In The Press
2011 Stony Hill Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($60, 13%): Stony Hill’s Cabernet can be lean at times, but the 2011 vintage played to its style: a short fermentation, aging in mostly old oak and an 18-month stay in bottle before release. Heady with Darjeeling tea, tart redcurrant and sweet cherry fruit, and the slightest hint of a beef-bouillon richness.
Stony Hill Vineyard has always flown in the face of tradition: the founders, Eleanor and Fred McCrea, were among the first vintners to plant chardonnay grapes in the Napa Valley in modern times, although experts warned them the varietal would not thrive. The couple was also determined to make a fruity, non-malolactic, Burgundian-style wine, with just a hint of oak. They succeeded, creating lovely, Chablis-style chardonnays, which can actually spend time in the bottle without losing quality. Small production means these wines are not as easy to find as their bold, big-oak cousins, but they are well worth the search.