One of my favorite things about wine is trying new things. Whether it’s a producer I’ve never tasted, a grape I haven’t had or a region I don’t have familiarity with, exploration is exciting. That said, there are times that, for a variety of reasons, I want something I’m familiar with. Maybe it’s simple comfort or because I’m pouring the wine for someone else and want the security of a known quantity. Whatever the reason, at those times, one of the producers I look too is Silverado Vineyards.
Located in the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley, Silverado Vineyards was founded in 1981. Today, they farm six separate vineyards that total over 350 acres. Every drop of wine bottled with the name Silverado Vineyards, save for one tiny bottling, comes from grapes they grew on their own property. This is no small detail; completely controlling their entire fruit source assures that every single vine is tended precisely as they want it to be. Vintages will of course vary, but handling every aspect of farming for every last grape gives Silverado Vineyards a level of governance that is impossible to replicate in other circumstances.
Much of their Cabernet Vines are planted to Silverado Heritage, one of three designated Heritage Clones in the entire state. By growing Cabernet both in their home appellation of Stags Leap and down the road in Coombsville, they assure themselves the ability to produce distinct Cabernet Sauvignons. They have the option to produce both site specific wines and offerings that are well rounded by the combination of the sites.
While Cabernet Sauvignon sits at the heart of their operation, in many ways, there is so much more to the Silverado Vineyards portfolio. I recently had the opportunity to visit them and tasted through the vast majority of their current releases. Here’s a look at a handful of my favorites – the tip of the Silverado Iceberg, really. It’s hard to go wrong when it comes to Silverado Vineyards. Their name on the label is an assurance of a genuine Estate-grown product of quality. I choose to drink their wines regularly since they are delicious and also offer fair value across the board. I encourage you to do the same.
Silverado Vineyards 2013 Sangiovese ($30)
There isn’t a whole lot of Sangiovese planted in Napa Valley. Rest assured, if someone there is working with this grape, there’s a passion for it. Rose petals and red fruit aromas jump out the moment you pour this wine. The palate is stuffed with cherry, ripe strawberry and a core of spices. Bits of earth and sour cherry dot the long finish. Firm acid lends to the mouthwatering and super food-friendly nature of this wine. It’ll work well with nearly all but the heartiest of foods.
Silverado Vineyards 2016 Carneros Chardonnay ($35)
Their property on the Napa side of Carneros is the source of the fruit for this wine. It’s a textbook example of Chardonnay. It’s loaded with appealing fruit and spice that’s simply framed with oak, never encumbered by it. Yellow delicious apple and gentle hints of vanilla lead the way. A bevy of orchard fruits, highlighted by Bartlett pear, dominate the palate. Hints of baking spices, crème fraiche and a wisp of limestone are all in play on the long mouth-watering finish. Think you don’t like Chardonnay? Try this beauty.
Silverado Vineyards 2013 Mt. George Vineyard Merlot ($40)
Cherry blossom and red fruit aromas leap from the nose here accompanied by a complement of spices. Red and black cherry flavors are joined by spice and hints of leather on the palate. Cocoa, roasted chicory and black pepper round out the long, firm finish. Firm acid and supple tannins provide terrific structure.
Silverado Vineyards 2013 Soda Creek Zinfandel ($45)
There was a time when there was more Zinfandel planted in Napa Valley than Cabernet Sauvignon. That’s changed over the years, largely due to economic factors, but Zinfandel still thrives when planted in an appropriate spot in Napa such as Soda Creek. Bramble and spice aromas lead the charge. A host of black and red berry flavors drive the palate. Wisps of sweet, dark chocolate, savory herbs, spice and lingering black raspberry flavors are all part of the long finish. This is a classic example of Zinfandel. It’s loaded with fruit but proportionate and even-keeled in every way.
Silverado Vineyards 2014 Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon ($50)
The fruit for this wine comes from three of Silverado’s six vineyard properties. Savory herbs, red fruit aromas and white pepper are all evident. The supple palate shows off tons of red and black cherry flavors in addition to hints of leather, spice and earth. All of these characteristics reverberate on the long, layered finish. Drink this now or lay it down for a decade. This represents a tremendous value in Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Most offerings at this level of quality fetch twice the price.
Silverado Vineyards 2015 SOLO Cabernet Sauvignon ($125)
This is entirely Cabernet Sauvignon from the Silverado-Disney Heritage Clone. This is a wine of singular distinction. From the first whiff to the last sip, there is character and fruit to spare here, all the while maintaining proportion and tremendous grace. Spice and red fruit aromas lead the way. Red cherry, plum and a core of spices drive the layered palate. Crushed cherry, hints of earth and a dusting of cocoa marks the finish. Firm acid and medium tannins provide excellent structure.