Friday, August 28, 2009

Serious Cabernet: Snowden Vineyards

In 1955 the Snowden’s found a property up in the rolling hills east of the Silverado Trail in Napa. It was 40+ acres of woodlands and fruit trees in dusty perlite soils. In 1962 they had the foresight to plant wine grapes and the legendary Nathan Fay directed the first plantings with cuttings from his Stags Leap vineyards. 
The first grapes were sold to Fay and Stags Leap Wine Cellars. After subsequent plantings, grapes were sold to Phelps, Far Niente and Silver Oak. In the early 90’s the first Snowden wines were made under the direction of Ted Lemon. Sigels had the good fortune to represent Snowden in the Dallas market and the wines developed a following for their solid quality and remarkable aging potential. After some quality issues with the 02 and 03 vintages, the project was reborn under the leadership of Diane Snowden Seyesses (oenologist at the renowned Domaine Dujac in Burgundy) with David Ramey consulting, and was totally back on track with the 2005 vintage. We are very happy to say that with the even better 2006 Snowden is back home with Sigels.

We tasted the wines  Thursday morning with sales manager Jamie Adams. It’s always a challenge to face big Cabernet’s at 8:15 in the morning, but hey, we’re professionals!

Snowden Sauvignon Blanc 2007
Sourced from vineyards adjacent to Andy Beckstoffer’s house, the wine is a lean Loire Valley style with tight citrus flavors and clean acids that keep the wine tightly focused on the mineral finish. The wine is very nice without the floppy fruits found in so many California Sauvignons. 500 cases produced. (91-Wine Spectator, 90-Robert Parker)

Snowden Cabernet Sauvignon, The Ranch, 2006
Beautiful, rich, ready-to-go estate grown Cabernet. Aromas of cassis and chocolate lead to rich flavors of dark cassis and espresso with gripping integrated tannins on the finish. At $40 this is a tremendous value in the rarified prices of Napa Cabernet. (92-Wine Spectator, 92-Robert Parker)

Snowden Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, 2006
Made from both selected blocks of fruit and selected barrels from the cellar, the wine is definitely built to age. This morning, the floral black fruit aromas are a little sleepy, but the wine has just been opened. Brambly blackberries and cassis lead the palate to dark undergrowth and espresso and a long structured finish. The acids linger on the sides of the tongue. As much flavor as the wine shows now, it still seems muted. I imagine it will be singing this afternoon if it makes it past someone’s breakfast. (94-Wine Spectator, 95-Robert Parker)

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