By Christopher Matthews
This piece of wisdom comes from antiquity, when the ancient Greeks, then Romans, figured out that hillside vineyards, despite greater degrees of difficulty (challenging topography, labor intensity, erosion, etc.), often produce more compelling wines. Better sun exposures. Better drainage (both soil and air). More vine stress. Cooler nights. Lower yields. Higher quality fruit.
At the March 2014 Wine Media Guild (WMG) lunch, held recently at Felidia’s in Manhattan, members and guests were treated to some modern-day examples of this received wisdom, from the “mountain wineries” of (mostly) Napa Valley and Sonoma County, including: Jericho Canyon (Calistoga), Laurel Glen Vineyard (Sonoma Mountain), Smith-Madrone and Philip Togni Vineyard (both Spring Mountain), Vinoce Vineyards and Mount Veeder Winery (Mount Veeder), Summit Lake Vineyards and Cimarossa (Howell Mountain) and Wise Acre Vineyard and Castello di Amorosa (Napa Valley Appellation).
As one might surmise, most of the wines, both at the walk-around tasting preceding the lunch, and those offered at the table, were Cabernet Sauvignon or Cab-based blends. Nevertheless, the standout wine for me at the tasting was a white: Smith-Madrone’s 2012 Riesling. Continue reading