The debut vintage of Samantha's Cabernet Sauvignon is full bodied and powerful. There are noticeable hints of red currant, black plum, crème de cassis, and blackberry. The palate expresses vanilla, clove, sandalwood and red stone. A massive mid-palate ends with graphite, vanilla, and notes of ripe tobacco. Large and strong Cabernet Sauvignon tannins give way to the finish. This wine will age nicely for thirteen to eighteen years.
Rudd winery was established in 1996, when Leslie Rudd purchased the 54-acre estate in Oakville. Since the purchase, Mr. Rudd has made extensive renovations to the property, to include a complete replanting of the vineyards to close-spaced, red Bordeaux varietals and the expansion and renovation of the winery, including custom-designed tanks and a gentle, gravity-flow system. In addition, 22,000 square feet of caves have been dug below the winery to provide ideal aging conditions. In April 2002, Charles Thomas joined the Rudd team as Director of Vineyards and Winemaking. Charles brings to Rudd over 25 years of winemaking and vineyard experience. Along with the proprietary red wine from Oakville, Rudd will continue to produce small quantities of Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc and Bacigalupi Vineyard Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley.
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It's hard not to think of Napa Valley when thinking of California wines. The region is, after all, the one that brought world recognition to California wine making. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux Blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Within the Napa Valley lie smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two is St.-Helena and finally, just granted an AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap and Mount Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Fruity
Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.