As you enter Napa Valley from the south, you are in Carneros, driving on the highway that runs right through the old Stewart Dairy property. To your left on the hill, are the famous “Oreo” cows munching grass, and to your right is the vineyard. The unique terroir of this site has provided me with stunning Sauvignon Blanc since 1999, wonderful Merlot more recently, and for the first time in 2009, Albariño.
One of my favorite American authors, Kurt Vonnegut, once said that life is a series of accidents. As a result of unanticipated developments at harvest in 2009, there was no home for the Albariño grown on the property, and suddenly it was being offered to me. Considering that aromatic whites are among my most favorite wines, I could hardly say no. Although not the first Albariño planting in the United States, Stewart was the source of the first commercial release of the variety in 1999.
Albariño has grown on the northwest coast of Spain and Portugal for centuries, resulting in wonderful food-friendly wines known for their enticing aromatics, vivacious crispness, and intriguing complexity. If ever a wine begs for food, this is it. It has gained in popularity in the States in the last few years, and for us to have one of the few domestic versions produced in this country is both exciting and noteworthy.
We were rewarded with another outstanding vintage in 2016. Sunshine and a warm dry spring led to mild and ideal growing conditions throughout the summer. Because of late winter rains, the vines began their growing season a little happier and less stressed than in 2015. With no weather extremes to interfere, grapes ripened slowly and evenly, resulting in beautiful concentration of flavor and aromas.
With a slight hint of gold in appearance, our 2016 offers a melody of classic aromas unique to the varietal--lime zest, toasted almond, ginger, ripe apricot, and floral notes. Flavors are bright, refreshing, and lively, and sustain the long finish. I am comfortable to call this the best vintage of Albariño we have produced as all components are in perfect harmony.
We are happy to report that the interest in Albariño continues to grow, and we are pleased that our domestic version of this Spanish variety continues to intrigue both here in the US and around the world.
We offered our 2016 for the first time after bottling at a magnificent winemaker dinner in St. Louis a few weeks ago, and the response was unanimous—“delicious!”