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    Remarkable Reds from Trinchero Napa Valley

    Trinchero Napa LogoThe Trinchero family is firmly entrenched in the history of the California wine industry.? It was back in 1947 that John and Mario Trinchero purchased the Sutter Home Winery, in Napa Valley.? They packed up their family and moved them from New York in 1948, and started to produce their wines.? Today, the family business has grown, with more than 50 brands represented in their portfolio, and exports to about 50 countries worldwide.

    The first iconic wine from Trinchero was the one that happened by accident.? Back in 1975, the Zinfandel encountered a “stuck” fermentation.? That happens when the yeast dies off, or is rendered ineffective, before converting all of the residual sugars into alcohol.? This could be from too high a temperature during fermentation or a lack of the nitrogen the yeast cells need to thrive.? For whatever reason, once it gets stuck, it is not

    Original Sutter Home Winery

    Original Sutter Home Winery

    easy to get going again.? In the case of the 1975 Zinfandel, not finishing fermentation meant they had a wine with 2% residual sugar, which most people will experience as a slightly sweet, or off dry wine.? It also had a pink color, rather than the rich red you would expect from Zinfandel grapes.? It was different.? It was radical.? It was bottled and quickly became a sensation.? By 1987 Sutter Home White Zinfandel had become the best selling wine in the U.S.? In 1989 production reached 2.7 million cases.

    When we first started to drink wine, Sutter Home White Zinfandel was one of the wines we drank.? While white Zin is frequently scoffed at by many wine savvy people today, it is still an easy to drink wine with good flavors.? It is still also loved by many.? Producers are now making dry versions that compare favorable to other dry Rosé wines, which have been quite the rage over the past few years.? As always, you should drink what you like and not pay attention to what others think about it.

    Cloud's Nest Vineyard - Mt. Veeder

    Cloud’s Nest Vineyard – Mt. Veeder

    We are not here to talk about White Zinfandel, however.? We are going to talk about some world class red wines, made from the flagship estate vineyards of the Trinchero Family.? The wines are produced under the Trinchero Napa Valley brand.? You can read more about this particular brand here:?https://www.trincheronapavalley.com/.? The state of the art winery is located just north of St. Helena, and was built with the sole purpose of creating world class wines.

    Wines bearing the Trinchero Napa Valley label are predominantly single-vineyard wines from the family’s Napa Valley estates. Grapes are sourced from 200+ acres of estate vineyards in prime Napa Valley appellations, including St. Helena, Mt. Veeder, Rutherford and Atlas Peak.

    Total production, for all of the Napa Valley wines, is only 12,000 cases.

    The wines under the Trinchero Napa Valley Line include:


    • Mary’s Sauvignon Blanc
    • Mario’s Cabernet Sauvignon
    • Forte Red Wine
    • BRV Cabernet Sauvignon
    • Cloud’s Nest Cabernet Sauvignon
    • Haystack Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
    • Mario’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
    • Central Park West Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
    • Cloud’s Nest Petit Verdot
    • Haystack Vineyard Malbec
    • Vista Montone Vineyard Daybreak Block Merlot
    • Chicken Ranch Vineyard Merlot
    • Mary’s Vineyard Semillon
    • Cloud’s Nest Vineyard Malbec
    • Central Park West Vineyard Petit Verdot
    • Haystack Vineyard Petite Sirah
    • Signature Cabernet Sauvignon
    The tasting lineup

    The tasting lineup

    We were fortunate enough to get hold of three of the Trinchero Napa Valley red wines, and you can read our reviews below.? With big, higher end reds that are somewhat young, we like to see them evolve over a few days after opening.? We did that here, and will share our changing opinions as the wines evolved.? In one case, the changes were dramatic, even over the short span of three days.

    IMG_23812014 Mario’s Cabernet Sauvignon –?this wine is sourced from Mario’s Vineyard, as well as the Central Park West Vineyard (a tribute to the family’s New York heritage), both of which are in St. Helena.? These are both on the valley floor, and in 2014 the vines emerged from an exceptionally dry winter to a season with early rain, early ripening, an unexpected earthquake in LA and even some hail late in the season.? Despite all of it, the 2014 vintage in Napa was an exceptional one.? This wine spent 18 months in all French oak, 70% of which were new barrels.? It checks in at 14.5% alcohol.? Our thoughts:

    At opening, this wine was a rich ruby red, and had a big nose of dark berries, with forest floor, vanilla, sage and wood.? Cheri picked out cedar.? It was a big wine on the palate, and the entry hits you pretty hard with some early tannins.? It had the acid to keep it balanced, and the fruit lasts throughout the very long finish.? This is still young, and will age well for some time.? It is very complex.? We liked it very much, and pumped the bottle to sit overnight.

    On day two, the wine had softened, and that initial wave of tannin had receded.? There was still lots of ripe fruit, but now coffee cream and herbal notes.? It was smoother, very rich, long and nicely balanced.? Much more integrated than when first opened.? I would let this decant for an hour or two before serving right now.? It is pretty spectacular once it opens up.? $50 retail and a wine well worth the price.

    IMG_23832013 Forte Red Wine –?the Forte is an unusual Bordeaux blend of 74% Malbec, 13% Cabernet Franc, 12% Petit Verdot and 15% Merlot.? There is no Cabernet Sauvignon to be found here.? The wine spent 20 months in all French Oak, this time 60% new barrels.? It is a big wine, at 14.9% alcohol.? Fruit was sourced from vineyards throughout the Trinchero estate, including both valley floor and mountain sites.? Overall, the 2013 vintage was almost ideal, and provided fruit for what is considered an exceptional year.? Our impressions:

    At opening, this was very dark red with ruby highlights.? On the nose you get dark fruit, with cherry and tobacco.? In fact, it reminded Cheri of the cherry tobacco in a pouch that a pipe smoker might have.? My father smoked a pipe for years, and once she mentioned it I could immediately agree with her.? There were also other nuances, with a touch of menthol and alcohol.? This is a big wine.? On the palate there was black plum, with herbal notes (Cheri pulled out the marjoram), and black cherry at the end.? Tannins built throughout the mid-palate.? This was very, very long and also a young wine with a lot of development left to go through.? That became very evident on day two.

    On day two, the nose was closed down, almost completely.? The wine was even darker in color, and there was just a hint of fruit.? On the palate it was pretty much the same, as the wine had closed down, remarkably so.? We decided to try this again on day three.

    Day three brought a resurgence in the wine.? It made me think of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Terminator movies: “I’ll be back!”.? The nose was full of red and black fruits.? There were savory herbs, black cherry, plum and leather.? On the palate, it was full and rich, with brisk tannins but very approachable.? It kept up that great fruit profile throughout.? It was once again very long.? We thought this was the best the wine had showed, which is saying something indeed.

    This is a wine which has quite a bottle journey ahead of it, which we accelerated by opening it.? I wouldn’t be surprised if it closes down in the bottle in a few years, only to turn into a butterfly eventually.? This is going to be great.? $70 retail, and a wine of significant complexity.

    IMG_23822013 BRV Cabernet Sauvignon –?We first tried the BRV Cabernet Sauvignon at the Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival last summer.? That was the 2012, which is a wonderful wine, and was our #2 rated wine at the event.? We’ll actually be doing a retrospective tasting comparison of it later this summer, along with the wine that took #1.? Based on the 2012, we were expecting great things from the 2013 vintage.

    The fruit here is from the Haystack Vineyard on Atlas Peak, and the Cloud’s Nest Vineyard on Mt. Veeder.? These are both at 1500 foot elevations.? Cooperage was all French again, with 80% being new barrels.? It spent 20 months aging in wood.? It is another big wine at 14.8% alcohol, but the mountain cabs tend to hold their alcohol well.? Let’s see what we thought:

    Out of the bottle this was very dark red with purple rims.? It was opaque, with long legs.? The nose was dark berry fruit (cooked plum), tobacco, oak and wet stones.? There were also some herbal notes.? In short, it was very complex.? On the palate it is full bodied and very drinkable, with the pure core of fruit the great wines have.? Tannins are smooth, and the wine is beautifully integrated.? On day two there was a bit of molasses on the nose, but otherwise the wine was very consistent.? The same held for day three.? This was, by far, the most steady of the three, which is good considering it is pretty great to begin with.? $80 retail price, and a wine of uncompromising quality.? We’re looking forward to the 2012 retrospective this summer.

    All three of these wines are excellent, and it was a treat to try them all side by side.? They are also very unique in their own ways.? We suspect the rest of the Trinchero Napa Valley line will also hold to the same high quality standards, and can’t wait to find out for ourselves.

    If you are looking for a special bottle, or just a splurge on a great wine, these are definitely worth considering.

    A votre santé!


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