Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Trespass Vineyard, Cabernet Franc

While I was visiting Napa Valley a couple of years ago, my friend Geordie and I scheduled a day of tastings on Spring Mountain. This was much less of a commute for Geordie as he and his wife live at the top of Spring Mountain, almost directly on the Napa and Sonoma county line. I know.... I feel bad for them, too. The best tasting of the day went to Paloma Vineyards, which is owned and managed by Barb and Jim Richards. I'll write about them in a future post.

The worst tasting went to Philip Togni Vineyard where we were led around by the abrasive and arrogant Brigitta Togni, who was about as hospitable as one of Michael Vick's dogs. Before the tour and tasting each guest was interrogated by Brigitta in order to determine whether or not they were qualified to taste Togni's wines. We were also told how wonderful their wines are and that most other winemakers in the Napa Valley don't really know what they are doing. Apparently, none of us passed the interrogation because at the end of the tour we were each given a taste of their second label, Tanbark Hill - from a bottle which had been opened nine days earlier. Thanks for coming.

Overall, we had a great day. Our last tasting was at Pride Mountain Vineyards, and it was at Pride where I learned about Trespass Vineyard. I don't recommend tasting at Pride as their tasting room is more of a gift shop than a tasting room. Although their Reserve Cabernet is usually outstanding, the rest of their portfolio is good, but overpriced. They unfortunately do not even pour the Reserve Cab in their tasting room either, which is really the reason you just drove twenty-five minutes up the mountain. Thanks for coming.

The tasting room associate at Pride told me about a small, family-run winery at the base of the mountain called Trespass Vineyard, which produces about 600 cases per year of nice Cabernet Sauvignon. I called Trespass to schedule a tasting for the following day, and the owners, Donny and Dana Gallagher, were more than happy to accommodate us.

When the Gallaghers acquired their vineyard it was a small, undeveloped, five acre out lot at the end of a cul-de-sac sandwiched between Spottswoode Winery and a residential development. They immediately fell in love with the piece, and decided to fulfill their dream of starting their own label. There is no winery on the site, but the Gallaghers have built a small, stone patio in the middle of their vineyard for the purpose of hosting tastings and sharing their special property with others. The views from the base of the mountain are breathtaking, and on many evenings the Gallaghers find neighbors sitting on the patio in their vineyard enjoying a beautiful St. Helena sunset. The name Trespass is tongue-in-cheek as they happily invite others to enjoy their land.
The Gallaghers brought along a bottle of their 2002 Cabernet Franc to the tasting and offered it to us before we tasted the Cabernet Sauvignon. I immediately fell in love with this wine. I had not been very impressed with Napa Cabernet Francs up to this point, but Trespass gets it right. It is certainly not an "Old World" style Cab Franc with earthy, gamey notes and fierce tannins. On the contrary, St. Helena's warm climate and volcanic soils seem to coax all of the inviting, hedonistic characteristics of the grape to the forefront while leaving less desirable herbal properties behind. They had initially planted the Franc to blend with the Sauvignon, but realized during production that they had a "stand alone Cab Franc," and decided to bottle it separately.

I enjoyed the two vintages of Trespass Cabernet Sauvignon we tasted as well, but the Cabernet Franc is a unique and delicious wine not to be missed. I also highly recommend scheduling a tasting of Trespass with the Gallaghers if you are ever in the Napa Valley. It is an off the beaten path experience with great wine, great people, and great scenery that you won't soon forget.

Winery: Trespass Vineyard
Wine : 2002 Cabernet Franc
Winemaker: Charles Hendricks
Estimated Cost: $40 (find it)

Tasting Notes: Deep ruby/purple to the rim. Medium body and with a pretty nose. Gobs of blueberry, blackberry and Asian spice wrapped around a core of seamless, mouth filling tannins. Great, lingering finish. 93 points.

Winery: Trespass Vineyard
Wine: 2003 Cabernet Franc
Winemaker: Kirk Venge
Estimated Cost: $40 (find it)

Tasting Notes: Similar to the '02, but where the former can be popped and poured this one needs a few hours in the decanter to open up. A bit more restrained than the '02, which is typical for the vintage, this wine provides plenty of hedonistic, blue fruit and firm structure. The wine improves immensely as it sits in the glass. 91 points.


Jack said...

Excellent post - and I hope I get to taste that Trespass cab franc soon!

Brad Rothman said...

Thanks so much, Jack! I'm sure you will enjoy it. I am headed out to the Napa Valley next month, and I can't wait to try the '04. The team at Trespass believes it is their best yet.

vina said...

this was a great blog...I just happened upon it while I was looking for information on winemaker, Charles Hendricks.

good read, thank you!

Brad Rothman said...

Thank you, Vina! C.H. did great work with Trespass. Their Cabernet Sauvignon is wonderful as well. I would love to hear what you think of Trespass after you have been able to taste their wines. Thanks for reading. Cheers!

gypsybaker said...

Great post...thank you. Found it while I was "googling" for another winery but now Tresspass is on the top of the list! Ever visit Napa in late Feb? Cheers!