Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mini Vertical #8: Steltzner Claret

Steltzner's Claret is, in my opinion, one of Napa's great values. In a region where the entry price for decent cab is usually over 50 bucks, Steltzner continues to surprise with such a well made wine at this price point. Unfortunately the Opimian catalogue did not offer the Claret this year, but I had two vintages from previous offerings for a blinded "Mini Vertical" to pair with pepper steak:

The 2004 Steltzner Claret (Napa) was minty violets and ripe blackberries on the nose, with some liquorice, pepper, vanilla and green vegetal notes as well. Beautifully textured with decent acidity, velvety tannins, and a nice long finish, but showing the heat of the alcohol. The more ageworthy of the two, it should keep for a few more years but fine today.
cork. 14.5% alcohol
Score: 16.5/20
Price: C$28 (Opimian)

The 2005 Steltzner Claret (Napa) was meaty and leathery on the nose, dark violets, liquorice, with fruit that smelled a touch older than the '04. Soft, silky tannins and nice dark fruit - simpler than the 2004, with a shorter finish. Drink now, short decant ok.
cork. 14.2% alcohol
Score: 16/20
Price: C$29 (Opimian)

Note that Steltzner fashions this wine using grapes (Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Merlot) from other suppliers and not estate-grown grapes. With high prices for Napa Valley Cabernet, I wonder how long the Steltzner folks will be able to keep a lid on the price?

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