Sunday, December 31, 2023

Cloud View 1999 with Beef Tenderloin

Cloud View 1999 Bordeaux Blend with Beef Tenderloin for intimate New Years' dinner

For a quiet News Years Eve dinner at home, Linda prepared a delicious beef tenderloin, with fresh baked bread, bacon mac-n-cheese, and peas and corn. I pulled from the cellar this aged vintage Napa Valley Bordeaux Blend as an ideal wine accompaniment.

I wrote about Cloud View in a detailed blogpost last summer - Cloud View Napa Valley Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2005. I wrote that the estate was sold and is now owned by Tim Mondavi of Continuum.  Excerpts from earlier posts ...

The Cloud View Vineyards estate was located on Pritchard Hill in the Vaca Mountain range that forms the eastern wall of Napa Valley, just south of Lake Hennessy and to the east of the Oakville AVA. The vineyards are grown between 1,000 and 1,500 feet above the Napa Valley floor. They were originally planted by owners Linda and Leighton Taylor who moved to Pritchard Hill in 1990 and began planting 23 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot on the 90 acre property five years later in 1995. 

The property eventually included 26 acres planted to Bordeaux varietals Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot, planted by the original owners Linda and Leighton Taylor.

After selling the property, the Taylors had intended to continue the brand, but use purchased Pritchard Hill grapes but we've never seen any indication of a release from them. 

Pritchard Hill is the site of some of Napa's most prestigious labels including Brand, Bryant Family, Colgin, Del Dotto's ultra-premium Villa Del Lago, Ovid and one of our favorites, Chappellet and David Arthur.  We visited David Arthur on Pritchard Hill during our Napa Wine Experience in 2013, and previously, we visited Chappellet on other side of Pritchard Hill during our Pritchard Hill, Napa Valley Experience - Autumn '09 with our visit to long time resident/producer Chappellet Vineyards.

While Pritchard Hill is not an official appellation (AVA - American Viticultural Area), it certainly could be, but lacks a sponsor to apply and lobby for designation. Donn Chappellet, owner/producer, the earliest settler in the modern era owns the 1971 Pritchard Hill trademark and firmly declares, “It will not become its own AVA.”

This 1999 Cloud View release was the inaugural release of wine and this label from this estate. Production was limited with 400 cases produced in 1999, 560 cases were made in 2000, growing to 2,000 cases were made in 2004.

We have six vintages of this label, from the 1999 through the 2005 vintage. A fellow Cellertracker'er contacted me year before last, seeking one of our vintages to fill out his vertical collection. We traded bottles to each fill out our verticals in a perfect trade scenario. Of our six vintages we hold of this label, we selected the oldest one, tonight, as part of cellar inventory management. Also, we recently drank a ultra-premium Napa Bordeaux from this same 1999 vintage, so I was eager to compare the two. 

This vintage release is a blend of 44% Merlot and 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, all sourced from the winery's estate vineyards. Interesting that they publish the lower percentage Merlot first and the majority Cabernet second (on the rear label - as shown here). Note this very limited production release was acquired at auction at

The winemaker for these wines was Karen Bower Turjanis who previously worked under Paul Hobbs at Lokoya and Cardinale Estate. We tasted a Cardinale Estate just the other evening, as featured in a blogpost in these pages - Boys night features flight of ultra-premium Napa Cabernets. Fernando Espinoza was the cellarmaster and owner Linda Taylor was the vineyard manager.

The entire 85-acre Cloud View property was acquired by Continuum, the wine label owned by brother and sister Tim and Marcia Mondavi with Margrit Biever Mondavi, widow of the legendary Robert Mondavi. The Continuum brand was founded in 2005, and is Tim Mondavi's first venture since leaving the Robert Mondavi Winery in 2003. Both the 2006 and 2005 vintages were made from grapes from a leased Oakville property, and the Pritchard Hill purchase helps realize the family's goal of being a single-vineyard estate winery. The switch from an Oakville bottling to a Pritchard Hill bottling began with the 2008 vintage.

The late Robert Mondavi, who was also a partner in the Continuum brand, visited the site with his family before he passed away in May of 2008. "It's so meaningful that he saw it, to see where we are headed in the future," said Carissa.

Winemaker Notes for the Cloud View Vineyard's 1999 Proprietary Red Table Wine .... "is rich with intensely dark ripe fruit, round mid-palate and a long lingering finish of velvety tannins. The myriad of aromas includes anise and fennel, black olive and wild ginger, and is supported by a solid base of dark fruit and the toasty vanilla of fine French oak. On the palate, the ripe fruit opens up to hues of raspberry, blackberry, and dark black cherry with subtleties of lavender. The tannic backbone, which draws itself directly from this mountain site, weaves seamlessly with the warmth of creamy oak. We have crafted this wine for enjoyment now and well into the future. Aroma & Color Earthy–red dust, dark ripe fruit, wild sage, anise, fennel, black olive, ginger, vanilla oak. Profoundly garnet with the deep colors unique to mountain fruit. Flavor - Dark ripe fruit, raspberry, blackberry, lavender, velvety tannins, and subtle, creamy oak. Overall comments - Lush, delicious, round mid-palate, long finish, mouth filling.

I featured other vintages of this label in these pages in these blogposts and Cellertracker posted tasting notes.

In February 2018 - I wrote I like this wine: and gave it 92 Points.

This was dark garnet colored, medium-full bodied, with firm concentrated structured core of brambley earthy black currant and black berry fruits with a layer of sweet caramel accented by tones of cassis, sweet spicy tangy oak and silky tannins on the lingering finish.

I featured it in a blogpost in these pages - Cloud View Napa Valley Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2004.

In June last summer, 2023 I featured this label in these pages in this blogpost - Cloud View Napa Valley Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

The hill is named for homesteader Charles Pritchard who planted vines and produced the 1890 vintage of Zinfandel and Riesling. Pritchard Hill’s modern era began in 1967, when Donn Chappellet acquired and developed their property on the advice of André Tchelistcheff, then at Beaulieu Vineyard.

When Chappellets bought the property, there was an existing vineyard planted there to Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, Gamay and Johannisberg Riesling. He eventually replaced these with Bordeaux varieties, except for a brief experiment with Chardonnay. Chappellet's approximately 100 acres of planted vines makes their vineyard the biggest on Pritchard Hill.

Following Chappelett over the next decade were two Long families, unrelated. Bob Long and his wife, Zelma (then the chief enologist for Robert Mondavi, established Long Vineyards, which is no longer operating), and David Arthur Long and his father, Donald, planted their vineyard in 1978. Today, David Arthur Vineyards is owned by David, his brother, Bob, and Bob’s wife, Joye. Bob Long also has his own brand, Montagna. 
 Pritchard Hill is known for red soil known as Sobrante, described by David Arthur’s and Montagna’s winemaker, Nile Zacherle, as “volcanic clay loam.”The terrain is littered with huge boulders which some wineries, like Colgin and Brand, dynamited to clear the land to make it suitable for planting.

The high altitude well drained poor soils produce low yields of small, intensely flavored grapes with thick skins. Pritchard Hill sits above the fog line which comes up to 1,200 feet above sea level allowing for extra sunshine when the lower elevation is shrouded in fog. Notably, on Howell Mountain, further north in the Vaca Range, the 1200 foot elevation where the fog stops, is the demarcation point between Napa Valley and Howell Mountain appellations' designated wines.

Legendary winemaker Philippe Melka, one of our favorite producers, makes wines at Gandona, Brand and was Bryant Family’s winemaker until 2006, calls Pritchard Hill “the best of both worlds: Oakville sophistication with the extra intensity of a hillside.” We featured a Phillip Melka Bordeaux Blend during that same tasting the other evening mentioned above with the Cardinale, as featured in the blogpost Boys night features flight of ultra-premium Napa Cabernets.

The Brand estate had been owned by the Miner Family Winery till it was purchased by businessman Ed Fitts. Portuguese Gandona owners bought the land from Bob Long (Zelma’s husband) when Long Vineyards ceased operations. 

Another of our other favorite wines in our cellar is Arns Melanson Vineyard Syrah produced by John Arns over on Howell Mountain. He obtains the fruit for this single vineyard designated label from the 10.5 acre vineyard on Pritchard Hill that is planted to Cabernet, Chardonnay and Syrah. Greg Melanson acquired the vineyard back in 1988. Previously, it was owned by Round Pond; Bob and Zelma Long planted the original vineyard in the early 1970s. For years, Melanson sold fruit to the likes of Heidi Barrett (for La Sirena) before starting his own brand. We drank this label just the other evening and will post it in these pages soon.

Cloud View 2005 rear label
The Bryant Family Pritchard Hill 13 acre estate was developed in 1985 by the all-star team that included winemaker Helen Keplinger, consultant Michel Rolland and vineyard manager David Abreu. Todd Alexander worked there on Pritchett Hill where he gained notoriety when his wines earned high ratings and critical praise. There he learned the craft under legendary viticulturist David Abreu and winemaking consultant Michel Rolland, following in the footsteps of notable producer Phillip Melka before moving to Walla Walla Washington to take on winemaking and production at Force Majeure.

David Del Dotto, developer of a vast portfolio of Napa properties and brands, and producer of one of the largest collections in our cellar knew "Pritchard Hill was a key vineyard site from drinking Bryant Family,” he says. “David Arthur convinced me of the potential of these wines.” From the broad portfolio of Del Dotto labels, he reserves the Villa del Lago brand for his ultra-premium estate Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon.

Ovid was developed in 2003 by former software entrepreneurs Dana Johnson and Mark Nelson who bought their vineyard land in 1998 and launched Ovid five years later. They assembled the superstar team including vineyard manager David Abreu, winemaker Austin Peterson (who worked with Michel Rolland at Château Le Bon Pasteur in Pomerol) and consulting winemaker Andy Erickson (formerly of Screaming Eagle, now at Dalla Valle).

The Cloud View Vineyards estate ceased operation with the 2006 vintage when it was sold to Tim Mondavi when he struck out on his own after the family broke away from Robert Mondavi Winery. When he acquired the Pritchard Hill estate and founded Continuum Estate, the 62 acre vineyard was the second largest estate in the region. Note that the Cloud View brand was not sold so we might see it re-emerge in some fashion at some point in the future although the website is gone and the domain name is for sale.

In November 2021, fellow Cellartracker'er wrote about this wine in a vertical tasting.

"The 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 Cloud View Vineyards wines were enjoyed side by side at Bourbon Steak with Rib Cap, grilled Vidalia onions and crispy brussel sprouts. The wines were left upright for a day, then opened with an ah-so at home an hour before dinner to keep the corks together, then quickly reinserted to minimize oxygenation. The clear winner was the 2002 - in full flight. Still exhibiting youthful fruit and towering structure, this beauty had weight, leather, dark hanging fruit and stunning aroma. Lingering, lasting finish. It still has much life ahead of it. The 2001 was a bit of a surprise. It was massive and brutish, but reserved. As if it were a towering building draped in a cape. The 2000 was a shocker. From a horrible vintage, it excelled. Not near the greatness of the other vintages there was no expectation it would be good, and it was - just to a lesser note. The 2003, 04 and 05 were fairly interchangeable; mature fruit, acid and tannins in balance. All delicious in their own right. The 1999 was the oldest and looked the part. It was brick around the rim and had that dried blackberry note, plowed earth and cocoa powder texture. It was the only one, aside from the 2000, that I would say was on the decline. Incredible wines on an incredible night."

I've been waiting for an opportunity to enjoy this rare label and the other five vintage releases that I hold in the cellar. This tasting was consistent with earlier tastings of other vintages.

Dark garnet colored, medium to full bodied, rich concentrated full round but approachable balanced and integrated dark berry and plum fruit accented by floral, smokey vanilla, clove spice and notes of camphor with a long tangy acidic silky tannin laced lingering finish. 

RM 93 points.

The website is no longer active and the domain name is for sale.