The 1997 Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon redefines the style and standards that everyone has come to expect from von Strasser. 1997 was a long growing season, and the vineyards had a high cluster count of exceptionally tiny berries. The wines signature aromas of cassis, blackberry and chocolate jump out of the glass. The wine has a chewy and velvety tannin, the result of extended maceration during fermentation, a wonderful "sweetness" in the middle and great length. Although still early in its development, this wine has the potential of being one of the greatest von Strasser vintages.
Von Strasser Vineyards
Situated on Diamond Mountain in Napa Valley, the Von Strasser estate maintains six separate vineyards. When Rudy and Rita Von Strasser purchased the old Roddis Winery in 1990, the vineyards were planted in two stages. The oldest block, 2 acres in size, was planted in 1970 to budwood from Martha’s Vineyard. The second block, 4 acres in size, was planted in 1983, also with budwood from Martha’s Vineyard. In 1991, the von Strasser’s embarked upon a vineyard modernization, changing the entire vineyard to a high density, vertical trellis system. An acre of Petit Verdot was planted that year with an eye towards its future use in a unique Reserve bottling. In 1998, a new piece of hillside land was cleared and planted to vineyard. Today, the property consists of Cabernet Sauvignon (12 acres), Petit Verdot (2 acres), and Merlot (1 acre).
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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 & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.