The steep face of Mount Veeder is the source of some of the most distinctive wines in Napa Valley. The angle of the vineyards increases the exposure of the vines to sunlight while also improving drainage, creating the optimal conditions for producing powerfully structured, chewy wines, with plenty of wild berry characteristics.
But it often takes years of experience to figure out how to take full advantage of this unique land's potential. George Rubissow bought the 45-acre parcel in the early 1980s, and he still serves as Vintner Emeritus, keeping a watchful eye on the efforts of his son Peter, who holds the title of General Manager, and his daughter, Ariel, who manages the vineyard estate. In 2001 the heavy lifting in the cellar was performed by winemaker Tony Sargent.
One strategy for getting the most out of a vineyard's natural endowments is to limit the inputs as much as possible. Again, success here depends on familiarity with the land. Under the guidance of Ariel Rubissow-Okamoto, the vines are farmed sustainably, using certified organic materials at every step of the way. Winter cover crops like fava, sweet pea, mustard, and clover help control erosion on the steep slopes as well as providing organic vine nutrition.
The grapes for the 2001 Trompettes were harvested at night, a practice that helps increase the acidity in the finished wine. While in all years before and afterward, this wine was a Cabernet Franc and Merlot blend, Sargent replaced the Merlot with Cabernet Sauvignon, resulting in a blend that's 65% Franc and 35% Sauvignon.
This wine, made in the style of a classic St. Emilion, shows dusty cocoa, raspberry and rosemary/sage on the nose, followed by black cherry fruit, spice and caramel overtones on the palate. The oak and the acidity are nicely balanced, and the wine finishes very well.
Pair this wine with prime rib or steak frites, as well as semi-hard or hard cheeses like Cantal and aged Gouda.