With the endless stream of wineries and brands in the international wine market, I am not sure if even all the professionals can keep track of what is out there. So, just think of the rank amateurs like me that attempt to write about wines, and why do I? It is because I enjoy the beverage and sometimes, I just want to warn people about some of the wines they may encounter, but since I am fortunate to try wines from all spectrums and price points, I guess I am quite fortunate. I also read plenty of articles and other wine blogs and through all of this, there are some wineries that always seem to pop up in front of my eyes. Some of the brands also appear when I am doing wine tastings, like these wines that I tried when I was at the Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan.
Chappellet Winery of Napa Valley, California is one of the brands that is endeared among the wine trade, both professional and the amateur like me. Donn and Molly Chappellet started the winery in 1967 by purchasing land on Pritchard Hill at the advice of legendary California winemaker André Tchelistcheff, who I can honestly say that I read some of his writings and interviews with him, when I was in high school and college. Pritchard Hill is one of the sites that one reads about that is awesome for a vineyard due to its steep aspect, high elevation and east-facing slopes, you know an easy place to grow grapes. Chappellet Winery’s specialty is red Bordeaux varieties, especially Cabernet Sauvignon which is about seventy-five percent of what they grow in their assorted plots. Its flagship wine is the critically acclaimed Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon which is sold mostly to members of its wine club by allocation, so the odds are, that I won’t be writing about it, unless Lady Luck looks down at me with great fortune one day in the future. I would also say that they are not greedy as only about sixteen percent of the estate is under vines. They are organic and they have also erected enough solar panels to take care of the all of the winery’s electric requirements.
The first wine that I tasted was the Chappellet Cabernet Signature 2015. This wine is seventy-nine percent Cabernet Sauvignon that has been blended with Petit Verdot, Merlot and Malbec. I couldn’t find any aging notes, but I can easily go out on a limb and claim that it was aged in oak. As much as I am not into descriptors, I found the nose to be “great,” that is how I write my notes with promises of dark fruit, herbs and anise, and I found that tasting it had lush tannins with an oakiness and the kiss of black licorice that was telegraphed from the anise. I can also say that it had a nice long finish that definitely required some water, so as not to be unfair to the following wines that were still waiting to be tried. The last wine that I tried for the session was the Chappellet Cabernet Franc 2013. Cabernet Franc is a relative newcomer to the lots on Pritchard Hill as it was planted in 1989. This wine is composed of seventy-six percent Cabernet Franc and then blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Merlot. The wine spent twenty-two months in French Oak and it delivered a great nose that I expect from this grape as I appreciate more red fruit and some spice. The taste showed once again a lush tannin base with a creamy oak finish, with red cherries and some chocolate, and finished with another long finish. All I could think is that I was glad that my Bride was not with me, as the checking account would be considerably less, as this is her favorite varietal and she always lets everyone know it, that is in the tasting room. Now with just talking about two of their wines, that the public can get, one can see how Chappellet is one of the darlings of the wine writers.