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2007 Heitz Cabernet: This is Napa Cab

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

One of my first trips to Napa back in the day included a stop at Heitz Cellars. The tasting room was humble and the location was almost too obvious - right off Highway 29 immediately after V. Sattui.

The winery has been around forever and although I enjoyed their wines I couldn't help but think the brand had passed its prime. I don't know what it was specifically but I left with the impression the winery's best days were behind it.

As years went by I'd read stories about how great Heitz Cabernets from the late '60s and early '70s were - especially their Marthas Vineyard bottlings. But what was I going to do with that information? It's not like you can track those wines down and even if you could they're a bit anachronistic. By that I mean - California wines made in the '60s bear little resemblance to wines made today. Alcohol levels have risen dramatically and the wines of California have discovered their own direction rather than trying to emulate other great wine regions like Bordeaux. So even if I found I liked older Heitz Cabs it would have little to do with what they're making today.

These days Heitz makes Cabernet ranging from ~$40 to $200. The Martha's Vineyard is their top wine and a Napa Valley appellation bottling is the entry level offering. Trailside and Bella Oaks fill in the middle in the $60-$70 range.

The Wine Cellar of Stoneham had a tasting late last year with a bottle of the 2007 Heitz Napa Cab open alongside some tremendous wines. A $600+ bottle of Penfolds Grange plus Napa Cabs in the more conceivably actionable price range of $60- $100 provided an opportunity to discover value wines that could fight in a weight class higher than their price point. The 2007 Heitz Napa held its own and then some.

This week I bought a bottle and popped it open. The wine is fantastic. This is Napa Cab. Here are my notes...

2007 Heitz Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
14.5% Alcohol
$42 Release Price

This wine skillfully finds the intersection of deliciousness and quality. The 2007 is still available on retailers shelves so here in 2013 it's arriving with 6 years of post-vintage age. And that age has softened any rough edges that may have been present on release.

Plush dark fruit on the nose, cola on the palate, and soft tannins make this very appealing. So enjoyable to drink. Low to medium acidity enables this to go well on its own or with food. Everything is in balance here.

92/100 WWP: Outstanding

The wine strikes me as a classic pair of Levi's. Quality that never goes out of style, but not pushing it so hard in any one direction that it'll look stylistically ridiculous a few years down the road.

Definitely worth a try for around $39.99 if you spot it at retail.

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