Decantress Wine Diary
August 16, 2014
"A sense of place. This phrase was echoed throughout my recent visit to Cuvaison and truly embodies the philosophy behind the winery. On my first visit, I found myself there at 6:45 am on a Sunday morning in July surrounded by nearly 3,000 other people. A layer of fog kept the temperature cool but the air still, and all of us in racing gear, arms and legs exposed to the cool morning air, were stirring about to stay warm. The grapes, however, were undisturbed. What on earth was I doing at a winery so early in the morning? I was lining up for the best half marathon I have ever experienced, the Napa to Sonoma 13.1 mile race, whose starting line happened to be at Cuvaison. Cuvaison’s location in Carneros, just a short detour off of Highway 121 had made it a winery on my “must visit” list for a while. So as the gun went off and my fellow racers and I ran through beautiful vineyards from Carneros to a finish line in the Sonoma Square, I knew I would return to Cuvaison for a proper tour of the winery, vineyards and taste the impressive portfolio of wines. A “carrot” always helps with motivation and speed, and racing towards a finish line that promises an impressive line up of wine even helped me to PR!
After enjoying a glass of sparkling wine at the finish line, and the festivities on the square, my husband and I were too exhausted to visit a winery and opted to soak up some the gorgeous Napa sun, poolside. However, I couldn’t keep Cuvaison out of my mind, and we wasted no time, returning the following weekend for a proper tasting. The team at Cuvaison, from the winemaker to the hospitality director, to tasting room staff, go above and beyond to create an environment for people to come, relax and enjoy wines in the same environment that bears the grapes. Which is certainly striking - rolling vineyard-covered hills, cooled by fog from San Pablo Bay in the Carneros Region of Sonoma. The tasting room is clean, modern, with floor to ceiling glass windows and a viewing deck intended for guests to relax and taste while looking out over a nearby lake and the vineyards; which produce the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes that have made Cuvaison famous.
Not to be overlooked is the profound influence the Schmidheiny family of Switzerland who purchased the winery in 1979. When Thomas Schmidheiny's mother visited the Carneros region in the late 1970's, she was so taken with the land and its potential for winegrowing that she brought a small bag of soil home in her suitcase. A year later, Thomas purchased the Carneros estate where Cuvaison now makes its home. In the years since, the family has thoughtfully re-invested all profits in the vineyard and winery, consistently providing the support needed to produce the highest quality grapes and wines. Winemaker, Rogstad, joined Cuvaison in 2002, and oversaw the construction of the new winery, ensuring it was "purpose built" to optimally handle the fruit from Cuvaison's estate vineyard. We toured the winery and barrel room and observed first hand the care that is taken to separate each wine by block and allow it to ferment in perfect conditions. Each vineyard block has a home in a vessel specifically meant for that wine (from French Oak to cement egg to stainless steel), and are designed so they can actually be moved into different environments within the winery as needed to ensure the wine develops perfectly. The result is high quality wine that is integrated and complex.
Rogstad manages the certified sustainable vineyards at both Cuvaison and Brandlin, Cuvaison’s sister winery, with vineyards on Mt. Veeder, that produces bolder wines like Cabernet and Malbec that require the warmer climate in Napa. At Cuvaison, you feel a shared pride about the sense of place, as well as a concern about the environment and genuine will to reduce Cuvaison's impact on our environment. A few of the initiatives practiced at Cuvaison include solar power, water conservation and energy efficiency; the winery is also certified Napa Green. It’s hard to imagine that a winery this dedicated to maintaining the environment also produces
some of the best wines Carneros has to offer and maintains friendly staff to make the experience personal and relaxing. If you’re looking for the perfect winery to stop at on the way back from Napa, this gem off Duhig Road (neighbor to the stately Domaine Carneros) is ideal. This isn’t a normal tasting experience with guests overcrowding a tasting bar. It’s recommended to call ahead and schedule an appointment as the tasting room and patio are petite and the experience is tailored to be able to accommodate guests at their own private tables, each with a sweeping view of the picturesque landscape. You’ll get a tasting of both Cuvaison Pinot and Chardonnay and the wines in the Brandlin portfolio, including an impressive Zinfandel and Cabernet.
My favorite wines are listed below with tasting notes provided by the winery:
2012 Estate Chardonnay - $25 per bottle
From a truly classic vintage, the 2012 Estate Chardonnay displays lovely aromatics of honeysuckle, lily, acacia blossom and clove spice. Upon tasting this wine, it demonstrates a charming mix of white peach, apricot, nectarine and lime zest all tied to a bright, long, refreshing finish
2012 ATS Chardonnay - $56 per bottle
An opulently styled wine, the 2012 ATS Chardonnay is richly perfumed with notes of honeysuckle, jasmine and orange blossom. The fruit is focused around a lovely core of melon, peach and lemon chiffon with a hint of vanilla and toasted almonds. It’s this interplay between the bright, floral components and the dense fruit with a long crisp finish that sets the ATS apart and pays homage to the art of blending.
2012 Spire Pinot Noir - $48 per bottle
A classic vintage, 2012 enjoyed near perfect weather and ideal conditions at harvest. The Spire Pinot was harvested over a 15 day period, rigorously selecting the best fruit with each pass. The result is a multi-layered wine with opulent fruit, intriguing spice, lush tannins and brilliant acidity. Cherry, plum and wild strawberry notes with rose petal, violet, clove and ginger spice on the nose. Round and full-bodied for Pinot Noir the Spire showcases the plush tannins and rich mouthfeel typical of this site. Aged for 16 months in French oak puncheons, this is a rare wine from a singular place.
2011 Diablo Syrah - $40 per bottle SOLD OUT
Named after the formidable Diablo soils from whence this wine springs, this wine is a lover and a fighter, with gorgeous black cherry, boysenberry, sandalwood and cardamom spice notes backed by some bare knuckle tannins. Forged in a cool and challenging vintage on unforgiving soils, this wine demonstrates that the best things are born of struggle. Both powerful and graceful, this wine should reward you with intriguing spice, ample dark fruit and a long, persistent finish.
2012 Brandlin Estate Zinfandel - $38 per bottle
The 2012 Brandlin Zinfandel captures the essence of Old Vine Zin, where delicate floral tones (rose petals) mingle with crushed red berries and dark, jammy plums. The wine also has a nice spice element, star anise and a hint of bay leaf. On the palate the flavors of raspberry, blackcherry and boysenberry jam come to the fore, while texturally the wine is quite lush with medium-bodied tannins and a silky, long, bright finish."
Ian White, August 14, 2014
San Francisco Magazine
"Openings, uncorkings, and more from Wine Country."
"Few places host a good picnic in Napa Valley, so Cuvaison's [Calistoga Tasting Room] is answering the call. They are offering a tasting flight of four wines, followed by a healthy picnic lunch in their tree-shaded picnic grounds. Make sure to try their Pinot."
"Ladies and gentlemen… the weekend arrived. The wine country half marathon I’ve been going on and on about for the past four months has finally come, and now gone.
I’ll bring you the race day details later (including how I did!), but now I want to introduce you to two of the optional race extras offered by Destination Races: the Welcome Reception at Cuvaison Winery, and the Pre-race Dinner in the Vineyard at Ceja Vineyards.
Can you think of a better way to kick off a weekend?
Welcome Reception at Cuvasion Winery | Friday, July 18 6pm to 8pm
Let’s just start with that view… does is get any more idyllic than that? Seriously. When people say it’s absolutely stunning out here, they aren’t exaggerating. In fact, they may be understating how awesome it is to keep the crowds to a minimum (unsuccessfully, might I add).
The Napa-to-Sonoma flagship event began with hors d’oeuvres and wine tasting at the beautiful Cuvaison Winery. This would later be the “scene of the crime,” also known as the starting point of the race on Sunday. But tonight, it was all laughter and conversation heard over the cheerful clinking of glasses. A consistent chorus of, “Ooooh… this one is good!!” complimented the cool evening breeze. This was purely a social event – a chance for attendees to celebrate the weekend finally arriving, and for soaking in the atmosphere of wine country while making friends with those who share the appreciation.
I was one of the first to arrive, hence the photo ops without people. Trust me, by 6:15 this patio was pleasantly packed with other enthusiastic wine lovers and runners. Professional runner Lauren Fleshman was present, which was (for a lack of a better phrase) really damn cool. The whole event was perfectly informal, making it an ideal setting for a solo traveler such as myself to mingle and make friends. And mingle and make friends I did.
Click here to read the entire article on the Creatrice Mondial blog site.
|By Amy Hayes, July 22, 2014 Creatrice Mondial Blog Site|
GAYOT.com website is an internationally renowned and professional guide to dining, hotels, travel and lifestyle, including spas, movies and automobiles. They recently published an article on their website where they share their "Top Summer Wines" of 2014 - and Cuvaison's 2012 Estate Chardonnay was selected!
Read the article here.
We are thrilled to read what Steve Heimoff says about our 2012 Estate Pinot Noir in Wine Enthusiast's June 2014 issue, rated 91 Points.
“With a light, silky mouthfeel and mouthwatering acidity, this Pinot satisfies for its rich array of raspberries, cherries, spices, cola and smoky oak. It defines the Carneros style: tart, a little earthy and ageworthy. Drink now - 2019.”
And we agree - it’s delicious!
2012 Estate Pinot Noir
Julia Hollister, Northern California Wine Examiner
April 14, 2012
Winemaker Steve Rogstad explains:
'When phylloxera hit Napa Valley in the 1980s, that calamity offered a silver lining. Like many of our neighbors, we were faced with the task of replanting entire vineyards. From 1991 through 2004, our estate was completely replanted to reflect an updated understanding of growing wine in this site. Since then we’ve continued to tinker with grafting and replanting to create further distinction on the property and to maximize the expression of our terroir.'
The chardonnay selection ($25) showcases this unique region. Aged in French oak, this straw-hued wine opens with honeysuckle, sweet pear and a hint of ground clove. Pause a few moments, swirl and sip. Kiwi, ripe apricot and juicy peach flavors round out the tasting experience.
Cuvaison winemaker knows pinot noir and where the grapes can thrive. The selected vineyard blocks result in a graceful, exceptional vintage. One whiff reveals a bright middle and long finish highlighted with black cherry and raspberry aromas and whispers of baking spices. The best – the taste – is the reward of patience. Juicy dark fruit and subtle berry flavors showcase the smooth tannins that linger on the palate."
Introducing Cuvaison's 2013 Solitaire Sauvignon Blanc
New Release | *New Blend | Winery Exclusive
A very dry, early season added concentration to our 2013 Solitaire Sauvignon Blanc. This singular wine is crafted from a diamond shaped parcel within our Carneros Estate Vineyard. The 2013 Solitaire was picked in two passes. The earlier picked fruit was fermented in stainless steel, the later was *vinted in our concrete egg. The concrete egg softens and enriches the wine over time. The egg’s thick walls have the effect of softening any bitterness and giving the resulting wine a warmer, more unctuous tone. Fresh notes of gooseberry, melon, kiwi and apricots are braced on the palate with shimmering acidity and crisp minerality which serve to lengthen the flavors and let them linger on the tongue. - Winemaker Steven Rogstad
|2013 Solitaire Sauvignon Blanc||23.00||18.40||276.00||220.80|
Club Cuvaison Members save more than 20% off.
Not a Club Cuvaison Member? Click here to learn more.
Introducing two Cuvaison NEW RELEASE, limited production wines from our Single Block Series!
These two wines are born from our most prized and distinctive blocks, illustrating the most complete expression of fruit from our Carneros Estate Vineyard.
|2012 Kite Tail Chardonnay||42.00||33.60||504.00||403.20|
|2012 Spire Pinot Noir||48.00||38.40||576.00||460.80|
On our Carneros Estate Vineyard bud break began in earnest the first week of March, which is a few weeks earlier than the norm. This is the first stage of the annual growth cycle of the vine, using energy stored in its root system, the vines' sap begins to flow and the buds burst with the growth of this year’s shoots. Once the buds have pushed, new leaves will began to unfurl on the newborn shoots and photosynthesis will take over as the engine for the vines.
Here you can see mustard growing up between between the rows of vines in our Carneros, Napa Valley vineyard.
"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.