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The first vintage was the difficult 1998 vintage, and although there were troubles to get the grapes fully ripe, Pierre managed to produce two remarkably fine wines in that year. These wines still holds together, on the nose they behave like fine clarets from Bordeaux, and they even taste pretty well today, although they start to dry out a bit.
To make these fine wines, Pierre gets to select some of the finest lots, of even rows, of vines in the best of the Jackson family’s vineyards in predominately Sonoma. The Merlot grapes are mostly sourced from the outstanding 44.50 hectare Jackson Park Vineyard, situated at 165-186 meters of altitude on gently rolling slopes in the mountain above Benett Valley in Sonoma. It was planted exclusively to Merlot of Clone 181 taken from Château Petrus in Pomerol. To Pierre, that clone was essential to plant to be able to “compete” with the wine from Château Petrus.
Another very important vineyard source is the Alexander Mountain Estate in the eastern part of Alexander Valley, close to the home of the Jackson family. It’s an amazing vineyard, a patchwork of almost 200 smaller vineyard blocks stretching from 210 to 720 meters of altitude, planted to various varieties (Verité uses mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from here) in poor volcanic soils. Speaking about soils, Pierre Seillan just love the vide variation of soil types in Sonoma – which of course was one of the reasons for him to accept to work here with Jess Jackson.
“We have more different soils here than they have in total in France”, he says.
Pierre also buys grapes from Kellogg Estate at 150 to 280 meters altitude in poor volcanic soils in Knights Valley, where Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot of exceptional quality is grown.
The idea behind Verité is not to produce wines of true terroir from each mountain vineyard, but to create blends of the highest quality, inspired but the blends of Bordeaux. Although I find these wines to be, or at least mature into something very Bordeaux like, there’s one distinctive difference; I find more structure and energy (that’s due to the mineral qualities of these soils) in the Verité wines than in the bordelaise ones.
Three wines are made. La Muse is the Pomerol in the lineup, based on 82-92 percent Merlot depending on the vintage, with the balance of Cabernet Franc and just a dash of Cabernet Sauvignon. La Joie is the Pauillac blend, built on 64-75 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and therefore a bit more structured, whereas the Le Désir is the Saint Emilion in the trio, a lovely wine where Merlot and Cabernet Franc make up around 80-85 percent of the blend, most often in relatively equal parts.
All wines are crafted in more or less the same way, vinified in small lots and then transferred into brand new French oak barrels to spend 14-16 months including the time for malolactic fermentation. They are all bottled without fining or filtration.
Wine Advocate-Parker :99p
The 2013 Le Desir represents 2,500 cases. This is the softest of the three wines in 2013, and this blend of 61% Cabernet Franc, 23% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Malbec emerges with more than half of the cuvée coming from Hillsides in Alexander Valley, 37% from Chalk Hill and the rest tiny dollops from Bennett Valley and Knights Valley. Opaque purple, like its siblings, the wine is showing incredible floral, blueberry and espresso notes, exotic Asian spices, velvety texture, a supple, multilayered mouthfeel and incredible finish, with incense and licorice. This is magnificent young wine, with a good 40-50 years of upside potential. Pierre Seillan is justifiably proud of what he has achieved, and his first vintage of Vérité was only 1998, but they go from strength to strength.
Napa Valley Harvest 2013 Report
A seamless year of steady weather and optimal ripening brings in above average yields and excellent quality fine wine grapes
10/22/2013 - St. Helena, CA: The Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) reports that the region’s winemakers expect to be done with the 2013 harvest within the next week. “Early, even and excellent” are three words being used to describe this year’s growing season and the Napa Valley wine grapes that have come from it, reflecting the consistent quality for which this world famous wine region is known.
A warm, dry spring brought early bud break, helped with canopy vigor and berry size and created ideal conditions for flowering and fruit set under sunny skies. With the exception of one heat spike in late June/early July, temperatures were consistently in the zone for optimal vine activity, resulting in notably healthy vines as fruit went through veraison and started ripening.
The August 1 start of harvest was the earliest in recent history. White wine grapes came in at a furious pace throughout that month, moving on to lighter reds by early September. Two brief mid-September rains had virtually no impact on the grapes. The vast majority of the more delicate skinned grapes had already been harvested and sunny weather with breezes followed the rains, allowing for the mostly Cabernet Sauvignon that remained to dry out almost immediately. The cooler, sunny weather throughout October allowed the final grapes still on the vine to linger longer, developing more phenolic and flavor maturities with sugar levels remaining steady.
As this harvest comes to a close, it is about two weeks earlier than other Napa Valley harvests in the last decade. Yields on the whole have been above average.
“In a nutshell, this vintage has given us the extraordinary gift of enabling us to pick exactly what we wanted, when we wanted, at perfect ripeness and ideal hang time,” noted Paul Colantuoni, winemaker at Rocca Family Vineyards.
Winemakers from around the valley agree the 2013 vintage holds exceptional promise and potential and exceeded expectations following on the heels of 2012 – another year that has been described as “nearly perfect.”