After taking notice of Virage Napa Valley in an earlier post, I'm happy to report back that the 2007 vintage of this wine definitely delivers for its target price point of $45. It's a blend of 71% Cabernet Franc, 24% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon almost entirely from the cooler confines of Carneros, though it carries a Napa AVA. Proprietress Emily Richer sent me a sample to take for a test drive. It's not a high octane wine, but rather a polished, layered wine that should complement food well yet possess the balance for one to finish the glass on its own after a meal. This wine should have an appeal for fans of middle weight New World Pinot Noir, and the price point is competitive with upper level Pinots that offer a similar stylistic approach, albeit a different flavor profile.
The PR packet I received notes that Emily became interested in Bordeaux Right Bank-style wines via the Havens Bourriquot, a similar blend from Carneros of about 2/3 Cabernet Franc and 1/3 Merlot, because of "its complex aroma, flavor and 'thousand-thread-count' tannin structure." Having tasted many of the recent vintages of the Havens Bourriquot, Virage is doing a fantastic job of emulating the character of this now-defunct vintner's style. The tannin structure in particular matches the thousand-tread-count description as it's present, but woven into the wine so that it's not obvious.
In comparison to the 2004, 2005 and 2006 vintages of the Bourriquot, Virage 2007 Napa Proprietary Red Blend is less green than the 2006 and less funky than either the 2004 or 2005. Yet there's still a tension between the non-fruit components percolating in the background. In terms of ripeness, structure and complexity, this most reminds me most of the 2005 Bourriquot, though the level of funkiness is significantly lower. As far as aging capacity, I'm not going to make specific guesses. But I do suspect this wine will integrate better in several years. Its restraint and balance make me think it could evolve in an interesting manner, though.
While tasting I had guessed a pH of 3.6-3.7, with around 50% new (French) oak. The actual numbers are 3.75 and 40%, so I wasn't too far off. The TA is 5.8 g/L, near my personal sweet spot where a wine is fresh but immediately approachable. Thorough notes follow below.
- 2007 Virage Vineyards - USA, California, Napa Valley, CarnerosOn initial pop and pour taste has savory/meaty quality, currant, cedar and mint. A fair amount of oak shows in the mouth, but it seems to be high quality French and integrated as a fine grained texture. Not quite opaque, between crimson and purple in color. Definite beginning, middle and end on the palate.Decanted, then consumed over several hours. Savory aromas dissipate, while tobacco and floral aromas emerge. Palate is layered with plums and currants up front, a bit of creaminess on the mid-palate, and tobacco and herbs on the finish. A complete wine with genuine complexity. Oak does show rather strongly on the palate, though perhaps this will integrate better over time. This is not an especially chocolatey, coffeed or toasty style. The acidity is slightly mouthwatering but approachable, while the tannic structure is very fine. Medium to med/full body with firm but integrated structure. Dry, though not austere.There's a palpable tension between a subtle herbaceous undercurrent and the fruit and oak components. A layered, multi-faceted wine that was best on its last sip. The oak on the palate is a bit distracting ultimately, but on the whole it is complementary and doesn't obscure other aromas. Shows a well-polished cooler-climate Cab Franc profile.
Disclaimer: This bottle was received as a press sample. And in the interest of full disclosure, I'm somewhat predisposed to liking both the wine style and business model of the producer.