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Sunday, April 17, 2011

A visit with Silver Oak and Twomey Wineries

Silver Oak is a well-known and established high-end Cabernet producer.  They also own Twomey Cellars using this label to produce other wines besides Cab.  The owners invited a number of wine bloggers to a special tasting and lunch.   So this is a full disclosure in that a group of us were being wined and dined in the hopes that we'd write about the wines. 
From the Oakville Estate in Napa
looking upvalley

Silver Oak was probably the first cult wine in that they had a very loyal following that was willing to pay more than your typical price for wine.  With the wine biz being so trendy Silver Oak fell out of favor with the "cultists" but they still have a large following as their release parties are big weekends in Napa.

We tasted through all of the Silver Oak and Twomey just released or soon to be released wines. 

From Twomey:

2010 Napa Sauvignon Blanc
A good balance of fruit and acid, a bit full-bodied and creamy for a SB.  Maybe made to appeal to Chardonnay drinkers--perhaps people who see SB as too tart or too thin may find this one to their liking.  A very good food wine (as are most Sauv Blancs).

2009 Bien Nacido Santa Maria Pinot Noir
Soft, subtle, rich fruitiness, with nice mouth-feel and texture.  An easy drinker with or without food.  A very good wine.

2009 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
Distinctly floral nose, bright red fruits, bright acid, delicate, finished dry. On the austere side compared to the others, but not overly austere as it's very well balanced.  Delicacy, elegance and balance in a glass.  An excellent example of what California Pinot can be.

2009 Russian River Pinot Noir
Fuller-boded than the others, softer finish.  More powerful and a bit sweeter on the nose and in the mouth.

2009 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
Spicy, tart fruits with noticeable acids, medium-bodied, a nice richness. Great balance. Another outstanding Pinot.

2006 Napa Valley Merlot
Licorice on the nose. Black fruits, medium body, medium depth, and medium complexity.  An average Merlot.

The Sauv Blanc retails for $25, the Pinots and Merlot for $50.

From Silver Oak:

2006 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Soft, fruity, a sweet nose, a bit of oak, thick and rich, harmonious. Easy to drink now.  A slightly better-than-average Alexander Valley Cab.

2006 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Spicy, fresh fruit, balanced, nice finished. Compared to the AV Cab this one is more structured and more complex.  Outstanding.  This wine shows why Napa Valley is famous for Cabernet.  You can drink this one now or wait a few years.

The AV Cab retails for $70, the NV for $100.


Thoughts on Twomey:

Well-made and balanced wines across the board.  It's very refreshing to find Pinot Noir that isn't overwrought and alcoholic.  The Santa Maria, Sonoma Coast, and Anderson Valley Pinots were all very good--great balance and structure.  The Russian River less so, but this one will appeal to people who like big Pinots, even though this one isn't--as all their Pinots run 13.x% alcohol. Impressive wines. They are young (2009s) so they'll change over time.

The Sauvignon Blanc is a solid wine and gets extra points for coming in a screw cap closure.  The Merlot was disappointing.

Thoughts on Silver Oak:

A huge difference between the two appellations!  Each will appeal to different crowds, but there's no doubt in my mind (for what that's worth) the Napa Cab is just about as good as it gets.

Overall impressions

The wines are clean, well-made, and balanced.  Balance can be hard to find these days as so many California winemakers, for reasons that escape me, keep pushing the envelope on ripeness to make fruit-juicy, sweet, alcoholic, unbalanced wines that turn into an undrinkable port-like substance a year or two after release.  The Twomey and Silver Oak red wines can be consumed now or a few years down the road--not an easy task to accomplish.  Yes, the prices are a bit higher than average, but so is the quality.