2015 Burgess Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Vineyards

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Wine Critic Reviews for 2015 Burgess Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Vineyards

The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) is absolutely delicious. Ripe, radiant and seductive, the 2015 is going to be nearly impossible to resist young. Even so, there is plenty of structural underpinning beneath all of the fruit. Sweet floral notes develop in the glass, adding lift, but above all else, the 2015 is a wine of textural voluptuousness, all in a silky, mid-weight style that is hugely appealing.

Antonio Galloni | 93 AG

Wine Details on 2015 Burgess Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Vineyards

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Producer Burgess Cellars: Over five generations of farmers have cultivated the legacy and pedigree of the volcanic soils on the vertiginous slopes of Howell Mountain. The history of the location dates back to 1870, when the Poncetta and Rossini families, in the way of their Alpine homeland, cultivated vines on the rugged mountainside at extreme elevations. Since its inception, the plot has been family farmed and today, the Burgess family continues the tradition in Napa Valley’s famed terroir. Burgess is a story that tells of geological time and Napa Valley history; 150 years of growth rooted in the stony soils and culminating in the elegant wines of a new century.

When Tom Burgess arrived in the Napa Valley in the early 1970s, he was searching for the perfect vineyard site where he could cultivate the fruit that yields the Cabernet Sauvignon wines he loved. What he found was an historic and geologic time-capsule that has displayed the continuous and successful cultivation of mountain grapes and the foundation of what has become Napa Valley viticulture. Prior to Burgess acquiring the vineyards in 1972, Lee Stewart, with the same ambition and imagination as its founding fathers, planted Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Sirah grapes on Howell Mountain’s steep hillsides, naming his winery Souverain, meaning “sovereign.” Subsequent Napa Valley greats also saw the high promise of the land. Before starting the historic Stag’s Leap and Grgich wineries, Warren Winiarski and Mike Grgich each learned his trade at the Estate known today as Burgess.

Burgess Cellars is perched on the western side of Howell Mountain (but not in the appellation) at an elevation of nearly 1,000 feet. An original gravity-fed stone cellar foundation, which dates back to 1884 when the property was first homesteaded, marks the property, offering a glimpse of past generations. Burgess insists they are stewards of not only the land and its famed terroir, but also the legacy of family tradition.
The estate is comprised of three separate vineyards in three different AVA’s (American Viticultural Area). The Sorenson Vineyard, in the Napa Valley AVA, was first planted in 1872 and has since produced high quality grapes; smaller in size, but highly concentrated. The soils are comprised of “Konocti Series Volcanics”, a very densely compacted volcanic ash with large granitic boulders throughout. The vineyard sits above St. Helena at heights of 800 to 1000 feet above sea level, overlooking the Bell Canyon Reservoir.

Quartz Creek in the Oak Knoll District AVA, purchased by Tom Burgess in 1979, was originally a 50-acre vineyard planted to Chardonnay. The soils of Quartz Creek are part of the alluvial fan that sweeps down from the Mayacamas, along with uplifted marine sediments and a high proportion of quartz. It is one of the most geologically diverse vineyards on the property and is planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.

Nestled in the west facing the benchlands of the Vacca Mountains in St. Helena AVA, Clos Abeille Vineyard is the epicenter for their regenerative farming movement. Named for the bees that inhabited their first apiary, the vineyard has been planted to Cabernet Sauvignon since 2002. The terroir is comprised of “Kidd” gravelly loam which allows for superior draining. With this vineyard, the Burgess family strives to honor the heritage of the Napa Valley through regenerative farming practices that will preserve the health of the vines and the “magic” of the wine from generation to generation.

The Burgess wine portfolio is impressive, showcasing multiple single-variety wines, such as site-specific Cabernet Sauvignons, Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Syrah and Chardonnay as well as blends, including the popular Topography and Alpinist Reds. These wines tell the tale of 150 years of family winemaking tradition in the revered Napa Valley. The Burgess family takes great pride in their ability and the opportunity to share the history and magic of the region through their wines.
Region California: With a history of wine production that dates back to the 18th century, California currently sits as one of the world's most prolific and reputable wine regions. With an area as vast as California, you can expect a colorful collage of terroir profiles, a series of microclimates, and micro-environments that give the wine a unique, memorable appeal. The region's produce is far from homogenized in that sense, and it would take you countless hours to sample all of it. While the region boasts scars from the Prohibition era, it went through what can only be described as a viticultural Renaissance sometime after the 1960s. At that point, California went from a port-style, sweet wine region to a versatile and compelling competitor on the world market. Today, no matter which way your taste in wine leans, you can find a new favorite producer among California's most talented.

Notable sub-regions include legendary names like Napa Valley and Sonoma County, places that any wine lover would die to visit. California's quintessential warm climate allows for incredibly ripe fruit expressions, a style that provides a stark contrast to Old World-inspired, earthy classics. Even where inspiration was clearly taken from staple French appellations, Californian winemakers put their own unique spin on the wine.
Subregion Napa
Country US: As one of the most prolific and innovative wine regions in the world, America is a joy to explore. Most wine connoisseurs will agree that the nation's finest and most compelling wines are being produced today, which means that we have front-row seats to one of the most inspirational stories in wine history. While other regions tend to focus on specific wine styles and have somewhat strict rules as to which varietals you could grow, areas like California have few such restrictions in place. As a result, creative visionaries behind America's most reputable estates have been able to develop compelling, unique, and innovative styles, with a level of terroir expression that rivals even France's largest giants.
Type of Wine California Red: Whether it's Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah or Zinfandel, Californian red wine producers have a lovely habit of taking a varietal and expressing its essence in a unique, never before seen way. From Napa Valley to the regions south of Los Angeles, there's a red for everyone - and it's never too late to start exploring.
Varietal Cabernet Sauvignon: It is recognized worldwide, referred to as “king of grapes” and has easily become the most popular grape variety in the world. Cabernet Sauvignon has seemingly taken the world by storm. It has seen exponential growth and popularity in American and around the world over the past thirty years. The phrase “Cabernet is king,” is a common maxim in the world of wine. Cabernet Sauvignon wine has become so popular that when being referred to can be recognized by simple slang, such as “Cab” or “Cabernet. It might appear simple, straightforward and easily understood; yet, interestingly remains an enigma, which has both baffled and excited oenologists since its discovery.

The exact origin and circumstances of this world-altering event are still enigmatic; however, at the end of the 20th century, UC Davis Scientists (John Bowers and Carole Meredith) were able to solve part of the mystery using DNA fingerprinting technology that proved Cabernet Sauvignon to be the offspring of a surprising spontaneous crossing of Bordeaux varietals, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. By the 18th century there were already records of Cabernet Sauvignon being well-established on the west side of the Gironde Estuary (Left Bank) in the Medoc and Graves.

Although tremendously popular in California and what seems to have become the identity of Napa Valley winemaking, Cabernet Sauvignon’s birth took place in the Bordeaux region of southwest France by fortuitous unification. Whereas Napa Valley experienced a winemaking renaissance during the 1970’s and 1980s (greatly due to the 1976 Judgement of Paris) quality wine from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape has been produced in the Medoc, on the Left Bank of Bordeaux for over 400 years.

Cabernet Sauvignon’s first recorded plantings in California can be traced back to the 1850’s when Antoine Delmas, a French nurseryman, brought French vines (including one called ‘Cabrunet’) to the Santa Clara Valley. Early cultivation suffered due to obscurity of the varietal and improper planting in inhospitable soil. It wasn’t until pioneers such as Robert Mondavi, Randy Dunn and Warren Winiarski with their amazing foresight and understanding of terroir, would the grape variety finally find its niche in California winemaking.

Cabernet Sauvignon thrives in warm climates moderated by a cooling marine influence. It is perfectly attuned to gravel-based soils with good drainage. Whether on flat land or a hillside, the Cabernet Sauvignon grape flourishes in proper climates and terroir, producing incredible yields. The thick grapevine is extremely vigorous allowing it to exploit its natural host. Its distinctive small, black berries (reminiscent of blueberries) adhere firmly to the stalk and are capable of a very long “hang time.” These berries are extremely concentrated, producing intensely flavored fruit. The thick skins of the grape are characterized as having highly astringent flavor, high tannin, acidity and dark color. Coincidentally, the variety has a special affinity for oak, which helps soften the bitterness.

Today, the Noble Bordeaux varietal of Cabernet Sauvignon is planted on 340,000 hectares (741,300 acres) of vineyards across the earth’s surface. From Sicily to Sonoma, Chile to Bordeaux, South Africa to Napa. It has found symbiosis in terroir hotspots that mimic that of the Medoc and Napa Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon’s globetrotting has allowed the grape variety to take root all over the world, captivating its inhabitants and influencing winemaking. This serendipitous marriage between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc centuries ago, which offered to the world its progeny, has changed the landscape of winegrowing, winemaking and the face of the entire wine market forever. It has influenced blending, changed civilization and has cultivated a place for itself in today’s world… the very pinnacle.

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