Etude Back-Vintage Tasting

I had the wonderful opportunity this weekend to taste some back-vintages of Etude Napa Valley Cabernet and Carneros Pinot Noir. Etude is a well-respected new-world producer of many white and reds sourced mainly from their vineyards in Carneros and other parts of the Napa Valley. Some people think that they are best known for their incredible sub-appellation specific Cabernets, however, I think of them more as a great house of Pinot Noir. The winery is housed in the grand old buildings that formerly housed RMS Brandy Distillery.

Etude Winery

Etude was founded about 25 years ago by the New World Pinot Noir luminary, Tony Soter, who still acts as one of head winemakers. The other outstanding winemaker is Jon Priest, another veteran of the California wine industry.

All of the wines available for tasting that I’ve listed below were poured from Jeroboams and decanted in a Riedel Cabernet-Merlot magnum decanter prior to tasting. The amount of time in the decanter really varied, so I can’t really comment on how long they were getting some air.

The highlights of the night were the 1998 Etude Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2001 Etude Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, even if the ’01 was still a bit muted. Coming from the large format bottle, it could have been in that sometimes quoted “5-10 year dumb stage” for Napa Cabernets. This refers to the fact that wines are constantly evolving as they age and sometimes you find that great Napa Cab’s have a stage in their development about 5 – 10 years after their vintage where they can be found to be surprising muted as their flavors and structure continue to integrate. The other wines we tasted and greatly enjoyed, are listed below.

1995 Etude Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

1994 Etude Carneros Pinot Noir

1996 Etude Carneros Pinot Noir

1999 Etude Carneros Pinot Noir

Check out the links above for my tasting notes on these outstanding wines and the background information on Etude and wine, in general.

Vinopanion: Ward Kadel - @drXeNo

View posts by Vinopanion: Ward Kadel - @drXeNo
Ward Kadel - @drXeNo is the founder of Vinopanion wine blog, former West Coast Ambassador & Staff Blogger for and former Le Wine Buff for (CIVB). He will try any and all wines and tends to write about the parts of his life that include virtually all of it! He and his wife grew up in Napa and Sonoma and they still live in the Napa Valley. Check out the wines he's recommended with his WKBadges. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Like #Vinopanion on Facebook. Contact him: "Ward at". Ward happily accepts samples but does not guarantee a review, positive or negative.


  1. Kim
    October 24, 2007

    Interesting tidbit on the “dumb stage”. I never knew about that!

    How did you get access to sample these special wines? Was it a special tasting event or in Etude’s general tasting room?

  2. Ward
    October 30, 2007

    Hi Kim! It was a special event that I had the fortunate oppotunity to get an invite. Very lucky!

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