Black Stallion Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Napa Valley
T here are winemakers who joke that consumers will buy anything with cabernet sauvignon and Napa Valley on the label. The wine has gotten almost mythical because so many Napa Valley cabs are so good.
I applaud the mavericks who resist the trend and grow zinfandel, merlot and chardonnay in Napa Valley. But there is a reason so many people like those cabs. Napa Valley cabs usually are very good and often great.
The Black Stallion cab is great. You might not want to spend $30 on wine every day, but this wine is worth it as a treat. As inflated demand keeps pushing prices up, this is the kind of cab you would expect to see for $60 or $70.
It is rich, complex, enjoyable. “Warm” is the word my wife Teri and I kept using when we were talking about this wine.
The wine is a beautiful deep red in the glass with powerful aromas of plum, blackberry and a whiff of vanilla. Layers of flavor keep unfolding as you sip the wine. Plum, cherry, cassis and chocolate predominate. The thing we kept coming back to was how balanced the wine is. Tannins are integrated nicely, so nothing overpowers you. It is a balanced, rounded gem.
This was a great vintage in Napa, as the weather cooperated once again. Grapes ripened evenly, and Black Stallion had one of its earliest harvests ever. The winemaker visited vineyards throughout Napa to determine when each was at maximum ripeness and ready to pick. This wine came from lots in the Oak Knoll District, Rutherford, Atlas Peak, Oakville, Coombsville, Diamond Mountain District and Mount Veeder. Choosing grapes from so many different sub-regions added to the complexity of the wine.
As each lot ripened it was harvested in the morning to preserve flavors. The grapes were de-stemmed and placed in stainless steel tanks for a cold soak of several days. Special yeasts were then introduced to begin fermentation. The wine was pumped over several times a day to extract color and tannins from the skins.
After that the wine was drained and the skins were gently pressed to recover all the wine. The wine was then allowed to settle in the stainless tanks for several days and transferred to oak barrels to complete malolactic fermentation.
Each vineyard lot was kept separate as the wine aged for 16 months in 80 percent French oak and 20 percent American oak barrels. The separate lots were blind tasted and after several trial blends, the final cuvee was decided.
The wine is 91 percent cabernet sauvignon, 6 percent merlot, and one percent each of petite verdot, cabernet franc and syrah. About 35 percent of the barrels are new.
Winery: The building housing Black Stallion Estate Winery on the Silverado Trail started life as an equestrian center. Remnants of the original 36 horse stalls are still visible.
The name is a tribute to the rich history of the 32-acre estate which was once home to the Silverado Horseman’s Center. The equestrian center featured riding trails, stables, numerous training rings, breeding facilities, the area’s only indoor riding track and an outdoor arena that seated 3,000 spectators.
In 2007 it became a winery, and the indoor track now houses winemaking equipment. The Indelicato Family bought the property in 2010, and it became part of Delicato Family Vineyards, one of the fast growing wine companies in the world.
The winemaking philosophy for Black Stallion is simple: craft high quality wines that are elegant and distinctive yet approachable.
The grape growing and wine making history of the Indelicato family has spanned three generations and more than 85 years. The family is very involved with all aspects of Black Stallion and their dedication is evident both in the wines and the “family feel” of the winery.
The wine makers focus on creating wines that reflect the true characteristics of the grape varietal and the agricultural heritage of the Napa Valley. Their portfolio showcases a balance of white wines and red wines as well as rosé. These wines are primarily produced in very small case lots and are available only through the winery tasting room or website.
This cabernet sauvignon and a chardonnay have recently been introduced for sale in wine shops and restaurants across the country.
The tasting room in the Oak Knoll District, in the southern half of Napa Valley, is easily identifiable by the large sculpture of a black stallion up on its hind legs.
The Indelicato family-owned DFV wines continues to add wines to its portfolio at an amazing rate.
The business started in 1935 when Gasparé Indelicato started making his own wines after moving from Italy to California and planting his first vines in 1924. Gasparé, his brother-in-law, and their twin wives took turns with a hand driven press to produce their first vintage consisting of 3,451 gallons of wine (just under 1,500 cases of wine).
As the business grew Gasparé’s three sons, Vincent, Frank and Anthony, joined. Now Chris and Jay Indelicato, third generation family members and Anthony’s sons, are active.
The Delicato brands include Gnarly Head, Delicato, Twisted, Bota Box, Black Stallion, Loredona, La Merika, Massimo, Brazin, HandCraft, Domino, Fog Head, Sequin, Wolfgang Puck, Irony and several others.
Goes with: Teri, my son Michael and I had this lush wine with chicken tortilla soup, a spicy soup with strong flavors that needs a robust wine.
The soup starts by sauteeing one diced sweet onion and 4-6 cloves of garlic in olive oil. Then add two quarts of chicken broth, one chopped up rotisserie chicken, one small can of diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings, one small can of diced tomatoes with green chiles, one small can of green chiles or jalapenos, one tablespoon of cumin, one bay leaf, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and about a third cup of fresh cilantro. Cook until the flavors blend, about 30 minutes or so.
Serve with tortilla chips. (If you are ambitious you can cut fresh tortillas into strips and fry them in hot oil.) Also serve with grated jack or cheddar cheese and avacado slices.
The warm, complex fruit flavors of the wine go nicely with the heat of the soup.
The wine also would pair well with other succulent, flavorful dishes such as grilled tenderloin with roasted shallots, creamy bleu cheeses, pepper-rubbed pork chops, grilled ribs or duck breast with grilled plums.
Author Dennis Sodomka