From the Wine Shop
Young Inglewood, VENN, Napa Valley Red Blend Napa Valley, California 2019 (750mL)
VENN Wine Co. was founded in 2013 as a sister project to Saint Helena-based Young Inglewood. The Youngs keep a fairly low profile, despite (literally) rubbing elbows with some of Highway 29’s titans like Corison and Spottswoode. Both wineries share the same fruit sources, including their historic estate vineyard and other sites they farm themselves. Continuously under vine since the 1870s, their home site in Napa’s benchland is farmed for plant health and balance, using organic and regenerative practices, and allowing the mature Bordeaux varieties to fully ripen their grapes above the rich alluvial soil, replete with deep gravelly loam and fist-sized rocks. The balance of grapes for the blend comes from the nearby “Dos a Dos” vineyard, closer to Rutherford, previously and meticulously farmed organically by the aforementioned Steve Matthiasson.
Winemaking is fairly consistent and refreshingly low tech between the brands as well, save that the VENN wines are crafted for earlier drinking. Davis-trained Jacky makes no secret about the fact that she’s a Francophile, and is especially inspired by the recent waves of organic producers in the last 20 years; Scott, for his part, did harvests at Domaine Leflaive in Burgundy, and at neighboring Spottswoode and Long Meadow Ranch. Seeking freshness, the duo harvested grapes across a three-week period which began in late August. The different varieties go into stainless steel tanks for primary native fermentation and spend an incredible 3-4 weeks on the skins for structure and texture. Twenty months in used French oak serves to further integrate and round out the wine. Minimal sulfur and racking and no fining or filtration help keep the wine bright and fresh. Merlot (40%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (31%) provide the focus and depth with Cabernet Franc (18%) and Malbec (11%) rounding out the remainder, with plummy fruit, spice, and herbs.
“Purity and liveliness are the aim,” notes the winery, and indeed, the focus of this wine is astounding. It pays homage to both classic, traditional Bordeaux and more modern, fruit-forward (yet restrained!) West Coast bottles. It’s a richly satisfying mouthful of wine that clocks in at a lithe 13.8% alcohol. You could certainly age some bottles, but it’s ready to go right now!
Anytime you need that hit of fruit, pull a bottle from your cool cellar and pop the cork. A quick 30-minute decant allows it to blossom before pouring a generous glass into a Bordeaux stem. As you’d expect from such a standout vintage, this 2019 leads with deep aromas of full-on red and dark fruits, buoyed by spice from the patient élevage. A lush palate reinforces the nose, with a juicy entry and an endless wave of fresh, sun-warmed berries, plums, cherries, and chocolate. Silky, fine-grained tannins and balancing acidity frame the fruit and give it astonishing length. It’s generous, but not over-extracted nor overwrought; the only moreish thing about it is its deliciousness. If you’re feeling new world you could pair with a grilled Santa Maria style Tri-Tip or if you’re more of a traditionalist, this rich Strip Steak with Green Peppercorn Sauce would do the trick.
- CountryUnited States
- Sub-RegionNapa Valley
- BlendMerlot 40%, Cabernet Sauvignon 31%, Cabernet Franc 18%, Malbec 11%
- OakUsed French Barrels
- Temp.Serve at 60-65° F
- GlasswareBordeaux Stems
- Decanting30 Minutes
- PairingStrip Steaks w/ Green Peppercorn Sauce
Through the grapevine
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