Sylk Cellars was founded by two couples (Carl & Lyn Thorsen and Stephen Blum & Marion Brown) who built homes next to each other in the southern part of the Napa Valley just off of the Silverado Trail. They did not know each other prior to living in the Napa Valley but soon found themselves living next door in 2002. Neither couple had any commercial wine experience at the time and their properties were never planted to vines. Carl has been a collector of fine wines since the late 1970s and he and Lyn remember making several home made wines in their bathtub – now that is dedication to home winemaking!
After a successful career at Price Waterhouse Coopers and logging thousands of miles in travel each year, they were looking for a place to retire somewhere in wine country and moved to the valley. Stephen owns the Nate Starkman building in Los Angeles which from the outside doesn’t look like much but this building is rather well known in the movie industry and has served as the backdrop for a number of movies, Television shows and commercials. Stephen is still actively involved in the day to day management of this “shooting” location.
Both couples now share a contiguous 2 acre vineyard planted by the well-regarded vineyard manager Javier Renteria in 2002. Javier has over 30 years of experience managing vineyards in the Napa Valley including time spent at Sterling Vineyards and Hartwell. The vineyard is entirely planted to Cabernet Sauvignon (337 clone) and in part is managed by Carl who handles the pre-pruning, trellising and a number of other vineyard duties. With the same loamy soils throughout the vineyard, the same trellising and canopy management, the same varietal (all Cabernet Sauvignon on the same rootstalk), differences in the wine from year to year tend to be vintage related.
The name Sylk, in a somewhat unusual way, describes their specific terroir – or vineyard location. They are in an interesting location as they are surrounded by individual sub appellations but their vineyard is not actually located in any of these sub appellations. Hit a golf ball with a driver from their vineyard in several directions and that golf ball will land in Stag’s Leap, Oak Knoll or the Yountville appellation. Based on the names of these appellations the acronym Sylk stands for the S in Stag’s, the Y in Yountville, the L in Leap and the K in Knoll…and after tasting their wine their name can also be used as a description – “smooth as Sylk”.
For the first few years their wines were made at the large custom crush facility, Laird Estate. Now their wine is made at a small custom crush facility. Incidentally the property that surrounds this winery used to be owned by General Mariano Vallejo and much more recently, golf pro Johnny Miller. The well-regarded winemaker Robert Pepi crafted their wines from 2006 through 2008 along with Jeff Booth and today Jeff is the sole winemaker.
Carl & Lyn have always enjoyed the social aspects of wine and drinking wines which also pair well with food. When they came to the Napa Valley they spent time visiting a number of wineries in the Stag’s Leap District and other appellations to get a feel for the types of wine that these appellations produce and to find a wine that matched their palates. In addition, Carl went back to school and graduated from the UC Davis wine maker program.
Their wine is styled to be approachable upon release, to showcase their vineyard’s fruit and to be enjoyed with food. The 2006 100% Cabernet Sauvignon has an elegant bouquet showing red fruit, toffee as well as subtle baking spices. The medium bodied palate is soft at entry and anchored by fine grained smooth tannins. The mid palate shows more red fruit than dark fruit including raspberry, plum and red cherry. The flavors are very well integrated and are even more highlighted when you pair this wine with food. For those who typically only drink white wines, if you are going to try a red wine, this is a very good candidate to start with. There are no harsh tannins and the finish is clean and elegant. For a small boutique Napa producer, their wine is priced quite reasonably.
Their vineyard ranges in production between approximately 400 and closer to 500 cases during a normal year. 2008 saw widespread frost throughout Northern California’s wine region and like many vineyards their vineyard was also off in production. However with the lower yields the Cabernet Sauvignon fruit from 2008 that we have tried to date, in general is dark and shows very concentrated flavors. This will be an interesting year to watch the wines develop.
At the time of this review, Sylk Cellars had just released their first vintage and the wines are not yet distributed. Because this wine pairs so will with food they are planning to have some restaurant distribution. In the meantime you can join their mailing list and or purchase wine from their website: www.sylkcellars.com
NOTE: This review has been archived.
REASON: Stopped producing wine commercially
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