On Monday, Kapcsandy Family Winery brought in the last of the grapes for 2006 from its State Lane Vineyard in Yountville, wrapping up its fourth harvest.
Earlier this year, I reviewed the winery’s debut wine, a rather oaky 2003 Cabernet-based red. I found it too woody.
A few days later, Lou Kapcsandy (pronounced "Kop-chandy"), the owner, wrote to me saying that though the wine had been submitted for review, it was not intended to be released.
The 2003 “really did not represent what we’re doing,” he said. The wine ($90) is only for sale at the winery, and people can try it before they buy it. He added that he had some better wines in the works—and he was right.
Monday’s visit allowed me to meet Kapcsandy, who is 70. I also met his wife, Roberta (Bobbie), and son Louis, 34, who is in charge of sales and marketing for the winery.
I toured their new winery, a handsome above-ground facility off Yountville Crossroad. We discussed their well-known State Lane Vineyard, made famous by Beringer, and they poured their lineup of wines.
The Kapcsandy's are long-time Napa Valley wine fans and connoisseurs, with an extensive knowledge of wine from around the world. Lou has been visiting the valley since the early 1960s, and he has known many of the valley’s great winemakers.
After he retired as chairman and CEO of Baugh Enterprises, a $600 million general contracting company in Seattle, Lou and his wife bought State Lane in 2000. They replanted it in 2001, on the advice of John Wetlaufer. Helen Turley (Wetlaufer's wife) designed the winery, and the couple, who own Marcassin Vineyard, worked as consultants for a brief period.
State Lane has been an excellent source of Cabernet for Beringer; the grapes from there were often used for the winery’s Private Reserve line of Cabernets. The Beringer 1995 and 1998 that Lou poured for me both showed lots of character and complexity. The most recent vintages, however, were less impressive to me, perhaps because the vineyard needed to be pulled and replanted. (For tasting notes on the '95, click here.)
“Fundamentally we’re trying to bring great stewardship to the land,” said Lou, a Budapest native who also owns Grand Cru Imports, a Bordeaux specialist. “We’re progressing, we’re improving with each vintage.”
I tasted the Kapcsandy 2003 and 2004, as well as three barrel samples from 2005. The style of the wines is more Bordeaux-like, subtle and restrained, than some of the riper, more opulent Napa Valley Cabernets.
The 2003, which is 90 percent Cabernet and 10 percent Merlot, spent a lot of time in new oak, Kapcsandy said. He thinks it may still come around in the bottle.
The 2004, which is a 60-40 Cabernet-Merlot blend, is being released soon, at $90. It is richer and better balanced, with an elegant seam of spice, cedar and currant.
The 2005s, for me, were the best, with all of the wines showing outstanding potential.
I was especially impressed by the Roberta’s Reserve bottling, which is 91 percent Merlot and 9 percent Cabernet Franc. It is rich and polished, with plush loamy earth and currant flavors.
The 2005 Estate Cuvée is a Bordeaux blend, anchored by Cabernet. It, too, was showy, supple and balanced, with cherry, currant, anise and spice.
The State Lane bottling is similarly elegant and stylish, with ripe currant and light toasty oak flavors, ending with firm tannins. It is 80 percent Cabernet.
I consider Kapcsandy to be a winery worth watching. The owners, who have a very positive attitude, are dedicated to quality and to improving their wines. And the best are yet to come.