"Visiting Cuvaison Winery in the Heart of Carneros"
A range of excellent wines from Napa Valley
Gabe Sasso, The Daily Meal
** Click here to visit the article on The Daily Meal's website:
For a number of years now, I’ve been drinking Cuvaison wines and last year I even had dinner with their affable winemaker, Steve Rogstad. However, until recently I’d never been to their facility, so it seemed like high time to change that on my most recent trip to Napa Valley. Cuvaison is best known for making chardonnay and Pinot noir. Their core wines are made using fruit sourced in Carneros, where the winery sits amongst their vineyards. Cuvaison also has a label called Brandlin that is focused on making Estate Cabernet from Mt. Veeder fruit. All around they’re very much the embodiment of an estate producer.
Cuvaison, in fact, has a couple of tasting rooms: one up on Silverado Trail in Calistoga and another that is also gently nestled among their vines in Carneros. Wanting to get to the heart of things, I scheduled my recent visit with them for the Carneros location. One of the biggest practical differences between the two tasting rooms is that you can simply walk in to the one in Calistoga and belly up to the bar. The Carneros location offers a couple of options which are available by appointment. One option is a vineyard walk and tasting which occurs four days a week at 9:30 AM. The walk lasts approximately 20 minutes and is followed by a tasting. The other option is a seated tasting, which is what I participated in when my group visited. The facility is on the intimate side and it has both indoor and outdoor seating. In good weather, the glass doors can be opened so even those who are inside get to enjoy the beautiful climate.
When we arrived, the staff greeted us and asked if we preferred to sit inside or out. After, we were guided through our tasting, as they brought over one wine at a time. They told us a bit about each one and were available to answer any questions about the selections they poured, as well as the winery. In a sense, the depth of the tasting from an informational perspective can go as deep or as shallow into things as your party desires. This ability to gauge where each group wants to take it is one of the keys to bringing intimate, seated tastings to the next level. My group wasn’t in a hurry, so we spent a couple of hours enjoying our surroundings and luxuriating in the Cuvaison wines. As a piece, their wines are well made, site-specific offerings which also speak of vintage conditions. That said, a handful of them particularly stood out to me on that day:
Cuvaison 2012 Solitaire Sauvignon Blanc ($23) — Produced from vines planted to the Musqué clone of Sauvignon Blanc, this wine doesn’t see any oak treatment or undergo malolactic fermentation. Anjou pear and yellow delicious apple aromas emerge from the nose of this sauvignon blanc. The palate shows off citrus zest, flinty mineral notes, and white pepper spice. Bits of pleasing green herb emerge on the finish which is clean, crisp and refreshing. This is a lovely example of sauvignon blanc that works as well by itself as it will with lighter foods.
Cuvaison 2011 ATS Chardonnay ($56) — The fruit for this wine comes from some of the oldest planted blocks on the Estate and are planted to the Dijon 809 Clone. Bits of linseed oil, toast, and baker’s spices emerge from the nose of this chardonnay. This is a bold chardonnay loaded with tropical and orchard fruit aromas throughout a full bodied palate. Tons of mineral and spice emerge on the finish which has excellent length. This chardonnay will complement rich cream sauces and soft cheeses quite well. It’s a somewhat extravagant example of chardonnay, which aims to impress and it does.
Cuvaison 2012 Estate Pinot Noir ($38) — The fruit for this Estate Cuvee came from 20 distinct blocks on their property: each block is handled separately and the final blend takes place prior to bottling. Black tea and bing cherry aromas leap from the nose of this fresh and exuberant Pinot noir. Red fruits dominate the gentle but firm palate, with bits of black fruit weaving in and out of the picture. Cherries, strawberries, and hints of plum are of particular note here. Leather, black pepper, and wisps of green savory herb are all part of the finish which has terrific length. This is a nice Pinot noir which will pair with a truly wide array of foods. It would also be a nice wine to sit in the corner with as you sip it slowly and contemplate life. In either case you can’t go wrong. This is a terrific Pinot at a very fair price for the quality.
Cuvaison 2011 Estate Syrah ($38) — The Syrah vines that are sourced for this wine are located on hillsides, and the exposure to greater sun in the hills allows the Syrah to ripen more evenly. Lots of anise leads the massive nose on this 2011 Syrah. Black cherry and raspberry fruit flavors are in full effect on the weighty and friendly palate. Blackberry and plum notes emerge on the finish along with smoked meat characteristics and a hint of chicory. The tannins here are firm, but yield with some air. This Syrah will excel when it’s paired with bold, full flavored foods.
The two Estate wines above and their Estate chardonnay are all widely available all over the country. Their other selections are more limited in availability; some are only available directly through the winery. Steve Rogstad has been crafting some really fine wines over at Cuvaison for a long time now. Across the board these are approachable, proportionate wines with depth. If you’re not familiar with Cuvaison, spend your money on their offerings with the confidence that you’ll get a quality artisan product.
Experience the one and only 2012 Béton Sauvignon Blanc.
We named this wine Béton, French for concrete, in recognition of the egg shaped vessel it was produced in and the round, bright, warm stony impact it has imparted to this wine.
Retail Bottle 23.00
Click here to go topurchase this wine.
|"Lemon chiffon, kiwi, laurel and beeswax on
the nose with rich citrus, quince melon and
passion fruit expressing itself on the palate."
- Winemaker, Steven Rogstad
|Carneros Tasting Room
1221 Duhig Road, Napa CA 94559, (707) 942-2455
Earlier this month our President, Jay Schuppert, was invited by the Great Wine Capitals to attend an evening gala at the Culinary Institute of America.
At this event, he received an award on behalf of Cuvaison Estate Wines for “Best Architecture and Landscape” for our Carneros location. The award was given by the Great Wine Capitals as part of their “Best of Tourism Awards,” which celebrate innovation and excellence in wine tourism throughout the ten greatest wine regions in the world.
We would like to celebrate with and congratulate our architects, Doug Thornley and Bob Baum from Gould Evans, for helping us bring this stunning and architecturally intriguing structure into fruition. Each day we are delighted to share this unique space with our guests.
To learn more about the Best Of Wine Tourism Awards or Great Wine Capitals, click here.
“Chardonnay lovers will enjoy this wine for Thanksgiving. It’s clean fruit flavors, crisp acidity, modest oak and long finish go well with the varied dishes on traditional Thanksgiving tables. Ask your favorite store to order this wine for you. Prices may vary."
Cuvaison Estate Wines is excited to be a part of Calistoga’s 5th annual Winter in the Wineries Calistoga Passport program. The program runs December 6, 2013 – February 9, 2014, and offers visitors a relaxed way to tour and taste wine at 14 heralded wineries around the small town of Calistoga; located at the northern end of the Napa Valley winegrowing region. In addition to wine tastings, the passport offers discounts at several of Calistoga’s finest restaurants, lodging properties and downtown shops!
You can purchase the Winter in the Wineries Calistoga Passport from either our Napa/Carneros or Calistoga locations.
Things to consider:
Click here to preview all of the great perks the 2014 Winter in the Wineries Calistoga Passport offers. This is a great gift idea for your wine lover friends!
If you have any questions, please contact our tasting rooms in person or by calling: Calistoga: (707) 942-2468 or Carneros: (707) 942-2455.
"Medium ruby color; rich, cherry aromas with earthy, mineral notes; rich, ripe, deep cherry flavors with earthy, toasty notes; silky texture; good structure and balance; long finish. Rich, toasty Pinot with nice structure and texture for many foods."
We are delighted to announce that our
2011 Cuvaison Estate Pinot Noir has received a well earned 91 Points in the October 2013 issue of PinotReport. Great job to Winemaker Steve and his team!
For additional information or to purchase this vintage, click here.
Club Cuvaison members save up to 30% on a mixed case of Chardonnay!
Choose from either our Estate Chardonnay or our Kite Tail Chardonnay from
our Single Block Series.
Mix and match and beat the heat with savings!
Buy a case and save 25% off retail,
Buy 2 or more cases and save 30% off retail.
|Estate Chardonnay||Kite Tail Chardonnay|
|Retail Case Price||300.00||504.00|
Fruit set is underway and everything is looking great in the vineyard!
On our Carneros Estate vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot clusters generally set about 50 to 100 berries per cluster depending on the clone and how good the set is. In 2013 we have experienced a very nice set with some shatter (hens and chicks) in Chardonnay.
Shatter is when, usually for environmental reasons (rain, cold, too hot, too windy) the flower does not fertilize and it falls off the cluster which leads to fewer berries/cluster and less yield. Some varieties like Malbec for example are very prone to shatter. Hens and chicks isn’t exactly the same thing, though weather can make it more prevalent. In hens and chicks some flowers set normal size berries (Hens) and some berries don’t produce a seed and are very small (chicks). Our Old Wente Chardonnay is the most common example of this phenomenon.
Overall it’s shaping up to be a good vintage from a quantity standpoint.
The Carneros Vineyard is in full bloom and early stages of fruit set, where the fertilized flowers turn into grape berries. Bloom this year has been running about 2 weeks to 18 days ahead of last year which portends an early start to harvest. In other words, the cellar crew should not be planning any labor day festivities. The Brandlin Vineyard on Mount Veeder has just begun bloom in some of the blocks, but is typically 3 weeks or so behind our Carneros Estate. Otherwise it’s been a stress-free year so far with no frost or strong disease pressure. The biggest worries have been the relative dryness of the year and the strong presence of gophers, voles, and deer wanting to munch on our vines.
Many Club Cuvaison members have already seen our new labels and logo, but we want to share the new design with our many friends and fans who have not. We've kept the iconic Cuvaison arch, but updated it with an artistic display of the word Cuvaison. The new design also features new font to represent the dynamic and modern evolution of the Cuvaison brand.
We are excited to unveil our new Cuvaison label design. The new label reflects a true expression of our elegant wines while representing the modern, artful, and authentic vision displayed in our tasting rooms.
The Cuvaison Estate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are 100% estate grown wines that represent the unique and certified sustainable vineyard site which is our home in the heart of Carneros. Each wine is meticulously hand-crafted from vineyard blocks that have been vinified separately, chosen by Winemaker Steve Rogstad for the distinct characteristics each brings to the final blend. Complex, multi-layered, and highly nuanced, our estate wines represent uncompromised farming and winemaking from vine to bottle.
Our Single Block wines are sourced from distinct blocks within the Cuvaison estate vineyard that have the rare combination of climate, soil and aspect to yield fruit that is consistently outstanding year after year. These individual blocks produce “stand alone” wines that need no blending. Limited in production, they represent the highest and most complete expression of fruit from our Carneros estate.
Visit our Tasting Rooms to check out the new look and taste our delicious wines!
2012 Cuvaison Solitaire Sauvignon Blanc
Our Sauvignon Blanc all comes from a singular, diamond-shaped block in our Carneros Estate. We ferment the wine in stainless steel at a cool temperature to capture and retain all the bright gooseberry, lemongrass and fresh citrus tones of this variety. Although aged on its lees to soften and enrobe the wine, it doesn’t go through malo-lactic fermentation as we want to retain the crisp minerality and vibrant acidity that is the focus of this "solitaire" wine.- Winemaker Steven Rogstad
2011 Cuvaison Estate Syrah
The hills of our Carneros Estate Vineyard are marked by shallow clay soils, barren land that restricts vigor and restrains energetic varieties like Syrah from their naturally, over productive tendencies. This is critical for two reasons; it allows Syrah to ripen in the chill of Carneros and it gives concentration and character to the ensuing wines. Our 2011 Syrah is just such an example. Smokey, peppery, jammy nose, with black cherry, blackberry and lavender notes. On the palate the wine is silky with spice and round tannins supporting the dense fruit and lively finish.
- Winemaker Steven Rogstad
2011 Brandlin Zinfandel Bald Mountain Vineyard
Limited Production, New Release
A shy vintage the 2011 Bald Mountain Zinfandel exhibits a complex mix of floral, fruit and earthy tones. Despite some fall rains, the sheer slopes of this mountain site effectively concentrate each berry. The general rich, jammy texture of this Zinfandel is accentuated with violets and rose petals, loganberry, boysenberry and a hint of soy and forest floor.
- Winemaker Steven Rogstad
Bud break began in early March in a few blocks, and we are seeing more and more blocks across the vineyard lighting up in bright little leaves of green. We’ve seen nice even growth in the young shoots and are hopeful to have a decent yield after last year’s bumper-crop. We should start seeing bloom here in Mid-May, for which we’ll have our fingers crossed for pleasant weather as this is one of the trickiest times of the year for the grapevine. Too hot, too cold, or wind and rain can all affect the crop size and how challenging it will be to maximize quality.
Due to the dry winter, our vineyard team has mowed much of our organic cover crops so that our vines will get all the moisture they need without competition. The cover crops will be disked or tilled in to provide nitrogen and improve soil structure. Here's a before and after shot to see the difference.
2011 ATS Chardonnay
Our 2011 ATS Chardonnay boasts the taut, sinewy structure of Chardonnay from our Old Wente blocks, blended with a soupçon of the floral dominated Dijon 809 clone. The Inviting aromas of nutmeg, almond and Brioche with shimmering honeysuckle and apricot tones invite you in, but it’s the supple, rich mouth feel of the wine that hooks you. A full-bodied, richly textured wine the ATS Chardonnay blends stone fruit freshness with crisp acidity, creating a long-lived impression that will keep you coming back for more.
2011 Cuvaison Estate Pinot Noir
Another cool vintage coupled with a late season engendered this seductive, elegantly-styled Pinot Noir. Raspberry, wild strawberry, pomegranate, and lilac notes, gently spiced with aniseed, sassafras, and a touch of juniper berry. On the palate the wine showcases structure over bombast -- bright acidity, clean fruit, and graceful tannins linger in the memory.
On February 10th we lost a dear friend by the name of Chester Brandlin. You will recognize the name being the same as our Brandlin Cabernet and here is why: Back in 1998 we were informed that a very special property was for sale in the Mount Veeder district of Napa Valley, which was owned by Chester Brandlin. We knew it was special due to the incredible Zinfandels from the site, which were produced by Peter Franus. We negotiated with Chester for many months but it wasn’t about price; he wanted to make sure we would protect the environment that his family had nurtured since the 1920’s when the 10 acres of zinfandel were first planted. Once purchased by Cuvaison, we planted 38 acres to Cabernet, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, while maintaining the old vine zinfandel.
Once we heard the rich stories about the Brandlin family, which dated back to their arrival to Mount Veeder in the 1870’s, we knew we had to do something to bring homage to this great family. They had grown wine grapes that entire time but never had their name on a label. While they made wine, it was only for their personal use with the rest being sold to wine producers. Chester told stories of his family taking grapes by wagon all the way to San Francisco before there were motorized trucks. 2003 was our first vintage of Brandlin Cabernet and I’ll always remember handing Chester that first bottle with his family name on it. We were all a bit teary that day.
You can read Chester’s obituary here.
Mornings in Napa are icy and cold, with frost blanketing the ground. Thankfully, the bright yellow mustard seed flowers are popping up between the vines and announcing the coming of spring. Cold mornings dissipate to brisk, sunny days here in Carneros, and the mustard seed is a joyful burst of color against the contrasting bare vines and blue skies. Plan a visit and see for yourself!