Sunday, October 25, 2009

2006 Canard Napa Valley Estate Cabernet

A value at $27? You bet.

Once upon a time, Napa Valley Cabernet was a connoisseur’s wine. A secret. But by the mid-nineties, curious circumstances converged: A string of incredible vintages blessed California, the dot com bubble was still inflating, and flashy press coverage expanded beyond the wine trade and into grocery store magazine racks everywhere.

By the turn of the millennium, the number of wineries in Napa seemed to be expanding geometrically. Back then it appeared that owning a winery was the status symbol of an era. Everyone from professional athletes to rock stars were buying or starting vineyards. Demand, prices, and production simultaneously increased - something economists call an anomaly. Pretty soon the legendary Napa Cab was lost in a sea of mediocrity. Expensive mediocrity. Unsustainable expensive mediocrity.


Since then there have certainly been safe havens of quality and small pockets of value, but overall the price increases have been relentless. So when this wine came across the radar screen, skepticism was in full effect. Another $30 Napa Cab. Great.

Well, one pour at a tasting wiped the slate clean.  Respect. This is the King of the Valley from back in the day. The 2006 Canard is a classy, classy wine. A quality product that won't disappoint special occasions. Deep in color and aromatics, it's almost as much fun to smell as to taste.

Made entirely of sustainably grown estate Cabernet, it's got lots of text book quality cabernet fruit and enough integrated tannins to suggest this wine will go some distance in the cellar. No doubt five years of bottle age will do wonders for this, but it will probably continue improving for ten or more. Good luck on exercising patience.

And get this: This is proprietors Rich and Carolyn Czapleski's first vintage on the open market. Word is that they've set a goal to produce the best estate Napa Cab for under $30. Well, bravo.

Now, thirty bucks buys a lot of groceries and experimenting in that price range is a stretch for most folks these days. But this is a risk-free endeavor that might well be worth every penny to a romantic in search of a walk down memory lane - with a terrific drink in hand.

We paid $26.99, but have seen it priced as low as $19.99 and as high as $29.00. Only 927 cases were produced, so if you're going to move on this, move fast.

Rating: Fantastic, special occasion, get it if/while you can.  Tasted (sadly, just) twice.



In response to this, Winemaker Brian Graham sent this note:

On Behalf of Rich, Candi and myself, I would like to thank you for a wonderful write up.

I sincerely hope that in the future if you are ever traveling our way you will allow us the privilege to show you our "little slice of heaven".

Thank you again, I sincerely appreciate the help, support and am really happy you liked the wine!

Sincerely,

Brian

Your slice of heaven sounds lovely. In the meantime, this wine is a little slice of heaven.