Spottswoode’s 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon


As we cruise into Week Two of our 35th Anniversary Sale my nostalgic nature prods me to contemplate about the wineries that have been with The Wine House since the early years. Napa Valley’s Spottswoode Winery produced its first estate bottled wine in 1982 and was sold at The Wine House. Spottswoode quickly became a favorite. David had stumbled upon them while searching out new California wines, asking around as to where to taste and Spottswoode’s first winemaker’s name, Tony Soter, popped up. The story of Spottswoode Winery is a compelling and inspirational one that captures the innovative spirit of the Valley’s early beginnings. In 1972, Dr. Jack and Mary Novak purchased a historic 31-acre estate and moved their family of five children to live a more rural life. They planned on making wine, but Jack’s unexpected death in 1977, left Mary in the seemingly impossible position of running a farm, starting a winery and raising five children on her own. Mary wouldn’t give up on the dream she shared with her husband and pushed forward. Now realize this was in the 70’s and though the Napa Valley was beginning to be recognized for making world-class wines, there still were but 400 wineries in the state as compared to over 3000 today. In other words, there were no guarantees that this was going to work out well. Fast-forward 30 years and what you have now is a prestigious winery with a proven track record of making impeccable, classy, note-worthy Cabernet Sauvignons. The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon is the latest release and is redolent of cassis, silky plum and perfumed aromatics. Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignons exemplify the elegant, balanced potential of Napa Cabernets.


Today, two of Mary’s daughters work for the winery and are the driving force behind the winery’s continued success. I have the pleasure of working with Lindy Novak who makes it a point to come visit our store regularly and taste our staff on new releases. This may seem commonplace, but it isn’t, especially for a winery that must allocate their wine. My sense is that they do this because 1) they know it is important for those who sell their wine to know what it tastes like (duh!?!), 2) they enjoy the connections and relationships they’ve made over the years and this is a way to “check-in” and “catch up”, and 3) they are confident in the quality of their wine and are unafraid to talk candidly about the vintage variations. I’ve had two occasions to taste the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon; once at the store and another time at a grand tasting celebrating Spottswoode’s 30th Anniversary where the Novak family was in attendance making what could have been a stuffy event into a family affair. The Novaks are gracious people. I took notes, I was probably the only one doing so, but I wasn’t going to squander my opportunity tasting ’91, ’94, ’02 and ’09 side-by-side. Each vintage had a familiar berry note for which I have coined the term Spottsberry to describe. It’s a bright berry but enveloped with cedar and tangy acidity.

At The Wine House I’ve positioned myself as the Queen of Bargains (after all I drive a 10-year old American automobile), but rest assured I can recognize value whether you are looking for a mid-week quaffer or are looking to drink only the Best of the Best. Spottswoode Winery is my pick for consistently outstanding Estate grown Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Just read the glowing reviews from two of the most influential wine critics (see below), for more tasting notes.


My Thanksgiving Day meal had an international flair to it as there were friends and family from Siberia, Germany and Africa all seated around my sister’s gargantuan dining table partaking in the feast. Everything was delicious, but the highlights were a mushroom sauté of locally foraged porcini mushrooms executed by my 17-year old niece (thumbs up TasTas!) and the succulent, juicy smoked turkey my 18-year old nephew made (great job D-Money!). It’s so wonderful to see the next generation stepping up and carrying on with the culinary traditions. So much to be thankful for!
Anya Balistreri

“The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon is a huge wine bursting with class and personality. It shows gorgeous delineation in its dark fruit, camphor, tar and licorice, with striking finesse and breathtaking balance. All of the aromas and flavors build effortlessly to the round, sensual finish. Despite its size, the 2009 is a relatively accessible wine, especially when tasted next to the 2008. This is a dazzling effort and easily one of the wines of the vintage. Wow. In 2009 the Cabernet Sauvignon includes 4% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2029.” Wine Advocate 96+ points

“Full ruby-red. Cassis, dark chocolate and violet on the lively nose. Seamless and lush in the style of the year, showing the roundness and finesse of the best Spottswoode vintages. Finishes with toothcoating sweet tannins and a complete absence of rough edges. This doesn’t show the tannic mass of the more backward and powerful 2008 but it’s suaver and has plenty of structure for a graceful evolution in bottle.” Steven Tanzer 94 points.


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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Napa Valley

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