The annual fund-raising futures auction for the Napa Valley Vintners trade association reached new heights on Saturday afternoon, breaking the $3 million mark for the first time since Premiere Napa Valley (PNV) began in 1997. Over 250 trade buyers traveled to the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley to taste and bid on 200 lots of unique Napa Valley wines crafted specifically for the event. Net proceeds are used to fund the promotion and protection of the Napa Valley wine appellation.
Saturday’s gross of nearly $3.1 million represented more than a 30% increase over last year’s record, signaling the growing demand for Napa Valley wine as well as a continued recovery in the luxury wine market.
Over the years, vintners have used the days surrounding the event as an opportunity to host the trade for private tastings and tours in a relaxed atmosphere. It’s a time for the trade and vintners to catch up and to discuss the wines one-on-one. Here are some notes from one such tasting at Chateau Boswell in St. Helena covering three distinct Napa Valley sub-appellations:
A Man Cave with a feminine touch
Well-known winemaker and consultant Celia Welch was on hand to pour her own brand Corra as well as some of her client’s brands. Her cult wine Scarecrow was not in this year’s auction. Her latest consultancy is for Jim Barbour, iconic vineyard manager for many of Napa Valley’s finest wines and a self-proclaimed ‘cave dweller.’ Barbour Vineyards’ Premiere Napa Valley lot was Man Cave III, a 100% cabernet sauvignon from St. Helena, but it’s not burley under Welch’s touch. Her wines have a refined and well-integrated tannin structure that gives presence, not merely power to the wines. Her signature style was influenced by advice given to her long ago. “My goal” she said, “is not to be liked, but to be respected.” Man Cave III was acquired by Meritage Wine Market in Encinitas, CA.
A tale of two terroirs
The Napa Valley wines of Derenoncourt California are single-vineyard expressions of Bordeaux varietals made by Helene Mingot. The Premier Napa Valley lot is a blend of two exceptional Howell Mountain vineyards, Ink Grade, high atop the mountain, and Las Posadas, facing west. Together, they make a pinnacle Howell Mountain cabernet sauvignon with 15% Stagecoach merlot for a touch of roundness. Derenoncourt fans and Howell Mountain fans can look forward to a Las Posadas cabernet wine in the future. The PNV lot was acquired by Nos Caves Vin in Houston.
Tokalon Vineyard in Oakville, first established by H.W. Crabb in the 19th century, is unarguably one of Napa Valley’s greatest vineyards. Chateau Boswell created a Tokalon cabernet sauvignon with the floral lift and softness of cabernet franc for their Premiere Napa Valley lot which was acquired by Cliffewood Wine Syndicate in Little Rock.
For more information on the one-of-a-kind Napa Valley wines and their successful bidders, visit www.premierenapawines.com