In the wake of the destruction from Napa Valley’s October 2017 Atlas Peak Fire, Ray Signorello (Jr) vowed to rebuild. We're relieved to read about the Phoenix of Signorella Estate, rising from the ashes, literally, and being rebuilt, even grander and larger than before. Signorello said he viewed the tragedy as an opportunity to do something new and exciting and is rebuilding with a larger fermentation facility, wine caves and a stunning expanded hospitality center.

The winery has kept almost all of its team employed as an interim step toward returning to normalcy and they have been operating out of a modular building was brought in to serve as a temporary hospitality center.

The adjacent Darioush property nearby that sits at the valley floor closer to the highway and similarly situated properties were untouched.

Signorello "Hope's Cuvée" Napa Valley Chardonnay 2014

The 2014 Chardonnay Hope’s Cuvée is crafted from a selection of the best lots and barrels sourced from the thirty-five year old vines on the 5 acre estate vineyard in front of the winery overlooking the valley floor. There were 379 cases produced of this wine, which went through 44% malolactic and was aged in 56% new French oak. 

Winemaker/producer Notes - Hope’s Cuvée Chardonnay showcases our utmost dedication to excellence, named in honor of my mother, Hope Signorello. It benefits from an intimate understanding of our 5.12 acre parcel on the west side of our hill. Planted 36 years ago with clonal selections from one of the region’s earliest outstanding vineyards, it is now one of the oldest Chardonnay vineyards in Napa Valley. Night-time hand-harvesting into small trays protects the varietal’s refined and delicate flavors. This wild yeast and unfiltered Chardonnay can be enjoyed over the next 12 years. 

This release was awarded 96 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate. He wrote, "The 2014 Chardonnay Hope’s Cuvée is a stunning Chardonnay. The wine shows plenty of orange blossom, honeysuckle, lemon custard and crushed rock notes. It is certainly very Burgundian and almost like a grand cru from the village of Puligny-Montrachet. Terrific stuff, with stunning texture and richness" ... (RP) (10/2015)

This is one of the few Chardonnays that we keep in our cellar that is vastly predominantly red wines. This was delicious and most likely at the apex of it's drinking profile, but likely not to improve from further aging, so time to drink up. The fill level, label, foil and most importantly, the cork were all pristine, in ideal condition, still wrapped in the tissue packaging, we acquired this bottle upon release and have held it in our cellar for nearly a decade.

Bright golden yellow colored, medium-full bodied, rich, textured, round fruits, hints of butterscotch and peach accented by honeysuckle, nut, stone, and what Parker calls "plenty of orange blossom, lemon custard and crushed rock notes," with a long flavorful lip-smacking finish.

RM 94 points.





We also opened another favorite that we have featured in these pages before as well. This wine is available in distribution at Total Wine, the big box wine and beverage superstore near our Florida home, and in Indiana, so we pick this up enroute or on location and not have to rob our wine cellar collection.

Like the wine above, we also gave this one 94 points in our personal rating.

We lasted featured this wine in these pages in, May, 2023, when I wrote:

Tensley Colson Canyon Santa Ynez Mountains Syrah 2020

Tensley Colson Canyon Santa Ynez Mountains Santa Barbara Country Syrah 2020

It was just about a year ago that we discovered and acquired this and several other Tensley Santa Barbara County Wines, that I wrote about here, and replay below, during our Santa Barbara County Wine Experience. This was the standout of that tasting and best represents the style that we love.

We discovered Tensley Santa Barbara County Wines during that Santa Barbara County, Santa Maria Valley Wine Experience while driving the Foxen Canyon wine trail. One of the producer's we visited recommended we check out Tensley Wines, which was near that estate we were visiting. 

We drove by the Tensley vineyards on Alisos Canyon Road, (shown left) which was closed, so we stopped in the Tensley tasting room in downtown Los Olivos.

I was not aware of this brand prior to this trip. It was a top discovery and revelation and may certainly be one of our go-to boutique labels going forward. We joined their wine club to obtain a supply of their labels from those tasted and going forward. 

Colson Canyon Vineyard | Santa Ynez Mountains

Since joining their wineclub, we have acquired a half dozen labels from this producer, but this single vineyard designated label remains our favorite. Sourced from Colson Canyon Vineyard, high up in the Santa Ynez Mountains north of Los Olivos, it has been providing exceptional Syrah fruit to Joey Tensley since 2000. It is this fruit that helped Tensley become the one of most sought after Syrah's on the coast with consistent high ratings, one vintage flirting with Robert Parker perfection at 99 points.

Tensley released his first vineyard-designate Syrah from Colson Canyon in 2001 and the wine press took notice. That year Matt Kramer of the Wine Spectator named two of Tensley’s 2001 Syrah’s to his list of the Top Ten Wines in the World. Robert Parker, Jr. scored all the ‘01’s in the high 90’s, calling them “serious, hand-crafted efforts.”

By 2008, Food and Wine Magazine named the Colson Canyon Syrah “Top Syrah in America Over $20.” Two years later, Robert Parker gave the 2008 Anniversary Series Colson Canyon Syrah 99 points, and Wine Spectator Magazine named the 2008 Colson Canyon Syrah "#17 of its Top 100 Wines in the World". The 2007 Colson Canyon Syrah was ranked #22 the year before. Since then, the string of high scores has been consistent.

Tensley and his wife Jennifer, purchased the Colson Canyon property about five years ago, ensuring that they would always be able to tap the most distinctive site. 

Perched high up at an elevation of 1,400 feet, the combination of warm days and cool nights produces dense, fruit-forward wines with opulent jamminess. The site covers 115 acres but has only 16 acres of grapes because the elevation and rugged terrain make so much of the site untamable. Tensley believes that only three more acres have the potential to be planted.

Tensley Colson Canyon Vineyard Santa Ynez Mountains Santa Barbara County Syrah 2020

Winemaker Notes: "Everything we farm in house is something very special to us. This site is one of the most unique and special places in the world of wine. High (1400 elevation) in the hills north of the Santa Maria Valley with some of the most iron-laced soils I have seen in Santa Barbara County.'

"This wine always delivers juicy round seamless edges. This is the only wine we add some new French oak, as its weight and power integrates with the oak, adding a bit of toasty buttery complexity. Colson Canyon is such a beautiful example of fruit forward juicy California Syrah. Open it anytime and enjoy its blueberry, cassis and chocolate nuances or leave it 20 years and enjoy its leathery, almondy notes. It does not really matter when you open it, it will deliver."

1925 cases were produced.

This was awarded 94-96 points by Jeb Dunnuck, 96 points by Wine Advocate, 95-97 points by Vinous, and 95 points by Wine Spectator.

Might I consider this the Tensley 'flagship'? This reminded me of a couple other memorable highly rated Syrahs that has been standouts - Kongsgaard Carneros Hudson Vineyard and Penfolds Grange. Both are flawless, seamless, and notable for their smooth, polished, balanced profile. While not to that level of perfection perhaps, this is close and evokes the same experience. This bottle was from the Wine Club allocation we received from that visit. We're anxiously awaiting our fall release shipment that we're told was shipped this week.

We love this full throttle jammy rich fruit forward style of the 2020 Colson Canyon Vineyard Syrah. Notably it has been recognized with four scores of 95 points or more.

We wrote about this wine in January and before that late last fall. Each time I gave it 94 Points.

Consistent with earlier notes - even better with BBQ ! Dark inky purple colored, full bodied, thick concentrated unctuous juicy black and blue fruits with layers of cassis and chocolate nuances with notes of oak, leather and tobacco on a tongue coating lingering finish.


Earlier, last fall I wrote: "Dark inky purple colored, full bodied, thick concentrated unctuous juicy black and blue fruits with layers of cassis and chocolate nuances with notes of oak, leather and tobacco on a tongue coating lingering finish." 

RM 94 Points