Why Napa Valley Cabernets are Perfect for the Holidays

This is the time of year to embrace friends and family, and to reflect with gratitude on the quickly fading year as we look with hopeful optimism to the coming year. During the holiday season I particularly enjoy getting together with friends. Whether I am hosting a dinner party, meeting friends out for dinner, or attending a fun holiday party, it seems gatherings with friends revolve around food and wine. Additionally, the holidays is also a time for family. Christmas Eve we go out for a nice dinner after church; Christmas Day we gather around the table for an engaging family meal. As a hard core wine lover, I carefully consider what wines pair with each of these occasions.

I believe gratitude is an attitude of choice, and when chosen it makes all of life richer. I have been blessed in my life to encounter people many would consider less fortunate only to be taught by them the true depth and meaning of gratitude. Life gets hectic and at times I forget to focus on gratitude; however, as 2017 comes to a close it is easy to look back with an abundance of gratitude. This year has brought many trials for many people, division, anger, destruction and chaos; yet there are always opportunities for gratitude.

So as I think of holiday gatherings, friends & family, good meals, laughter, gratitude, and destruction, I think of Napa Valley. Why? First of all Napa Valley is one of the world’s premier wine regions, crafting high quality Cabernet Sauvignon perfect for the holidays. Second, because in October Napa Valley weathered some of the most destructive and deadliest fires in California history. Finally, although many in the Napa/Sonoma areas are still without homes and jobs, the wineries are recovering, open for business, and grateful for the support they have received from all who have helped near and far.

I hope you will join in supporting Napa Valley by purchasing some delicious Napa wines for your holiday celebrations. Here are a few Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons to get your mouth watering.

Disclaimer: media samples; all thoughts & opinions my own

Calla Lily is a new project of Napa Valley icon and true wine Renaissance man, Cary Gott. If you are a northern California wine fan you have likely encountered Cary’s Midas touch throughout Napa, Sonoma, and the Central Coast. With so many great wine accomplishments, I must confess my favorite is Gott’s Roadside, nothing beats a juicy burger after a day of wine tasting in Napa Valley. Calla Lilly is Cary’s latest joint project with Hong Kong based entrepreneurs Anthony Fung and Andy Chui.  The 2013 Calla Lily Ultimate Red ($65) is crafted of 81.6% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10.8% Merlot, and 7.6% Cabernet Franc. This Bordeaux style blend is a deep blackish-purple with layers of complex notes including dark berries, leather, baking spice, dusty earth, cocoa powder, dried lavender and fennel; it is lush on the palate, rich and powerful, yet well integrated with supple tannins and a long finish. The 2012 Calla Lily Audax ($120) is crated of 89.3% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6.5% Petit Verdot, 4.1% Merlot, and 0.1% Malbec. Audax, meaning “bold” in Latin, aptly describes this wine. This wine is deep and seductive, pronounced earthiness of black pepper, medicinal, asphalt, leather, and cocoa powder stand front and center, while cherries, plums, blackberries play a supporting role. Give it a couple hours decant and this splurge worthy wine will be the start of your holiday table. Click here to purchase.

Clos Pegase is a classic Napa Valley winery. It is a gorgeous Calistoga estate that embraces art and architecture in traditional and modern forms for an ultimate Napa Valley experience. The 2013 Clos Pegase Cabernet Sauvignon ($55) is a classic representation of a Napa Cab. Crafted of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, 5% Syrah, 5% Petit Verdot, 4% Merlot, and 2% Malbec, this wine is an opulent purple with rich notes of baked red and black berries, licorice, crushed violets, dried herbs, tobacco, and toasted cedar. It is elegant and bold, full-body, mouth-coating with a long spicy finish. Click here to purchase.

Cornerstone Cellars came into its own prominence under the guidance of Craig Camp. After Craig’s departure I had not heard from Cornerstone Cellars for a while. Therefore, I was thrilled to receive a couple of their 2014 wines. I can happily say they have not lost a beat! The 2014 Cornerstone Cellars Benchlands Cabernet Sauvignon ($65) offers 100% expression of Rutherford’s Benchland Vineyards. It is a classic Rutherford cab complete with that dust I love, plus concentrated black fruit, licorice, tobacco, damp underbrush, baking spice, dried herbs, and trailing vanilla. Great aging potential this wine is drinking well now with a decant. Lush, long, and pleasing. The 2014 Cornerstone Cellars Calistoga Cabernet Sauvignon ($75) is another dark and rich 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Notes of dark cherries, blackberries, plums and bramble berry intertwine with roses, baking spice, dried herbs, fresh tobacco, dark chocolate, espresso, and trailing vanilla are delivered in a lush, rich full body wine that wraps the palate in crushed velvet. If you want a fun Napa Valley terroir compare and contrast these are two wine to explore. Click here to purchase.

Flora Springs vineyards have been growing grapes since the 1800s, when the Rennie Brothers first arrive in Napa Valley from Scotland. Since that time they have weathered a fire, prohibition, and the property changing hands many times. Today they honor their history by crafting a 100% Malbec in honor of the stone winery that fell into disrepair as their Ghost Winery wine. The 2014 Flora Springs Cabernet Sauvignon ($45) is crafted of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from their estate wineries in Rutherford, Oakville, and St. Helena. This is a fruit-forward Cab, elegant and lighter but still full of flavor. Notes of fresh cherries, blackberries, plums, and blueberries mix with roses, baking spice, fresh tobacco leaves, and dark chocolate. It is full-body with a supple mouth-feel and long finish. This wine is approachable now but with proper cellaring will last for many years. The 2014 Flora Springs Trilogy Red Wine ($80) is their flagship wine. Crafted of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Malbec, and 6% Petit Verdot, this wine is complex, sophisticated, and broad. Notes of juicy red cherry, plum, cranberry, and pomegranate intermingle with cassis, mocha, cola, dried rose petals, worn leather cigar box, and trailing vanilla. The palate is elegant and complex with a crushed velvet mouth-feel. The body is full and the finish is long, but not long enough because it is so delicious you don’t want it to end. Click here to purchase.

Priest Ranch believes wine is a reflection of the land. Winemaker and viticulturist Craig Becker sources the grapes from vineyards with diversity in elevations, exposure, soils, and microclimates to bring the best of Napa Valley into his wines. Craig takes a back seat or minimalist approach to winemaking, wanting each varietal to offer its fullest expression without the heavy hand of a winemaker. The 2014 Priest Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon ($48) is crafted of 100% estate grown Cabernet Sauvignon. Notes of black cherry, black berry, blueberry, plum, dried roses, anise, nutmeg, tobacco, dusty earth, licorice, and trailing vanilla are wrapped in a rich and silky mouth-feel for a full-body wine with a long finish. Click here to purchase.

My Song Selection:

Please share with me on your favorite social media platform photos of which Napa Valley Cabernet you enjoy this holiday season. Cheers!

6 comments

  1. Having survived Hurricane Harvey here in Houston and then traveling to Napa/Sonoma a few weeks before the fires, I think the reasons to be appreciative are too many to number. Your blog on Napa Cabernet hits the spot for me since I love the broad spectrum of cabernets that are being crafted in Napa each year. While I have already pulled out bottles of Rose, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for Christmas Day, most surely there always are bottles of Cabernet asleep in my wine refrigerator waiting for the right moment (or any moment, to be honest) to be opened. Cheers to you and your followers,

    • I am thankful you and your family survived Harvey. I know the destruction was so vast and so many are still a long way from recovery. I was in Sonoma when the fires broke out working. It was a level of devastation I have never experienced before. We all have much to be thankful for this year. I appreciate you sharing with me. I hope you and yours have a very Merry Christmas and a joy-filled New Year! Thank you so much for your support.

  2. Thank you for supporting Napa Valley. Its so sad how quiet it is here. The businesses are all suffering. We really need to get the word out that everything is still working here and we are beautiful. Its the perfect time to visit.

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