Tuesday, December 20, 2011

White Rock Vineyards Revisited

White Rock Vineyards is a wonderful winery you absolutely must visit if you are serious about wine.  Their wines are among the finest in Napa Valley at nearly half the price.  They also have wine caves and a great tour conducted by either the owner or the winemaker.  A prior appointment is absolutely essential! Please respect this and do not drop in on them unexpectedly without an appointment.


Please see our previous report at:   Previous White Rock Report


Henry and Bill at White Rock tasting bar

In February of 2011, I wrote a review for White Rock Vineyards and declared it our favorite winery after some forty years of visiting wineries.  My friend and I decided to return December 20, 2011 because another friend from out of state wanted to visit, and because we wanted to purchase more wine from White Rock.  This is a very small, family winery whose wines are not available at most wine stores.  The owner runs the winery.  One son manages the vineyard.  The other is the winemaker who studied in France.  His daughter is a cheese maker. They have a great membership program that allows you to purchase wines at a discount with free shipping.  My friend joined their wine club even though he picks up the wine and does not benefit from the free shipping. 



White Rock barrel room in wine cave
 
I continue to love their White Rock 2008 Chardonnay, which is white Burgundy in style without too much oak or excessive malolactic conversion.  ($30 for the 2008).  The White Rock 2006 Claret is one of the most pleasant and drinkable Bordeaux blends I have encountered.  ($36 for the 2006) The White Rock 2006 Malbec at $25 is good, more French in style than Argentine.  All of the cabs are very good to outstanding and quite reasonably priced for Napa Cabs.  ($45 to $75) The White Rock Syrah is well worth investigating.  White Rock Vineyards is next to Stag’s Leap District.  They have white volcanic rock on a higher level that stresses out Cab vines and a lower area of their vineyard where Chardonnays do well.




White Rock wine bottles stored in wine cave



This New Years eve we chose a bottle of White Rock 2004 "Laureate" Cabernet Sauvignon  as our wine to celebrate the New Year.  (It went well with Italian food.)  In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon, this has 20% Cabernet Franc and 5% combined Merlot and Petit Verdot.  It is a $50 wine that tastes as good as most selling for twice that price.  This cab needs some time to open up, however, so give it several hours in a decanter.  Once it was given some time, I got lush ripe blackberries, a hint of vanilla with a great mouthfeel and a long finish.  This is a substantial wine but not one of those huge, in your face Napa Cabs.  This one has nuance and subtlety.  I think it will cellar nicely.  We could have picked any from a large selection of premium wines we had available, but this is the one we chose to celebrate our New Year!


Door to wine caves

We love all of the wines at White Rock!  It is a small family run winery and remains a favorite of the several hundred wineries we have visited.  As with all small, family run wineries with limited production, reservations are needed but can be obtained by phone or email.  Please do not show up at this small winery without an appointment. And please do not take advantage of their complimentary tour and tasting without making a reasonable purchase of their wines. This applies to any small, family owned, appointment only winery and is common courtesy.  These small wineries are for serious wine lovers and not for those who simply want to visit as many wineries as they can.  We purchased nearly a case of wine the first time we visited White Rock and over a case on subsequent visits.


White Rock Vineyard

White Rock Vineyards
1115 Loma Vista Drive
Napa, CA 94558
(707) 257-7922 Prior appointment absolutely essential.
Date of return visit:  December 29, 2011

Addendum April 8, 2012:  We drank a bottle of the White Rock 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon ($50).  Although it is nearly ten years old, it still needed air and some time to open up.  This was a very good Cab and will continue to improve with time, but we preferred the White Rock 2004 and 2005 Cabernet Sauvignons at the same price and especially the White Rock 2003 Cave Hill Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon at $85.

Addendum August 22, 2012: We continue visit and to purchase White Rock wines.  I had three bottles of the White Rock 2009 Chardonnay but did not like it as well as the 2008; it tasted softer, rounder and more buttery to me.  We also had a White Rock 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Laureate Reserve that was sensational!  It has only recently been released.  That is a 2005 being released in 2012.  It is one of the finest Cabs I've ever had.

Addendum August 15, 2013:  Another visit to White Rock so added some photos to this post.  I love every White Rock Cabernet Sauvignon I've tasted and especially love their Reserves, although they only offer the Reserves certain years. Same on their Cab blend, the Claret.  My favorite Chardonnays have been the 2008 and 2010.  The 2009 was slightly too buttery for me and the 2011 was slightly sweeter.  These are fairly subtle differences, though.  If you like your Chards with more malolatic conversion, you might want to try their Reserve Chardonnay.  Prices as of this date are $30 for the Chardonnay, $40 for the Claret, $50 for the Laureate Cabernet Sauvignon $52 for the Reserve Chardonnay and $100 for the Reserve but they are all sold out.  White Rock wines continue to be excellent values for this quality of wine. We really love the winery, the people and the wines and can never visit often enough.






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