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Napa Weekend: Reynolds Family Winery

2009 March 28

20090575The last winery we visited on our trip was a pleasant surprise. The Reynolds Family Winery is truly a family owned and operated winery. Steve Reynolds is the winemaker and his current releases include:

2006 Napa Valley Chardonnay
2006 Los Carneros Pinot Noir
2006 Russian River Pinot Noir
2005 Persistence™ Red Wine
2005 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
2005 Stags Leap District Reserve Cabernet

In their comfortable tasting room, we had the chance to taste all of these wines. The Chardonnay was a flavorful and rich tasting white with nice buttery overtones and good fruitiness. Both Pinot Noirs were nicely done, the Los Carneros tasted more like an Oregon Pinot with more mineral tastes and acidity while the Russian River tasted more typical of California Pinots. It was fruit-forward and very smooth. The Persistence and Estate Cab were good, but not very memorable and not so good that I wanted to buy any of it. The Stags Leap Reserve Cab was much better than I expected but the price point of $89 didn’t excite me.

James King with winemaker Steve Reynolds

James King with winemaker Steve Reynolds

There are several disadvantages to being the last winery of the day. The first problem is that, by that point, there is some palette fatigue. After all, I’ve tasted about 30 different wines that day and it’s hard to remember one over another. And even though I’ve been spitting throughout the day, the alcohol does eventually catch up with me. The other problem is that I’ve already bought quite a bit of wine by the end of the second day. I need to stay within my budget and within the luggage restrictions of the airline and our ability to lug these boxes around.

The final issue is one of reputation and prestige of the wines I can buy. If I have the opportunity to buy Cabernet Sauvignon from the premiere wine growing region for that varietal and my choices are all within $80 to $120 in price, how do I choose?

20090573

Note the purple teeth from a day of tasting.

My first criteria must be taste, but after tasting so many wonderful big Cabs, they begin to taste so much alike that taste becomes moot. The next is reputation and accolades. A wine that gets a higher rating in Wine Spectator or Wine Advocate will get considered before another of the same quality and similar taste but without any recognition. Especially if I know my tastes run similar to the critic’s. The final criteria often goes counter to reputation and accolades and that is the size of the winery. I like to patronize the small family wineries rather than the big corporate wineries, however, these small wineries are often small because they don’t get the recognition. And when they do, the price of their wines soars out of reach of most wine drinkers.

In the case of small wineries like Reynolds Family, I often don’t buy the dominant varietal. In Napa, that’s Cabernet Sauvignon. I hope that the small winery produces something else that is good. In this case they were lucky that I liked their Pinot Noir and they made a sale. In the end, I bought three bottles of the 2006 Russian River Pinot Noir which was a good buy at the industry discount price I received.

Copyright © 2009, Eric Hwang and BricksOfWine. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eric Hwang and BricksOfWine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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