Napa Wines: 5 picks from Mount Veeder

    Tom Meadowcroft on how he ended up making wine for the A.J. Foyt racing team: "They just called me up, and said 'Hey, I hear you make good wine.'"

    Yes, there was wine too...
    Yes, there was wine too...
    Yes, there was wine too...
    Yes, there was wine too...

    Last Sunday I headed up to Napa for a tasting hosted by Hess Collection, located smack dab in the heart of Mount Veeder – one of those appellations in Napa that evokes endless controversy and strong opinion. It’s rugged and mountainous, running along the western side of the valley, and it conjures a sort of wild cowboy mystique.

    The wines you can find here are probably a great example of terroir finding its way into the glass. That can be a good thing, or a bad thing. Some find the wines too bold, too over-the-top, too intense. Others, like myself, enjoy the intense fruit forward profile — for some, not all of the wines… the search is half the fun, of course. The steep hillside means a heavy reliance for operators on good old fashioned hand-to-vine. Machination is virtually impossible.

    I’ve up this mountain a few times. And, btw, this is not a mountain in the Mt. St. Helen’s sense- Mount Veeder runs about 2,700 feet above sea level at its peek. Still it’s quite a trek, heading just off highway 29, weaving through forests of gorgeous, soaring oaks. Hess, of course, is know for that flaming typewriter. There’s a great art exhibit here, and it absolutely warrants your attention – I’m a huge fan of wineries that combine the arts with the vino. Talk about ultimate pairings!

    A tasting like this one is wholly different than something like a trade event, or media tasting. These are typically laid back and local with no presentations. Winemakers and owners are typically pouring, which means you get first-hand information on the vintage, and their style of winemaking.

    Quick: Why does Robert Jennings at Paratus like using wax ?
    Quick: Why does Robert Jennings at Paratus like using wax ?

    It also means you get a fun story or two.

    Like Tom Meadowcroft’s account of how he ended up making wine for the A.J. Foyt racing team, “They just called me up, and said ‘Hey, I hear you make good wine.'” No wonder, the guy was working Bordeaux at 19 years old. I was fortunate enough to taste an ’08 barrel sample he was working on for the team. Really impressive… not a shy wine, the kind that could hold its own among the noise and ruckus – not that these guys are drinking/tasting while racing… but you get the idea.

    And with that overly long intro, here’s my top 5 picks up on Mt. Veeder on this day (out of the 24 that were pouring).

    2008 Rousseau Le Roi Soleil Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder, $65

    Age-worthy I’m thinking on this one. A standout among a pretty decent field.

    2007 Paratus Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder, $70

    More than just a wax show piece. Layered with backbone. Tannins are here and you’ll know, but I like that structure and definition a lot.
    2005 Robert Craig Cabernet Sauvignon

    2005 Robert Craig Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder, $75

    Berry cab. Almost Merlot like. The spice is-a nice-a.

    2008 Meadowcroft Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder, $36

    Dark and intense, with lots of berries, long finish. Likely to outmuscle every other red out there.

    2006 Rubissow Estate Reserve, $125

    Big Napa in a bottle. Gorgeous, rich.

    Explore. Create. Live. Follow Stark Insider on Twitter and Facebook. Join our 9,000 subscribers who read SI on tablets and smartphones on Google Newsstand. Prefer video? Subscribe to 
    Stark Insider on YouTube, the largest arts & travel channel in San Francisco.
    • Lesal

      Love Paratus wine!

    • Guy Guarino

      Thumbs up for Hickory, NC. We love the Paratus!

    • Love the wines featured here! Especially Yannick Rousseau, Cheers!