Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Charles Krug Winery

Charles Krug Winery was founded in 1861 by Charles Krug and is the oldest winery in Napa Valley.  From 1892 to 1943, it was owned by James Moffitt.  The Mondavi family purchased it in 1943 and the family of Peter Mondavi Sr. (brother to Robert Mondavi) continues to run it.   In 2010, they completed a nine year, 22 million dollar investment program with 400 of their 850 acres being replanted and new winemaking equipment being purchased. There is a lot more history, some of it very colorful. This is a winery with a lot of history and a landmark winery that everyone should visit if they love wine and are in the area.

One of the first premium Cabernets I ever tasted was a wonderful 1965 Charles Krug Cab.  We later had it along with the famous 1970 Beaulieu Vineyard Private Reserve Cab.  The Krug was a big, bold, rugged Cab that would age well or pair with food.  It needed some air.  The BV was in a much different style, more restrained and feminine like.  Krug and BV back then represented to us the two main styles of Napa Valley Cab.  I’ve tried other Krug Cabs over the years, but the 1965 was the most memorable.

Service was, relaxed, unpretentious and very friendly.  We began our tasting with the Charles Krug 2011 Sauvignon Blanc St. Helena ($18).  It had a very nice nose of citrus and was dry with citrus and a hint of melon like fruit on the palate plus a nice clean finish.  Next was the Charles Krug 2010 Carneros Chardonnay at $20 which has seen 27% malolactic conversion or MLF.  Lovely gold in the glass, it had some peach on the nose, with vanilla and peach on the palate. It was a good, well-balanced, very drinkable Chard.

Our reds began with the Charles Krug 2008 St. Helena Zinfandel which sells for $25.  In addition to the cherry on the palate, this had a very pronounced and welcome black and white pepper taste that use to be more common with Zins.  We really liked it and recommend you try it if you want to know what a peppery Zin tastes like.  The Charles Krug 2009 Merlot was fairly good, with blackberry on the palate and smooth tannins, but even better was the Charles Krug 2009 Yountville Cabernet Sauvignon at $27 which was a well-balanced, very drinkable Cab with some cherry on the nose and black fruit with well-integrated tannins on the palate.  It would be difficult to mistake this for anything but a Napa Valley Cab.  This was followed by a Charles Krug 2010 Limited Release Pinot Noir from Green Valley of Russian River, Dr. Galante Vineyard ($50).  After a pleasant cherry nose, I got some black cherry on the palate with good substance and a pleasant finish.  We would like to have tried the Vintage Selection Cab ($75) and the “Limited Release” Cabs but these were not available for tasting.

Charles Krug under the Peter Mondavi Family is a winery you really should read about and visit if you love wine and wine history.  In addition to the interesting history, they have some good, reasonably priced wines, very pleasant service and some intriguing limited reserve wines I’d like to explore some day.

2800 Main St.
St. Helena, CA 94574
Date of visit: July 25, 2012


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