Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Wines of Atlas Peak

Hill Family Estate, Krupp Brothers, Astrale e Terra, VinRoc, Lobo Wines, Antica Napa Valley, and Alpha Omega all have one thing in commonthese producers belong to the Atlas Peak Appellation Association (APAA). Despite a shared appellation designation, the wines grown in Atlas Peak couldn't be more diverse. This AVA offers quite the range of styles! For more information about the area, click here.

The APAA tasting kicked off with a barrel sample of the 2012 Hill Family Estate Atlas Peak Sauvignon Blanc; a blend of 86.3% Sauvignon Blanc and 13.7% Semillon, this barrel-fermented white offers bright tropical fruit on the nose. The palate is full and lush with lots of refreshing citrus notes and a finish with just a hint of spice. Keep an eye out for its release this fall. Also from Hill Family Estate, the 2009 Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon ($68/bottle) has beautiful longevity and depth with lingering flavors of blackberry and sage, with just a whisper of licorice.

From the Krupp Brothers label, the 2009 Chardonnay is opulent and full-bodied; it is both fermented and aged in French oak (80% new) for 22 months. It undergoes 100% malolatic fermentation and yet it retains an attractive acidity that complements the green apple flavors and buttery texture. The 2007 Veraison ($67/bottle) gets the same oak treatment and is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cab Franc, 4% Malbec, and 3% Petit Verdot. This sumptuous blend offers bright red fruit flavors and a robust richness on the palate. It finishes with red berries and spice notes. It is delicious now but still has a lot of ageing potential.

Astrale e Terra is a tiny little winery that produces only 1500 cases annually. We tasted the 2012 Syrah Rosé ($22/bottle), which was just lovely. Very pale pink in color, this rosé is low in alcohol and has the tiniest amount of residual sugar to balance out the acid. Light and fruity with cranberry and watermelon notes, it is a perfect poolside companion! The soon-to-be released 2009 Arcturus ($40/bottle) is a blend of Cab, Merlot, Syrah, Cab Franc, and Petit Verdot. This bold wine serves up a tasty combination of plum and blackberry flavors with velvety tannins. A great value! 

The 2008 VinRoc Cab ($98/bottle) is 100% Cabernet and accounts for more than one-third of VinRoc’s total production. Aged for 24 months in French oak, the nose imparts aromas of black olive and earth. Structured yet refined, red currant and surprisingly bright acidity round out the palate. It finishes dry with lingering red berry notes.

Lobo is another itty-bitty producer. Only 75 cases were produced of the 2009 Lobo Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($65/bottle); it is brick-red in color with savory aromas and big, mouthfilling tannins. This wine will age well.

We tasted a few wines from the Antica Napa Valley portfolio. The 2011 Estate Chardonnay is perfumed with orange blossom and spice. The palate delivers notes of lemon curd, almonds, and sweet vanilla with refreshing acidity. The 2009 Townsend Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($105/bottle) has a soft, supple texture and a pretty purple color. Restrained and focused, this wine offers dark berry and mineral notes. This is a wine that age wonderfully. Then during lunch, a few bottles of the 2012 Fossino Rosé of Pinot Noir were passed around. It was a refreshing complement to the food and the warm afternoon.   

The last wine in the line-up was impressive and rich, the equivalent of dessert. The fruit for the 2009 Alpha Omega Cabernet Sauvignon ($120/bottle) was sourced from Jan Krupp’s Stagecoach Vineyard. Dark and super-concentrated in the glass, this Cab offers intense aromas of purple fruit and baking spice. Prevailing flavors of coffee and dark chocolate overwhelm the taste buds. Decadent!

Visiting the Atlas Peak Appellation and spending time at the Antica Napa Valley property was a fantastic experience that I encourage you to experience for yourself. If you’re looking for unique and complex Napa wines, this is where you can find them! 

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