I visited Napa Valley for this first time earlier this year. During the weeks leading up to my trip I was engrossed in stories of robust wines and sun-drenched vineyards. A portion of my research was dedicated to locating those vineyards who pride themselves on minuscule production. Typically, vineyards of this instance produce only a couple hundred cases per harvest. My reasoning for such a specific search comes down to nothing other than quality.
“People talk about quality like a matter of preference and flavor, but while we’ve found that there are a number of personal preferences that influence what people like and think are best, there are also a number of objective factors,” says sommelier Jorn Kleinhans, owner of Wine Elite Sommelier Co.
The quality of a wine isn’t merely defined by one thing, yet a myriad of factors. For example, my wine preference is reminiscent of the beers I enjoy. Dark, bold and robust, are the three words I would use to describe the profile of my beverage choices. Kleinhans shared with us three determinants of quality that anyone can recognize:
“The more different notes and distinct flavor compositions you pick up, the more complex the wine,” explains Kleinhans. That’s where you get descriptors of flavor profile like plum, cherry, vanilla, or tobacco. The more of those flavors you can taste, the more complex the wine, and the more complex, the higher quality. “Complexity is perhaps the most important quality indicator that people can agree on,” Kleinhans adds. “The controversy comes in when they discuss whether they like it or not.”
The more intense a wine, the more clearly the drinker can identify and distinguish between the flavors present. “More intensely showing flavors make it easier to spot, appreciate, and recognize,” Kleinhans says. “When you have a very complex wine but all the flavors are fairly clear, the intensity is to the advantage of the wine quality.”
In terms of wine, “balance” is “the idea that an optimal wine contains a number of flavor profiles: fruits, vegetables, oak notes, the structure (which includes alcohol), and earthiness,” according to Kleinhans. “The well-balanced wine shows the vast majority of all of these five components, integrated to a degree that they’re visible, the proportion of taste in harmony and in good relationship to the other tastes shown.”
Earlier this month the Women of Wine Charities hosted their annual Grand Tasting at the Decorative Center. The Grand Tasting featured highly-rated wines paired with bites from Houston’s hottest chefs, plus live and silent auctions. Among the vintners was Webster Cellars, a leader in the renaissance of the “balanced wine” movement. Native Houstonian and Napa Valley Winemaker Keith Webster and wife Chelli Warnock-Webster kept my attention all evening with heavy pours of their three velvety, full bodied red blends.
“My wines are like meeting the love of your life, a dance of experiencing the delight of knowing someone who, at first contact, is intriguing and who grows more and more connected to your soul with every kiss!” says Keith Webster, Winemaker
2013 RIGHT BANK & LEFT BANK ~ WEBSTER CELLAR, NAPA VALLEY
These wines are a careful combination of classic Bordeaux varietals created in the style of many of the great Chateaux. It’s barreled in 30% new French Oak for up to 24 months.
The Left Bank blend is a 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 15% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc blend. The Right Bank is 40% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20 % Petit Verdot and 15% Cabernet Franc.
Both Left and Right bank blends were very soft, juicy and drinkable. I suggest popping a bottle the day you purchase it, totally my personal preference.
2013 RESERVE ~ WEBSTER CELLARS, NAPA VALLEY
My absolute favorite wine of the evening was their 2013 Reserve. The Webster’s hand selected each barrique of the vintage to create this exceptional Reserve Wine. This varietal is barreled for up to 36 months in Premium French Oak. There are only 50 cases of this blend produced, making it rare and worthy of your search!
The 2013 Reserve, Bordeaux blend embodies all the key factors that define a quality wine.
The level of complexity was unmatched when compared to the other wines being served.
The blend’s intensity was very mild and palatable. It’s long, dry finish was captivating.
It embodies a soft and balanced finish. “Polished” with easy of red fruit and chocolate.
Webster Cellars 2013 Reserve is a serious red, of which softens after a few years. How on earth anyone could hold on to Webster Cellars’ 2013 Reserve for that amount of time is beyond me. I could have easily enjoyed that entire bottle in the few hours I spent with the Webster’s.
Find Webster Cellars wine at your local Spec’s. To learn more about Webster Cellars and to locate their wines near you click here.