2005 Carl Roy Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder
Driving up the mountain road, Chad Alexander explained that all Mount Veeder fruit is far from equal. In the southern end of the appellation, breezes blowing off the San Francisco Bay cool the vineyards, making it tough to ripen Cabernet Sauvignon. But as one travels to the northern tip of the appellation, the microclimate is much warmer, allowing for superb ripening conditions and fabulous acid balance. When we turned into the understated, gated property, we found ourselves 1,800 feet in elevation at the northern edge of the appellation. "The ranch is over 600 acres," Chad told us. "It's owned by (sorry, promised not to divulge the name!) a famous Hollywood comedian. Took him years to find this spot. It's the Mount Veeder Bull's-Eye." Then he laughed. "Funniest thing is the comedian doesn't even drink!"
It's a shame he doesn't. If he had a glass of Chad's Cabernet, he'd realize just how explosive wines made from his low-yielding hillside vineyards can be. Chad's 2005 Carl Roy Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon is a blockbuster -- one of the best Napa Cabs we've tasted this year under $75. We first had the wine at a barrel tasting last year and secured 1/3 of the production, a total of 150 cases. We sold most of the wine in June, but figured we would hold on to 50 cases, recognizing that the wine would benefit from a bit more bottle age. The Cabernet was just shipped in October and the first customer ratings are coming in. No surprise there. The early returns from buyers pretty much tell the story. So far there have been 30 ratings and the wine has scored, on average, 4.3 stars out of 5.
As is so often the case, the dynamism of the wine comes from the unique characteristics of the growing site. The soils here are composed of uplifted marine sediments, intruded by volcanics. Walking the vineyards was a workout; most of the blocks have a 15-25% slope. Drainage then is superb, with roots stretching deeply into the mountain soil. The result in 2005 was a very small crop -- less than two tons per acre -- each compact cluster hanging separately with plenty of air circulation, providing grapes that most resemble mountain blueberries. This is Napa Cabernet as it should be -- powerful, structured, but with a kernel of purple mountain fruit intensity that can only be found in Napa.
Tasting Notes from the WineAccess Travel Log
"Deep purple color to the edge. Fabulously explosive aromas of cassis and purple fruit. Big mouthful of purple fruit with great density and persistence. Rich, but tightly wound, showing off all the upside of high elevation, low-yielding mountain fruit. Fine, firm, solid finish with plenty of grip, speaking to a long life in bottle. Drink now for the purely hedonistic concentration or age for up to 15 years."