Thursday, August 23, 2007

Tasting Panel: Aug. 14-16 Schweiger of Spring Mountain

Schweiger.JPG

Schweiger Vineyards lie near the summit of Napa's Spring Mountain at an elevation of 2,000 feet. The vineyards were planted in 1981 and for the first ten years the estate's owners were solely grape growers. They started producing their own wines with the 1994 vintage. The wines undergo extended barrel aging.

1. Spring Mountain (Napa) Chardonnay, Schweiger Vineyards 2005 ($30 suggested)
100% Chardonnay. Picked at 26.2 Brix through mid-October. Aged in 100% French oak on its lees for 9 months. 3.51 pH. 0.64 g/100ml Total Acidity. 15.3% Alcohol.

2. Spring Mountain (Napa) Merlot, Schweiger Vineyards 2002 ($38.00 suggested)
100% Merlot. Aged 22 months in a mix of new and old American and French oak. 13.7% Alcohol.

3. Spring Mountain (Napa) Cabernet Sauvignon, Schweiger Vineyards 2002 ($48.00 suggested)
100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged 32 months in a combination of new and old American and French oak. 14.5% Alcohol.

4. Sonoma Sauvignon Blanc “Uboldi Vineyards”, Schweiger Vineyards 2005 ($20.00 suggested)
100% Sauvignon Blanc from purchased fruit grown in a vineyard in Kenwood planted with 12-year-old vines. Barrel-fermented in 3-5 year-old French oak. Malolactic was blocked. Aged 4 months on the lees, with bi-weekly lees stirring. 13.8% Alcohol

5. Spring Mountain (Napa) Cabernet Sauvignon “Port VI”, Schweiger Vineyards NV 375ml ($50 suggested)
The sixth release of this unique 100% Cabernet Sauvignon Port-style wine. From 11-19 year-old vines planted in estate vineyards in Spring Mountain at 2,000 feet elevation. Harvested at 27.5 Brix. During fermentation at about 12 Brix a traditional alambic brandy of Pinot Noir/Chenin Blanc is added in to stop fermentation. The Port-style wines produced over the past several years are aged in barrels solera style and different vintages are blended for each release. Five barrels were produced for this release. 19.5% Alcohol.

Judgment/Comments:
Sonoma Sauvignon Blanc “Uboldi Vineyards”, Schweiger Vineyards 2005
Thumbs Up: 57%
Thumbs Down: 43%
Pros: Nice fruit, clean, citrus, good acidity, decent value
Cons: Lean, too herbal

Spring Mountain (Napa) Chardonnay, Schweiger Vineyards 2005
Thumbs Up: 45%
Thumbs Down: 55%
Pros: Delicate, smooth, tangy, good balance, full, refreshing, mineral
Cons: High acid, tart, bit alcoholic

Spring Mountain (Napa) Merlot, Schweiger Vineyards 2002
Thumbs Up: 50%
Thumbs Down: 50%
Pros: Good aroma, good balance, full-bodied, smooth, rich, good fruit, balance, very nice Merlot
Cons: Not a lot fruit, tannic, thin, too dry, flat

Spring Mountain (Napa) Cabernet Sauvignon, Schweiger Vineyards 2002
Thumbs Up: 45%
Thumbs Down: 55%
Pros: Good balance, good color
Cons: Not much fruit, not good value, hard, too oaky, cheap vanilla

Spring Mountain (Napa) Cabernet Sauvignon “Port VI”, Schweiger Vineyards NV
Thumbs Up: 71%
Thumbs Down: 29%
Pros: Delicious sweetness
Cons: Bitter, not balance, not complex

Conclusions:
1. This tasting panel drew a good and enthusiastic crowd apparently due to the high reputation of Spring Mountain wines and the extended range of wines to be evaluated in the tasting.

2. The tasting panel results show no clear consensus, hence this was a difficult tasting panel to assess.

3. In general, the expectations for Schweiger's wines were high as shown by the enthusiastic turnout. Thus, it's somewhat of a disappointment for the wines to elicit just about a 50-50 response between pros and cons.

4. Schweiger's location and history at the top of Spring Mountain in Napa make it an elite wine estate. However, the wines evaluated clearly were not representative of the estate's excellent potential. Surely, the estate has produced much better quality, particularly in terms of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.


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