I spent the week before the auction visiting various wineries and tasting hundreds of wines from the 2013 vintage. Apart from the excitement of the auction, meeting winemakers and hearing their thoughts on the vintage and the state of winemaking in Napa is what the week is all about. True to form, the media has been hyping the 2012 vintage in Napa quite a bit; and not without reason. Napa is coming off two generally mediocre vintages, 2010 and 2011. That’s not to say you can’t find excellent wines in 2011. In fact, I’ve tasted a lot of wine from 2011 that I prefer to 2012. Beyond the reaction to previous vintages, 2012 was by most standards an overall excellent vintage. Good weather made the vintner’s job almost too easy to produce lots of quality wine. That being said, there’s always room for improvement, right?
Enter 2013. Best I can recall, every winemaker I spoke with prefers 2013 to 2012. It actually sounds like it’ll work out quite well. The 2012 vintage was great, we can all agree on that. But what most winemakers see is a wine that’s good to drink now. The 2013 vintage, on the other hand, will be great in five, ten or even twenty years. So it’s a perfect scenario. Buy 2012’s and drink them. Buy 2013’s and save them. And it sounds like it might get even better with 2014, another good vintage to drink now. So there’ll be plenty of wine to drink while we all wait for the 2013’s to age to perfection.
A couple highlights of my week were:
-- Sunday night dinner with several winemakers and some excellent wine (a magnum of 2011 Saintsbury Stanly Ranch pinot noir; a 2008 Gallica cabernet, to name a few)
-- Lunch Wednesday at Round Pond with winemaker Muiris Griffin. This is Muiris’s first year at Round Pond and I’m already incredibly excited to see what he brings to the table. I had a really good time talking and breaking bread with him. The wines were excellent, but it almost didn’t matter because the company was so good.
-- Thursday morning tasting at Turnbull Wine Cellars with owner Zoe Johns and winemaker Peter Heitz. They have a gorgeous garden with a fabulous fire pit that we enjoyed in the chilly morning air. And the wines drank very nicely as well.