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06.28.2004

2000 Ceja Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa

Many of the small production wineries and their wines that I feature here are built with the help of migrant labor, so it's nice to be able to also tell the story of a winery that not only uses migrant labor, but is owned by some of the people that have been working in Napa valley for the last three or four decades.

The Ceja's are and example of one of the first generations of migrant workers who came from Mexico and worked in the vineyards of Napa long enough to be able to buy one of their own. In the last few years Ceja Vineyards has gone from dream to reality, releasing several wines under the family label, all of which leverage the entire family's experience working in Napa and Carneros as pickers, vineyard managers, and enologists.

the grapes for this wine come from fabled Stags Leap district vineyards, and the winemaking, by owner Armando Ceja, is focused on both capturing the characteristics of the grapes as well as making the wine food friendly.

The Ceja family has chosen a bell to decorate their label because of its significance of blessings and good tidings in Mexican culture. The future Ceja tasting room in Napa will also be crowned with a bell, which promises to ring good tidings for this winemaking family whose motto "Amor Vinum Cantus" (Love, Wine, and Song) captures an essence of spirit that represents the best of what Napa has to offer.

Tasting Notes:
The color of light ruby, this wine has an unusually woody nose with strong aromas of oak, dark cherries, smoke, and a hint of figs. The body of the wine is dusty on the palate with smooth tannins and an incredibly restrained set of flavors which touch briefly on red fruit but transition quickly to flavors of loamy earth, herbs, and spices and an average finish. This wine is the opposite of many Napa cabs which strive for maximum extraction, and tastes like it should be made in Tuscany rather than California. Its a refreshing change of pace, but may not be for all Cabernet lovers.

Food Pairing:
Because of its similarity to Super Tuscans (well integrated tannins, not overly fruity) this wine is going to go well with all sorts of meats as well as heartier pasta dishes or other starches like this porcini mushroom risotto.

Overall Score: 8

How Much?: $38

I get this wine, and several other Ceja wines through Porthos.

Comments (2)

Alder wrote:
10.17.04 at 7:30 PM

The Sunday New York Times just ran story about the family behind Ceja that's an extended version of my brief history above.

03.14.05 at 5:00 PM

I met Armando this weekend at the Cincinnati Wine Festival. His wines are very good and he is a pleasure to talk to. I look forward to visiting him when I travel out to Napa.

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