2013 Rocca Family Vineyards Vespera Proprietary Red Napa Valley

2013 Rocca Family Vineyards Vespera Proprietary Red Napa Valley

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A past Wine Access story about 2013 Rocca Family Vineyards Vespera Proprietary Red Napa Valley

Parker’s 95pt “Vespera” — Why Rocca is off to the races … and will never look back!


If you want to understand what a Robert Parker review has meant to the future of small Napa Valley wineries, consider the case of Mary Rocca. In 1999, she and her husband Eric Grigsby purchased a 12-acre knoll in the southern end of the valley. They soon brought in land rippers to break up the ground, but the rippers were no match for the rocky substrata. Then they turned to dynamite. The blasts were heard for miles up and down the Silverado Trail.

Then the couple upped the ante, recruiting winemaker Celia Welch from Staglin. It wouldn’t take long for Welch to craft some of the more striking Cabernet blends of the AVA.

We began purchasing Rocca Family Grigsby Vineyard and Collinetta Cabernets and Syrahs in the 2006 vintage. In our estimation, particularly as it relates to consistency, few small estates measured up. But for reasons that always befuddled us, our enthusiasm was rarely shared by the most influential wine critics in the world. It seemed as if even as Rocca raised the bar on quality, she was increasingly challenged by wholesalers who saw little merit in marketing unrated Napa Valley wines.

As some of you have noticed over the past year, we’ve offered a number of Rocca Family reds at deeply discounted prices. If you bought a case or two, trust us, you stole them. Why? Because after Robert Parker published his 2013 Napa Valley vintage report in December 2015 — in which FOUR new releases from Rocca Family Vineyards earned 93 or 95 points — Rocca is off to the races … and will never look back.

The 2013 Rocca Family Vineyards “Vespera” is a staggering blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Syrah, and 6% Merlot. Parker described “a deep, dark ruby/purple color, loads of blackberry, roasted meat, Mediterranean lavender and licorice are all present in this full-bodied, complex and sexy wine,” before piling on with the score that awakened two dozen wholesalers across the country.

Total production of 600 cases, 40 of which have been earmarked for WineAccess. 95 points from Parker, equaling Spottswoode ($300), Schrader ($150), Stag’s Leap ($120), and David Arthur Three Acre ($120). Offered for about 90 minutes this morning for $45/bottle. You snooze … sorry, you lose.

Expert Ratings and Reviews

95 Points Wine Advocate

Customer Ratings

Based on 55 ratings

$45. 4 bottles. Fabulous! Dense and opaque, Bold black fruit nose and plenty of complexity and concentration. Finishes with leather and toast. This is Meritage at its absolute finest. It makes most other "pure" varietal wines seem simple.

Good juice. Lush, chewy tannins. Really enjoyed this!

Over powering alcohol . Unintegrated fruit. Maybe some years in the cellar will settle it down. Not what I expected from the hype.

Other Vintages of Rocca Family Vineyards Vespera Proprietary Red Napa Valley

Napa Valley 2013

After two small crops from the cooler and more challenging 2010 and 2011 vintages, California got on a roll. Both 2012 and 2013 were solid with large crops of very high quality grapes — goodbye, shortage! And as good as 2012 was, 2013 may end up the winner by a nose.

Spring was warm and dry, and bud break was early. This got the vines off to a vigorous start and flowering and fruit set went off without a hitch. A short hot spell towards the end of June into early July was the only note of concern, and the vines came into veraison early and in very fine shape.

The harvest was one of the earliest on record, beginning on August 1st for the whites. A little rain fell in September, but it didn’t seem to have much impact as sunny, drying conditions filled in after the rains and the vineyards dried out quickly.

Cool, sunny, and dry conditions prevailed through October and kept sugars and acids in balance, allowing for a little extra time on the vine for maturing flavors and phenolics and leaving a healthy, ripe, and concentrated crop ready for picking.

On the whole, about two weeks earlier than average, and a lot of growers are calling it a “near perfect” vintage — an even-tempered growing season that yielded a good-sized crop of small, concentrated berries. Beautiful weather with really no extremes and not too much rain has growers singing the praises of this excellent vintage, which produced another large crop of healthy, balanced fruit and very high-quality wines.

We give it a very strong buy recommendation, as these are wines many believe will rival or even surpass the 2012s — high praise for sure! Big, powerful reds; bright, lively, and rich whites. Pinot Noir was a particular success in most regions, with optimum ripeness and very good acidities too. The only real concern is the persistent drought conditions, with growers hoping for rains to replenish badly depleted groundwater.

Key Dates

Harvest starts in Napa, one of the earliest in more than 25 years

Light rainfall

Harvest complete

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