Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Sempre Vive Vertical Pairing Dinner
Recently the St. Louis Wine Club had a vertical pairing dinner for '02-'06 Sempre Vive.
The 2004 was the overwhelming favorite, followed by a tie on the 2003 and 2005. Aside from the 2002, all were given about an hour and a half of air in the glass until we ate. The 2005 continued to open up and was best at about 2.5-3 hours. Here's the information I provided along with the vintage reports:
"Romeo Vineyards produces elegant and enduring wines from vines forty-two years old which reside south of a nine acre reservoir in Calistoga, California within the Napa Valley. The two forested knolls which surround the vineyard provide the geographical conditions that foster an extremely long hang time. This allows our grapes to develop full flavors, deep color and intense complexity. Often we have early morning fog, even in the summer. The earlier it dissipates, the hotter the day we can expect. In addition, we dry farm with only overhead frost protection.
Our oldest block totals seventeen acres and was planted in 1971. The clone was unknown and so good that we have had it cleaned up and had Mother vines made at UC Davis where they are in the FPMS Block. Duarte's Nursery is keeping a majority of our Mother vines for us to bench graft in order to replace our old vines as they may need replacing someday. The clone is named after our son, Albie Romeo, who also crafted the name of our wines, Sempre Vive, meaning "always alive". The vineyard is comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon clone #337, Cabernet Sauvignon #7, Petit Verdot Merlot, and Malbec. Our vines look like little old men, bent and gnarled. These thick gnarled old vines produce from their hearts. The vineyard is also and ecological sanctuary. We welcome and preserve the homes of Blue Herons, Egrets, and the Red Kit Fox along with an abundance of other wildlife native to the area. It’s a peaceful unity between nature and our vines.
NAPA VINTAGE REPORTS
The 2006 harvest finished in early November and will go down as a 'grower's year' as vintners were faced with a variety of challenges from New Year flooding to wet weather that continued late into spring delaying budbreak. By early June, the sun came out and vines began to bloom and set fruit. Mid-July presented a record-setting ten day heat wave, but the canopy had not yet been thinned because of the delayed season and young clusters were shaded from the hot sun. Most growers agreed that the heat helped catch the vines up to a "normal" place in the growing season. Somewhat cooler weather arrived in August and continued throughout harvest, allowing for moderately paced and deliberate ripening and a long harvest period. Cool weather dominated early October, with rain coming in the first week, but the white varieties were in and this presented no damage to the black varieties still on the vine.
Winter rains took pause for a dry, mild March then began again with record-setting precipitation late into the growing season delaying bloom and set. The summer months were cool and pleasant with few heat spikes. Fog and cool temperatures were a concern heading into September as sugar levels were yet to rise in all varieties. Warm, nearly perfect conditions arrived with an Indian Summer making for a later than average harvest, providing winemakers with fruit with extended hang and ultimately realizing excellent sugar development and balanced acids with a larger than average crop of what could be a signature vintages from Napa Valley.
Bud break occurred earlier than many vintners could remember and the trend carried forward throughout the growing season. Heat spikes occurred in June and at scattered intervals throughout the summer season. Grapes completed veraison early and ripeness with well developed sugars in all varieties was realized early. Growers held on as acid balance eventually caught up. Temperatures were steady into one of the earliest harvests in Napa Valley. Grape quality was very good with a crop that was smaller than average.
The unpredictable nature of the 2003 growing season began with a series of early heat spikes in March, followed by the wettest April on record. A long cool summer allowed the fruit flavors to evolve beautifully ahead of the sugar accumulation. Heat spikes in September helped move the harvest forward after many felt it would be a late year.
The 2002 vintage will be remembered by a long, mostly mild growing season, followed by warm weather near the end of September that pushed the ripening level upward, concentrated fruit flavors and condensed the harvest. An early April frost and May rains gave way to a mild summer with ideal growing conditions - warm days and cool, even cold, nights. Overall, the grape crop was balanced, showing excellent intense colors and flavor concentrations. While per-acre tonnage was generally lower than average, the overall yield of the entire Napa Valley appellation was average to above average."