was founded by Kal and Dorothy Showket in 1988 after they looked for property for 3 years in the valley. They originally moved to the Napa Valley with the intent to retire and fortuitously chose land that is among the most coveted in Napa. These are the rocky red hillside soils of “magic hill” a small vineyard covered section of land in the Vaca Mountain range on the eastern side of the Oakville Appellation. Upon purchasing the property they found varietals such as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc planted on site; today you will not find these white varietals planted in this area as the “magic hill” is known for its Cabernet Sauvignon. Not being from a wine background but soon jumping into the wine industry they quickly found themselves grape growers. The well regarded Pina Vineyard Management company has overseen their vineyards since day one.
This is prime Cabernet Sauvignon country and is a part of Oakville that has certainly attracted some top wineries. Nearby neighbors include Dalla Valle, Oakville Ranch, Tierra Roja and near the base of the mountains you find Screaming Eagle and Rudd.
Over time the Showkets have slowly increased their Cabernet Sauvignon plantings (a number of various clones) and continue to grow Cabernet Franc, small amounts of Merlot and Sangiovese. Their Cabernet Franc has established a fine reputation to date. Showket’s vineyards are mostly oriented to the west and sit at an elevation of about 600 feet. This orientation and exposure ensures they have maximum ripening time during the long summer hours. In addition their elevation sets them above the valley floor and in the winter it is generally above the frost zone.
The Showkets grew and sold grapes for a number of years until realizing the unique value of their terroir should be put to use in their own wines. While not owning a physical winery, Showket has made their wine at Napa Wine Co under what is called an Alternating Proprietorship (AP) ever since the first vintage in 1997. An AP is actually their own bond within the Napa Wine Co’s facility and gives them hands on control of the entire winemaking process. Heidi Peterson Barrett was their winemaker for the first 10 years and today the team of Thomas Brocker and Russell Bevan are jointly making the wine. All their wine is from the estate.
Kal remembers when one year all the men were unavailable to pick fruit during harvest and his crew was entirely women. These women were much more gentle with the fruit and the vineyards were left much cleaner. Today as a result, Showket always has teams of women picking in their vineyards during harvest.
The Sangiovese is the earliest of their red wines released and this is the first wine made from start to finish by their new winemaking team. How many Sangiovese’s come out of Oakville? Not many at all. Sangiovese is a varietal that is easy to over oak and as a result, their Sangiovese is not exposed to too much oak, generally around 30% new French Oak. This is a varietal that is not very attractive on a hot day – as Kal says its a “whiner” but it produces excellent fruit from their property. The 2007 vintage is also blended with 5% Cabernet Franc.
The bouquet is earthy and slightly dusty with a unique floral component that leads to a soft entry on the palate. Juicy black fruit flavors including blackberry and black cherry are evident along with lively acidity. It is a wine that has nice weight especially around the mid palate with a long and pleasing finish showing broad well structured chewy tannins as well as a hint of mocha. Kal remembers his Sangiovese doing well at a blind tasting at a party a few years back – most people who tasted it marked it as Cabernet Sauvignon! There is just not a lot of Sangiovese coming out of the Napa Valley and some of our nicer tastes recently of this varietal have been from hillside vineyards.
Their 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon is blended slightly with Merlot and Cabernet Franc. It shows a bouquet with notes of smokiness as well as spices, namely white pepper; these aromas are intermingled beautifully with notes of dark fruit. The entry hits the palate in harmony with the flavors being all about the rich fruit from start to finish. It is pleasurable now and certainly has the ability to age for a number of years. And trust us on this one, your not going to find a Cabernet Sauvignon from this part of Oakville as priced as reasonably as this wine.
The 2007 Proprietary Red (not yet released at the time of this review) is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and several different clones of Cabernet Sauvignon. The bouquet is elegant not yet hinting of the richness of the palate. The palate starts rounded and smooth but quickly gains in complexity and and depth of flavor until it reaches the finish anchored by broad based tannins. While only a young wine it is already fairly well in balance.
These are not low alcohol wines, however with that said, these wines are not “hot” or out of balance and all have excellent acidity. When you have this exposure and amount of sunshine you are going to get ripe fruit. We’ve walked through several vineyards in this part of Oakville during hot summer days and because of the exposure and soils there is a fair amount of heat that radiates.
In the next few years, Showket is also planning to release a very special blend – based on a hand selection of what are their “top” barrels.
Showket is one of those rare producers in the valley to have their wines available to the public in two walk in locations – at Vintner’s Collective in the town of Napa and at Napa Wine Co (in the Cult Tasting Room) in Oakville right next to Highway 29. If you are planning a trip to the “Cult Room” be sure to call ahead to verify that they are pouring Showket that day as they tend to rotate wines depending on the day of the week. Their wines are available in about 15 states and you can also join their mailing list. For more information visit: www.showketvineyards.com
NOTE: This review has been archived.
REASON: Stopped producing wine commercially, sold the vineyards to Peter Michael Winery
Danny Thompson says
I knew your son well in the 80s. And have found memories of you all