I’ve know about Robert Craig Wine Cellars for a while, in a back-handed sort of way… When I was working up at Ladera, Robert Craig’s winemaker, Chad, would come over and visit as he and Tres are really good friends. I’ve been privy to a tasting now and then but never got to visit the actual facility up on Howell Mountain. Fortunately for me — and now for you! — they have opened a tasting room in downtown Napa, making it a lot easier for all concerned except for maybe Chad, who still drives up the mountain to make their extraordinary wine.
The downside to the tasting room is that it is quite off the beat-and-track. Although technically downtown, it is located in a small building essentially surrounded with some of the more downtrodden Victorians (although there is hope as signs of renovation abound). An additional note on the tasting room; because of its slightly remote location, it is technically appointment-only, Tuesdays through Saturday. Although Rachel Miller, their manager, assures me that she tries her best to never turn anyone away.
The day of my visit was a special open house so there were some munchies and Ms. Lynn Craig there to welcome visitors. Rachel advised me that normally the table is set-up for a more informative sit-down tasting which is always complimentary (yet another rarity in Napa!). And knowing my penchant for mountain wines, how could I not be impressed…
2002 Syrah – Rich, sweet aromas of smoke and bacon with a tease of mint. Chocolate taste at first, then dark fruit streaks of blueberry, blackberry, and plum. Rachel explained this was a the blend of two vineyards; a cool Los Olivos and a warmer Paso Robles. Being younger than I normally drink Syrah, I was impressed that it already showed supple, smooth characteristics. Medium-bodied, it was not over-the-top with heat or alcohol, but already well-developed. $28.00
2000 Affinity – Their name for the Bordeaux blends that are made, which are mostly Cabernet Sauvignon. In this case 76% Cabernet, 22% Merlot, and 2% Petite Verdot. The wine displayed some dark, twiggy, rustic brambleberry aromas with a whisper of chocolate. Initially sweet on the entry, an earthy core was balanced with dark blueberry and a rich, long, silky finish. Sold Out
2001 Affinity - 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and 2% Pertite Verdot. Intensely rich dark core of blackberry and smoke with a hint of sweetness on the back of the nose. Tight entry blossoms to show bright, engaging fruit with some oak and a currant finish. $Available only as part of a vertical
2002 Affinity – Over-the-top black fruit with tones of black licorice. Bright, sweet entry is concentrated with layers of herbs. Darker finish with a touch of cocoa. $40.00
2002 Mt. Veeder Cabernet – 97% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Merlot, and 1% Cabernet Franc. Classic Veeder with tons of dark cherry, leather, and tobacco. A touch of hot twig and herbs showing the wine’s youth. Mouth entry has tons of up-front fruit with flavors of dark cherry and cranberry. $50.00
2002 Howell Mountain Cabernet – Purple in color, spice dominates the intense dark fruit aromas. Silky smooth entry is velvety and rich with developed structure and perfectly balanced tannins. Supple. Wine club members only.
Robert Craig Wine Cellars ~ 880 Vallejo Street ~ Napa ~ CA ~ 94559 ~ 707-252-2250