As the #NapaFires and #SonomaFires are burning, it has been a poignant time to turn to some wines from the region to think about how exciting their multi-faceted expressions can be. With this tasting, I’m delighted yet again to be tasting a something totally off-the-radar for Napa: Grenache Blanc.

91
Priest Ranch 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Estate Grown $48
This wine is broodingly youthful on the nose with densely-packed blackberries. It paints a broad swath of the characteristic blackcurrant of Cabernet Sauvignon happiness right through the center of the palate. Full-bodied and voluptuous with caressing and seamless tannins, this is – surprisingly – a delightfully drinkable wine already. Its fine balance, well-proportioned oak and very faint viscosity lend to serious enjoyment. Surely some of this terrific balance is due to the sites’ elevations, varying between 800-1,600 feet, as well as the winemaker’s vision. This 2014 has enough concentration to expect it should age well a few years, but it’s a shame not to drink it with gusto now. It is showing beautifully.
Drink: 2017-20

88
Priest Ranch 2016 Grenache Blanc Napa Valley Estate Grown $22
I was very excited to taste this wine as I love Grenache Blanc, and Priest Ranch is the only producer of estate-grown, Napa Valley Grenache Blanc. Straw yellow and crystal-clear bright, this wine is a very linear expression of Grenache Blanc. It’s so massively minerally you might think it was from the Old World right off the bat. Moreover, while its alcohol is elevated in numbers (14.6%), you don’t feel it on the palate. There’s a very fine structural balance, even if the wine feels big and broad on the palate. Were we in the Rhône, I’d expect more flavor development, but hailing from California, I think this is a very nicely minerally expression of Grenache Blanc.
Drink: 2017-19