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W.H. Smith Piedra Hill Cabernet Sauvignon Purple Label 2004

Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, California
  • WE94
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Winemaker Notes

Both the color and the nose scream 'plums'! Dark intense fruit and jam-packed plum aromas let you know that you're onto something special. On the palate, there is great density to the fruit. The deep blackberry fruit, the bright acidity and the firm tannins spread out all over your mouth.

This is a red meat wine! Especially a juicy barbequed steak or grilled Saratoga lamb chops. Really any grilled or smoked foods will work well with the intensity of Purple Label. Don't forget to finish your meal with some dark chocolate – maybe a warm truffle cake.

Critical Acclaim

WE 94
Wine Enthusiast

The wine is owned by the Smiths, who started La Jota and know from Howell Mountain Cabernet. Judging from the last few bottlings, it's off to a promising start. Dry, rich and balanced, fruit is the star here, with explosive blackberries and cherries, while 100% new oak adds lush layers of cedar and smoke.

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W.H. Smith

W.H. Smith

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W.H. Smith, , California
W.H. Smith
Luck and timing led Bill and Joan Smith into the wine business: enthusiasm, perseverance, and good advice from a few talented friends facilitated their success as world-class producers. A wrong turn while trying to visit Chappellet Vineyard led Bill Smith to discover and purchase the historic ghost winery, La Jota Vineyard Co., including 40 acres on top of Howell Mountain in the Napa Valley. Two years later, in 1976, Bill and his new wife, Joan, spent their honeymoon planting the first 2 acres of vines, which would grow to 28 acres by 1978. After a few classes in home winemaking at UC Davis, a lot of experimenting, and some priceless mentoring from friend and Howell Mountain neighbor Randy Dunn, the Smith’s produced La Jota Vineyard’s first Cabernet Sauvignon vintage in 1982. With Bill making the wine and Joan responsible for sales and marketing, the couple garnered attention and accolades—including being listed as #2 on Robert Parker’s roster of "heroes" in the December 1994 issue of The Wine Advocate.

Willamette Valley

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One of Pinot Noir’s most successful New World outposts...

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One of Pinot Noir’s most successful New World outposts, the Willamette Valley is the largest and most important AVA in Oregon. With a temperate climate moderated by Pacific Ocean influence, it is perfect for cool-climate viticulture—warm and dry summers allow for steady, even ripening, and frost is rarely a risk during spring and even winter. Mountain ranges bordering three sides of the valley, particularly the Chehalem Mountains, provide the option for higher-elevation, cooler vineyard sites. The three prominent soil types here create significant difference in wine styles between vineyards and sub-AVAs—the iron-rich, basalt-based Jory volcanic soils found commonly in the Dundee Hills are rich in clay and holds water well; the chalky, sedimentary soils of Ribbon Ridge, Yamhill-Carlton, and McMinnville encourage complex root systems as vines struggle to search for water and minerals; and the silty loess found in the Chehalem Mountains, somewhere in between the other two in texture, is fertile and well-draining but erodes easily, creating challenges for growers but necessitating careful vineyard management.

The celebrated Pinot Noir of the Willamette Valley typically offers supple red fruit, especially cranberry, without the powerful punch often packed by its California counterparts. Elegance is paramount here, and fruit flavors are balanced by forest floor, wild mushroom, and dried herbs—much more in line with Burgundian examples of the variety. Chardonnay too takes its inspiration from the French motherland, focusing on tart, crisp fruit and minerality, rarely relying upon heavy new oak. Pinot Gris here is fleshy and bright, and Riesling is dry, aromatic, and citrus-focused.

Pinot Noir

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One of the most difficult yet rewarding grapes to grow...

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One of the most difficult yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is commonly referred to by winemakers as the “heartbreak grape.” However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. More reflective than most varieties of the land on which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality, and demands care in the vineyard and lots of attention in the winery. It is an important component of Champagne and the only variety permitted in red Burgundy. Pinot Noir enjoys immense popularity internationally, most notably in Oregon, California, and New Zealand.

In the Glass

Pinot Noir Is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry, and cherry. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and lively acidity. It ranges in body from very light to the heavier side of medium, typically landing somewhere in the middle—giving it extensive possibilities for food pairing. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount), it can develop hauntingly beautiful characteristics of fresh earth, autumn leaves, and truffles.

Perfect Pairings

Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon, ocean trout, and tuna. Its mild mannered tannins don’t fight with spicy food, and give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry—chicken, quail, and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, it can even match with heavier fare. Pinot Noir is also very vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.

Sommelier Secret

Pinot Noir is dangerously drinkable, highly addictive, and has a bad habit of emptying the wallet. Look for affordable but still delicious examples from Germany (as Spätburgunder), Italy (as Pinot Nero), Chile, New Zealand, and France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions.

DRSPIEDRA_2004 Item# 103512

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