Text Size:-+
06.05.2005

2003 Napa Cabernet: A Report From Auction Napa Valley

If you were anywhere near Napa on Friday June 3rd, you knew about the annual Auction Napa Valley. Why? Because it was the reason you were stuck in traffic for hours.

Friday was the first major event in a weekend of festivities held annually by the Napa Valley Vintners association. This weekend glorifying all things wine-related from Napa has been held for the past 25 years both as a celebration for valley residents and wine aficionados and as a benefit for local charities.

tents.outside.jpg
The lawn and stage with live music at the Friday festival.

The auction took place this year in two pieces, the first of which was first-of-its-kind for the auction: an all day public festival including live music; food from dozens of Napa restaurants, stores, and caterers; and two simultaneous auctions: a barrel auction (see barrel tasting notes below) and an online auction conducted by kiosk and via the Internet.

The second, and most well known piece of the auction was an exclusive, invitation-only evening dinner affair and live auction attended by celebrities of the local and international variety.

Vinography was only able to attend the public portion of the event, as I'm not famous enough yet to make it on the invite list to the dinner gala. Yet. But I'm happy to report that if the public festival and auction were any indication, it must have been a heck of a good time.

barrel.art.jpg
One of the fine pieces of barrel art on display

Held at Trinchero Family Estates in St. Helena, CA, under perfectly blue skies, this year's new event, the Friday Auction and Festival, was a food and wine extravaganza of epic proportions. The entire lawn of Trinchero Estates was covered with tents of two varieties: members of the Napa Valley Vintners association pouring their wines, and every sort of food you could imagine, from fresh fruit and produce to exquisitely crafted spoonfuls of polenta cake, caviar, cream and herb sprigs.

barrel.tasting.jpg
The barrel tasting and auction in the warehouse

After gorging yourself, or if you simply wanted to get out of the sun, it was possible to duck into the coolness of the barrel warehouse and the auction space, where I spent most of the time tasting my way through every one of the barrel samples on offer (see notes below).

e-auction.jpg
Bidding on the e-auction

spring.mountain.lot.jpg
My favorite lot from the e-auction, a collection of magnums from Spring Mountain

staglin.prices.jpg The e-auction provided opportunities to bid on lots created by many local wineries and organizations, and usually included several bottles of wine, often in limited edition bottles or formats, or including things like dinner for 6 at a winery, etc.

The barrel tasting and auction showcased 108 barrels of wine, some of them created exclusively for the auction, from the various members of the Napa Valley Vintners Association. Each of these barrels were auctioned off in 10 one-case lots, with a case going to each of the top 10 bidders. Final prices ranged from $350 per case to a whopping $21,000 per case for a 2003 Staglin Family Vineyards wine which broke all previous barrel auction records by selling all 10 cases for $20,000 apiece, and then selling an extra case for the final high bid of $21,000.

This barrel auction and tasting, like the trade version of the event held in February is a showcase of many of Napa's finest wines, leaning heavily towards the Cabernet Sauvignon end of the spectrum. As a result, it actually serves as a mini "en premiere" tasting of the vintage for Napa Cabernet. I'm happy to report, then, that 2003 is a fairly solid year for Napa Cabs. Not mind-blowing great, but many producers will have excellent wines.

My tasting notes follow below ordered by my scores. Please remember that these are scores for barrel samples, most of which will be bottled in about 5 months and then probably be released either in the Spring or Fall of next year. Like other barrel tastings, I am not providing costs for the wines, as some wines will not be available to the

TASTING NOTES:

2003 Cliff Lede Vineyards "Poetry" Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District. Score: 9.5/10. Wow.
2003 Far Niente "Stelling Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville. Score: 9.5/10. Big fruit, can taste the Petite Verdot.
2003 Monticello Vineyards Cabernet Franc. Score: 9.5/10. Wow.


2003 Stewart Cellars, LLC. Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 9.5. Big fruit. 1000 Cases made.
2003 Staglin Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford. Score: 9.5.
2003 Sequoia Grove Vineyards "Silver Anniversary Blend" Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 9.5. Full Bordeaux blend. Awesome.
2003 Shafer Vineyards "Hillside Select" Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District. Score: 9.5.
2003 D.R. Stephens Estate "Moose Valley Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 9.5. Stellar.
2003 Paradigm Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville. Score: 9.5.
2003 Pride Mountain Vineyards "Reserve" Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 9.5. Solid, powerful.


2003 O'Shaughnessy Estate Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain. Score: 9/9.5.
2003 Signorello Vineyards "Padrone 'Finest Barrel'" Cabernet Sauvignon-Based Blend. Score: 9/9.5. Perfect Bordeaux style.
2004 Viader Vineyards & Winery "Howell Mountain Estate" Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 9/9.5.
2003 Sterling Vineyards "Diamond Mountain Ranch" Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 9/9.5. Juicy, great acid.
2003 Stonehedge Winery "Stagecoach Vineyard" Syrah. Score: 9/9.5.
2003 The Hess Collection Winery "Ridge 4 - Veeder Hills" Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder. Score: 9/9.5. Fantastic tannins. Will age well.
2003 Rombauer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Stag's Leap District. Score: 9/9.5.
2003 Kuleto Estate Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Blend. Score: 9/9.5. Round, juicy.
2003 Downing Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 9/9.5. Excellent, more restrained than the 2002.
2003 Duckhorn Vineyards "Three Palms Vineyard" Red Bordeaux Blend. Score: 9/9.5.
2003 Ehlers Estate "1886" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena. Score: 9/9.5.
2003 Emilio's Terrace "Reserve" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville. Score: 9/9.5.
2003 Flora Springs Wine Company "Trilogy 20th Anniversary Blend" Meritage. Score: 9/9.5.
2003 Fantesca Estate & Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mountain District. Score: 9/9.5.
2003 Cain Vineyard & Winery "Cain Five" Cabernet Blend, Spring Mountain District. Score: 9/9.5. Restrained, style


2004 CE2V Winery (Cosentino) "Secret Clone" Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 9. Very interesting flavor profile.
2004 Koves-Newlan Vineyards & Winery "Estate" Pinot Noir. Score: 9.
2004 Laird Family Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 9.
2003 Luna Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 9.
2003 Rutherford Hill Winery "Reserve" Merlot. Score: 9.
2003 Zahtila Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford. Score: 9. Tannic.
2003 Sullivan Vineyards "Gravelly Block Reserve" Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 9.
2003 Spring Mountain Vineyard "The Stand" Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District. Score: 9.
2003 Robert Pecota Winery "Kara's Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 9.
2003 Richard L. Graeser Winery Cabernet Franc (14% Cabernet Sauvignon), Diamond Mountain District. Score: 9.
2004 Nickel & Nickel Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville. Score: 9. Lighter style.
2003 Folie a Deux Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena. Score: 9.
2003 Dutch Henry Winery "Northfork/Chafen Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 9.
2004 JP Harbison Cabernet/Syrah. Score: 9. Nice, juicy, light.
2003 Cafaro Cellars "Cafaro Family Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 9. Very restrained, Bordeaux style.
2003 Cornerstone Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain. Score: 9.


2003 Baldacci Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District. Score: 8.5/9. Nice nose. Fig notes.
2004 Casa Nuestra Winery & Vineyards "Estate" Cabernet Franc, St. Helena. Score: 8.5/9.
2003 Chimney Rock Winery "Reserve" Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District. Score: 8.5/9. Medium bodied.
2003 Clark-Claudon Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 8.5/9. Very blackberry for a Cab.
2003 Brookdale Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 8.5/9. 500 cases made.
2003 Conn Creek Winery "Collins Family Vineyard, Founder's Block" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena. Score: 8.5/9. Lighter style.
2003 Cosentino Winery "Estate" Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 8.5/9.
2004 Domaine Chandon "Lucy's Block" Pinot Noir, Carneros. Score: 8.5/9.
2003 Frank Family Vineyards "Winston Hill" Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford. Score: 8.5/9.
2003 Frazier "Memento" Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 8.5/9. Restrained.
2003 Miner Family Vineyards "The Oracle" Bordeaux-Style Red Blend. Score: 8.5/9.
2003 Pillar Rock Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District. Score: 8.5/9.
2003 Provenance Vineyards "Beckstoffer Las Amigas Vineyard" Merlot, Carneros. Score: 8.5/9.
2003 Paraduxx "Mountain blend" Zinfandel/Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 8.5/9
2003 Oakville Ranch Vineyards Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville. Score: 8.5/9.
2003 Robert Keenan Winery "Clone 15, Estate Bottled" Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District. Score: 8.5/9.
2004 Rocca Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Yountville. Score: 8.5/9.
2004 Stags' Leap Winery "The Leap, Estate Grown" Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 8.5/9.
2002 Spelletich Cellars "Bodog" Red Blend. Score: 8.5/9. Unique personality.
2003 William Hill Winery Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 8.5/9.
2003 Swanson Vineyards & Winery "Oakville S&M" Syrah/Merlot blend, Oakville. Score: 8.5/9.
2003 Trinchero Winery "Main Street" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena. Score: 8.5/9.
2004 Volker Eisele Family Estate 50% Cabernet Sauvignon 50% Merlot, Chiles Valley District. Score: 8.5/9.
2003 Ilsley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District. Score: 8.5/9. 550 cases made.
2003 J. Davies Vineyards "Auction Reserve" Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain District. Score: 8.5/9. Blended with Malbec.
2003 Longfellow Wine Company Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 8.5/9.
2003 Gemstone "Proprietary Blend," Yountville. Score: 8.5/9.
2004 Hartwell Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District. Score: 8.5/9.


2004 Louis M. Martini Winery "Reserve Lot 1" Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 8.5.
2003 Juslyn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District. Score: 8.5.
2003 Judd's Hill Bordeaux blend. Score: 8.5. Long finish.
2003 Jones Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 8.5. Slightly green.
2002 ZD Wines Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 8.5.
2003 Moss Creek Winery "Moskowite Ranch/Wine Auction Reserve" Zinfandel/Cabernet Sauvignon Blend. Score: 8.5.
2003 Tres Sabores "Rutherford Perspective" Proprietary Red Blend, Rutherford. Score: 8.5.
2003 Turnbull Wine Cellars "Black Label" Red Wine Meritage, Oakville. Score: 8.5.
2003 Truchard Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Carneros. Score: 8.5.
2003 St. Supery Vineyards & Winery "Elu" Cabernet-Based Bordeaux Blend. Score: 8.5.
2003 Salvestrin Vineyards & Winery "Salvestrin Estate Vineyard - Old Crane Ranch" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena. Score: 8.5.
2003 St. Clement Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 8.5.
2003 Amici Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford. Score: 8.5.
2003 Atlas Peak Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 8.5.
2003 Barlow Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 8.5.
2003 Clos Pegase "Artist Series Reserve Hommage" Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 8.5. Very tannic.


2003 Beringer Vineyards "Chabot Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena. Score: 8/8.5.
2003 Benessere "Phenomenon: Proprietary Estate Blend" Meritage. Score: 8/8.5.
2004 Sawyer Cellars "Rutherford Estate" Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford. Score: 8/8.5.
2003 Long Meadow Ranch "P Block, Bear Canyon Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 8/8.5. Thin.
2003 Honig Vineyard & Winery "Bartolucci Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 8/8.5. Touch of sulfer.
2004 Mumm Napa "Devaux" Pinot Noir, Carneros. Score: 8/8.5.
2003 HALL "Estate" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena. Score: 8/8.5. Thin.
2004 Frog's Leap "Molinari Vineyard" Zinfandel. Score: 8/8.5.
2003 Freemark Abbey "Sycamore Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford. Score: 8/8.5. Green.
2003 Peju Province "HB Vineyard Reserve" Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford. Score: 8/8.5. Slightly bitter.
2004 Cuvaison Estate Wines "Estate Selection" Pinot Noir, Carneros. Score: 8/8.5.


2003 Andretti Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Oak Knoll District. Score: 8.
2003 Beaulieu Vineyard "Clone 4, Special Selection" Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford. Score: 8. Green. Stemmy.
2003 Gargiulo Vineyards "Money Road Ranch" Cabernet/Merlot Blend, Oakville. Score: 8.
2003 Reynolds Family Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Stag's Leap District. Score: 8.
2003Silverado Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District. Score: 8.
2004 Robert Mondavi Winery "Marjorie's Keepsake / To Kalon Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville. Score: 8.


2004 Bouchaine Vineyards "Auction Reserve" Pinot Noir, Carneros. Score: 7.5/8.
2004 Bighorn Cellars "Coombsville Vineyard Old Vines" Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 7.5. Sulphurous.


The invitation-only Saturday evening auction was a resounding success, raising an unheard of $10.5 million for local charities. The night apparently started off with a bang as the first lot's selling price broke last year's highest bid. Results from the auction, including the selling prices for each of the mega-lots are on the Napa Valley Vintners web site.

Comments (5)

Geoff Smith wrote:
06.06.05 at 2:11 PM

Good article Alder. Sure wish you had stopped by and visited us at the St Helena Wine Merchants. Come by next time!

Cheers,

Geoff

vinofyl wrote:
06.12.05 at 12:47 PM

Would Stewart Cellars be Jack Stewart; formerly of Silverado Vineyards?

Alder wrote:
06.12.05 at 8:27 PM

Er. No idea really. Sorry to not be of more help.

David wrote:
06.13.05 at 4:21 PM

Stewart Cellars is owned by Anne and Michael Stewart. Jack Stewart has no affiliation. Jack is still an advisor at Silverado.

David Schauer wrote:
04.14.07 at 5:19 PM

Your Graeser link is spelled wrong. Nice little winery that flies under the radar.

Comment on this entry

(will not be published)
(optional -- Google will not follow)
Yes
 

Type the characters you see in the picture above.

Buy My Book!

small_final_covershot_dropshadow.jpg A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.

Follow Me On:

Twitter Facebook Pinterest Instagram Delectable Flipboard

Most Recent Entries

Vinography Unboxed: Week of October 5, 2014 Another Idiotic California Law Screws Wineries Vinography Images: Vineyard Reflections The Fake Tongue Illusion and Wine Tasting 2014 Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting: October 21, San Francisco Cool Beauty: Tasting the Wines of the Western Sonoma Coast Vinography Images: Shaggy Companions 2014 Pinot on the River Tasting: October 26, Healdsburg Vinography Unboxed: Week of September 21, 2014 The Essence of Wine is Ready to Buy!

Favorite Posts From the Archives

Masuizumi Junmai Daiginjo, Toyama Prefecture Wine.Com Gives Retailers (and Consumers) the Finger 1961 Hospices de Beaune Emile Chandesais, Burgundy Wine Over Time The Better Half of My Palate 1999 Királyudvar "Lapis" Tokaji Furmint, Hungary What's Allowed in Your Wine and Winemaking Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Appreciating Wine in Context The Soul vs. The Market 1989 Fiorano Botte 48 Semillion,Italy

Archives by Month

 

Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.