Napa Weekend: Provenance & Hewitt Vineyards
I wasn’t sure how I was going to present all the information on the places I visited in Napa until I got inspired to write about them. Seems like I’m writing about them in the order from most impressed to most disappointed, so I’ll go with that. Since I ended up buying 4 bottles of the 2005 Hewitt Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, I must have been fairly impressed with the wine. Well, that and the fact that I got it at half-price. As far as the tasting experience goes, it wasn’t much to get excited about.
Since both Hewitt Vineyards and Provenance Vineyards are owned by Diageo Wines, they share a common tasting room. The tasting room itself was fairly crowded the day we visited and was sized and decorated much like any other nondescript tasting room in Napa. Branded trinkets for sale were displayed throughout the place and the bar itself could have come straight out of a Holiday Inn lobby. Nothing impressive but functional and inexpensive by comparison to some of the wineries we visited.
Provenance’s lineup included a Sauvignon Blanc, several Merlots, a couple of Cabernet Sauvignons and a port. Of the wines they poured that day, none of the Provenance wines were memorable and reminded me of their tasting room—nothing impressive but functional. However, for the price point they were selling at—$20-26 for their whites and $40-75 for their reds—I want it to be much more than what I get with wines at half that price. Their wines failed to deliver.
Moving to Hewitt Vineyards’ lineup, I was immediately impressed with the jump in quality. Of course, with it came the jump in price. Hewitt only produces Cabernet Sauvignon and we had the opportunity to taste a vertical from 2003 to the current 2005 vintage. All have been highly rated with several accolades. All were enormously big wines, but for me, the 2005 was the best and actually least expensive of the three. It had a much more refined finish and more elegant mouth feel than the others. Fragrant ripe fruit and oak on the nose with rich layers of plum, cassis and coffee on the palette. The finish is smooth with just the right amount of tannins and a little heat from the high 15.3% alcohol content.
With 4 bottles, I should be able to enjoy the further development of this wine over the next 5 or 6 years. Our friends, James and Kimberly bought a magnum and 2 750ml. bottles. John and Sonja bought two cases! Even at its normal price of $85, this wine is still worthwhile if you like big Cabs. At half-off, this was the bargain of the trip for a wine that received a 94 point rating from Wine Spectator and made #69 of their Top 100 of 2008.