We bought the Schweiger Dedication on a visit to Napa a few years ago. We knew when we tasted it in their cellar that it was very special and we’d need a good excuse to open it up at home. Well, after many years of sitting around and waiting for “something special”, we decided that a saturday night at home with braised short ribs, mashed celery root and a happy puppy was perfect.
So, the wine was great. It’s big indeed – lots of spring mountain fruit comes through, but not in an ‘in your face’ jammy-ness where one berry note comes through loud and clear. No, over the years, this has mellowed into a truly balanced, and very powerful deep red wine. I thought it went perfectly with our dinner and didn’t overpower the food, which can sometimes happen with big Napa reds. I’ll now need to revisit Schweiger and create a new occasion to dedicate…
With a name like Chateau Chevalier, you’d think this wine was from Bordeaux or perhaps the Rhone, but that assumption would be incorrect. In fact, this is a Napa Valley wine from one of my favorite areas: Spring Mountain. Spring Mountain is probably best known for its Merlot production with great spots like Pride and Paloma, but they have some serious Cabernet Sauvignon too. This is a “value” Cab Sauv which I picked up at Total Wine for less than $20. It’s a smooth, food friendly wine that has that big Napa fruit up front, but not a huge tannic backbone on the finish. The value is in quotes as there are many sub $20 cab sauv’s…just not that many from Napa.
I’m a bit different in my perception of wine. Since I’ve visited so many of the vineyards that I enjoy, I tend to associate the wine to the experience I have with the vineyard visit, the people, and the back-story of each wine. In this case, we visited Barb Richards 2 years ago and while we stood on her deck, she told us about how they farmed their vineyard and the history of Spring Mountain.
Her Paloma Merlot is just perfect. The flavor is a smooth vanilla/blackberry/coffee with little tannin and a solid balance. It will go well with anything and nothing all at the same time. Barb was such an endearing host as she explained the roots of her Merlot and the pride which goes into it. As I drink it, that effort and pride is palpable and reminds me of the first taste I had as we stood in her dining room. My only regret is that we only bought one bottle; that will change on our next visit for sure. If you’re in Napa, email her in advance and schedule a visit – it’s one of the must-do’s in the valley!