Feature Coverage

Star/NVV panelists select their favorite Premiere Napa Valley wines

“What makes a wine someone’s favorite? Often it is the flavors of the wine itself; like a dark berried cabernet sauvignon layered with dark cocoa and vanilla spice.

“Or it may come down to texture — flavors that glide along a silky path into a long, lingering finish. For fans of mature wines, it could be the softer tannins and integration of complex flavors that comes with time. Sometimes, however, it is the story behind the wine itself: a journey, a twist of fate, or a certain owner’s commitment that fuels a connection with the wine. For Premiere Napa Valley, held in late February at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, where vintners can create something completely different from their usual, it could also be the rarity of the grape variety or wine blend made that year.

“There were 217 different Premiere Napa Valley lots on offer this year. The list of wines was divided between 14 panelists on the St. Helena Star/Napa Valley Vintner Tasting Panel. Each panelist entered the Feb. 25 barrel tasting with the same intent: to select their favorite and to indicate why it was their preferred wine of the tasting.

“This is no easy task, mind you. Every vintner in the room was showing a unique wine made just for Premiere Napa Valley. What were the favorites and why? Our panel of winemakers, retailers, and wine writers found these wines the most exciting or tasty of Premiere 2017…

“… Honig winemaker Kristin Belair said it was a tough call, but chose the Schramsberg 1996 Late Disgorged sparkling wine, asking, ‘How does ANY cabernet compete with that? She added, ‘And there were some extraordinarily lovely cabernets.’ Kristin described the Schramsberg as ‘a perfect balance of delicate and rich, still bright with lots of baked, toasty, yeast characters. It was seamless, complex and delightful!’…”

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Catherine Bugue, March 6, 2017
Star/NVV panelists select their favorite Premiere Napa Valley wines