Fall has to be one of our most favorite seasons here at Cultivar Wine. Not only does the Fall mean that harvest is coming, but that the Holidays are just around the corner...and with them, new wines created specifically to pair with food.
This Fall is no exception, as we have recently released two wines that are not only begging to be paired with your favorite dishes, but come from regions known to be home to some of the best wines on Earth. We specifically picked these areas to source wines for our Fall wine releases, knowing that we'd be able to create something really special.
The 2018 Cultivar Wine Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena, Napa Valley, is something special indeed. One glance at the deep red wine in your glass and you know you’re sipping the very best Napa has to offer. Bold tones of tobacco, mocha, black currant jam, and cardamom hit the nose, while the palate explodes with layers of new oak, peat, salted caramel, cedar, nutmeg and juicy purple fruits. Complexity rules the finish here, with simultaneous waves of cappuccino, Lemon rind and leather carried on waves of youthful tannins. This wine begs you to order a lamb burger with blue cheese or rib eye Philadelphia Style if you’ve got the nerve. We paired it here with mission figs, we grow fig trees at Caspar Estate and they have always been a favorite for us, add goat cheese, and enjoy! Photo credit Eric Zepeda Studio.
St. Helena is a smaller - and quite varried - sub-appellation in Napa Valley. Its vineyards stretch from the valley floor up to the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountain Range, providing for growing conditions that can encompass warm and cool regions simultaneously. The soil is a mixture of extremes: ancient riverbed and volcanic rock, a uniqueness that's apparent in every wine that comes from this northern Napa Valley gem. We hand-crafted less than 75 cases of our St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon, and after our Wine Club received their allocation, only a few dozen cases remain.
Our second release for Fall 2020 is one of our most exciting: the 2019 Cultivar Wine Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands. Our first-ever pinot from the cool, Burgundy-like slopes of the Santa Lucia Highlands is a beauty and a wonder. With notes of plums, black licorice, fennel and hints of earthiness, one quickly discovers this will be a rich, lush, creamy pinot noir. Dark fruit layers give way to tomato pureé and vegetal tones with a playful herbaceous quality. On the finish, the pure balance gives clues to a subtle oak treatment, revealing caramel, root beer and the promise of even more complexity with age. Grab a bottle along with some herbed goat cheese, fig crostini and blueberries. We even love a delicate pinot like this to accompany Thanksgiving turkey.
The Santa Lucia Highlands wine growing region in western Monterey County achieved formal American Viticulture Appellation recognition in 1991. Since then, it has emerged as one of the premiere cool-climate growing regions for pinto noir on the west coast. The small but mighty appellation is home to multi-generation farmers and revered winemakers who craft award-wining and highly-acclaimed wines.
Want to try our new releases? Click here and see for yourself why terroir makes all the difference in Cultivar Wine.
We love a good celebration, and just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean the toasting has to stop. Keep the toasting going past the holidays and create a new tradition: a late January tasting party.
And right now is the perfect time to explore three Napa Valley Appellations through a horizontal wine tasting. We have three 2012 Cabernet Sauvignons available: 2012 Cultivar Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012 St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2012 Cultivar Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon.
Wondering what is a horizontal wine tasting? It’s when you select one varietal for a tasting of the same vintage from different appellations. This is a great introduction to the nuances imparted into the wines by the land.
Before the tasting, decant all of the wines you've chosen. We recommend about an hour to two hours for our St. Helena and Rutherford and just a touch longer for our Howell Mountain.
While the wines are decanting, set out three glasses per person (eighteen for a party of six people) that way everyone can compare the color of the wines as well as the legs before tasting. Be sure to mark the wine glasses ahead of time with color-coordinated Washi tape or letterpress coasters.
Once the wines are decanted, pour at least four ounces of each wine into everyone's glasses. Be careful not to overfill the wine glasses. You want everyone to be able to easily swirl the wine without fear of it splashing out of the glass. Swirling doesn't just look cool. It serves a purpose: swirling releases the aromas and coats the glass with them. Let the wines breathe for a few minutes before inviting guests to begin.
Once your guests are seated and have their wines in front of them it's time to begin tasting. Lead them through the steps for sampling the first wine. The following steps are conveniently included this tasting sheet that you can download and print for your guests.
As the host, you can decide whether you want to share the appellations ahead of time or have your guests guess. Our tasting sheet has general notes for tasting wines on the front and tasting notes for each of our 2012 Cabernet Sauvignons on the back. If your guests are Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon aficionados, testing how well they know their appellations can be fun. Simply print the tasting sheet on two pages and hand out the tasting notes after all guests have noted their picks.
When you first look at your glass note whether the wine is clear and bright. It should be. Is the color light? Medium? or Dark and opaque? Look at the wines next to each other and record any differences you see.
It's often said that you can tell a good wine by the thickness of its legs (the drips or tears that run down the inside of your wine glass after you swirl it). This is a myth, but the legs do reveal properties of your wine. Thick, slow moving legs mean your wine is heavy in alcohol and body. It will probably taste full and very rich. Delicate wines with less alcohol will have harder to see legs.
Swirl each wine and compare the legs of each. Record any differences you see on your tasting sheet.
Swirl your wine to coat your glass with the aromas of your wine and hold up your glass to your nose. You're looking for notes that will reveal where your wine came from. Some appellations are known for sour red-cherry notes where others are known for black currants. With complex wines you may not smell all the nuances in your first whiff.
There are 88 common aromas. On the provided tasting sheet we've identified eight common types of aromas: floral, spicy, fruity, vegetative, nutty, caramelized, woody, and earthy. An aroma wheel may help your guests identify what they're smelling.
Now the part you've been waiting for: the taste! As you sip and swish the wine in your mouth you're looking at its acidity: is it tart or acidic? Is it interesting? If you ponder a wine trying to discern what you're tasting it's a sign of a complex wine.
What's the finish like? Is it long or short? Elegant or harsh. Do you want more after you finish your sip?
Be sure to clear your palate in between each wine. In addition to lots of water, wine crackers are great to have on hand. Because they're flat, they don't impart any flavor to your next taste.
For six people, we like to have three bottles of each of the wines we’re pouring. For a horizontal tasting of all three of our 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, that's nine bottles total. This gives everyone enough wine to sample as well as being able to enjoy their preferred wine with the meal.
Remember that you receive 15% off wines when you order 12 or more bottles. So if a horizontal tasting sounds appealing, stock up and take advantage of the savings.
We have two brand new releases going out in this month’s wine club shipment that we think you’re going to enjoy. If you’re not in our wine club, now is the time to join because we have some great wines to share with you... just in time for those cooler nights when red wine sounds oh so right.
First, our 2012 St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon. This is our first release from the St. Helena appellation, where the temperatures run about 4 to 5 degrees warmer than in Napa. This rise in temperature results in wine with richer, more concentrated flavors. Ours has wonderful aromas of cassis, plum and vanilla with beautiful yet subtle floral notes. On the palate, ripe fruit flavors are balanced with great tannins. This wine will age well for 7 to 10 years and will go perfectly with a delicious grilled steak.
Also a new release is our 2011 Leaky Lake Cabernet. The grapes for this wine grow in the Leaky Lake Vineyard, located on top of the Mayacamas Mountain Range. Bright red in color, this wine has incredibly enticing aromas of wild blueberries and cherries that seem to leap from the glass, followed by notes of spice, pepper, cedar and mocha. The palate reveals fruit-forward characteristics with dark cherry fruit flavors, smooth tannins and a lengthy finish. Decanting allows the wine’s complex flavors to shine now, but it will also age gracefully for the next 2 to 7 years.