Wine Review: Salvestrin

Located on the southern edge of St. Helena, Salvestrin Winery is proof that this town produces some of the best wines in the Napa Valley. I recently visited Salvestrin with some friends from New York who arrived to the Valley with incredibly high expectations for their three day visit. After visiting six wineries in our whirlwind trek up and down the valley, we all agreed that Salvestrin was the best combination of atmosphere, genuine hospitality, and wine.

Salvestrin Winery was established in 1932 by John and Emma Salvestrin who arrived on vacation from Italy and essentially never looked back. They purchased the 26-acre plot of land and began cultivating grapes for wine production immediately following the end of prohibition in 1933. Since then, the winery has been passed down through three generations and is currently operated by Rich and Shannon Salvestrin. Rich is the winery’s owner, viticulturist, and winemaker (in that order) and produces 100% estate grown organic varietals.

The first wine we tasted was their 2010 Estate Sauvignon Blanc ($22). I typically do not like white wines but this was a truly exceptional Sauvignon Blanc. The wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks and despite being aged in neutral oak barrels, has a bright and crisp tropical fruit flavor. The aroma is almost as pleasant as the taste, highlighted by white peach and bright fruit scents. This Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect summer day drinking wine and is easy to drink because of its dry, crisp finish. Trust me when I say that if you are not a white wine drinker, you will still enjoy this (very well-priced) Sauvignon Blanc.

The 2008 Estate Retaggio ($36) is a blend of 50% Sangiovese, 30% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc. In Italian meaning “legacy”, the Retaggio combines the best of Tuscany (Sangiovese) and Bordeaux (Merlot, Cab Sauvignon, and Cab Franc) to create a wine with fantastic body and punch coupled with the smooth finish that characterizes the wine’s Bordeaux varietals. The 2008 Estate Retaggio contains a fair amount of acidity, making it a very food-friendly wine that would pair well with a variety of dishes. This wine is also exciting enough to be consumed on its own.

It should also be noted that the 2007 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and 2009 Petit Syrah wines are also included in the tasting but I decided to omit in the interest of article word count and what I believed to be a overly tannic finish to both wines. Despite my personal opinion, their Cabernet Sauvignon consistently scores well with Robert Parker so definitely try it out. If you do visit the winery, be sure to persuade them to open a bottle of their 2007 Estate 3D Cabernet for a very well-balanced and simply awesome cabernet.


Wine Review: Beaulieu Vineyard


Beaulieu Vineyard 2007 Tapestry Reserve ($60.00)


Beaulieu Vineyard 2007 Georges de Latour Cabernet Sauvignon ($125.00)

In 2007, the Napa Valley hit the wine jackpot. The stars were aligned and the valley produced some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon in recent memory. According to several publications, the strength of the 2007 vintage was a surprise to most winemakers as the weather was very cool (yet still dry) for the region. Nonetheless, the bold and complex cabernet sauvignon varietal fared very well, as evidenced in Beaulieu Vineyard’s (known as “BV” for bottling purposes) 2007 Reserve cabernets.

According to the winery’s website, Beaulieu Vineyard was founded in 1900 by Georges de Latour. De Latour had been operating a small cream of tartar business until his wife renamed the property “beau lieu”, or “beautiful place” and shortly thereafter De Latour expanded his plot of land to start what is today known as Beaulieu Winery. De Latour became well-known on the international wine scene because of his importation of phylloxera-resistant vines from Europe. During prohibition, De Latour obtained a contract to supply wine to the Catholic Church nationally, thus increasing sales substantially from 1920-1933. Beaulieu Vineyard was the only winery in Napa Valley that was permitted to remain open during prohibition.

Today, Beaulieu Vineyard’s is well-known internationally as producing some of Napa Valley’s best reserve wines. The 2007 Tapestry Reserve consists of 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot, and 2% Malbec. This Bordeaux-style blend has such amazing complexity and balance that I thought it was slightly more interesting and balanced than the 2007 De Latour, despite being half the price. The tannins were present on your palate but were smoothed out with notes of dark fruit and oak.

The 2007 Georges de Latour (93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Malbec, 3% Petit Verdot) had a similar first impression but in my opinion lacked the butter flavor that characterizes the Tapestry’s finish. The Georges de Latour shows hints of plum and licorice that linger long after your last sip. Both wines are very well balanced and can be consumed on their own. My personal opinion that an exceptional wine should never be consumed with food unless you take a moment at every sip to remember what you are drinking and pay close attention to the evolution of flavor. My guess would be 95% of people would become so enveloped in conversation that they forget the wine. Despite my personal opinion, I imagine this wine would evolve nicely when paired with the appropriate food. Due to the concentration of cabernet sauvignon in both wines, they will age very well and can be consumed through 2036.