Back in the days when John Komes was selling our first Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons, he came up with idea of holding winemaker dinners pairing each Cabernet with a different cut of premium beef. He knew what many wine enthusiasts knew intuitively: there’s simply something sublime about enjoying a juicy bite of steak with a sip of rich, ripe, tannic Cabernet Sauvignon. But he understood the science behind that magical pairing.
“The tannins in red wine are essentially attracted to fat and protein. When you bite into a steak, the tannins in the wine ‘bind’ with the fat and protein in the beef, so that the wine feels softer and less astringent,” says John.
Over time, John experimented with different Cabernet Sauvignon and beef combinations until he came up with the ideal pairing for each Flora Springs offering. For the wine in the Preferred Palates Wine Club February 2023 shipment, our 2020 Wild Boar Cabernet Sauvignon, John recommends a tri-tip steak. Tri-tip, cut from the bottom sirloin, has been popular in California for decades, but has also become available in other parts of the country where it is sometimes called triangle steak, Santa Maria steak or California’s Cut.
“Tri-tip has great marbling which gives it a really good beefy flavor and a supple texture, as long as you don’t overcook it,” he says. “Plus, it has the added bonus of being more economical than many other cuts of beef.”
Tri-tip Marinade for Grilling
Tri-tip is made for grilling, and John likes to marinate this boneless steak for a few hours in the refrigerator before cooking. His preferred marinade (for a two to three-pound steak):
½ cup of red wine
¼ cup of olive oil
3 large garlic gloves, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Turn several times while marinating. Before grilling, remove steak from marinade. Cook to desired doneness (@122°F for medium rare), let sit for at least five minutes and slice. John likes to serve tri-tip when Nat and his family visit, as the cut easily feeds a small group. He recommends accompanying the meal with small, roasted red potatoes, grilled veggies, a nice arugula salad, and a bottle of his Wild Boar Cabernet Sauvignon.
Wild boars are a fixture in Napa Valley, and as vineyard owners we’ve had our share of run-ins with the creature, which is how our Wild Boar Single Vineyard Cabernet got its name. Boars love to munch on ripe wine grapes, and when we get close to harvest we try to keep them to the natural habitats that surround our vineyards. But if one or two have a meal on us, we’re okay with it. As farmers who depend on Mother Nature, sometimes we need to live and let live. Sourced from our estate vineyard in the Rutherford AVA, our 2020 Wild Boar offers opulent aromatics of red and black raspberry and boysenberry that melt into rich flavors of cassis, black plum and black currant jam on the palate. The fruit is joined by notes of sweet vanilla bean, coconut and toasty oak which mingle with notes of lavender, espresso and a touch of licorice. With well-integrated oak and youthful tannins, the 2020 Wild Boar is a balanced, well-structured Cabernet that will reward further cellaring. Learn more about this wine.
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.
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.
Everyone who knows me knows I have an affinity for wild boars. That’s why we named one of our Single Vineyard Cabernets Wild Boar.
My first encounter with a wild boar happened back in the mid-1970s. My dad had purchased some land over in Pope Valley, about 100 acres with 60 acres of vines. Back then, Pope Valley was even more remote and rugged than it is today. Even though it’s just a few miles east of Napa Valley proper, Pope Valley seemed – and still seems – like a step back in time. Anyway, there was an old house on this property that had nine bedrooms and eight bathrooms but no living room. One can only surmise what that house was originally built for!
Since I was a contractor, my dad asked me if I could add a living room to the house. I hired some workers, and one of them was up on a scaffold doing some plastering when he saw a wild boar grazing nearby. He called me and said ‘John, there’s a wild boar on your property. Can I shoot him?’ I said, ‘Why don’t you call the game warden?’ He said, ‘John, a wild boar is a varmint; all I need is your permission.’ I said ‘Ok, as long as you give me the hind quarter.’ So he got his gun, and he shot it. A few minutes later I got a call from my dad: ‘John, John! One of your guys just shot the neighbor’s pig!’”
And that’s how I decided to name one of our single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons “Wild Boar.” I guess I could have gone with “Neighbor’s Pig,” but Wild Boar has a better ring to it!
In 1997, we released our first Single Vineyard Cabernet — the 1994 Rutherford Hillside Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. At the time, Single Vineyard Cabernets from Napa Valley were quite rare. But John Komes recognized there was something special about a group of vines – Block J – located behind his home on the northwestern edge of the Rutherford appellation. Rather than blending he kept these wine lots separate and bottled less than 50 cases on their own, beginning a tradition we’ve held to ever since. The 1994 Rutherford Hillside Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon went on to receive 96 points from Wine Spectator. Learn more about our Single Vineyard Cabernets, including our newest release, the 2020 Wild Boar Cabernet Sauvignon.