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.
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.
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.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
Vinography Unboxed: Week of May 4, 2015 Vinography Images: A Shaggy Guardian Vinography Unboxed: Week of April 26, 2015 Vinography Images: Above the Coast 2015 Seven Percent Solution Tasting: May 6, San Francisco Imagining a Better Future for the Soils of Champagne A Brief Video Lesson in Champagne Disgorgement Vinography Images: The World of the Leaf Book Signing on May 9th, at Raymond Vineyards in Napa Doorman: Changing My Wine Delivery Life
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune