Friday, March 1, 2013

Premiere Napa Valley 2013

Another February, another Napa Valley Premiere auction… it has become arguably the most anticipated week of the entire year in the Napa wine trade for locals and visitors alike. What was once a (relatively) low-key day of a barrel tasting and live auction has morphed into a full-blown four days and nights of mayhem with nearly every winery in the Valley participating in some way. After the auction wraps-up on Saturday and the final round of celebrations begin, one can easily debate whether it’s hitting the finish line or hitting a wall. Not that we’re looking for much sympathy, of course. It’s just a long damn party. 

The best way to really get a handle on the auction lots being offered is to attend the tastings on the days leading up to the event. Keep in mind that everything – even the white wines – are barrel samples. If you've never tasted multiple barrel samples in succession, especially young Cabernet, let’s just say that the taste buds start to fade quickly in the race. So by staggering it across several sessions throughout the day, with meals (and the occasional cleansing Pilsner) in between, we’re able to get a much more precise read on what’s happening in the glass. Whether it’s a smaller, winemaker-specific gig for guys like Bob Foley or Philippe Melka, or the full-blown cave experiences of Spring Mountain, Oakville or the Stags Leap District, small sips are a lot more manageable than trying to hit the 200+ tables pouring the morning of Premiere.

There was a bit of nervous anticipation this year as many of the lots were from the 2011 vintage. You may have heard that this was not a year for amateurs in the vineyard or cellar. Mother Nature was hot and bothered and she took it out on all of us. That said, we were very pleasantly surprised at the life and vibrancy that most of the wines displayed, offering a sort of freshness and pop that’s often lacking in warmer vintages. I tried a Cabernet that was 12.8% alcohol with plenty of expressive fruit, length and fantastic weight. That sort of combination hasn't been seen around these parts in a long, long time. Maybe we should have a “challenging” vintage a little more often…

When the final hammer dropped, we picked up five lots that made us feel very good about the weekend’s effort from Beringer, Heitz, Signorello, Spoto and a joint effort between Robert Foley and Switchback Ridge. They’ll be trickling into our warehouse starting next year, but we have no doubt that our fans of the rarest wines Napa Valley has to offer will be duly impressed. Until then, here is a list of our current PNV releases.  To purchases, visit our website or call your Wine Scout at 1.800.943.9463. 

--Rhett Gadke
Wine Director

1 comment:

  1. Hey Rhett - Great being with you and the Bounty Hunter Team at PNV 2013. We'll look forward to seeing you and the distinguished Mr. Pope at PNV 2014. Cheers! John Wade, Cliffewood Wine Syndicate