You never know where the tips will come from.
Mitch Johnson, the golf pro at Napa Valley Country Club, introduced me to Shibumi Knoll winery, and I’m glad he did.
“Hey, you should try this Cabernet,” Mitch insisted a couple of weeks ago. “I’ll keep a bottle of it for you.”
The next time we got together he popped the cork on the 2004 Napa Valley Cabernet, and it’s an exciting wine, rich, plush and loaded with dusty currant and blackberry fruit. I later tried it in a blind tasting at my office for a formal review (92 points, 99 cases, $85), which appeared in the Wine Spectator Insider.
The owner is Don Ross, a wine lover and big Bordeaux fan who moved to Napa from the East Bay, across the Bay from San Francisco. The name means “effortless perfection” in Japanese. The grapes come from Ross’ small vineyard from St. Helena, which was once part of Vineyard 29, with the vineyard planted, I’m told, by David Abreu. (Regardless, it’s a terrific wine.)
As good as the Cabernet is, and it’s great, the 2005 Russian River Chardonnay Buena Tierra Vineyard ($45, 172 cases) is even better—amazingly complex and concentrated, with a rich, creamy texture and fantastic length. Not surprisingly, Ross says he was helped by John Kongsgaard with the ’05, but the the winery skipped the difficult 2006 vintage for Chardonnay.
Both wines are worth the hunt.