Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Robert Craig Winery

If you love terroir driven red wines, especially Cabs, you will find Robert Craig wines to be exceptionally good with much character.  Robert Craig has been referred to as a Napa Valley “mountain man.”  He produces Cabernet Sauvignon from some of the highest areas above Napa Valley, including Mt. Veeder and Howell Mountain.  Robert Craig Winery is located up on Howell Mountain at 2300 feet and was opened in 2002, but they have a very modern looking tasting room in Napa near Central Valley Builders Supply.  The tasting room is open by appointment and charges $20 for a tasting.  Short notice appointments are sometimes available if they are not too  busy, so if you are in the area, and love serious red wines,  be sure to call them and they might be able to accommodate you for a tasting.  Our host was friendly and helpful.

Entry to tatting room

Robert Craig Cabs are noted for their emphasis on terroir, each wine having the unique characteristics of the soil, microclimate, vines, etc. where they are grown.  They are also well known for their consistently high quality red wines.  These are serious wines intended for those who really love red wine.  It is not a place I’d take my elderly parents from the Midwest or a friend whose favorite wine was white Zinfandel.  There are many wineries that cater to casual tourists and people who are not really into wine, but this is not one of those places. Nobody in Napa Valley makes bad wines, so if you don’t like a flight of wines at a winery then you probably went to the wrong winery for your particular taste. If you love serious Cabs, you will want to visit Robert Craig Winery and other small mountain wineries, especially those on Spring Mountain, Mt. Veeder and Howell Mountain. 

Tasting bar

Our tasting began with the Robert Craig 2010 Durell Vineyard Chardonnay at $48.  It has no malolactic conversion and is a good fresh, crisp wine with just a hint of oak.  This was followed by the Robert Craig 2008 Affinity at $50 which is a Bordeaux type Cab.  It was a good cab with some cherry on the palate and mellow tannins.  A step up was the Robert Craig 2008 Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon for $70.  This is not too big at all for a mountain cab.  It had some blackberry with nice fruit and soft, integrated tannins and a long finish.  I don’t think it will cellar that long, so drink it soon.  Possibly even better was the Robert Craig 2008 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon at $80, a darker fruit cab with some spice and smooth tannins.  At only $50 the Robert Craig 2009 Howell Mountain Zinfandel from Black Sears Vineyard was very nice and possibly our favorite for the money.  It is a bright Zin but still smooth with good Zin spice.  Quite good for only $30 was the Robert Craig 2009 Mt. George Cuvee which is a Cab, Merlot, Cab Franc, and Petit Verdot blend.

Tasting lounge

Robert Craig wines do not overwhelm you with huge, late picked, super ripe Cabs.  They are more about complexity and subtlety.  If you are an experienced Cab lover, you will certainly want to visit them and you will undoubtedly want to make some purchases.

625 Imperial Way
Napa, CA 94559
(707) 252-2250
Date of Visit: March 7, 2012 

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