Drink this wine by itself, with seafood, anything spicy, whether Asian or new world spices. Ii=t pairs with more foods than virtually any white variety.
Michael Havens, creator of Havens Wine Cellars, which he founded and ran from 1984 to 2008, is known as a champion of Merlot and Cabernet Franc in the Napa Valley. A desire to return to this tradition has led him back to a vineyard he knows well and a wine style he reveres. Much has changed in the Napa Valley and in Michael’s life, but Cave Dog continues his focus on graceful, elegant expressions of these varieties.
The Origin of Cave Dog
A number of people have asked me, what’s the story behind the name, Cave Dog? So here it is: Since 1983, I have had the privilege of sharing my space and running the vineyards with a family of Golden Retrievers. This began in 1978, when I met a marvelous Golden pup named Montrachet, owned by my friend John Williams at Glenora Winery in New York’s Finger Lakes region. John moved out with “Shay” to Napa Valley, founding Frog’s Leap Winery, and in 1983 I moved from teaching at UCLA to living in Napa and teaching at UC Davis. Shay’s first litter of pups (with mate Romanee) was too tempting, and in November of 1983, we brought lovely Gevrey Chambertin (“Shamber”) into our home. Since then, we’ve also had his pup Mazis Chambertin and his niece Beze in our lives. Beze is now 11 and still acting like a puppy.
Mazis often reminded his humans of dogs' wolfish origins by curling up in anything resembling a cave, and by rubbing his body up against everything in his home to "mark" it as his own. This lupine behavior led us to call him “cave dog.” One day I had Mazis in the winery, and he was getting into something he shouldn’t (as he often did), and I yelled over to him, “Hey Cave Dog, get over here!” One of my worthy cellar crew heard it and said, “’Cave Dog’? That’s a better name than ‘cellar rat’! I’m using that!” So it stuck: A Cave Dog is one who works in the wine cellar. But it always implies to me someone who explores the deep places and who, like a Golden Retriever, rejoices in being alive.
One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production as well as tourism, the Napa Valley was responsible for bringing worldwide recognition to California winemaking. In the 1960s, a few key wine families settled the area and hedged their bets on the valley's world-class winemaking potential—and they were right.
The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980s, when producers scooped up vineyard lands and planted vines throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, and today Napa is home to hundreds of producers ranging from boutique to corporate. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. White wines from Napa Valley are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that claim specific wine characteristics based on situation, slope and soil. Farthest south and coolest from the influence of the San Pablo Bay is Carneros, followed by Coombsville to its northeast and then Yountville, Oakville and Rutherford. Above those are the warm St. Helena and the valley's newest and hottest AVA, Calistoga. These areas follow the valley floor and are known generally for creating rich, dense, complex and smooth red wines with good aging potential. The mountain sub appellations, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs, include Stags Leap District, Atlas Peak, Chiles Valley (farther east), Howell Mountain, Mt. Veeder, Spring Mountain District and Diamond Mountain District. Napa Valley wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from a lot of time in the bottle to evolve and soften.
Bright and aromatic with distinctive floral and fruity characteristics, Albariño has enjoyed a surge in popularity and an increase in plantings over the last couple of decades. Thick skins allow it to withstand the humid conditions of its homeland, Rías Baixas, Spain, free of malady, and produce a weighty but fresh white. Somm Secret—Albariño claims dual citizenship in Spain and Portugal. Under the name Alvarinho, it thrives in Portugal’s northwestern Vinho Verde region, which predictably, borders part of Spain’s Rías Baixas.