Clos Du Val Reserve Zinfandel 2001
Clos Du Val, French for “small vineyard estate of a small valley,” was founded in 1972, an era that wine writer Hugh Johnson referred to as “the turning point in modern wine history.” Two years before, the Goelet family tasked talented French-born winemaker Bernard Portet with finding vineyard land, anywhere in the world, capable of producing a world-class Cabernet Sauvignon.
Clos Du Val’s legendary debut Cabernet Sauvignon was one of only six California Cabernets selected for the famous 1976 Judgment of Paris Tasting, where California defeated some of Bordeaux’s finest wines. Ten years later, Clos Du Val’s reputation for creating some of Napa Valley's most gracefully age-worthy wines was solidified, when its 1972 Cabernet Sauvignon took first place in the Judgment of Paris rematch.
Still family-owned today, Clos Du Val farms 220 acres of estate vineyards in the Stags Leap District, and Yountville appellations and continues to craft wines of balance and complexity, showcasing the fruit from the outstanding terroir on which the estate lies.
Legend has it that quick and nimble stags would escape the indigenous hunters of southern Napa Valley through the landmark palisades that sit just northeast of the current city of Napa. As a result, the area was given the name, Stags Leap. While its grape-growing history dates back to the mid-1800s, winemaking didn’t really take off until the mid-1970s after a small but pivotal blind tasting called the Judgement of Paris.
When a 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon won first place against its high-profile Bordeaux contenders, like Chateau Mouton Rothschild and Chateau Haut-Brion, international attention to the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley escalated rapidly.
The vineyards in this one-of-a-kind wine growing region receive hot afternoon air reflecting off of its eastern palisade formation. In combination with the cool evening breezes from the San Pablo Bay just south, this becomes an optimal environment for grape growing. While many varieties could thrive here, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot dominate with virtually no others, save for a spot or two of Syrah.
Stags Leap soils—eroded volcanic and old river sediments—encourage well established root systems and result in complex, terroir-driven wines. Stags Leap District reds have a distinct sour cherry and black berry character with baking spice and dried earth aromas, and supple tannins.
Unapologetically bold, spice-driven and jammy, Zinfandel has secured it’s title as the darling of California vintners by adapting well to the states’ diverse microclimates and landscapes. Born in Croatia, it later made its way to southern Italy where it was named Primitivo. Fortunately, the imperial nursery of Vienna catalogued specimens of the vine, which sourced a journey to New England in 1829. Parading the true American spirit, Zinfandel found a new home in California during the Gold Rush of 1849. Somm Secret—California's ancient vines of Zinfandel are those that survived the neglect of Prohibition; today these vines produce the most concentrated, ethereal and complex examples.