Note: The article excerpted below was originally published in Luxe Beat Magazine and can be found here.
“Summer Cheese, Clambake and Wine Party”
By Jill Weinlein
Summer has officially commenced, and to help celebrate the warm weather, serve a variety of cheese and wine before your clambake party!
Start with great cheese. My favorites to enjoy include Laura Chenel, a Sonoma, California producer of fresh and aged goat cheeses. Its sister brand Marin French Cheese, is California’s oldest cheese company. They have been making handmade artisan cheese at their historic creamery in Northern California since 1865. They combine traditional French cheesemaking techniques with an innovative spirit. The third is Beehive Cheese made in Utah, known as the Beehive State.
Marin French Cheese Golden Gate is a triple crème cheese offering rich and savory notes with a touch of funkiness. This cheese is best served with Flora Springs Napa Valley Family Estate wine. It was named “Best Hidden Gem Winery” in 2020 in Napa Valley Life Magazine. Founded in 1978, the estate vineyards were planted in the late 1800s. Vineyards are located in St. Helena, Oakville, Carneros, Napa Valley, Rutherford, and the Oak Knoll District. Red wines include Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. White wines offered include Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé and Vermentino.
We invite you to our St. Helena Tasting Room in Napa Valley for wine tasting while enjoying views of flourishing vineyards and the western hillsides. Plan your Napa Valley trip.
“Lauded as one of Napa Valley’s local hidden gems, the St. Helena winery and tasting room offer visitors a relaxing respite to learn some of Napa’s unique history and experience some of the region’s top-rated Cabernet, Chardonnay, single varietal, and Bordeaux blends, including their award-winning Trilogy.” — Napa Valley Life Magazine
The Komes and Garvey Family has always been farmers first, and over the years the family has acquired 500 acres throughout Napa Valley, 300 of which are planted to vineyard. With estate properties stretching from the cool, rolling hills of Carneros to the famed sub-appellations of Oakville, Rutherford and St. Helena, Flora Springs produces varietal wines ranging from Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay to Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and other red Bordeaux varietals. Each year the family selects a small percentage of the yield for their own wines, selling the remaining fruit to neighboring Napa Valley wineries. This selection puts the focus on quality, not quantity, resulting in hand-crafted wines that meet the family’s exacting standards. Read more about our treasure trove of vineyards.
Note: The article excerpted below was originally published in Food & Wine and can be found here.
“41 Cabernet Sauvignons Worth Splurging On”
By Brian Freedman
These are the best bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon for your next anniversary, promotion, or big night in.
Great Cabernet Sauvignon can set you back by several mortgage payments if you’re not careful. Yet there are still plenty of splurge-worthy Cabs from around the world that ring in at under $150 per bottle…still a whole lot of money, but not in the realm of many Cab-based cult wines, or First Growth Bordeaux, which can easily stretch in to the four or five figures depending on the vintage and the provenance. The ones below, listed alphabetically, represent some of the top high-end Cabs around. They range from 2017 to 2020, and all are worth considering for special occasions as we head into the springtime holiday season of Mother’s and Father’s Day, graduations, and more. It’s also worth noting that, though a majority of these are from California, there are terrific ones that can be found from around the world, from great Bordeaux to South America, Australia, and beyond.
2019 Flora Springs Cabernet Sauvignon
There’s so much ripe, sweet, generously spiced wild red berry fruit here, like strawberries and raspberries, as well as kirsch and balsamic notes that lend this wine terrific lift and energy. These notes are for the special holiday edition bottling, a blend of two key vineyard sources, but it speaks well of the range of Cabs produced by Flora Springs, as well.
Our Holiday Bottles are our way of thanking members for their loyalty and providing them with uniquely elegant bottles ideal for festive holiday celebrations and thoughtful gifts. The brainchild of General Manager Nat Komes, whose grandmother, Flora, imbued him with a love for the holidays, each wine is meticulously etched and painted by hand, with capsules and back labels applied one by one. As the only Napa Valley winery to offer new holiday designs each year, we pour ourselves into this annual project, ensuring that each bottle is absolute perfection inside and out. Learn more.
Flora Springs 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Holy Smoke Vineyard Oakville Napa Valley
Dark red. Shows an expansive nose of black currant with deeper notes of loam soil and chocolate shavings that are mirrored on a deeply flavored, mouth filling palate. The texture is silky with a firm structure, juicy acidity, and an overall sense of refinement. The oak is seamlessly integrated with just a hint of toast. And the finish is persistent with moderate tannins. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from a single block planted to Clone 4 and matured 18 months in 80% French and 20% American oak.
Flora Springs 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Wild Boar Vineyard Napa Valley
The Wild Boar Cab is a supple wine with good intensity of fruit. It begins with savory, earthy aromas married to cassis fruit. The attack is soft and refined, leading to a palate of dark fruit with hints of chocolate and loam. Surprisingly accessible with round tannins and a long flavorful finish. Of all the Flora Springs single vineyard Cabernets, this is the one we would choose to drink now. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged 18 months in 30% French and 70% American oak.
Flora Springs 2018 Dust & Glory Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain Napa Valley
Dark red. On the nose, gorgeous up front aromas of blackberry, cassis, and tobacco leaf. Silky smooth attack followed by a beautifully refined mouth feel and concentrated, layered flavors of dark cherry, dark berries and savory dried herbs. A youthful wine, it has a distinct stoney, chalky mineral character. Finishes with a long flavorful finish with soft round tannins. Surprisingly evolved for a mountain wine, but then 2018 was an exceptional vintage. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from one of the highest vineyard sites on the volcanic soils of Howell Mountain; matured 22 months in 94% French and 6% American oak.
Flora Springs 2019 Rutherford Hillside Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Napa Valley
On the nose, the Rutherford Hillside shows earthy, dark fruit complemented by smoky oak and cooking spice. It’s soft and silky on entry with a beautifully balanced and pure, refined character. Black currant and black raspberry show on the firmly structured and densely flavored palate, but despite its youth this wine is accessible now. Finishes long with dark fruit, cocoa dust, and earthy notes. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from a small block of vines on the northwestern edge of the Rutherford appellation aged 18 months in 90% French and 10% American oak. The Rutherford Hillside Cab has been produced as a single vineyard wine since 1994.
Flora Springs Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons
Truly elegant and powerful wines, that reflect the place from which they originate. Shop our current releases or contact us at (800) 913-1118 to inquire about other vintages.
Our Out of Sight Cabernet Sauvignon represents the best of both worlds: a wine that is wonderfully approachable in its youth, but with the capacity to age gracefully for five, ten, even fifteen years.
The secret? The wine’s tannin profile.
“The Out of Sight Cabs consistently have these lush, round tannins that make them immediately accessible early on,” says Winemaker Enrico Bertoz. “But these same tannins – which are essentially antioxidants – help the wines resist oxidation, which is what causes them to age.”
The quality of Out of Sight’s tannins is due both to its location and the vineyard’s soil profile. Situated on a gentle slope just north of the Coombsville AVA, Out of Sight is our southernmost Cabernet vineyard, and the soils are a beautiful gravelly loam. “The relatively cool microclimate combined with these perfect soils yield really small berries with a high skin to pulp ratio,” says Enrico. “This translates to very dark color and flavors that veer towards black fruit as well as those rich tannins.”
Because of the tannin profile, Enrico is able to leave the wine on its skin for up to two weeks after the primary fermentation is complete, a practice he began several years ago. This would be unthinkable with other Cabernets which have sharper, more angular tannins that need to be harnessed early on, but the technique works well with Out of Sight and contributes to its age worthiness.
Besides the single vineyard bottling, Cabernet from Out of Sight always makes it into Flora’s Legacy Cabernet and Trilogy. “It just always makes the cut,” says Enrico. No wonder it’s one of his favorites!
Planted on an oak-laden hillside between the Napa Valley AVAs of Oak Knoll and Coombsville, our Out of Sight Vineyard off the Silverado Trail is easily missed, hence its name. When we purchased the property in the late 1980s, the site’s gravelly soils and northwest exposure signaled great potential, but the tangled head-pruned vines also suggested years of neglect. After completely re-developing the property, however, our organically-farmed Out of Sight vineyard is today one of our most treasured fruit sources.
The first new Single Vineyard Cabernet to be added to our portfolio in over two decades, the wine is from one of the highest elevation sites in the AVA, and as a beautifully expressive mountain Cabernet that needs time to mellow, it’s drinking beautifully right now.
Awarded 94 and 93 points respectively by respected wine critics James Suckling and Jeb Dunnuck, the 2017 Dust & Glory Cabernet Sauvignon is a rich, layered and saturated red with aromas and flavors of black currants, black raspberries, tobacco, cedarwood and chocolate. There’s a spiciness to the wine along with hints of violets and buttery toffee.
We encourage you to order a few bottles both to enjoy now and cellar, as this wine has the potential to age at least 15 years.
94 points, James Suckling “A rich, layered red with aromas and flavors of blackcurrants, spices, chocolate and salted toffee. Full-bodied, creamy and chewy. Delicious already, but this needs time to resolve the tannins. Well done for the vintage.”
93+ points, Jeb Dunnuck “The flagship release is the 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Dust & Glory, which is all from Howell Mountain fruit. It reveals a saturated purple color to go with notes of blackcurrants, leafy herbs/tobacco, cedarwood, and violets. With medium to full body, a solid sense of freshness and purity, plenty of ripe mountain tannins, and a great finish, it’s going to come together with 4-5 years of bottle age and drink well over the following 10-15+.”
We’re often asked which of our Single Vineyard Cabernets is our favorite, and the answer is always the same: we love them all! But our Rutherford Hillside Reserve does hold a special place in our hearts, as it was the first Single Vineyard Cabernet we produced.
It was 1994, and in Napa Valley, wines bottled exclusively from one vineyard were still somewhat rare. But John Komes recognized there was something special about a group of vines located on the slope leading up to the northwestern edge of our estate in the Rutherford appellation. He kept the wine from this block separate, and bottled less than 50 cases on its own, dubbing it the Rutherford Hillside Reserve. John’s instinct proved prescient: when our first Rutherford Hillside Reserve Cabernet was released in 1997 the Wine Spectator awarded it 96 points.
Five Years Earlier
1994 wasn’t the first time this block was bottled on its own. Beginning in 1989, Flora Springs produced a Rutherford Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from the same vines. In fact, the 1991 Flora Springs Rutherford Reserve Cabernet earned 97 points and the #3 spot on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list in 1994.
Flora Springs’ Rutherford Reserve was the predecessor to our Rutherford Hillside Reserve. In 1994 John added “Hillside” to the name, creating the first vineyard-designated wine from Flora Springs.
The label has changed over the years, but our Rutherford Hillside Reserve is still grown on our estate vineyard in Rutherford.
The Rutherford AVA is arguably one of the finest places to grow Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley, and the location of our Rutherford Hillside Reserve vineyard, on the western slopes of the AVA on what is often called the Rutherford Bench, is one of the most coveted in the appellation. Our vineyard lies on a gentle incline leading up toward the Mayacamas Mountains. Here the soils rest on a gravelly bed deposited by an old stream, providing excellent drainage. The climate, moderately warm with occasional morning fog and frequent afternoon breezes, is ideally suited to Cabernet. The combination of soil and climate results in a unique flavor profile referred to as “Rutherford Dust,” often described as powdery-soft dusty tannins with notes of fine cocoa powder.
2019: A Stellar Vintage
The early part of the 2019 growing season was defined by heavy rainfall which replenished reservoirs and gave the soils plenty of moisture. A long, warm summer featured few extreme heat events, and the typically foggy mornings set the stage for vibrant and expressive wines. Harvest was long and relatively mild, helping to preserve freshness and finesse in the fruit with extended hang time teasing out great color, structure and soft tannins. Crop volume was average to a little less than average. In the end, it was another amazing vintage yielding exceptional fruit with bright acidity and ample flavor and texture. The 2019 Rutherford Hillside Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is a wine you can drink now or cellar, it will continue to age through 2037.
2018: A Vintage for the Ages
2018 brought a long, steady and near-ideal growing season to Napa Valley, yielding wines of intensity, concentration and balance. Our 2018 Rutherford Hillside Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, aged in French and American oak for 18 months, offers pure Cabernet fruit centered on currant, blackberry and black cherry, with ancillary notes of brown spice, dark chocolate and espresso. It is a complex, full-bodied wine that finishes with ripe, chewy tannins. This is the Cabernet you bring out when you want to impress. It will age beautifully for at least another 15 years.
Your Cellar Will Thank You
The Rutherford Hillside Reserve is one of Flora Springs’ most age worthy Cabernets, a wine that will provide enjoyment for ten, fifteen or even twenty years when properly cellared. Each year we make a certain amount of the previous and/or older vintages available on a limited basis. Be sure to check the store on our website for these periodic library releases.
It takes a special Cabernet Sauvignon to be designated a Flora Springs “Single Vineyard.” Along with Trilogy and Flora’s Legacy Cabernet, these are the crown jewels in our portfolio. We asked General Manager Nat Komes how he and the winemaking team decides what makes the cut.
How do you determine when a vineyard is good enough to be bottled on its own?
To become a Single Vineyard a wine must convey a unique sense of place and individuality; in its aromas and flavors it must clearly express the characteristics of a particular site. Of course, the wine must be of extremely high quality. It’s gotta taste good!
How do you get complexity in a Single Vineyard wine?
The complexity comes from the site itself and in the way we blend different blocks together. Our viticultural practices are tailored to each block, allowing us to tease out the differences and distinctive characteristics of each one. That, coupled with the singularities each vintage brings, gives each of our Single Vineyard wines dimension and layers of complexity.
What winemaking techniques do you employ with the Single Vineyard Cabernets?
Our vinification is aimed at obtaining purity of fruit and the structure that makes for extended aging. We carefully hand sort the grapes upon receipt, give them a three- to four-day period of cold soaking prior to fermentation, and carefully manage the extraction of tannins during and after fermentation. Then we age the wines for about 18 months on average in French and/or American oak, depending on the wine.
What makes the Wild Boar Cabernet Sauvignon stands out as a Single Vineyard wine? Wild Boar has always been a revelation to me in the sense that I consider it to be an “all-American” wine. By that I mean it has a bit of a wild west character to it, yet it can also be polished and refined. Kind of like a well-dressed cowboy. We age Wild Boar in 70-75% American oak, which frames it in sweet, vanilla-like tannins. Although big, Wild Boar is never clumsy, but rather manages to walk the fine line between rich, ripe fruit and structural elegance.
Single Vineyard Cabernets
Truly elegant and powerful wines, that reflect the place from which they originate, learn more.
Listen in as Anthony Dias Blue of Blue Lifestyle talks about our upcoming release, the 2017 Holy Smoke Cabernet Sauvignon. “Simply put, the wine is stunning… the impressive 2017 Flora Springs Cabernet Sauvignon Holy Smoke Vineyard is a Napa Valley icon…97 points & Double Gold”:
In Europe it is not uncommon to find winemaking dynasties that go back dozens of generations. We can’t say the same for Napa Valley; after all, wine grapes weren’t even planted here until the 19th century. But we like to think that Flora Springs, now in its third generation, is a dynasty in the making. That’s why the term Grand Estates Tradition appears on the back label of each of our Single Vineyard Cabernets. These wines are produced from estate vineyards in Napa Valley that our family has farmed for decades. They represent some of the finest micro-sites in Napa Valley, blocks that are so distinct and outstanding they deserve to be bottled on their own. With less than five hundred cases produced each year, and consistently among our highest scoring wines, our Single Vineyard Cabernets are in high demand.
Regarding the 2016 vintage, Winemaker Paul Steinauer says, “An early bud break followed by warm weather and spring rains brought a rapid start to an ideal 2016 growing season, one with beautiful weather from bloom, to berry set, to veraison and harvest in our Napa Valley estate vineyards.”
Our Preferred Palates Wine Club Members have a guaranteed allocation of these very limited wines. Learn more about the benefits of membership.
“Captivating from top to bottom…The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignons are gorgeous wines endowed with striking aromatic intensity, nuance and depth…2016 is second only to 2013 among the top vintages of this decade so far.” – Antonio Galloni, Vinous, December 2018
1989 hails Flora Spring’s first release of the Single Vineyard portfolio with the Rutherford Hillside Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Three years later we added the Rennie Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Today, Flora Springs now offers five exclusive, limited-production Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons with the addition of Wild Boar, Out of Sight and Holy Smoke. Each production is highly limited and drawn from select blocks from our family-farmed estate vineyards that consistently produce wines of exacting quality.
The 2015 vintage will be known for its higher quality and lower yields as compared to previous years. The growing season began with warm temperatures in late winter and early spring resulting in an early bud break. In May, colder temperatures during bloom caused fruit set to be uneven, yielding a much smaller crop compared to earlier vintages. Winemakers and vineyard managers worked closely together as the season progressed to ensure grapes ripened uniformly. The harvest, which was in full swing by mid-August, was one of the earliest on record in Napa Valley, and most vintners completed picking by mid-October. Although the continuing drought was a concern around California, Napa Valley received 75% of its annual rainfall average in 2015 making it less worrisome for Napa vintners.
Our Preferred Palates Wine Club Members have a guaranteed allocation of these very limited wines. Learn more about the benefits of membership.