Spire Collection features a number of wines from both local wineries, regional wineries and international producers under the Jackson Family Wines ownership (their international properties are geographically diverse including France, Italy, Australia and South Africa). This is a rare tasting in Napa that can feature mostly non Napa wines; it is an excellent opportunity to try wines from around the world.
Guests of the Spire Collection visit the Spire Collection Estate which is located near Calistoga in the far northern reaches of the Napa Valley. An older winery sits in a bucolic location completely surrounded by vineyards just north of Tubbs Lane (near the Old Faithful Geyser). This winery was originally founded by long time Napa vintner Robert Pecota (an imprint of his hands are still embedded in the concrete). He sold the winery and vineyards to Jackson Family Wines (Atalon Winery). Other then a single small tank to keep the winery bond active), this winery is no longer being used to produce Atalon’s wines and all production has been moved to the wine making facilities at Cardinale Winery in Oakville.
Tastings at this private estate are conducted in an elegant room overlooking the vineyards used for Atalon’s wines. The stunning backdrop of Mt. St. Helena is in the background (the tallest mountain in or near the Napa Valley at 4,341 feet). Weather permitting, during the tasting the glass doors can slide open; this creates a nice ambiance between the indoor space and the outdoors. An outdoor fire pit and Adirondack type chairs complete the setting.
As a result of its location this is one of the most northerly based Napa wineries. We always enjoy visiting this part of the valley as there are less people, less traffic, and the wineries are much more spread out. On some of the smaller roads north of Calistoga you have a greater chance of seeing bicycles rather then cars (very bicycle friendly part of the Napa Valley).
Visits are for serious wine enthusiasts and are often initiated through word of mouth or referrals. With such a diversity of properties both domestically and internationally tastings can really be hand curated based on your interests in regions, types of wines or varietals. For example one can enjoy a Napa and Sonoma focused Cabernet Sauvignon tasting or simply focus on Pinot Noir. Usually at least one wine from their international brands will be a part of a tasting.
Several Napa wines are a part of the Spire Collection and are available for tastings here. La Jota is a historical property that encompasses two vineyards on Howell Mountain – the La Jota Estate Vineyard and the W.S. Keyes Vineyard. Each of these vineyards were established separate from each other in the late 1800’s and both produced award winning wines in the Paris Exposition of 1900. The La Jota property features a beautiful stone winery built in 1898 (still being used for wine making).
Mt. Brave features wines from the Mt. Veeder appellation with vines growing on rugged steep hillsides. The name is in tribute to the Wappo Indians who lived in these mountains and later to the pioneering settlers of the region. Their vineyard is located on slopes ranging from 1,400 to 1,800 feet in elevation. This site was originally purchased in 1841.
And Captûre and Galerie are brands that incorporate parts of Napa in their wine making program (along with neighboring regions outside of the Napa Valley). These wines are available in distribution at select restaurants but are primarily sold direct to consumer.
Well regarded winemaker Chris Carpenter makes the wine for both La Jota and Mt. Brave. Chris was originally a bar tender from Chicago and remarkably still finds the time to bar-tend at certain times at the Rutherford Grill.
The 2008 La Jota Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is a beautiful wine. Shows blackberry, chocolate, an earthy quality and as it breathes a floral note is revealed (rose petals). There is a balance that probably has been helped by time in the bottle between a richness of flavor and power of structure. Lingering sweetness of fruit , long lasting tannins and very good acidity. Reasonably price to quality ratio.
The 2012 La Jota Vineyard Merlot initially shows sweet dessert spice aromatics including notes of browned sugar and burnt toffee. Given time, beautiful fruit aromatics start showing including plum along with lesser aromas of toasted cedar plank. A tartness of fruit lingers along with tannins on the finish. The vines that produce the grapes for this wine are over 40 years old.
The Mt. Brave Malbec is usually 100% varietal but in 2012 it was blended with a kiss of Cabernet Sauvignon (2%). It is rare to find a 100% varietal Malbec in the Napa Valley, much less from Mt. Veeder. We are aware of only one other producer making a 100% Malbec from Mt. Veeder. The 2012 vintage shows a depth of aroma and flavor. On the bouquet darker fruit shows including notes of blackberry – as it breathes it reveals a sweetness of both fruit and dessert spices. Texturally it feels soft but with great depth of flavor. Mouth watering and juicy this wine has good acidity.
The 2013 Mt. Brave Cabernet Sauvignon combines several elements to make this a stand out, showy and muscular wine. The varietal and the hillside location certainly contribute to this but the vintage itself was a “powerful” one in the Napa Valley. This vintage shows dark ruby in the glass with a savory note on the bouquet including hints of dried sage. Predominately notes of blueberry show both aromatically and on the palate; this wine has great length in both flavor and structure. Needs some time to be ‘tamed’ so to speak with some bottle age.
Several membership levels are available including their upper tier membership which gives members the opportunity to stay in the guest house on site.
For more information about the wines represented under the Spire Collection, and to arrange an appointment, please visit: www.membershipbyspire.com