Napa Weekend: Keplinger Wines
Rather than saving the best for last as wineries would at a tasting, I decided to start off with my personal best pick for the entire weekend in Napa. Finding this wine was purely coincidental and I would have to thank Scott Tracy at La Toque for pairing the 2006 Keplinger Red Slope Grenache with the Liberty Farm Duck Breast to bring out the best in both the wine and the duck. Since I’ve been on the Spanish wine kick for a little while now, this just seems appropriate.
Keplinger is a small wine project of Helen Keplinger and Douglas Warner, DJ as his friend know him. Helen is UC Davis educated in enology and was thoroughly immersed in Spanish wine, food and culture during a winery venture in the Priorat region of Spain . In her travels with her husband, Douglas, they have visited southern France, the Languedoc, and the Rhone giving them the inspiration for their current two releases, 2006 Red Slope Grenache and 2006 Kingpin Rows Syrah. At only 85 cases produced, the Kingpin Rows Syrah is already sold out. But there are still some availability of the 162 cases of the Red Slope Grenache that I tasted at La Toque. It was the hit of the evening if not the entire weekend for me. The Red Slope Grenache is 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah. The Grenache is grown and actively farmed by the winemaker on a sloping block of a small mountain vineyard with red clay soils in Knight’s Valley, giving this wine its name, concentrated color and distinctive flavors of ripe cherry, raspberry and fragrant floral aromas.
Our Sunday visit with DJ at Cuvaison Estate Wines where they are making their small production was very spur-of-the-moment and serendipitous. DJ brought two cases of the Grenache and I purchased 6 bottles at $58 each. We also had the opportunity to barrel sample some of their upcoming releases including the 2007 Grenache, 2007 Syrah, a Mourvèdre/Grenache/Carignan co-fermented blend and a wonderful tasting, inky purple Petite Sirah. Announcements of these releases are scheduled for late July. I look forward to tasting the final products and someday meeting the winemaker, herself.